Monday, August 12, 2013

The Campervan: Day 13 - Hinton - Elk Recreation Park

This morning it was wind causing us to wake as we thought the campervan was sure to blow over if we didn't get up and hold it up ourselves. Alas we survived but the CO alarm made another appearance which was slowly becoming part of the morning routine. We woke up in our dishevelled camping state to a pretty busy carpark and embarked on trip to Walmart and to top up on wifi. The malls here seem to advertise overnight RV parking so it was nice to actually feel welcome as cheapskates. I had just gone to Walmart to get some flip-flops but Paul came out with some Angry Bird slippers and Blake a BB gun and fishing rod.

Our trip to Hinton tourist info was greeted by boxes of unopened tourist brochures piled to the roof and a rather surprised woman. She was surprised to see anyone here, let alone so early in the season, but she helped us regardless and told us to go to the Beaver Boardwalk as we might see some beavers. We didn't. After a week of hiking in the Rockies, walking along some wooden planks in wetlands just wasn't going to cut it anymore.

We then drove out of Hinton taking the gravel road that the woman in tourist info had advised us against taking as there was "nobody there." At this point I saw Paul's eyes light up. Anne, Blake and I didn't really follow where we were going as we were in an intense Uno Tournament but it turns out Gabby and Paul weren't either. It seemed like we were just driving through a series of mines and all the cars looked at our RV like we were lost and little did we know we really were. Regardless we made several relaxing stops at rivers and lakes where Blake and Anne tested the BB gun in the quiet of rural roads, Gabby sunbathed and Paul expressed his disbelief at what beavers were capable of.

We decided to set up camp at a serendipitous off-season campsite we found called Elk Recreation Park nestled between coal mines but in Canada that means it's still rather idyllic. Since I was going to be leaving the campervan in a few days we had a campfire and I finally got to make my campfire brownies! During the day's drive the radio was full of warnings about fire bans in an area in Alberta - little did we know that we were actually in the centre of that area and  a few kilometres away there were raging wildfires. Enjoying our ignorance we enjoyed the social charm of a campfire and relaxed and talked, only retiring inside when the threat of mosquitoes and bears got too much. It was nice to just sit, talk and share aspects of each others cultures of things we had all considered to be pretty similar before: like schooling and Christmas traditions. It was interesting that my idea of normal was closer to that of the Australian than the rest of the Europeans!

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