Calgary, Part One of our Journey East

Hello and welcome to my grade nine blog! The first of many blogs to come. For the first blog post of this year, we’re going far back to last week, when the PLP 9 class took a trip to Calgary!! And if you remember from last year, this’ll take a while. So grab a snack and let’s get started!

Planning movies
We started preparing for this on the first full day of school. The first day. Doesn’t that sound crazy? Well, when you going on a trip during the SECOND week of school, you have to prep early.

In grade nine PLP, the focus is moving images, or film. So movies. We actually ended up making three movies during this trip. Only two were known. But more on that later. In groups of four or five, we began to create storylines and scripts that we would be filming our first day. Located at the Three Valley Gap Heritage Ghost Town, with kind of a spooky vibe. We had an idea to make a futuristic apocalypse movie. It wasn’t actually finished until we pretty much got there, but that wasn’t the hugest time crunch. I’ll come back to that.

The other video we knew we had to create was a non-fiction video on a place we were going. This was actually super exciting for me because of one of the place we were going was the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre. I have been obsessed with this place for a long time, and being able to create a documentary on it was awesome. Again, we didn’t have that much time. Planning was mostly on the bus. But this is boring. Lets get on to the actual trip!

I hate mornings. But of course, we had to be at the school for 7:15. Not to bad, because I just slept on the bus. We had lots of driving the first day. We didn’t stop till 11 for lunch. Then right back on the bus to The Last Spike at Craigellachie!

Last spike
On November 7th 1885, Donald Smith drove the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway at 9:22 am. One hundred and thirty-two years later, we showed up.

It’s actually a very interesting place. So much history has happened there. From the last spike, to the rededication. I can’t believe that trains still use the tracks! We saw three different trains while there.

Three valley gap heritage ghost town
So, finally we got to the filming location. And guess what? It was poring. I swear, there is either a rain god among us, or we’ve been cursed. Every trip we go on, it rains. It hadn’t rained for three months. But, were troopers, so filming in the rain! Also, we got there late, so we only got one hour to film.

Because we were filming in the rain, and I died in the movie, I had to fall and die. Not just anywhere, no. I died in a puddle. And my corpse was in all the end scenes. Lying in the mud for ten minutes is not fun. Trust me.—YckOJSI

We had dinner there as well, and stayed in their hotel. It was very nice, but in the morning, we kept moving.

Rodgers pass discovery centre
In 1882, A. B. Rodgers traversed this pass, scouting for the CPR. This pass was the last great obstacle in the production of the railway. Again in 1962, this pass was chosen for the route of the Trans-Canada highway. We visited the Rodgers Pass Discovery Centre to learn more about the pass on our journey east.

Northern lights wildlife wolf centre
This part of our journey was especially exciting for me. You see, in grade 7, I was obsessed with wolves. They were my everything. So for my birthday, I wanted to get a sponsorship for a wolf. But there’s not a lot of places in Canada that you can do that. I was lucky, and discovered the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre. They are an amazing wolf education program. Unfortunately I was never able to get the sponsorship, but it I still lead me to a great discovery. So when I found out we were going there, I freaked out. And it was as cool as I had hoped.

There are 8 wolves in their care. Wiley, Mack, Moki, Flora, Scrappy Dave, Uno, Murphy and Farley. All of there wolves were bred in captivity, but none especially for the centre. See, if a zoo gets shut down or they have to get rid of animals, a lot of them end up getting sent to fur farms. The Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre take in some of the wolves, saving them from that cruel fate.

Instead of dragging on about the centre, here’s my documentary

What we got do there was pretty cool. They fed us, always important, and then has us a 30 minute interpretive talk. After that, photo time (which happens everywhere we go)! This time was special though. The people at the centre brought out a wolf to take a picture with and WE ALL GOT TO PET HIM! IT WAS UNO AND IT WAS AWESOME THANK YOU SO MUCH IT WAS AMAZING!!!!!!!

Banff park museum national historic site
This stop was not as exciting. Still cool, just not as exciting as PETTING A WOLF! Anywho, the Banff Park Museum National Historic Site is a taxidermy museum. It was actually pretty cool. There were some really old animals!

Drove. Calgary. Ate. Slept. Woke.

The locked room
What better way to start off your day then being locked in a room with your classmates! Sounds fun, right? Well, it actually was. My group got selected for ‘The Lair of the Minotaur’, an Ancient Greek themed room. I’m super into that sort of stuff, so I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not gonna give any spoilers, just in case anyone reading this goes there, but it was awesome.

Then food.

Glenbow museum
The Glenbow Museum isn’t open on Mondays. This is when being a PLP student pays off. We got an exclusive tour of the museum WHEN IT WAS CLOSED! Still not as cool as petting a wolf, but pretty cool.

