The Road Less Traveled

The open fields of Alberta's Badlands

The open fields of Alberta's Badlands

Mention Alberta and the first thing that comes to mind is Banff. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Banff, Lake Louise, and the Canadian Rockies in general, are up there on most bucket lists, and if they're not, they should be. But for something a little different, I decided to head east from Calgary, a fabulous city, to the Badlands of Alberta, and about two hours east.

What I found might surprise you, and it was a trip full of firsts. I literally (and I hate that word but it's true) walked on 75 million year old fossil dinosaur fossils and bones at the UNESCO protected Dinosaur National Park.  I climbed into an abandoned coal mineI drove into a hidden valley that is home to a thriving theater community, population of only about 40 if you don't count the students. I drank beer in a ghost town. And, this will shock anyone who knows, me, I got in a helicopter, doors off!  It was the only way to see the mysterious topography of the prehistoric river valleys known as The Badlands. I listened to old stories told by a descendent of a chief of the Blackfoot Indian tribe. And on my last day, I experience the the power of an ancient medicine wheel, which are scattered throughout the plains of Alberta.

When Robert Frost said, "I took the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference," maybe he too had just returned from the Badlands.

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Kimberley Lovato

Kimberley Lovato has written about travel, lifestyle and food for national and international publications and websites including National Geographic Traveler, Executive Travel, American Way, AFAR, Condé Nast Traveller (UK), Ryan Air, b.there, Easy Jet Traveller, leitesculinaria.com and frommers.com, among others. She is the author of a Michelin Guidebook on Brussels, where she lived for six years Her culinary travel book, Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves, about the Dordogne region of France, won the "Best Travel Book" nod in 2012 from the Society of American Travel Writers, as did her personal essay, "Lost and Liberated," which also appeared in Best Women's Travel Writing, Volume 8. When she's not plotting her next trip or her annual pilgrimage to France, she resides in San Francisco where she is a correspondent for BBC's Passport Blog, a student in Stanford University's Creative Writing Certificate program, and a brave mother of a teenaged girl.