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April 21, 2019

Road Trips: Oddities

A saloon, Spock, and gophers.

Photography Adam Goudreau and Dwayne Martineau

While a few days hiking through the mountains or hanging out by the lake can be wonderful, sometimes, you’re feeling up to something a bit more off the beaten path. Luckily, there are three odd stops you can incorporate into your road trip.

LAST CHANCE SALOON

About three hours south of Edmonton lies the dusty ghost town of Wayne, Alta. a former coal-mining hub once home to more than 3,000 people. When the mines closed in the 1950s, almost everyone packed up and left. But there’s still plenty of chances to cross a number of historic bridges on the way to exploring in this historic town, and the main attraction is the Last Chance Saloon plays host to live music just about every weekend throughout the summer. And while it is licensed to serve alcohol, the saloon welcomes children, and serves up a menu that ranges from all-day bacon and eggs to a striploin steak that you can grill yourself.

Last Chance Saloon manager Paula Sutherland

SPOCK DAYS

Vulcan, Alta.  is a town that embraces its nerdy side. Every year, Vulcan pays homage to the sci-fi show, Star Trek with Spock Days, named after the highly logical science officer whose home planet bears the same name as the town. Spock Days festival has hosted numerous actors from all five Star Trek series, including Leonard Nimoy – the man who played Spock – in 2010. This year, Spock Days runs June 10 to 12 and will feature a parade, fireworks, a slo-pitch tournament, laser tag, and beer gardens. Visitors can also check out the  town’s replica of the Starship Enterprise, as well as the TrekCetera Star Trek museum that opened in 2013.

GOPHER HOLE MUSEUM

Driving along the Queen Elizabeth II Highway, just before you would turn off onto Highway 27 to go to Olds, you’ve seen the sign and wondered to yourself, “What the heck is a ‘Gopher Hole Museum’?” Well, maybe this year is the year to finally make that turn, head to the hamlet of Torrington and finally see it for yourself. This “world famous” museum – it says so right on the side of the building – features dioramas depicting scenes of prairie life, from a blacksmith’s shop and a firehouse to a church and a library –  all using  taxidermied gophers.

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