Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, is only three hours north of Calgary, but until last weekend we had never been there. Greg had that Monday off because it was a statutory holiday- Victoria Day. We decided to avoid the mountains for the long weekend because the locals told us it would be a madhouse there.
We picked two outings that sounded fun: The West Edmonton Mall, which is the largest shopping mall in North America and Elk Island, a national park that boasts free-roaming bison. Not super-exciting, but it was something to do and we were only staying one night.
We hit the mall first, after checking into the hotel. The place is huge! It has a movie theater, indoor lake, regulation size hockey rink, restaurants, an indoor amusement park, mini-golf, penguin tank and a hotel. Oh, yeah- and there are stores.
We walked around and had dinner. We didn't have a room IN the mall (not at $300 a night!) but we were staying right across the street. It was a low-key, pleasant day.
We stopped at the info center, asked for advice on where to go to see these beasts and headed out. After about two hours of driving around and hiking a bit, the only living thing I snapped a photo of was this butterfly:
And the poor thing turned out to be dead. :(
We had seen some bison waaaaaaaaaay off in the distance, so we drove around to where we thought they were, parked the car and started to walk across a field to see if they might be on the other side of a hill (behind a fence). BIG MISTAKE!! We quickly became covered in mosquitoes. Not just a few- we looked like we were wearing mosquito jackets. When we ran, they followed us like a black cloud. Amazingly, I didn't get a single bite. Greg had about ten on his neck- his only exposed skin.
That pretty much ended our enthusiasm for the place. Driving out, we passed a beaver. Whoop-de-do! I half-heartedly took some photos but of course, the beaver can't be seen.
We stopped to take a look at this guy...