At the beginning we had a small class-like seminar where we were split into groups. From there, we got to study and actually hold a whole bunch of ancient artifacts. Next, we chose one, and tried to guess what it was used for. Ours was a small bronze statue of two people sitting down at what appeared to be a table. We thought it was a ceremonial wedding gift, but it was actually a form of currency. Isn’t that cool!

We got to see a whole bunch of different exhibits, and heard a bunch of neat stories. It was an amazing place to visit and I definitely recommend it.

Red lobster
This probably sounds strange. Like, who would make a section on a restaurant? But you don’t understand. See, every year at Red Lobster, they have what is called ‘endless shrimp’. And that’s exactly what it is. It was really awesome. There are tons of different kinds to choose from, like garlic butter, popcorn, and mediterranean. I surprised myself and had a total of 22 shrimp. I think I made a smart choice, not having very many, because some people had close to 100, then didn’t feel very good.

Royal Tyrrell museum of Paleontology
Calgary isn’t that far from Drumheller, but it was still a long drive. It was worth it though. The Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology is an amazing place filled with so many dinosaur and other ancient fossils. We got an hour and a half to look through, and let me tell you, I was amazed. It amazes me how old some of the fossils are. Plus, this museum is home to one of the most well preserved fossils ever found. They might even be able to figure out what colours this species was.

After looking around a bunch, and lunch, we headed outside to meet up for our tour of the badlands. The badlands is what the first explorers called this place, because it was bad for farming. Pretty basic, I know. But it must have sucked, traversing along these large dry valleys. I can’t even begin to imagine it.

On our tour, we learned about the seven wonders of the badlands; hoodoos, rocks, cacti, clay, dinosaur fossils, glacial erratics and fossilized trees. It was a very informative walk, and I had a great time!

Next, we went to a session put on by the museum on how to identify dinosaurs, because not everything that we are told are dinos are. We learned 4 ways to identify dinosaurs, so here they are.

Hips. Dinosaurs are the only reptiles that adapted to having hips like us. With that they wee able to have their legs under their legs, making their speed far greater.
Era. Only the Mesozoic era had dinos, so anything before or after that doesn’t classify.
Reptiles. Pretty straightforward. All dinosaurs were reptiles. If its a mammal, its not a dino.
Land. Again, pretty straightforward. To be a dinosaur, you had to take up primary residence on land. If you flew, or swam, you weren’t a dinosaur.

Anytime you want to know if somethings a dinosaur, just refer to HERL!

Then, movie time! This was the first unknown movie, but not the last. We had one hour to create a minute long story about a dinosaur. Well, it didn’t have to be a dino, just not a mammal. I chose the Shonisaurus. Here’s my video.

We also got to climb through a giant dinosaur(not at the museum), which was cool.

Food. Sleep.

Where do I start with this. I could explain what Beakerhead is, but you can just check the link. I’ll just tell you what we got to do and learn! This is going to be a little point on every exhibit we visited.

To start off, we visited Impulse. Impulse was an interactive exhibit where you pretty much played on teeter-totters. But at different angles, they would make noise and light up. It was super fun!

This wasn’t actually an exhibit, just some this we got to do because we were a school group. Anyways, the teachers gave us groups, gave us a whole bunch of pipes and connector thingys, said we had 15 minutes, and left us to our devices. Our group decided to make a camera out of it. So we made a basic base, and tried to make a lens, but it didn’t really work. So we improvised, saying it was a car instead. Cars have wheels, though. So we improvised yet again, creating a hover car. We stepped inside, lifted it up, ran around and looked like total goofs. I had a blast!

Again, we only got to do this because we were a school group. We got a baton lesson! It was raining, so we only got to use wooden polls, but it was really cool. I hope to use those skills again one day.

So, here we learned about serpent mother, but I’ll come back to it.

The Nest. This was a cool one. So, there is an empty pit on a corner in Calgary. And I can’t think of a better way to use it than by filling it with dragons! Not literally, though. I’m guessing there was already a wall around it, but what they did was holes in it to make it look like there was a hoard of dragons peering out at you. It was neat!

Mars 112. So Persephone Smith-Johansson was ‘sent to mars to oversee a Martian colony’. But things went a little crazy after NASA didn’t contact for over a month. She started to go insane, cross-breeding animals. It was a cool experience, but we ran out of time so I never finished the story.

Bubbles. Those are the only words to describe this place. It was created in honour of the bubble man, which I thought was pretty cool. It was pretty much a building that ‘was bursting with bubbles’, or balloons. Someone was also blowing bubbles from the window, which was awesome. The exhibit was called Nucleation. Bubbles.

