by Peter Dushenski
No strippers. No champagne. No painful encounters with a tile floor.
Just 9 young men, the Canadian Rockies, and more fireside bromance than you can shake a cover story at. For the record, I always wear turtlenecks in July. Because Steve Jobs.
Camping, hiking, and white water rafting were the order of the day so we left Edmonton in Ford’s new plug-in wagon to Mount Robson Provincial Park and the Robson Shadows Campground. Five hundred kilometres west of the city and just barely into BC, Robson Shadows has been owned and operated by the exceptionally lovely Cinnamon family for over 25 years. Ironically, our hosts didn’t have a speck of the ancient brown spice anywhere on the premises. I asked.
Though my campfire coffee lacked its usual woody aroma, the barky scents surrounding us more than made up the difference. I stoically sipped my simple brew with the peace of mind that can only come from a lack of cell phone reception. The conversation, attentiveness, and engagement that ensued between the 9 young adventurers assembled could only have resulted from unplugging our e-umbilical cords.
Ford’s latest gadget-on-wheels also unplugs from the grid, but it does so with “efficiency” in mind. Much like the Chevy Volt that so impressed me last December, the 2013 C-MAX Energi is an extended-range plug-in hybrid, basically balancing the best of an electric car with the best of traditional internal combustion motoring. In theory.
In practise, as is so often the case with new technologies, it’s a different story.
Where the Volt arrived full of charge and ready to zap, the Energi arrived flat as pre-Pythagorean Earth and refused to cooperate with the plug-in at the surface stall outside my apartment. Given the mild summer weather, my infinitely wise building management decided to turn off the surface electrical outlets to save on costs. Real life happens sometimes.
The net result was a regular C-MAX, a vehicle we enjoyed immensely on our road trip to Canmore last winter, with a shrunk trunk and a few hundred pounds of dead electrons. This didn’t stop my younger brother (and Best Man) and I from singing our throats sore to Avicii’s Wake Me Up every 45 minutes when it popped up on Sirius’ BPM station.
Nor did the diminished storage prevent us from fitting our musty tents, dusty sleeping bags, rusty golf clubs (my brother and I played the JPL Course on our way there), vacuum-packed food, and dry clothing inside. With the seats folded, the C-MAX was plenty wagony for our needs.
Even with the dead wattage, we averaged 9.1L/100km in a highway environment that tends to favour diesels over hybrids.
The family-facing Ford did its job, getting out of the way for us to test our city boy skills – disconnecting us from our man-made reality and reconnecting us with our ancestral one.
Just like voyageur David Thompson, we rafted the Fraser River, hiked the Berg Lake Trail, made smokey campfires, had our food eaten by crows, and found ourselves chanting “OAKHEART” for reasons that still can’t be explained.
Not that I was ever any good at being single, but I couldn’t have imagined ending my ringless days with a finer group of individuals in a more picturesque locale.
If Alexander Pope (1688-1744) were alive in the 21st century, we can expect that he would say: “To err is human, to unplug is divine.”
This vehicle was generously provided by Ford Canada for the purposes of this article.
[Photo credits: author]