To our relief we hadn't burnt the whole of Alberta down let alone ourselves being burnt down by the nearby raging wildfires. At this point we still thought we knew where we were going but ended up in the centre of the wildfires. Instead of driving SE down highway 40 we had headed east and ended up at Drayton Valley which was barely further south than Hinton.
We parked up in-front of their tourist information and it was here that we realised we were in the fire-ban area and we were actually planning to head straight for the centre of the fires - Nordegg. The tourist information buildings in Alberta were not nearly as developed as they had been back in British Columbia but that wasn't really their fault as nothing seems to happen in these towns until on-season- or at least until the rodeos. We were recommended to visit some ghost towns - if you need an idea of how much goes on in the non-ghost towns- in particular ones called Ponderosa Village and Em-Te Village (see what they did there?).
Ponderosa Village was down a series of gravel roads and was merely a row of four 'wild-west' buildings with a massive store selling things for cowboys that were either too expensive or impossible to even consider fitting in hold luggage let along hand luggage. The novelty was that people round here do seem to say y'all all the time but of course it could easily just been put on for effect!
We decided to skip Em-Te Village as it seemed to be a commercialised version of Ponderosa which looked essentially the same but required an entrance fee. We had joined the Cowboy Trail in Alberta and we expected to see some real cowboys and ranches but everything was a bit over-commercial for our authentic tastes. However after our time in the Rockies, most places were going to become pretty disappointing. I'd suggest doing the backwards route to mine, so you end up in Vancouver Island as that route just keeps on giving!
We had started doing a lot less trails and a lot more driving from town to town. We arrived in Rocky Mountain House and the tourist information were very useful in giving us trails and some prices on my bus to Calgary - which was still going to be extortionate. We drove to Crimson Lake and the 10km walk around it made up for the lack of trails of the past few days.
Since it was my last night we decided to eat out for dinner so we showered and dumped our waste water before heading into the town. We went to the local pub called 'Boomers' which definitely
wasn't very booming. The waitress seemed to have more than just a problem with our accents as she didn't even know what a cider was. Before the stand-up comedy got in 'full swing' we bailed to Timmy's to steal some wifi but ended up staying there for the night. The camping sites in Alberta were by no means as scenic as those in British Columbia but they were at least much more convenient.