Summertime heating can bring on the occasional tornado and severe thunderstorms. While not a severe as those in other places, they can still cause major damage and loss of life.
The most recent tornado swept through a small lakeside campground east of Red Deer, near Pine Lake. The deadliest tornado swept through the east side of Edmonton in 1985 killing more than 20 people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage.
The accompanying photo shows a funnel cloud , the precursor to tornadoes.
I did see some critters - some even in the road just standing there waiting for me to slow and stop .... but driving and phtography don't always go together at the same time. I did manage to snap a picture of one of their typical animal shaped signs ........ they're reflective, so at night they pop right out at ya!.
As I was snapping this picture through the windsheild, a couple of bighorn sheep jumped into the road along the side of my car .......arrrgghhhh! Missed another shot!
You'll need to click on this picture to see just how stupid some people can be ....... this couple went under the gaurd rails at Athabasca Falls and were walking on top of the falls to get pictures of themselves .... okay, some may find this adventurous, I find this riduculous!!
1- the first rule of rescue work is not to endanger the rescuer and make more victims
2- that is a long fall, with lots of water .... even if you survived the fall, you would probably drown
3- no photo op is worth my life
So please, don't endanger others by placing yourself at risk ..... just follow the rules, okay?
Though blurry, I wanted to share this pic of a rock slide that is taking up part of Hwy 93 ...... for 2 days I'd seen signs warning of avalanches and poo-poo'd them all .. until I drove by this bit of road. This slide was taking up half of one lane of this 2 lane Hwy ... and some folks were wierd about taking their time and letting others by ...
So, believe the signs, wether you actually SEE the evidence :)
If you are wandering the parks during the high summer season, expect to me around a lot of fellow tourists, whether you want to or not ;) Despite the overcast and drizzly weather, there were still people EVERYWHERE!! This was actually a problem for my whole trip .... lots of people at the places I thought I wanted to see the most .... though I understand this weather meant this crowd wasn't as full as it usually is this time of year.
So, take a chance, and research some options off the usual path of tourists so that you can truly experience the wonder of these parks ...... and avoid the coach filled parking lots at all costs!
I have to say, I never, ever saw a law enforcement vehicle my entire journey through Alberta! For this urban American, I found that eirie ...... but pretty cool too!
I did find out one moderatly high tech means they do use to keep an eye on folks on the road ... these construction zone signs that clock your speed - some of them also have cameras that snap a picture of your car so they can send you a ticket later! So be cautious and watch your speed ... even when you think no one is looking :0
I never actually saw a bear, but with the weather changing, and hibernation nearing, there were a lot of bear sightings during my stay. There are signs and pamplets to educate folks about wildlife encounter safety ....... but this little handwritten sign at Sulphur Gates staging area was the most impressive sign I saw on my entire journey. It was not there when I entered my path, and was there when I exited my path at about 3:30pm ..... I didn't hang around very long as I had no idea where Hell's gate might be :)
In the US, we are used to using restrooms located at truck stops and gas stations. But while traveling Alberta, I noticed that those sorts of bathrooms were not necessarily the cleanest ... actually these were the dirtiest facilities I'd experienced in quite a while .....
On the other hand, I found the Mecca of road trip potty breaks was really .... get this ... those campgrounds and recreation areas that are EVERYWHERE in Alberta!! Though not necessarily flushable in nature, these camp toilets were clean, functional, and had alcohol based hand washes, always had toilet paper, and smelled pretty good :)
So for potty breaks ... take your car into a campground, and avoid the gas stations, except for gassing up, not gassing out ....
When driving in Alberta between the months of October and May, be aware of severe winter weather. The snow and ice on the roads have a tendency to be quite hazardous, especially in Edmonton. If you do plan to drive through during this time, please be careful.
If you decide to travel far on the Al-Can Hwy, especially up into north Alberta and beyond, be aware that gas stations/rest stops become very scarce. You may see one and then not another for hundreds of miles! So be sure to use them even if you think you are okay on gas, etc. Also, since it is so isolated extra items for car repair (i.e. spare tire) are crucial. It is best to have your vehicle checked well before the trip since any car repairs done once up north will be extra expensive and parts necessary may need to be ordered causing delays.
Especially in the winter the air in Alberta gets extremly dry. Almost all Albertans seem to use moisteriser. Yes even the men. If a few days you will notice the skin on your face and hands getting tight. In a week they will start to crack. I have heard this from every person who has traveled here. Unless you come from a dry climate or have extremlly oily skin save yourself some pain and just pick up a bottle of moisteriser. You will need it!! Also good to have some sort of lip chap. The wind especially when its cold here can really crack your lips.
Like all major cities world wide, there are places to avoid at night and Edmonton is no exception. Almost all of 118 avenue and the immediate area of major streets that intersect 118 ave should be avoided at night. Realistically you could walk down here a hundred times and nothing could happen to you (I live around here and have had hardly in problems) but the possibility remains higher here than other areas of Edmonton. Prostitution, street youth and people under the influence are the main problems that affect this area.
In Edmonton there is two distinct seasons, winter and construction. Because of the extreme differences in temperature roads need to be repaired often. Usually it's not that bad but sometimes it can cause huge traffic delays. During dry days in the summer listen to radio reports occasionally to here where the road work is being done to avoid too much delay.
They may look cute and cuddly, but they really are not. If you encounter a bear along a road, and you probably will, please don't ever get out of your car to try and get a closer photo.
When out hiking, you should try to be noisy, either talking, whistling, singing or just stomping along so that you don't come upon a bear unexpectedly. If he hears you first, he will avoid you. And don't bring a smelly picnic lunch that may attract bears.
The White Pelican
Status: Although it was removed from the national list of threatened species in 1987, the American white pelican is still considered endangered in Alberta. The population here is increasing (from 548 nesting pairs in 1980 to over 1,000 today) but fewer than half of the 20 known historic nesting islands are still in use.
Habitat: White pelicans arrive in Alberta in late April. The birds are very social and group their nests together in colonies. They leave before freeze-up in late September and migrate to the coasts of Florida and Mexico for the winter.
Appearance: One of the world's largest birds, it weighs 5-8 kg and has a wingspan up to 3 m. Beneath it's long, flattened bill is a bright yellow-orange pouch for feeding.
Food: Adults can consume up to 2 kg of food each day. In shallow water, they scoop up as much as 20 litres, straining out the young, warm-water fish, salamanders, frogs and aquatic invertebrates.
Breeding: Both sexes prominently display their bright orange bills during courtship rituals which include bowing, strutting and short flights. Egg-laying in a colony begins in mid-May. Both adults tend the large, chalky white eggs until they hatch about a month later.
Lifespan: 12-14 years in the wild.
Risk factors: The most significant effect on white pelican populations in Alberta is disturbance of their breeding sites, by humans or industrial activity. The birds may abandon an entire nesting colony, leaving eggs and young chicks to be trampled or exposed to harsh weather and predators. Changing water levels due to drought, irrigation and recreational use may also cause the birds to abandon a colony, at least temporarily.
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