June 29, 2007 ...My eldest son and I embark on the first stage of my plan to pick up my parent's 20' Bigfoot
5th wheel and truck. I have a simple plan, we will take the night greyhound to Kamloops where my brother will pick us up and drive us to his place in Ashcroft B.C. There the truck and trailer have sat for the last 3 years. The plan is that we will sleep the night away on the bus, arriving fresh and ready to begin our adventure. Have you ever tried to sleep on a greyhound? Ok..well I did say it was a simple plan, apparently from a simple mind....the bus stops at every sign post to load and unload passengers and packages. Each time the door opens the smokers on board stampede for the exit where they hurriedly puff away while ignoring the bus driver's yells that this isn't a rest stop. The driver keeps the air-conditioner on full blast all night in retaliation.
Of course my son sleeps like a log earning dirty looks from me. Then again, he is a new dad and this is his first night away from the nightly feedings so perhaps he has an advantage. I amuse myself staring at my reflection in the window and muttering about having been up since 3 A.M...( I work an early shift)
We arrive in Kamloops at 6 A.M. and enjoy a nice hot breakfast where I gulp down coffee until my brother arrives. A short and scary drive later we arrive in Ashcroft and stagger from the car to see the truck and trailer waiting. I wonder just who told my brother a Honda Civic was a race car....
After tossing our gear, including a good basic tool set (see? I'm not totally simple...) into the truck we check out the trailer. It's pretty musty and the floor carpet seriously needs to be replaced, the bathroom floor has no covering but does sport a brand new toilet. Everything seems to be in place though so we take the truck into town to gas it up and check out the fluids.
Two gas tanks! Well now, isn't that cool? I can drive this forever with those babies full.
(yeah, well... I drive a 4 cylinder Saturn, what do I know?) $120.00 in fuel later I'm grumbling about how my car fills for 25 bucks and runs all week on it.
Ah well, back to the house!
I back in and line up with the hitch then hop out to begin hooking up...
Me: "So... How does this thing work?"
Brother: " Geez, don't ask me... I thought you knew!"
Me: "Whaaaaat??, You've had it here for 3 years!"
Brother: "So? Dad parked it there three years ago and there it stayed."
Me: "Ok ok..no problem, where's the manual?"
Brother: "Manual? Baaaahahahahahah!" (which I thought was rude of him)
So, after some peering at the various bits and levers we got it ready to hook up....
Me: "Hey...shouldn't the 5th wheel have some grease? I mean.. it's all dry and rusty looking...."
Brother: "I guess so..."
Soon I'm backing in from my trip to get grease and hooking up, not difficult once you know how... Now to pull it out and see what pulling a trailer is like. We head for a spin around the neighbourhood. You know.. B.C. has some awfully hilly neighbourhoods... not at all like Edmonton. We come to a shuddering stop and frantically search the glove box for the trailer
brake manual. Having found it I set them up and we try again, and hitting the brakes
to test them we feel the trailer pushing us along merrily... Ooops! Turned the doohickey the wrong way I guess... Try again...... Bang!....geez...lookit them trailer brakes
work! I wonder what that old guy is looking at us so funny for? He ought to finish cutting his lawn before his wife gets annoyed....
Ok..lets actually read the WHOLE manual. Aha....there..that's how it's done...lets try again...sweet! They work! I grin at my son and tell him, " See? I know what I'm doing."
I really don't know why my son looks at me like that...
So, after lunch we head out with my son driving. One look at my bloodshot eyes and they all insisted he drive first. That works for me, I absolutely HATE heights. B.C. seems to abound in heights, I think they did that just to keep me at home. While I'll admit the view of the valleys from those mountaintop roads is spectacular even when viewed by peeping over the door frame I still feel it would have been just as scenic to put the roads at the bottom so you could admire the lofty peaks. However... I wasn't consulted.
Just outside of Cache Creek we pulled over to check the trailer brakes
and ensure they weren't dragging. All was well and we hopped in to continue the adventure. Urg...urg....uuuuu.... dead battery! Geez. Nice view from up here though.... A jumpstart later and we were off, headed to Kamloops and the Canadian Tire store. We arrived there and I rechecked the battery
to find that the negative lead was loose and could be pulled off by hand. I dug out the tools and got it tightened down, tried the starter..Yahoo! We were off and I didn't have to buy a battery
. Gawd... I'm so clever!
Just outside Barriere B.C. my son woke me up from my light
doze. He swears I was snoring, of course he was simply misled by the muffler leak... a mistake anyone could make and there was no need for him to roll his eyes like that when I explained it. He had woken me to see if I
wanted to fill the tank in Barriere or just switch to the other one. "WHAT!" already? geez....
