THOMAS: A LEGEND IS BORN

Can you believe it? I’m already into another vehicle/ travel set up, it’s almost as if I can’t make up my mind. I know in my last blog, which was a long time ago, I dropped the first image of my latest project. A lot has happened since then, seriously, that’s no understatement. To catch you up on my vehicle endeavors I’ll give you an overview of what’s happened since I “announced” the purchase of Thomas.

Turns out Thomas had a bent frame, bent motor mounts and a myriad of electrical issues. After I purchased the truck I had it towed to my Disturbed Industries Automotive to have my friend Ryan look over it then shortly after drove home to Alberta to start work. The plan was to have Ryan do whatever work on the truck that was necessary to get it road worthy and legal to drive. I would return from Alberta when the work was done and drive the truck back home. A couple of weeks or so after I returned home I got the bad news about what Ryan had found. I immediately had the truck towed to another friends place so it wasn’t in the way while I figured out what I had to do. After talking with my close friend Duane we decided to poke around Thomas’ insides a little more. After some further diagnostics Duane discovered that Thomas’ motor was not in fact blown (I bought Thomas with the intention to put another used motor in knowing that the motor wasn’t running) but was actually running fairly well. But, the fact that there was a bent frame still remained. While all this truck drama was occurring I was looking into the details of importing a new van to Canada (I had purchased Thomas as a boot-around-the-farm-truck). The process was looking rather daunting and I was becoming less and less certain of my decision to purchase another Hiace. As I put more focus on Thomas I got to recalling all the good times in my 1988 Toyota pickup. I started to realize that I had a really good platform for a mobile living situation right in my lap. A reliable pickup that has a fairly basic motor, suspension and inner workings, plus parts can be located easily anywhere in North and South America and it has a 7.5ft bed, perfect for mounting a camper. All I had to do was figure out the frame problem, which coincidentally wasn’t that difficult because it turns out Ryan had another long bed Toyota pickup sitting in his shop with a perfect frame and rust free cab. Bingo. So yes, I bought a second truck. I had the second truck towed to Duane’s shop and he got started on swapping motors and anything worth saving from Thomas 1.0 to Thomas 2.0. A couple weeks later I flew to BC and spent a weekend slaving away on the truck with Duane to get it driveable so that I could return home. After some 24-30hrs of work over a weekend I started the truck and drove from BC to Alberta without so much as a hiccup from the 31 year old clunker that had just been two trucks.

 This here marks the burial place of Thomas 1.0. Naw, actually he went to the scrappers.

This here marks the burial place of Thomas 1.0. Naw, actually he went to the scrappers.

 The truck starts, the truck runs, the truck moves under its own power. Time to drive to Alberta! Thanks Duane and Blake!

The truck starts, the truck runs, the truck moves under its own power. Time to drive to Alberta! Thanks Duane and Blake!

 What Thomas 1.0 evolved into.

What Thomas 1.0 evolved into.

SO! Fast forward a little, the truck has a new paint job, straightened body panels, new suspension, new front end, new armor and a boat load of other stuff. Phase one of Thomas’ transformation is complete, he’s ready and able to go on short term trips, can carry our camping-based kit and has my Autohome RTT mounted up top for sleeping in. Alison and I hopped into drive back to BC for a month of cycling, exploring, camping and perfect chaos. I’ll keep the summer coverage brief because I intended this blog to be more about building Thomas, but I have been due for a recap blog.

 One of my favorite spots along the river near Nordegg.

One of my favorite spots along the river near Nordegg.

 Happy camper!

Happy camper!

 The new setup with Thomas was mediocre at best, it was difficult to retrieve stuff from the box of the truck with the bike rack on the back, and we had no fridge to keep our food cool, but first steps to something greater aren’t always easy.

The new setup with Thomas was mediocre at best, it was difficult to retrieve stuff from the box of the truck with the bike rack on the back, and we had no fridge to keep our food cool, but first steps to something greater aren’t always easy.

 Despite the new-found difficulties of our “back-to-basics” build we were more than stoked to be back in the mountains.

Despite the new-found difficulties of our “back-to-basics” build we were more than stoked to be back in the mountains.

 Morning RTT views.

Morning RTT views.

 Icefield Parkway views never disappoint.

Icefield Parkway views never disappoint.

 I discovered a viewpoint near Oyama in the Okanagan after arriving to a downpour in our previous planned spot.

I discovered a viewpoint near Oyama in the Okanagan after arriving to a downpour in our previous planned spot.

 Viewpoint of epicness.

Viewpoint of epicness.

 Nowadays it’s a rare occasion to be camping with Alison, so we find ourselves all smiles when we do.

