With so many of us staying close to home this summer, day trips can be a new way to enjoy being outside.
Recently, I took a day trip, inviting along a friend who is a regular camping partner. The theme of the day was to see and take pics of the “world’s largest” located within a few hours of Edmonton. Of course, that included a stop in Andrew, located at the junction of Highways 45 and 855.
According to an Edmonton Journal article published August 8, 2010, this “world’s largest mallard duck” was built in 1992 to mark local wetlands and duck breeding grounds. The duck is impressive – the fibreglass body conceals a steel frame, filled with Styrofoam. Poised for flight, the duck is perched on a pole 3 metres above the ground secured to a concrete base. The duck’s 7.5 metre wingspan provides a lot of shade when the sun is in the right position!
So that you do not make the same silly assumption we did, the duck’s bill is covered but not for repairs. No, this year, the duck sports its own custom-made COVID mask, complete with straps. Others better informed than we had arrived specifically to take their own small group photos wearing masks.
Centennial Park where the duck flies is a quiet and comfortable spot for lunch with historic monuments. If you decided last moment to stay for the night, the RV campsite runs alongside the park. There are other activities, too, like the Andrew Museum in the train station and the Andrew Grain Elevator Interpretative Centre that would be worth exploring on a lazy day.
Like most trips, if you are open to the journey rather than the destination, you find some real gems. For us, we lucked into both a garage sale and a one-family market vegetable and pie stand. Enjoying a picnic lunch in Centennial Park, we decided to extend our experience of waterfowl by visiting one of the locations the monument represents.
Whitford Lake is only a few kilometres south on Highway 855. Recent rain made the 9- minute trip even shorter because, after turning on to Township Road 564, it was a short drive before the road was covered with water.
I am not a birder. The calls and feathers of a bird are not recognizable to me for the most part. But I sure can appreciate sitting in the sun in a comfy lawn chair, a warm breeze rustling the tall grasses, and the wide open Alberta blue sky. Numerous kinds of birds were taking off, landing and swimming in the shallow, fish-less, Whitford Lake. And oh, how they chirped, chatted and crowed. It was hard to leave but eventually we roused ourselves to move on to the next spot planned for the day. Unfortunately, even the strongest breeze could not deter what must have been the world’s both biggest and hungriest horse flies from taking a nasty sharp pinch.
The treasures and attractions of Andrew and other locations in Lamont County can be found at Lamont County website