Go-karting with dinosaurs

After the grandeur of the Rockies, it was time for the openness of the Canadian Prairies and the Albertan Badlands. I didn’t think anything could equal the mountains and lakes we’d already seen on our trip to Calgary but the Prairies have a magic of their own. Driving through, all I could think of was The Orb’s Little Fluffy Clouds. The sky truly goes on forever and I knew exactly what Rickie Lee Jones

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

was talking about. One of the things we noticed on our trip back to the UK in December was how low the sky felt in comparison to Madrid. It felt even higher here than in Spain. So there we were, the four of us in the car, with field upon field of farmland, the occasional building, blue skies and those little fluffy clouds. I now know why this is such a cliched tracking shot in films. The flatness and the homogeneity is quite hypnotic and meditative.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There are communities out there, of course, towns where 1st and 4th Street salute you as you both enter and leave because they are so small. At Beiseker, we were welcomed by Squirt, the school mascot, and locals spending the long weekend throwing horseshoes. We also passed a Mennonite community enjoying a simpler way of life (their produce is second-to-none, I was informed).

The peace and tranquility was intoxicating.

From the Prairies, we headed out to the Red Deer River Badlands and the spectacular Horseshoe Canyon (pictured), where layer upon layer of rock reveal more than 75 million years of geological history. The First Nations were the first people to discover fossils here and believed the bones belonged

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

to the giant ancestors of their bisons. In truth, they belonged to the gigantic dinosaurs which once roamed the land. The lush conditions of Alberta – the forests, rivers and mud deposits which now make up the Badlands – made it an ideal spot for preserving their remains and more than 150 complete dinosaur skeletons have been discovered in the area with 40 species discovered, including the Albertosaurus, a smaller relative of the T-Rex but still measuring up to 33ft long.

Dinosaurs are everywhere at Drumheller, our next stop (although they had to wait a few more minutes while my cousin Colin and I had a race-off at the nearby go-kart attraction. He won. It wasn’t my fault

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

– I couldn’t reach the pedals properly #shortarse). Anyway, as well as the kitschy ones on the streets, the Royal Tyrrell Museum is an incredible collection of bones, many found in the nearby Dinosaur Provincial Park. I was interested but the museum proved more than worthy of a visit. It is a fascinating place, filled with skeletons, recreations, gardens, educational attractions – much, much more than I

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

expected (and the Ontario Science Centre should learn a lesson from it). We spent the afternoon there. You need a whole day to see and appreciate everything.

And then it was the drive home, past more Little Fluffy Clouds. I hope to see more of the Badlands in the future. And I’m taking a cushion with me next time so I can reach those damn go-kart pedals.