Nowadays it’s a rare occasion to be camping with Alison, so we find ourselves all smiles when we do.

 Spot courtesy of iOverlander

Spot courtesy of iOverlander

 A very blown-out shot of us with our buddy Thomas about to hit the road again.

A very blown-out shot of us with our buddy Thomas about to hit the road again.

 Gas Town Grand Prix, 2018

Gas Town Grand Prix, 2018

 Gas Town Grand Prix, 2018

Gas Town Grand Prix, 2018

 My dad being my dad at the New Westminster Criterium

My dad being my dad at the New Westminster Criterium

 Gas Town Grand Prix, 2018

Gas Town Grand Prix, 2018

 “Byeeeeeee”, Gas Town Grand Prix, 2018

“Byeeeeeee”, Gas Town Grand Prix, 2018

 I have funny parents, never a dull moment.

I have funny parents, never a dull moment.

 Gas Town Grand Prix, 2018

Gas Town Grand Prix, 2018

 Burnaby Criterium, 2018

Burnaby Criterium, 2018

 Gas Town Grand Prix, 2018

Gas Town Grand Prix, 2018

 Burnaby Critierium, 2018

Burnaby Critierium, 2018

 Poco Criterium, 2018

Poco Criterium, 2018

 Tour de Whiterock, 2018

Tour de Whiterock, 2018

 Tour de White Rock, 2018

Tour de White Rock, 2018

 Tour de Whiterock, 2018

Tour de Whiterock, 2018

 Due to Alison being gone during our 7 year anniversary we decided to celebrate early by escaping to one of our favorite spots.

Due to Alison being gone during our 7 year anniversary we decided to celebrate early by escaping to one of our favorite spots.

 The luxury of camping, mid-afternoon naps.

The luxury of camping, mid-afternoon naps.

 Camp level, 1000

Camp level, 1000

 Riding the stoke…

Riding the stoke…

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 I’ll never not miss BC mountains.

I’ll never not miss BC mountains.

 Returning to Alberta by myself I decided to take the long way home and managed to make what should have been a two journey into a week of driving. This is overlooking Osoyoos, BC.

Returning to Alberta by myself I decided to take the long way home and managed to make what should have been a two journey into a week of driving. This is overlooking Osoyoos, BC.

 Mountain top chill out spots. I discovered that my stove was missing it’s gas attachment, so I ate smoked oyster on crackers for dinner. I’ll be honest, I was a little more worried about bears coming to visit me that night due to the smelly oyster can I had hidden away in the garbage.

Mountain top chill out spots. I discovered that my stove was missing it’s gas attachment, so I ate smoked oyster on crackers for dinner. I’ll be honest, I was a little more worried about bears coming to visit me that night due to the smelly oyster can I had hidden away in the garbage.

 Can’t get enough of these sunset colors.

Can’t get enough of these sunset colors.

 Morning views.

Morning views.

 My compatriots from Southern BC, Jessey and Tommie. These gems were supposed to accompany me on my Alaska/Yukon trip last summer but after a broken ankle a week before departure Jessey had to throw in the towel.

My compatriots from Southern BC, Jessey and Tommie. These gems were supposed to accompany me on my Alaska/Yukon trip last summer but after a broken ankle a week before departure Jessey had to throw in the towel.

 After years of meet-up attempts I finally caught up with Travis Perry and camped with him just outside of Nelson, BC.

After years of meet-up attempts I finally caught up with Travis Perry and camped with him just outside of Nelson, BC.

 Later the next day we decided to drive up a mountain just outside of Kaslo to peek some peaks and gold mines.

Later the next day we decided to drive up a mountain just outside of Kaslo to peek some peaks and gold mines.

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 Dusty ascents: minutes after this shot was taken we were stopped dead in our tracks as the grade became too steep and loose for our truck to climb any further.

Dusty ascents: minutes after this shot was taken we were stopped dead in our tracks as the grade became too steep and loose for our truck to climb any further.

 We were forced to back down the steep trail into this little pull out. I assure you, trying the exit the truck was difficult without falling out.

We were forced to back down the steep trail into this little pull out. I assure you, trying the exit the truck was difficult without falling out.

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 Can’t beat Kootney views.

Can’t beat Kootney views.

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 Sitting damn near 6000ft has it’s perks. Travis managed to make it to 6008ft.

Sitting damn near 6000ft has it’s perks. Travis managed to make it to 6008ft.

 Who would have known that Alison’s bike would make it to such heights via 4x4 truck.

Who would have known that Alison’s bike would make it to such heights via 4x4 truck.

 Nature cake.

Nature cake.

 Thomas looking rather regal in his crowsnest perch.

Thomas looking rather regal in his crowsnest perch.