The Claw. Have you ever played one of those games where you used the machine to control o Claw to win a stuffy or something? Well, this was that, but huge. You had three people on a team. One persons job was to move the Claw up and down. Another, left to right. What I did was moved it forwards and backwards. The goal was to pick up air filled bags, and depending on which bags you got, you got a prize. Our team won a pin, which I got to keep and it’s now in my pin collection.

Serpent Mother, part 2. This was when the magic actually happened! Serpent mother was built by the flaming lotus girls, and has been at more that one festival. It is a 168 foot long mechanical serpent, wrapped around an egg. And to top it all off, it was set on fire!! We came at night, so the flames were amazing. They even let you control the head! It was really cool!

BowWave. This one was a super interactive one. There were these glowing stone-like things on one side of the river, and on the other side, were control panels. People could come and change the colours of the rocks, as well as play a symphony. Each panel controlled a colour projection, as well as a musical instrument. When different ones are played together, they create amazing things.

Loop. This was a super cool way to end the night. Loop was a piece that stretched down many blocks, and we visited it all. Each piece was a loop with seated in it. While stilling, there was a metal bar that you pumped up and down. This animated the slides on the inside and outside of the machines, bringing to life many fairytales, including Snow White, Pinocchio, and Little Red Riding Hood.

Calgary Tower
This was our last Beakerhead experience, our last Calgary experience. But, going to space was a fun way to end it. At this point, you probably think I’m insane. ‘Going to space? Naw, she’s nuts’. Well, it was an exhibit. They turned the Calgary Tower into a ‘space elevator’! It was awesome. We got a mission brief, ‘passports’, an emergency survival kit, and sent us on our way. Oh, did I mention we were also thirty years in the future? Anyways, so we got on the elevator, and went to space! Once up there, our guide told us some stories about the constellations we could see out the windows. We also got to vote on where the next space elevator should be put, Mars or something I can’t remember that I’ll fix later. I voted Mars, because to travel to I can’t remember would take 40 light years, and I ain’t up for leaving my family. It was an awesome experience though, a great last impression for Calgary.

We also learned about the history of the tower, and got a secret tour of where the underground mall was when the CPR ran there. It was awesome.

Cave and basin national historic site
We got a tour here which was pretty cool. Our guide kept switching to characters that lived it the time period, which was awesome by the way, and I learned a lot. Did you know that when people were working on the railroads, they only got paid $2 a day? It’s crazy. But a few people thought that they had struck it rich when they found the naturally heated waters in what’s now known as Banff. Who wouldn’t? These pools had actually been being used for thousands of years by animals, and also First Nations people. They used these pools for locations in which they preformed many sacred rituals. It’s a shame that they had to stop because of the newcomers. But that’s what happened all over Canada. Before I go on a rant, I’ll just wrap up on saying we got to go to the Banff Upper Hot Springs, which pipes in naturally hot water. That was pretty cool.

Lake Minnewanka
This is a definite recommendation. Lake Minnewanka is so amazing. Our class got to go on a boat cruise around the lake, and it was phenomenal. So beautiful. There are no words to describe this place.

Columbia ice field glacier adventure
I had driven past this place many times before, and never stopped. We went all the way on this trip. Like, how many people can say they’ve stood on a glacier? Well, add me to that category. Our class took a tour onto the Athabaskan glacier. This glacier is so large, that if you fell into a crevasse, you’d die obviously, but your body may not be found for decades. Kinda creepy. We were only in the area that is used for tours, so we were safe. I even got to fill up my water bottle with glacial melt! I drank a glacier!! Overall, it was stunning. Recommended.

Glacier skywalk
If you’re ever at the Columbia Icefields, go to the Glacier Skywalk. Unless your afraid of heights. But still. Being only a few years old, this skywalk shows never before seen views of the valley below. We even saw a mountain goat way below. And I conquered my fears and walked all the way along the glass path! It was terrifying, but I’m glad I did it.

Lake Louise
This was a pretty cool stop. We didn’t actually spend a lot of time here, but the views were amazing, signs were informative, and the water was insanely cold. Like, insane.

The enchanted forest
This was the last stop on our trip. But of course, PLP is nothing without surprises. The teachers, being tricky, offered everyone a mini chocolate bar. Little did we know,- except I kinda guessed- was that our chocolate bar selections chose our groups. In these groups, we had two hours to write, film and edit a movie. And a lot of groups, including ours, didn’t finish. The main takeaway from this, I thought, was when your under a time crunch, it is important to schedule. We kind of did, but in the end spent to much time on some things and didn’t have time for others.

I learned a lot on this trip. Some of the main things were teamwork, Canadian history, geography, and creativity.