Sunday, September 21, 2014

Keystone Energy Toyhauler Shakedown Cruise

It’s only 30 hours ago that Tom and I got the Keystone Energy Toyhauler ready for it’s first off road experience.  I’ve been living in it. It’s been a dream place to live, but it’s not exactly been a ‘mobile home’ or a ‘hunter’s toy hauler’ until today.
I’m embarrassed to say, there was a lot of cleaning up to do.  I hauled a ton of summer clothes and ‘stuff’ to the storage locker.  I had to find a report for work and we did have to get the rifles and ammunition.  Gilbert thinks this is all the very best fun.  Then we got back and did the final ‘shipshape’ stowing. It was far from ready. Lots of mess for sure but nothing breakable likely to go flying.
Then there was the hooking up Energy trailer to my truck. My F350 Ford diesel had the Yamaha Kodiac 450 in the box.  That lowered the box and gave the truck some more traction.   Getting the torsion bars all set up was a new experience for me.
What we couldn’t figure out was how to get the electricity from the battery to the trailer when we unplugged from the city main.  Tom miraculously found a ‘battery cut off switch’, I didn’t know I had.  Suddenly we were in business.
There was a bad smell. I’d leaked waste when I undid the grey and black water hose not completely tightening the cap.  These things can be ‘sticky’.  Wash hands thoroughly.  Leave Dodge quickly.  The smell will dissipate in an hour or so.  Gilbert rather liked the odour.
Without further ado, I was driving and towing this ‘monster RV”.  It’s twice as big as my last one and that much heavier.
Still all went well. Without any deaths or maiming we all three, Tom, Gilbert and I , got to Chilliwack where I filled up everything at the trusty Husky there.  Propane, diesel, gas, water and air.  Tom even lubricated the ball with grease for better performance.
 There's a a 40 gal  built in gas tank for the gas Cumming 4000 built in generator and the gas tank also has a nozzle so you can fill our ATV.  That’s why it’s a toy hauler.  When I got it I could imagine either my Yamaha Kodiac 450 or my Harley Davidson Electraglide, or maybe both, in the garage. So far the garage has been a great junk room and I don't need to use it for the ATV but one day still imagine the Harley back there.  When we get a moose the ATV might have to go there so we can carry the moose in the truck.  There's a whole lot of possibilities with a Keystone toy hauler.

Up the Coquahalla Hwy, we drove.   Dusk  was just falling.  We climbed  the steepest section doing only 70 km to 80 km /hr in the slow lane along with the other big trucks and RV’s.  We did it!  We made the Coquahalla Summit.   Another half hour and we found our wilderness road turn off and headed back country.  Not too far in with still hunting light available, we found the clearing off the main logging road. We just disconnected the truck,  unlocked rifles, stuffed shells in our pockets and headed out for the very last of the evening’s road hunt. Others were coming in as we were going out. But we had an ‘evening hunt’. We were doing it. We were there. It was too dark 5 miles down the road and we returned, but we'd made it.  Maybe not the 'break of dawn' start we'd talked about but we'd made it and we had the Keystone Energy home to return to.
That night I  barbecued t bone steaks under the light from the porch light.  I had the potatoes boiling. Tom took the onions I’d got at our grocery stop in Hope and cooked them up with the fresh zucchini.
Tom found a candle.  The meal was delicious.  Gilbert even got to eat the bones and thought this was all just too dog wonderful. I followed the main course with Haggen Daz Green Tea ice cream.  Roughing it! Definitely roughing it!
We even watched a  black and white John Wayne western movie on the DVD and TV.
I had cell coverage and checked mail and Face Book.
Around 11 pm we were wound down enough to consider bed. Outside the canopy of stars was staggeringly beautiful.  The fresh air was literately tasty in the nostrils.  I climbed into bed in sweats and long sleeved harley shirt. I’d pulled out the couch bed for the first time and actually had sheets and blankets out for Tom . Gilbert chose to sleep at the base of Tom’s bed.  They’re good buds.The propane heater kept the cabin temperature  around 72 all night.  Lovely.
530 am I was up.   Coffee and granola.  Then out in the truck.
We didn’t plan to be fancy.  No ambush and stalking. Just driving around ‘road hunting’.  Horrible.  But we did have a lot of jawing to do. Tom had just been visiting family in Toronto and driven back through the northern states.  He'd put a new starter engine in a speed boat he'd been water skiing with. On the way back he'd stopped at Custer's Last Stand.  We talked about the bum rap Custer had been given and what a great leader he actually was.
Gilbert kept his eyes on the road, looking for grouse.  We drove slowly through the valley, stopping here and there to scope the slashes.  Drinking coffee. Talking. Nothing moving.
Around noon we talked with a couple of other hunters from Maple Ridge. They were in an side by side ATV.  Hunter talk.  “Seen anything?”  “No”  “What a bout you?” “Some does”  “No bucks?” “No”.
We drove on. We walked about a bit.  Looked over ridges.  Shot some targets. Tom happy to have his FAC and shooting good groups with my Mossberg Lever Action 30:30.  We both used a wilderness campground toilet thankful for the seat.  Didn't even have to squat in the woods.  Gilbert waited in the truck.  He'd run around and pissed and shit on everything when every time we got out and walked about looking up at slashes and scoping them.
We drove some more then headed back to the RV.  Pretty country.  Lots of green pine and spruce.  Colours of deciduous trees just beginning to turn to red and orange and yellows. Just beginning.  Hot day.  Temperature 23.  Sunshine and blue sky.    When we got back to the RV, I enjoyed a really hot shower.
We opened the Toyhauler garage door and sorted the remaining mess. There’s a few more bags I can take to the storage locker before our October hunt. That hunt's been a year in preparation.  This Wednesday we're getting together for the final preparation dinner.
These expeditions are extraordinary feats of organization and planning.  In the draw we'd got moose cow tags. All year we'd been getting equipment ready, Luke fixing up his truck, Tom completing his FAC and working on his core, me getting truck and rifle ready.
Now the Keystone Energy Toyhauler had totally checked out.  Tom and I loaded it up and prepared for the final test.  It had proved  great climbing up the mountain and just fine on gravel roads but I hated hauling trailers down windy steep inclines. That was  what came next.
Returning down the Coquahalla the Keystone performed beautifully.  
Tom took over driving in Hope.  We stopped for fish burgers. hamburgers and Gilbert’s doggie burger paddy at MacDonalds.   Life was good. More coffee. And an easy ride back into town before the rush hour coming home hit.
With Tom directing, I surprised myself by backing the trailer into my tight little spot. I love the Keystone Energy Toyhauler.  
Maybe I’m getting older but it really is a very pleasant way to go hunting. I’d highly recommend it. Maybe after you’ve spent 30 years or so sleeping out on mountainsides in only a sleeping bag or waking in a tent in a snowstorm on a hunt, the Keystone Energy Toyhauler really seems the way to go.  
Really,  barbecued steaks,  Haggen Daz Green Tea ice cream, John Wayne movies, propane heater, my own bed, expresso stove top morning coffee with fridge cold cream and honey , with a hot shower to come home too. Well, I liked it.  I really did.
Thank you Keystone Energy Toyhauler.  And thank you Travelhome RV for selling it to me and helping me all along with any questions and concerns.  
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