 Pre Kootney lake ferry.

Pre Kootney lake ferry.

 Sailing into the sunset. It was a little odd for me to be standing on a fresh water ferry crossing a lake in the middle of a province.

Sailing into the sunset. It was a little odd for me to be standing on a fresh water ferry crossing a lake in the middle of a province.

 Before exiting the mountains I met up with my friend Alec and Erin for a little camping and proceeded to travel a large portion of the 40 which is a forestry trunk road paralleling the Rockies as far south as Crowsnest Pass and as far North as Grand Prairie.

Before exiting the mountains I met up with my friend Alec and Erin for a little camping and proceeded to travel a large portion of the 40 which is a forestry trunk road paralleling the Rockies as far south as Crowsnest Pass and as far North as Grand Prairie.

 Alec has adopted much of my previous Tacoma parts and now sports a pretty sweet little living space inside the canopy he bought from me.

Alec has adopted much of my previous Tacoma parts and now sports a pretty sweet little living space inside the canopy he bought from me.

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 One happy dog.

One happy dog.

 Thomas hiding in the foliage.

Thomas hiding in the foliage.

 It’s hard to resist a little swamp romping.

It’s hard to resist a little swamp romping.

 Hummingbird Falls

Hummingbird Falls

 Ram Falls

Ram Falls

 Alec and I made the trek down to the rivers edge and then up river to get a swim at the base of Ram Falls.

Alec and I made the trek down to the rivers edge and then up river to get a swim at the base of Ram Falls.

 Huzzah, waterfalls!

Huzzah, waterfalls!

 In the spirit of camping, boots, hatchet, trucks and tents.

In the spirit of camping, boots, hatchet, trucks and tents.

 Peaceful.

Peaceful.

 More swamp romping.

More swamp romping.

 At this point I had shed the company of friends and forged my own path in the Alberta wilds. Highway 40 did not disappoint and I reckon I’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the future.

At this point I had shed the company of friends and forged my own path in the Alberta wilds. Highway 40 did not disappoint and I reckon I’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the future.

 Pepper Lake, along the 40.

Pepper Lake, along the 40.

 A little piece of paradise. I stopped early in the this spot, not wanting to drive any more and sat by the fire attempting to play harmonica and eating snacks.

A little piece of paradise. I stopped early in the this spot, not wanting to drive any more and sat by the fire attempting to play harmonica and eating snacks.

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 These are my camp colors.

These are my camp colors.

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 It’s views like these that drive me to keep exploring.

It’s views like these that drive me to keep exploring.

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Now I’m back on the farm and working yet again. Thomas has undergone a few more upgrades, but more importantly…step one of phase two has begun. I’ve returned to my plans of building an aluminum camper. I had intended to do so using Turbo (my 2013 Toyota Tacoma) as a foundation but Norton happened and that plan was 86’d. Returning to the camper concept I’ve decided to do all the work myself and save money where I can so that when it comes to travel I can go further for longer. Step one of phase two involves ditching the truck box and building a flatbed for the camper to sit on. I had intended to build the camper inside the truck box but ultimately decided against that to avoid complications and loss of space later on down the road in the construction of the camper. I opted to build a ute tray style flatbed, something you don’t see a lot of here in Canada. Construction of phase two has already commenced and I’ve made significant progress. Take a look…

 RTT’less with new shoes, Thomas is looking pretty sharp and a whole lot lighter.

RTT’less with new shoes, Thomas is looking pretty sharp and a whole lot lighter.

 A glamour shot of Willow soaking up the trucklife

A glamour shot of Willow soaking up the trucklife

 Discovering little trails in the prairies of Alberta can actually be pretty fun.

Discovering little trails in the prairies of Alberta can actually be pretty fun.

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 This is the last shot I have of Thomas before he lost his truck box.

This is the last shot I have of Thomas before he lost his truck box.

 Building begins and structure begins to take form.

Building begins and structure begins to take form.

 Truck boxes being fabbed.

Truck boxes being fabbed.

 I didn’t manage to take too many photos of the building process so here’s the finished product.

I didn’t manage to take too many photos of the building process so here’s the finished product.

 The bed sides and headache rack can be removed easily to allow for the camper to be bolted in place.

The bed sides and headache rack can be removed easily to allow for the camper to be bolted in place.

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It was my decision to stay on the farm for the winter right from the get-go. I knew that I would have to spend a significant amount of time while working to both afford and properly build my next project. I knew that this decision wasn’t going to be a popular one going into the winter. I’m already watching some of my favorite people on instagram traveling around and feeling the pull of the road and the freedom of adventure. But, sometimes you have to sacrifice what you love to do for a time to enable yourself to do that same thing for much longer.