Thursday, 26 June 2008

Out on safari

Yesterday we finally made it out on the prairie for our trip into the wildlife preservation area. We were supposed to go last month, but it was postponed because torrential rain made the ground unsuitable for vehicles.

Our guide was Delaney Boyd, a biologist who works at the base and although she couldn't make any promises that we'd see wildlife, as it turns out we were very lucky...

Prior to yesterday, I had only seen a couple of single coyotes at a distance, but on this trip we saw four hunting as a pack (see photo right) which was quite impressive! We also saw antelope, deer with their fawns, the famous Prairie Rose and the two types of cacti that grow in this area and we visited one of the protected historical sites which is the site of remains of a tepee ring, a sacred site for the native people.

As wonderful as the trip was, it was also incredibly debilitating. The mosquitoes have reached near plague proportions, particularly on the prairie. In this region they carry the potentially serious West Nile virus so we had to take (pretty futile) precautions against being bitten, which meant wearing trousers and covering ourselves in pungent mosquito repellent.

The result was we were staggering around in temperatures of 30c wearing jeans and almost continually fighting off a persistent infestation of mosquitoes. There is a lot to be said for summer in the UK, even if the wildlife isn't as exotic!

Tomorrow night we are taking out the RV for the first time. We delayed booking our pitch till tonight, thinking we'd be able to take our pick of the multiple RV parks within a couple of hours drive. What we failed to realise is that because Tuesday is Canada Day (and a national holiday), most people are taking a 4 day weekend.

So when we started calling we found most places were booked up - we have however managed to get a pitch at Dinosaur Provincial Park, so we're off there tomorrow night.

On Saturday we are at a rather bizarre jazz concert in Medicine Hat which is being held on top of a multi-storey car park! We take rugs and a picnic and watch the sun set over the town to the sound of jazz music... we'll report back on that and the RV's maiden voyage over the weekend.

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