I landed in the Alberta bandlands at dusk last night but before I continued onward I thought it worthwhile to take a virtual flying tour of this local tourist attraction in the daylight. As morning dawned, I plotted a looping flight-path south of the small municipal airport that serves the nearby town, and took off on a low altitude cruise.
The vast Canadian prairie is wide and largely unbroken, but where the Red Deer river cuts across the mid-section of Alberta it has carved away eons of soft stone and left behind a prehistoric wonder known locally as the badlands. The town of Drumheller is known as "the dinosaur place" to every kid in Alberta, and from the serious (a world-class paleontology museum) to the kitschy (disosaur-themed everything) it is a popular vacation spot for many.
A low-altitude cruise over this so-familiar landscape reminded me that even a small town with couple of dusty highways along a stretch of unique landscape can be an adventure. From the virtual airways, the small size of the place is striking. A short flight over the town left me following the highway to glimpse some familiar landmarks before swooping back up and over the familiar prairies towards looping back towards my starting point.
The skies were also becoming more populated. A half dozen other flights appeared on my HUD as I followed my 50 mile flight plan over a place I wouldn't have expected many to visit... or maybe I'm not the only one ignoring the big cities in favour of vast, sprawling and familiar landscapes.