Driving east, away from the Rockies, our next stop was Elk Island National Park just outside of Edmonton. We did not see any elk at Elk Island. But we did see lots of bison.
Elk Island NP is home to one of the most successful bison herds still in North America. There are both wood bison and prairie bison here, though I couldn’t tell you the difference. Bison from here have been relocated to places like Grasslands National Park, and some parks in the US, to form new herds where bison had been hunted to extinction.
Supposedly there are elk, moose, and bear in this park, but bison are the only ones who like to share the road.
What I will most remember about our trip to Elk Island, though, was the spring green of the trees. When we left Winnipeg in early May, it was still pretty much winter. Banff had lots of green, but it was only conifers. By the time we got to Jasper, the deciduous trees were starting to bud, only barely. Here’s a shot from our drive to Miette Hot Springs.
By the time we were in Elk Island, spring had fully sprung. The trees, aspen and poplar, glowed.
They also spat. I think it was the poplars producing these little sticky seed things, thick with a green sap that stuck to absolutely everything. MiniMighty laid down on the ground at one point and got them in her hair; it took two showers to get all the sap out. I was constantly picking them out of the dog’s fur, which he did not enjoy. They caked in our shoes, and contributed to the difficulty of cleaning out the RV at the trip’s end. So, we loved the spring green, but I don’t think I want to camp with these trees again.
We had four nights there. We spent a lot of time just hanging out at our campground, making fires, making friends. The girls spent a lot of time with the six-year-old in the next campsite, whose address I have sadly lost.
There was a playground just a two-minute walk away. Dooner managed to gouge out a chunk of her forehead… on the pavement? While hiding under a picnic table? She has to move fast to keep up with her sisters, and keep up she does, but with plenty of bumps and bruises to show for it.
Near our campground was a large lake with a beach. The kids managed to get into the water one day, but man… getting wet is not my jam when it’s not that hot!
It was a beautiful day, and we spent lots of time in that area. Next to the beach was the larger playground, with all that brand-new style of equipment we’ve been seeing down south the last couple of years. A reconstruction of a Ukrainian pioneer home was on the grounds, complete with thatched roof. On the weekends, the “theatre” was open, sort of a second visitors center. Its large theatre had documentaries playing; with COVID I don’t think they’re doing much in the way of indoor programming.
We gave up on taking any hikes with the kids, but I snuck off with the dog to take a short trail nearby. It covered some swampland with some impressive beaver dams. I mostly took pictures of the flowers, though. There was this large yellow flowering plant growing in a swampy ditch:
These beauties, which I want to call white violets, though I know that can’t be right:
And bluebells. There weren’t loads of these, but the ones I saw were lovely.
These purple flowers seemed familiar, but I don’t know what they are. Quite small.
All the colors of flowers aside, what I will remember about this visit is the green of the trees. I’ll forget the sticky seeds, but I’ll remember the green.