Some Pics From My Alberta Research Trip Part One: Badlands and Stephansson House

So, it was no secret that I was going to Alberta for research for Too Far Gone (the Winnipeg Free Press reported on it before my third book even had a name). These pictures are from the first part of my trip. Also, I will take any excuse to hike through the Alberta Badlands.

I regret that my photographs aren’t as good as Paul Weimer’s (seriously, check out his stuff. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful photos), I’d blame it on the fact I didn’t bring a proper camera and was taking pictures with my phone, but that would be a lie. I’m just not a skilled photographer.

These are from my hike in Horseshoe Canyon.


Unlike my last trip to the Badlands, I actually had proper hiking shoes instead of on-their-last-laces tennis shoes. I also went hiking before I’d spent an entire weekend dehydrating myself with hotel air and Irish whiskey.


It involved a bit of doing to stay dry in some parts of the canyon. Which I didn’t manage. Not that I was going to return those new hiking shoes.


There were a couple scrambles that reminded me that I was out of shape. And that I was one good tumble away from feeding the coyotes.


There is an “inuksuk graveyard” in Horseshoe Canyon, where hikers build cairns of stone.


This one was one of my favourites.


Seriously, how can you not love this place?

Heading further north, and near to Red Deer, and down an assortment of back roads, I found Stephansson House. (Thanks to Johanna Brierley’s mother Marcia for the suggestion–and for the loan of one of Stephansson’s books of poetry!). Stephansson was an early settler in the area, and a noted poet.


One of the things, besides scenery, that I was looking for on this trip was Icelandic ties to Alberta. Those ties paid off creatively for me in writing Thunder Road and there was some neat stuff to be found here. You’ll have to read and find out about that, I think.


But I did meet this awesome dog.

The staff at the museum didn’t know the dog. She must’ve just wandered into area looking for shade. She was quite friendly.


Stephansson House is a beautiful house. I also felt like a giant inside it. Which was good to know. Also interesting to learn, Stephansson’s son was struck by lightning. The boy died, but afterwards, the house’s roof sported numerous lightning rods.


Some of which you can see in the photo above.

That’s part one! Big thanks to Kevin Madison for driving me around Calgary and environs.

Write on!



Bad(lands) To The Bone

Get ready for roughly 400 random pictures of coulees and hoodoos!



I took a lot of pictures while I was in Alberta. And while I hope to get back at least twice more in the next year or so, who can say what’ll happen? So I tried to cram as much sightseeing into one weekend as I could.

First up: Kananaskis and Elbow Falls.

My buddy Kevin was playing tour guide for the weekend and as he drove past a washed out bridge I saw a small portion of the destruction that the recent flooding left behind.


The area was still beautiful though. And all I could think when I saw this, was “here there be monsters.”


I suppose it’s a poorly kept secret that I’m planning on setting the third book in the Thunder Road trilogy in Alberta (especially since the Winnipeg Free Press mentioned it in a recent Paper Chase column!)

I’ve already written about what happened after Kananaskis, my trip to When Words Collide. Next up was a camping trip at Dinosaur Provincial Park and a trip into the Badlands.


There were some bugs, obviously, but this was my first glimpse of the Badlands!


Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?


At the Hoodoos, which are like visiting an alien world. I kept expecting to meet Tars Tarkas.


While I unfotunately did not meet any Tharks (or Martians of any kind), at least I did not encounter a rattlesnake, or a scorpion, or a black widow spider.


Me & Kev

Me and Kevin, in Dinosaur Provincial Park.

Chad & Dave

Me and my high school buddy Dave who was in Alberta for work and joined Kevin and I on our trip to the Badlands.


The Hoodoos near sunset. There is all kinds of magic in this place.


The one thing that really struck me about about the Badlands was how green they were. I was expecting desert; rock and dust. Not these lush grasses and wildflowers.


Miner Chad

Coal Miner’s Son?


A map of the Atlas Coal Mine, which I’m totally stealing to use for Dungeons & Dragons.

Into the Mine

On my way into the mine!

Two Man Tent

Home for the camping trip. I assure you that whoever named this a “two man tent” has never met two actual men.


It’s not home, but I do love those big, damn Alberta skies.

Hope to see them again soon!