Holidays, not vacations, at the Royal Tyrrell.

Holiday – NOUN (British)
1. An extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in travelling.
Origin : Old English hāligdæg ‘holy day’.

Vacation – NOUN (North American) 
1.1 An extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in travelling.
Origin : Late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin vacatio(n-), from vacare ‘be unoccupied’ (see vacate).

These two definitions, both from the Oxford English Dictionary, would have us think that “holiday” and “vacation” have the exact same word-for-word meaning. While it’s true that they’re used somewhat interchangeably in “Canadienglish,”i their etymologies tell vastly different stories, don’t they ? The British “holiday” is a simple compound of “holy” and “day,” while the American “vacation” is derived from the Latin term for emptiness.

Now this shouldn’t be surprising! While we like to think of Americans as fairly religious folks, you might argue that they’re really much better at being spiritually and intellectually empty,ii so that they set time aside specifically for this emptiness is really all too fitting. The British, by contrast, while only as religious as their Muslim immigrants these days, have a long tradition of churching, or at least paying lip-service to the idea, so that they’ve wrapped up their entirely personal decisions in His garb should also be fairly predictable,iii if also steeped in a little more spiritual replenishment and reconnection.

Which brings us neatly to my little family’s recent holiday to see the finest collection of dinosaur fossils in Alberta at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller.iv Because what do little boys who are two-going-on-three love more than dinosaurs ? Other than Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol, not much! So south we went for a four-day dinosaur adventure.

Here are some photosv :

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Outside of the museum itself but just down the street in the dino-themed city of Drumheller was “The World’s Largest Dinosaur.” At 86′ tall and 151′ long, the papier maché fibreglass and steel T-Rex was located right next to the hockey arena, which was itself plastered in sponsorship signage by Hut 8, the neighbourhood division of Bitfury. Don’t you just love it when 18.7 MW facilities give back to the community like that ? Come back in a few years and the big king will have a BTC-encrusted crown on his head or something.

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The trip there and back was fairly uneventful thanks to the Ecoboost-poweredvi 2017 Ford Expedition we rented.vii With a 900km driving range (thanks to a suitably rexian 127L fuel tank), the only stops were for playgroundsviii for #1 or feedings for #2. Speaking of #2, lest you think this was all about #1’s dino-obsession, here’s Baby Ari chilling in our apartment in Calgary, enjoying the sunshine and privacy afforded by the 800 sft terrace attached to our suite.

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Other attractions on our holiday included the Calgary Zoo, where there were giraffes,ix pandas,x hippos,xi pink flamingos,xii and more, with about a quarter of the area still dedicated to even more dinosaurs.

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All in all, in the fullest sense of the term, it was the perfect little holiday.

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  1. Half-American, half-British. Canadians have adopted the use “z” for spelling “specialize,” for example, like our neighbours to the south do, but we also add the “u” in “colour,” for example, like our colonial masters did. How confuxed are we! []
  2. Lest you think I hate every last thing about America like some kind of blind zealot who gets all of his news from al-jazeera, I’m actually quite fond of their entrepreneurialism and optimism. []
  3. See Henry VIII, etc. []
  4. The Royal Tyrrell Museum is named for Joseph Burr Tyrrell, who discovered the Albertosaurus sarcophagus (imagine a half-sized T-Rex) in the Red Deer River valley way back in 1884. The museum sees about 400`000 visitors per year. []
  5. I’d love to give you more detail on the dinos who donated their bones to the Royal Tyrrell, but this trip was less about palaeontology and more about “sharptooth chase you!” and “longneck bite just one finger!” If we’re back in a few years, more detailed trip notes there’ll be! []
  6. For those of you who know that “Ecoboost” covers everything from 1.0L units on up, to be more specific, the Expedition was equipped with the 3.5L twin-turbo mill producing 365 hp @ 5000 rpm and 420 ft-lbs. @ 2250 rpm. It averaged a more-than-respectable 13.5 L/100km over 932km of driving and 14 hours of use.

    The Expedition is also impressively “stealth wealth” (aka “anti-di-iorio“), a concept I’m slowly starting to see the merits of. Even if flashing wads of cash is just so much damn fun, it’s not always the right cultural fit in every geography. With theatrical automatic running boards, ventilated seats, and all the interior tech you could want wrapped in a super user-friendly package, the Expedition had plenty of bells and whistles despite the badge. But then again, long-time readers will already know that the car industry is mostly about lighting nowadays, a score on which Ford falls far behind. []

  7. Rather than mucking about with airports and airplanes and all that nonsense, we figured, why not explore our own backyard a bit more ? Goodness knows it’s been over 20 years since we’ve been to the Royal Tyrrell ourselves. So with our nanny in tow and all the freedom to start and stop the vehicle as we pleased, what could be more civilised ? Turns out, not much!  []
  8. Who knew that Gasoline Alley had this gem tucked in behind it ? Needless to say, I’ve become something of a playground parkour expert this summer!

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  9. Dino Holidays July 2018 - 19 []
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One thought on “Holidays, not vacations, at the Royal Tyrrell.

  1. […] a time and a place for Airbnb, but I tell ya, it’s a huge gamble when it comes to family holidays, which are already complicated enough, especially when air travel is involved.  […]

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