Sunday, July 31, 2011

Southern Alberta

While studying the atlas prior to our trip, we recognized the name of a historical site in Alberta.

Some years ago we read about it in Dave Barry's insightful essay on the delightful culture of Canada, "What Has Four Legs and Flies," (be sure to go back to page 47 for the full effect) from Dave Barry Talks Back.  We had to stop by. 

The story goes that the Blackfoot people used to chase buffalo over the bluff for more efficient hunting. A young warrior wondered what it looked like from below. His friends could not dissuade him, and he watched. They found him later, under the beasts, with his head smashed in.  Thus, the site was named Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.

We arrived at closing time, so we didn't have much time to look around.  But the center is built onto the cliff, with a couple of stuffed bison looking down on the main floor.  Perhaps one could get a better idea of the event if there was a recording of thundering hooves playing, or if the buffalo looked like they were about to slip. 

Outside, the wind was blowing hard enough to keep unwise buffalo from falling off the cliff.  I had to make some effort to walk back down the hill to the parking lot, anyway.

The wind seemed to be trying to remove the doors from our van as we drove along.  I felt grateful to not be driving a covered wagon, or pushing a handcart in that sort of wind.  But some of the pioneers did.  Our next stop was in Cardston, founded by Mormon pioneers in the late 1880s. 

In spite of wind and snow and wartime, they built this beautiful temple. 

 Actually, the wind was not so bad when we stopped to see the temple.  We enjoyed a peaceful visit in the visitors' center.

Then we pressed on to Montana, and continued home.

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