I thought it would be fun to share our first trip ever in our airstream. In fact, it's our first trip camping out in anything other than a 10lb nylong tent, a snow cave or the back of our pickup truck! So it was a real treat from a multitude of perspectives.
Last weekend was our Victoria Day long weekend up here and like thousands of others, we took the opportunity to do get outside and enjoy a bit of spring. Although winter still seems to be hanging on some days!
Before I get into the story, I want so say that by FAR the most important lessons we learned from our previous towing experience (see http://www.airforums.com/forums/f42/...not-48662.html
) was to add a new Reese dual cam hitch to our rig. Also, after it was discovered that our rear left shock was leaking, I replaced both rears with new Monroe Sensatracks which give a nice gentle ride and brought our rear suspension back into balance.
It took a few sundays to get everything tweeked and fine tuned but it was time well spent. Now, when we hitch up and raise the jack, the trailer barely drops (just under 3/4" in the back and 1/2" in front). Big thanks to Andy, Denis, Robert, Paula and many others for your helpful advice.
Now, towing feels nice and smoooooooth. There are no jarring bumps, everything moves predictably and like it belongs together. On flats I hardly notice that we are towing anything at all. We had strong head and cross winds as well as plenty of aggressive traffic both out and back and I was amazed at how little impact this made on the driving experience. It was actually quite relaxing just ticking along at a comfortable 95-100 kmph (55-60 mph).
Back to our trip. We left bright an early on friday to beat the traffic and arrived at the Two Jack Lakeside campground to discover a lineup of other keen campers waiting for things to open for the season:
Meanwhile I enjoyed the view from the galley and got a bit of work done - yes that is fresh snow outside.
After a few hours, the water tests came back okay and Parks opened the campground. There are about 75 sites on the lakeside campground and there are no hookups. The Two Jack Main campground has about 350+ sites and offers water recharge and sanidump.
We opted for a site on the loop 1-15 which are pull-through sites that are set a 100 feet or so back from the water. There are really nice sites right on the water (#54 and 32 I think are the best), but they were already taken and they involve some backing around trees which I'm not 100% confident with yet. Still, we found a nice quiet site (#2) with lots of room between our neighbours:
Two Jack Lake itself is probably 1-2 square kms of water (not that big) but there's fishing and swimming if you like to experience severe hypothermia first hand:
After a bit of a walk about we were ready to enjoy some G&Ts and snax!
And I whipped up our first dinner - tasty stuff!
In our exuberance, and not having any idea how long things like batteries and water would last, we pretty much had everything going from furnace, lights, pumps, you name it. We had a blast, but as the night came and the temps dropped to below freezing, our furnace was kept pretty busy even though I turned it way down to a cool 4C (40F). By morning, we had barely 2 bars on the monitor so I had to run our truck for about 40 minutes to get a decent charge. This has since motivated me to do a lot of research on batteries, charging, generators vs. solar, amps, amp hours... holy cow there's a long learning curve on all this stuff!!!!
Anyway, the net of it is that we went into "Apolo 13" mode for the rest of the trip (2 more nights) and tried to conserve much more aggressively.
The next day dawned reasonably clear and cool, and after a hearty breakfast we packed up the ski gear and climbed up into the hills. In this case, out behind Sunshine Ski Resort in Banff NP, intent on getting in some late season powder skiing:
Our goal was a couple of favourite little peaks called Quartz Ridge a few kms away south of the resort. You can see Mt. Assinaboine, a fairly famous peak, and the largest in the southern Cdn Rockies way in the background between the Quartz ridge gun site.
A few hours later we were topping out:
And enjoyed the views in a howling wind
The skiing back down, however, was pretty darn good for this time of year
A few more runs and several hours later we were drying gear back at our site
and getting ready to enjoy a few well deserved beer
On Sunday we celebrated ski day number 70 for this season (which started back in October!) but thanks to "global weirding" the weather had turned back to cloudy and stormy so the picture ops weren't that great. On monday we had a nice sleep in before pulling camp and heading home in another all out snow storm - crazy stuff.
All in all, just a fabulous first trip and we can't wait to get back onto the road again this coming weekend, perhaps to Lake Louise - we'll see
ps: I can see what people were saying about our 00 Tundra being a bit underpowered. I towed out wet so that we could hit the commercial scales and get some weights, and Tundie worked hard to pull at 80kmph (50mph) up the steeper hills. Coming back we were totally empty and we had no problems, though. Lesson learned - tow out dry and be smart about what we load.
Thanks to buying the AS and doing home renos we can't afford a new truck this year but with careful packing and some strategic driving and trip planning, I think we'll do fine. Besides, some of the best places in the world to visit are less than 2 hrs out our back door so we don't have to drive far!