Jason and Suzanne Talbot live in Preston, Idaho, which is at the northern end of beautiful Cache Valley. As recent empty nesters who work hard throughout the year, vacations are an important and rewarding aspect of their lives. Their love of riding ATVs and UTVs, combined with their love of camping, has taken them to many amazing destinations.
Hauling Toys: ATVs
Living the Dream, One Trail at a Time
Jason & Suzanne Talbot
Years ago, my wife and I decided to buy an RV. For us, it made sense to buy a travel trailer— something small and affordable, but big enough to sleep the entire family. At the time, we had three younger kids at home, so we needed comfortable sleeping accommodations for five, and we wanted the vehicle to be self-contained so we could camp off the grid when needed.
We shopped around for a few years and decided to buy an older trailer that included everything we wanted. We bought a 1978 bumper pull trailer as a test to see if we would use it enough to justify the purchase of a newer, fancier and more expensive unit down the road.
As it turned out, the purchase of that little trailer changed everything for us. Spending time around the campfire with the kids, family and friends, with no TV, no cell phones and no distractions, was a precious time for us. But there’s always something more to want. I would see people riding their ATVs and side-by-sides around camp, fresh off their tow rigs and big beautiful toy haulers, and I dreamed that one day we would have those things, too.
In 2014, we were fortunate enough to purchase a Keystone Carbon 297. We had also been shopping for ATVs around the same time, so we knew what to look for in dimensions and weight capacities. We had gained enough experience in our little trailer to know what we wanted as far as floor plan and features; nothing too big or too small. Built solid, but not too heavy. Beautiful inside without being too fancy. And although our kids had grown up and moved out, we still wanted plenty of room in case they decided to tag along, or to bring future grandkids along on our adventures one day.
We purchased a pair of ATVs, so we required a wide-body trailer, as each ATV was just shy of 48 inches wide. I also preferred a garage area separate from the main living area, which made the Keystone Carbon 297 our perfect fit.
Our first priority was the RV, with the ATVs providing the icing on the cake. We were going camping and the ATVs would tag along. But that changed quickly. We loved riding our ATVs so much so that riding destinations took over our travel research—and we found that two of the top five ATV riding destinations were already close to us: the Paiute Trail and Moab, both in Utah.
Researching places to stay along the Paiute Trail System, I stumbled on a beautiful town called Marysvale. My wife and I spent a long weekend there the next June, discovering the Paiute Trail for the first time. We were hooked. Completely and absolutely hooked. We went back to the trail twice more that year and completely fell in love with Marysvale and the Paiute Trail. That following March, we reserved a campsite in Moab. It was our first ever trip to Moab, and like Marysvale, we fell in love with the town and the riding opportunities available nearby.
Every year since, we’ve returned to Moab every spring, and visited The Paiute Trail several times a year. Owning ATVs has allowed us to ride the 50-inch trails that are prominent in Utah. They go through beautiful areas that aren’t accessible with larger vehicles. And even though we eventually made the move from ATVs to a side by side, we made sure to buy one that was within the 50-inch limit so that we could continue to enjoy all of our favorite places.
The Carbon 297 handled our new toy easily. The garage is roomy enough for a side by side with more than enough weight capacity. The ramp is sturdy and resilient, yet opens and closes smoothly. The tie down points in the Carbon are rated at 5000 lbs each, so I feel safe knowing my cargo is secure.
Since the spring of 2015, we have put so many miles on this trailer, I lost count, but I’d guess around 10,000. In July of 2016, we took it on a non-ATV riding trip to Northern California. We stayed in an amazing RV park called Azalia Glen, just north of Trinidad, California, and within walking distance of Patrick’s Point State Park. Even with six of us on that trip, there was more than enough room for us all. And the trailer pulls so easily, both my wife and I are comfortable taking turns at the wheel.
Our RV makes camping so easy, we almost feel like we’re cheating. Maybe we’ve gotten soft in our “old age,” but we prefer staying in RV parks with hookups. Occasionally, we take the RV to more secluded areas, like Island Park, Idaho. While there are RV parks nearby, we prefer the more isolated camping areas away from town. The Carbon truly shines off the grid, with its massive freshwater tank and large waste water tanks. Add in two batteries, two large propane tanks, a 5500 watt generator, and a 30 gallon fuel station, we can spend a long time off the grid with everything we need. No reason to go into town for anything. No neighbors. Just us, the river, the trees and a great campfire.
In the beginning, we bought our toy hauler for camping, but it has turned into so much more. It’s a vehicle we use to pursue our dreams. It gives us a base camp for our adventures on the trail. We’ve seen so many places that feel untouched and undiscovered, all of them beautiful.
We’ve made memories that will last a lifetime. Our RV is a tool we use to live our dreams, but it stands for so much more. It is truly our home away from home, as cliche as it sounds. But it’s given us the freedom to chase down our wildest dreams, and do it from the comfort of our home. One that comes with us wherever we go.