Renovations have wound down to a near close on Casper. We have working electrical, latches have been upgraded, the kitchenette has been replaced and the door has been fixed. We've learned in the past that it's a good idea to do a test run with your overland/ camping vehicle before you leave on your trip to identify any possible problems. Loose nuts, weak hinges and unfinished work tend to identify themselves within the first few hundred kilometers or during the first nights of camping. So, Alison and I decided to take Casper out for Alison's birthday and visit friends in Nordegg, Alberta.
To say this was a 'good' trip would be a lie, but then to say it was a 'bad' trip wouldn't be accurate either. There were a lot of things learned on this trip. In some cases we got exactly what we expected, in other ways, naivety was slapped off our faces in a rather jarring manner. So let me fill you in on what this trip looked like.
Thursday: Alison and I wake up, it's a sunny day on the farm, a little nippy outside at -18*C. I work to finish packing Casper while Alison attends to her daily training regime. We enjoy a nice lunch with the parents which takes us till about 1:30pm, it's getting a tiny bit warmer outside, maybe -17*C. We leave the farm around 2:00pm with Casper in tow. We stop in Viking, AB to fill up Turbo (the truck) and fill our 5LB propane tank. A few hours later we arrive in Nordegg, the temperature has dropped to -25*C, our trailer battery has been drained to 6V by the refrigerator (the truck is not charging the trailer batteries for some reason) and our interior lights no longer work, and the truck is getting around 300-350km's per tank (also known as, REALLY poor fuel mileage). We visit with our friends for a bit, they show us our parking spot, a battery charger is found for the trailer and we retreat inside to warm up for a little bit. 10:30pm comes around and it's time to forge into the cold, dawn sleeping bags and copious amounts of blankets. Unfortunately our batteries haven't recharged yet so we have no lights in the trailer which means we fumble with matches and lighters in the dark. This is when we learned that butane lighters are essentially useless in -25*C and the damn scratchy side of the match box has completely worn off. Somehow we managed to get our propane heater lit and quickly after the trailer becomes a little bit more comfortable. We warm up enough to change into some better sleeping clothes and make our bed. After we're content with our sleeping situation we turn off the heater and hunker down for a cold night.
Friday: I (Alex) wake up with a total of 4hrs of sleep. Ice crystals rim my sleeping bag where my breathing hole is, Alison sports a thin layer of frost over top of her jacket hood. In addition to ice on our clothing there is ice on our bedding, ice on our walls, ice on the floor...ok, so the entire interior of the trailer was coated in ice. Somehow Alison coaxes herself out of bed and soon after has our heater lit and things start to take a turn for the more comfortable. The interior of the trailer begins to thaw...and drip. What I'm about to tell you next comes with a disclaimer: we're quite aware of the stupidity of our actions in the next few moments, we will never do it again, no need to tell us how dumb we are. As our comfort level increases, Alison proceeds to start making coffee, she begins by getting the camp stove and propane bottle out of storage. Her first attempt at connecting the bottle to the stove is unsuccessful as the little valve in the top of the bottle is frozen. We warm the top of the bottle a little and try again. My last memory before it all happened was seeing Alison threading the bottle into the adapter and liquified propane pouring out onto the counter, she asks me, 'is this bad?', that's when I look at the propane heater and think, 'that's bad.' That's when the propane ignited. Needless to say it went from cold to hot in the camper very quickly and there was a sudden need to exit. In her mad dash to the door Alison slips on our skating rink and falls to the floor hitting the propane heater (good thing, tripped the tip-over trigger) while I almost trip over her trying to get out. As we exit the trailer and look back at the massive flame still inside, Alison asks me, 'what do we do?' Well, go back in of course, it's too cold outside! I went back inside the camper, grabbed the stove still partially attached to the propane cylinder and whipped it out the door. Alison went back inside and began to flap out the fire with a dish cloth, all I remember after this is her throwing one of our Petzl headlamps out the door into the snow, it was still on fire. The fire is out and we stand back and look at our blunder, I'm standing in the snow in my socks, it's -32*C. I guess we'll pass on making coffee?
The remainder of our day was pretty low key, we drove around to some places to explore a little, but mainly stayed within the confines of the truck as it was just too cold to be outside for prolonged amounts of time. We left Nordegg early in exchange for a warm bed at Alison's sisters house.
THINGS WE DISCOVERED:
- 12v batteries don't charge off the truck.
- Fuel mileage has been affected considerably by cold and heavier frame.
- Some latches need to be re-positioned.
- Fridge slider needs a better latch
- Truck bed drawer is rubbish, needs to be rebuilt.
- Roof rack rattles a lot
- Butane lighters don't work in extreme cold.
- Propane liquifies in extreme cold.
- Liquified propane still ignites.
- Don't use a camp stove inside your trailer or near an open flame.
- The Boler insulation does not work well in -32*C