Tag Archives: Ford Flex

On being a dad (and hiking with kids)

So we just got back from Prince Albert National Park today.  We had planned to hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin.  We got up early on Saturday, navigated a nasty Kingsmere Drive to the trailhead (it’s under heavy construction) and then started out.

Hiking to Grey Owl's Cabin in Prince Albert National Park

The biggest question I had during the build up to this was how was Oliver going to hold up on the hike and with a pack.  His pack fit him well, only had his sleeping bag, some clothes and his headlamp and knife in it but 40 kilometers over two days is really hard for anyone let alone an 8 year old.

Hiking to Grey Owl's Cabin in Prince Albert National Park

He started out fine but even at the first campground, he was struggling.  As we pushed on we passed kilometer six and he had tears running down his eyes and was saying, “I’m okay Dad, I’m okay.”  He wasn’t.  His feet were killing him.  He had hikers on but it wasn’t working.Hiking to Grey Owl's Cabin in Prince Albert National Park

I have read all sorts of articles on REI and MEC about pushing kids too hard.  It turns a hike into a forced march and makes them hate doing this.  Since hiking is Oliver’s favorite thing in the world right now, I didn’t want to do this too him.

Hiking to Grey Owl's Cabin in Prince Albert National Park

As we came into the Chipewyan Portage, I talked to Wendy and said we are staying here for the night.  He’s in pain and not having fun.  He wasn’t going to make it to Grey Owl’s.

I suggested the idea to him and he seemed so relieved.  Then he came and said, “I’m tough enough to keep going.”  I just said that this looked like a good place to camp (and it was).  Of course we had two tents and it was a one tent campground but I was willing to explain my decision to any Parks Canada warden who came by says it has a two tent campground.  We may or may not have been using that campsite but I’m not sure.  When we got it, it just looked like a picnic area and a one tent campground but I’ll defer to Parks Canada on this one.

Hiking to Grey Owl's Cabin in Prince Albert National Park

Oliver took off his hikers and put on his Dawgs but even then could barely walk he was in so much pain.  He got better as the night went on but he had given it all he had.

Around 8:00 p.m., a light drizzle gave away to an impressive storm.  Mark had a rain poncho on so he got the food up on the bear platform (anti bear platform?) and made sure no food was close to our tents.  We had cooked well away from them but by the fact that you have to do that makes you realize how deep you are into bear country.

The storm continued for most of the night.  The winds came up and we started to hear the trees snap during the night.  Parks Canada does a really good job of thinning out the trees near your campground so there are no “widow makers”  near but hearing those trees snap in the middle of the night is a terrifying sound especially when they are so close.

Hiking to Grey Owl's Cabin in Prince Albert National Park

At 4:10 a.m., I heard an animal near by.  Our tents have gazebos and were shut up for the night.  Wendy and I have the Mountain Hardware Drifter 2 person tent which has two entrances.  I had found a baseball sized branch and had put it outside my side of the tent earlier just in case.  I had grabbed my headlamp and was ready to go check it out but it just sniffed around what sounded like the firepit (which we hadn’t used for this very reason) and kept on walking.   There were bear tracks on the trail area this morning.  It worked out the best for both of us.  For me I didn’t have to get muddy and for the bear, he didn’t get his butt kicked.

Leave No TraceWe had a big breakfast, cleaned up our campground, and started the hike back to the Ford Flex.  We took the Leave No Trace philosophy seriously.  We packed out the garbage from the campground.  Before we left Mark and I restacked the firewood and replenished the wood we used the night before.  The campground was a mess before we got there with several large areas burned for bonfires by the beach (really people) and we did our best to clean some of that up as well.

Hiking to Grey Owl's Cabin in Prince Albert National Park

Oliver was good until the last 750 metres and then he was in pain and crying.  I had Wendy and Mark go ahead and open up the car and get him and I an ice cold Gatorade.  Just as we came out of the trailhead Mark came running up and took Oliver’s pack and gave him and I cold drink.

Hiking to Grey Owl's Cabin in Prince Albert National Park

We met a teen girl who was solo hiking to Grey Owl’s the day before.  I had chatted with her dad as she left and she had made the hike and left early in the morning to get back early to meet her dad.  She was chilling out at the trail head when we got back so Wendy took a cold drink down to her who seemed really happy with it.  She was also surprised that Oliver had hiked as far as he did.  That picked up his spirits and he left feeling in a good mood.  The encouraging words of a mom, dad, and brother mean one thing but a compliment from a girl he only met hours before, well that is next level.

Hiking to Grey Owl's Cabin in Prince Albert National Park

From there it was into Waskesiu to get some Doritos and then the long ride home.

Hiking to Grey Owl's Cabin in Prince Albert National Park

Next year we will try to make it to Sandy Bay.

I can pretty demanding of the boys but as I have always told them, all I want to see is there best effort at things.  Oliver put in a huge effort.  He told me that, “I didn’t have enough left in the tank.” which is a great use of a sports cliche but I said back to him, “At eight years old, your tank may not have been big enough and that is okay.”

