|Diesel Electric Engine #1259|
At the end of the day we had booked a room at Phoenix House B&B in Stettler. This is an original "Eaton's" house sold to farmers in the 1920s from the Eaton's Catalogue. The house has been renovated and refurbished after a fire several years ago. It now boasts 3 modern bathrooms, one for each private bedroom. In the morning we enjoyed a nice breakfast and great conversation with our hosts Dave and Barb.
|Donalda's Oil Lamp|
We left Stettler working our way back home by a round about route. Our first stop was at Donalda where the worlds largest oil lamp sits in a small park. This lamp is an introduction to Donalda's lamp museum which was closed this day. We still enjoyed the visit, especially our surprise as we left town dropping down into a "badlands" type river valley. As we sat on the breaks of this valley, Fay spotted huge windmills in the distance so we thought we would just run over there to take a look. Distance can be deceiving in the heat waves of the clear prairie air. We drove for at least 1/2 hour before we could start to see the wind turbines spread across the prairie landscape. Once close to them, we get a sense of how big they are. The towers are 80 meters tall that support the wind turbine powered by 3 44meter blades catching the mild wind.
A few miles away we saw a farmyard with a barn roof covered with solar power collectors. A few miles further down the secondary highway we could see giant drag lines on the skyline. These monsters remover several meters of overburden to reveal a seam of coal. Miles of reclaimed land surrounds the actual mine site itself. A few miles east is the coal fired generating station fed by large ore trucks hauling coal from the giant mine site. We pause at a small park that demonstrates how coal has been mined for years in this region from small ore cars used to push coal from underground stopes to small shovels that began the open pit mining era.
|Fay Dwarfed by the Shovel|
I do pause to ponder the future of this land environmentally. Coal fired generators do contribute to our global climate changing crisis. We have turned over acres of diverse prairie grassland and aspen parkland to create single plant agricultural land base. We travelled past oil pumpers and of course the large wind turbines notorious for wild bird collisions. It is a difficult conundrum that we live with as humans these days. Do we want the industry that contributes so much to habitat degradation? Do we challenge industry to work harder to reduce their footprint upon the natural land? Do we celebrate industry who do strive to rehabilitate their damages? Which is the better evil that we should support, the wind farm or the coal fired generation of electricity? Many, many questions for sure. Perhaps more awareness for the difficulties we face will reap answers to some of these questions.
|A Bit of Colorful Prairie Quirckieness|
All in all we enjoyed this tour through another region of beautiful Alberta. It is full of beautiful scenery, innovative industry and sturdy, hardworking people. We did enjoy a few Wow Moments this trip through Alberta.