We pull into the pumps and begin filling the tank. I think I out-grumbled the semi truck parked beside us while I filled it and paid. Ok...off we go! Urrrr. urrr rrrrr.... dead battery! Back inside I went to see if they had any... Nope! And the girl told me the only parts store in town was closed for the long weekend.... A jump start and away we go, headed for Jasper and hopefully a battery
. But.. whats this? The Napa store is open! One quick turn and we are in there begging him to stay open long enough to sell us a battery. Not only did he do that, but he also stayed past closing to lend us an extension bar so I could get the old one out! Great guy! Remember the good basic tool set I mentioned earlier? Who knew I'd need THAT long an extension bar? I had a 2" one..
My son thought the sign over my shoulder was appropriate and took this picture of me removing the old battery....
Ok..new battery in. Truck fires up like never before and we are off. My eyes resemble cherries but..I slept 30 minutes coming into Barriere so now I'm driving. First time ever with a trailer other than the utility trailer I used to pull with my old jeep....
Hmmm, I notice as I pull onto the busy highway that this sure doesn't accelerate like my car. Wow! What a loud horn that fellow has. Well, what's he expect? This isn't a sports car, silly man. Oh...neat.. a passing lane. There he goes by... I'll grant that he has an abnormally long middle finger but that's no reason to go showing it off like that....
I soon get used to the handling and start enjoying the drive. This trailer pulls like it isn't even there, no sway on the corners and except for the upgrades (with attendant rapid drops in the gas gauge) you forget you have it behind you. I think I like it.
We decide to stop for the night in the campground at Mt. Robson, it's been a long two days and I can't drive any longer. Besides, we have two more days to get home to Edmonton. No sweat now that the battery is fixed, what can go wrong?
So, we fill the water tank on the way in and pick out a nice wooded campsite. I try my hand at backing the trailer in, ten minutes later I take the truck and trailer around the loop to let the traffic behind me get by, while my son stays to hold the campsite. Campers are sure a happy bunch, I can hear them all laughing away....such merry people. Next time around I get it parked! And in under 5 minutes too. I get out laughing bitterly...maybe it's the air..
We soon have the awning
pulled out, very sweet! This certainly beats tying tarps to trees like I usually do when tenting. Then I try to get out the lawn chairs I saw in the lower storage. I marvel at how Dad ever got them in there, they seem bigger than the access door. A few bends in the chair frames and out they come, and without resorting to a hammer either! Soon we are relaxing in the shade enjoying our new home before we head off to bed.
We both slept wonderfully, the heater took the mountain chill away, the beds were marvelously comfortable and we were thrilled with the whole trailering experience. Oh..by the way...when I set up the lower bed I found that I could access the outer storage area through a large panel under the seat... putting the chairs away will be much easier now....
Morning came and I was thrilled to turn a tap and have water boiling for coffee just minutes later on the 4 burner stove, man this sure beats shivering over damp wood trying to start a fire.
Mmmmm, fresh coffee!
Geez! I TOLD my brother to flush the antifreeze out of the tanks before we got there! Talk about a coffee that really wakes you up.... Gawd. Ah well, I intended to take a walk anyway so I take a thermos and wander off to get water for coffee. Note to self - in future check things yourself.
Soon we have had a nice breakfast and packed up and are on our way. We head for Jasper where we stop to flush out the water tank and system, buy some supplies, and get my son a fishing licence. Oh yeah, and take out a loan for more gas....
We are going to camp in the park and enjoy our trip, if it kills me. Of course this is the Canada Day long weekend so the park campgrounds are full, however we get a spot in the Snaring River overflow site and I soon have the trailer backed in and set up. Well...in under 10 minutes anyhow. We unhooked the truck and had a fine day along the river with my son fishing and myself taking pictures. Then back to the trailer for a good hot dinner and another night of blissful sleep.
Monday morning and the coffee was good! It's these little things that make a guy happy ya know. We hook up and head home arriving at 2 P.M. where I drive proudly down the alley hoping the neighbours are away so they don't see me trying to back this in....
Well...putting down 4 inches of fresh gravel on the driveway slope wasn't such a good idea after all. I admit that...
After burying the rear axle
of the truck twice trying to back the trailer gingerly into it's spot I am getting a bit frazzled. The neighbours are all peering over their fences, except of course the ones who's fence I am about to park along..they retreated rather hurriedly and are peering out their windows
. I am pretty certain I'm lined up ok (must get proper mirrors for this backing up business) so I request that my wife and kids move out of the way. They favour me with shocked and reproachful looks which tell me my language is perhaps a bit flavoured at this point. Ah well...there's just something about 4 people yelling differing advice at you all at once that tends to make your replies colourful...what can I say? So..into reverse, stomp on the gas, rocket backward cringing...slam on the brakes and Voila! I didn't even hit the shed. Out I hop/stagger...and my wife says...
"It's a bit crooked, do you think you could......"
I didn't hear the rest, I was inside getting a beer.
Another shot of the trailer and pull vehicle..
Happy trails all, and stay tuned for further adventures from the newbie...