Exploring with the 2016 Ford Flex

As much fun as the 2016 Ford Flex is to drive around Saskatoon.  Today is why we have it.

Today starts the 20 kilometer hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin.

A couple of hours ago, we loaded the Ford Flex with a cooler full of ice and drinks (for when we are done the hike and get back to the Flex), topped up the tank with gas, tossed three loaded expedition sized backpacks into it and one smaller one for Oliver and a dog backpack for Marley and then headed out the door for Prince Albert National Park.

After we get into the park, we will register with Parks Canada and then head about 40km north of Waskesiu to the trailhead near Kingsmere Lake.  From there we are hiking 17km to the Northend campground where we will make camp before walking another three kilometers to Ajawaan Lake.

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After we check out Beaver Lodge, we will head back 3 kms back to our camp and call it a night.  Then its up and at it the next morning and back to the trailhead where that cooler of orange juice, Gatorade, Diet Coke, cold water and Coca-Cola awaits.  If we don’t make it back, you know we died a painful death at the hands of a bear in the wilderness.

2013 Ford Flex Test Drive and Review

For the last 12 days I have been test driving one of the 2013 Ford Flex’s compliments of Ford Canada.   Here are my thoughts.

It’s a crossover but a really big crossover.  It’s kind of like a station wagon but a station wagon or mini-van done really right.  Here are my thoughts

What I Liked About It

  • A crazy amount of power.  I felt like at times I was in a muscle car.  When you hit the accelerator, you moved quickly off the line and were thrown back into your seat.  I loved driving it.  It has a 355-horespower twin-turbo EcoBoost model, which is available as a $3,250 option.
  • Sirius XM radio.  Listening to ESPN Radio on the way to work is such a nice perk in your morning commute.21 2013 ford flex review
  • The paddle shifting.  I didn’t really use it that much but it was a nice feature to play with.
  • Park assist.  Now I personally refuse to use it but for those out there that can not parallel park, you will love this with the longer and bigger Flex.
  • Three words.  Air. Conditioned. Seats.05 2013 ford flex review
  • An obscene amount of room in the second row of seats.  They have almost as much room as the front seat.  
  • Wendy made me point out that there are drink holders everywhere.  That’s a big deal when you have kids.
  • Mark loved the fact that he had control of the climate control in back.
  • Individualized temperature settings.  I was born in Edmonton, Wendy was born in Georgetown, Guyana.  These things save marriages.
  • At the push of a button, the third row of seats flip over and become seats that you can tailgate in.40 2013 ford flex review
  • Six speed transmission makes for a smooth ride.
  • Inflatable seat belts… you know in case I drive it into a lake.
What I didn’t like about it. 
  • The Flex AWD now manages just 17 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg on the highway which isn’t great.  Of course I have been driving fuel efficient smaller cars for my entire life and am accustomed to vehicles with higher fuel efficiency.  Compared to other larger vehicles, it isn’t bad, especially if you get the version with Eco-Boost.
  • The adaptive cruise control doesn’t like Saskatchewan.  While I loved the adaptive cruise control on Highway 16, when we turned down a quiet highway, it stopped working and the cruise kicked out with an error message that told me to look at the owners manual.  We did and it told me that it doesn’t work in the desert which I guess Saskatchewan qualifies as.  Basically without anything to return as it’s sonar signal, it stops working which means that you have no cruise.  Now I can understand the adaptive part kicking out but the loss of cruise control totally was a little annoying.  It happened on the way to and from our destination which means that if you drive desolate roads, you won’t be using your cruise control.  For the 2014 Flex, all Ford adaptive cruise control engineers are invited out to the cabin to see if you can make it work.  I’ll put on the beer can chicken, you bring your pocket protectors and a Flex.
  • Push button tailgate seating is a great feature unless you forget a bag of Doritos in the rear seat.  They got crushed.  Mark and I got in trouble.  I am not sure that if Ford’s fault but someone had to be thrown under the bus as we needed a fall guy.
  • Brushing up on the keyless entry system locks the doors, even if the fob is in the Flex.  We learned this the hard way when Wendy leaned up on the Flex’s front door and locked the key fob in the vehicle.  We had to call Ford Roadside Assistance and pay $133 to get the doors unlocked.   From reading online, it’s a problem in a lot of Ford vehicles.  Now if I had bought the car, I would have been able to access the keyless entry but since I was just test driving it…  Of course the funny thing about it was that if you had offered a bonus for figuring out how to lock the fob in the car, neither Wendy or I would have figured it out.  
The base price is around $40,000 which isn’t cheap but the Flex feels and drives like a luxury automobile.  While I am not it’s target market, I would be if I had another kid and needed the third row.  While I prefer the amazing Ford Edge and Escape, with a little larger family, I would be definitely be looking at a Ford Flex.  I know the design has it’s detractors but I rather liked it and so did the family.  All of us were sad when we had to return it.
 
It’s another great crossover from Ford.