Archive for Alberta

Ride to Conquer Cancer

Posted in Editorial with tags , on December 27, 2012 by JonH

Training for the 2013 Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer begins today.

Why today? Well, I need to start losing my Christmas belly, and it seemed like as good a time as any. I’ve got work to do.

The plan is to lose 27 pounds by June 1. That’ll bring me down to 185 lbs. This seems like a reasonable weight to carry over 200 kilometres.

I’m hoping to blog about my efforts to get there.

Anyhow, check out my Ride to Conquer Cancer page and help out if you can with donations, advice, and/or comments.

Go get 'em, pops!

Go get ’em, pops!


Jurassic Forest Gump

Posted in Editorial with tags , , on August 3, 2010 by JonH

A theme park just outside the town of Gibbons seems like an odd place for this. That was my first thought when I heard that a prehistoric theme park with animatronic dinosaurs was opening about 30 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.

My second thought was of that campy mentality where towns strive to set themselves apart by having the biggest (fill in the blank) in the world: Welcome to Gibbons! Home of the World’s Biggest Dinosaurs. I pictured a little cherubic triceratops with a grin and a cape as the mascot, giving the thumbs up to passers-by.

It would be just plain old dumb luck ala Forest Gump if this thing takes off.

I then promptly forget about it until the day before yesterday when my wife announced that we were going to check it out on Monday with some friends of ours.

Despite my earlier thoughts I was still excited.

We drove out past Gibbons without seeing so much as a sign indicating that there was a new theme park in the vicinity. It was only until we got down highway 28A a bit that we came upon a large sign saying, “Jurassic Forest” on the left side of the road.
This is it. We turned left and drove down the road. The next sign was less than inspiring.

But that was no indication of what was yet to come. As we pulled up into the parking lot saw a giant wooden fence with two huge wooden doors as the entrance.

We strolled in past the doors, down the path, and then into the main foyer/souvenir shop to pay. The prices seemed reasonable: 13 bucks each.

As we left the foyer and marched into the sandy play area that separates the main building from the pathways which lead out into dinoland there was a roar in the distance.

“Sounds like the bipedal carnivore of the theropod genus commonly known as Tyrannosaurus Rex,” I said. The women swooned and the men turned green with envy.

Actually, it was more like, “Oh look, a concession booth.”

We walked past the playground, and proceeded towards the wooden pathways which led to the main exhibit: the dinosaurs.

The park sits on 40 acres of boreal forest, and is broken into two one kilometer wooden walkways, which wind through the trees and vegetation of the area. The paths are well laid out with thick rope keeping people from straying onto the dirt and there are plenty of information placards to keep you informed as to which dinosaur you were looking at, and the animatronic dinosaurs are situated throughout. The dinosaurs, much to my surprise, are triggered by sensors and timers not by the incessant yelling of the five-year-old boy named Lucas that seemed to be following us. The dinosaurs’ movements are relatively staid, but nevertheless fairly convincing especially when viewed through the trees. As for the sounds, I can’t say they’re realistic, but they’re effective. Almost as loud as that kid’s.

As we strolled along, I lagged behind somewhat and struck up a conversation with a young woman who was an employee of the park. She was very friendly and quite helpful. She told me that there were 25 employees in total, and that some of them were working overtime. She said that she had walked the loop we were currently on 11 times today, but never hinted that she might not be enjoying herself. Hopefully management is paying better than minimum wage, I thought.

She also mentioned that park officials were hoping to add another loop in the future to display prehistoric mammals. “Cool,” I said. “Have a nice day.” I caught up with my buddy Mike who was taking a picture of a pterosaur.
“Third one today,” he said to me as he snapped a shot of the beast perched on a log. “Must have had a sale on them,” he deadpanned.

Further down the path, Lisa, my wife, seemed transfixed on a specific spot of the forest. It wasn’t until I got closer that I realized what she was looking for.

Once she moved her hand you could hear the sigh.

We dragged Lisa away from her perch, and made our way down the path. Much to my surprise we were greeted by a rather sweet smell, and an equally unusual sign.

Obviously, a coincidence but interesting to note nonetheless.

This wasn’t the first sign that presented the uninformed with useful information. As this series of photos attests, it’s good to know that park officials have some people’s best interests at heart:

Towards the end of our visit, while we were looking at the raptor display with another group of people, the woman I had spoken to earlier reappeared, and began telling us that the makers of the movie Jurassic Park used what is known as the Utah Raptor and called it the Velociraptor even though the two were very different in size. “The Utah Raptor,” she said, “didn’t sound threatening enough.”

I stood there jotting down notes, apparently looking very official because she asked if I was with a newspaper. “No,” I responded. “I’m doing a write up for my blog.” She smiled politely as if to say, “that’s nice” and she walked away.

Now with our visit over the only thing left to do was to get back to that concession stand. I had a hankering for a brontoburger, or some velocoveal parmiggiana, maybe a slice of pachyoderm pizza. What was it going to be?

Well, it wasn’t to be anything. All they had were hotdogs, and nobody wanted that.

Given that today was only the park’s fourth day of being open to the public, it was still pretty impressive, and much better than I thought. Sure you could see some of the stands the dinosaurs were perched on; yeah okay, there was still some of the burlap used to wrap them up in lying around; maybe, the souvenir shop was painted in a really drab colour; so they had no decent concession. Sure that kid Lucas had a set of lungs on him; maybe the paths are a bit too narrow; who cares if they have three pterodactyls and only one T-Rex? But, you know what? I would go back. I enjoyed myself, and so did my wife and our friends.

And if you look close enough, you’ll see that kid Lucas in the T-Rex’s mouth.

As requested, here are the admission prices:

Nuclear power

Posted in Surveys and opinions with tags , , , , , , , on November 19, 2009 by JonH

There’s been a lot of talk lately about nuclear power as a viable alternative to coal burning power plants. Advocates say that it’s the only way we’ll be able to hit reduced CO2 emission targets, and that we should think of it as a bridging technology because it’s ready to go now; whereas opponents say that it would be like trading one problem for another and that we need to explore alternatives right away.

What are your thoughts?