Road Trip Update: Five States to Canada!

I recently went on a 6,000 kilometre road trip from Vancouver, BC down the Pacific Coast, into California, sideways to Nevada, and then up again through Utah, Idaho, and Washington State. I was joined by my dad as copilot, and we were gone for two weeks. The car we chose for the adventure was my Speed Yellow 2000 Porsche 911 GT3 Aerokit Cup.


A scene straight from Jarhead. Also, turns out you can pass hordes of Humvees at any speed you like.

Nevada to Utah: To those who wonder how I can remember all of our trip's details, day after day, city after city, state after state, well to those I say: "You're right, I can't remember everything. And I'm currently drawing a blank on Utah." Perhaps that's not as much a testament of my ability to recollect things, but evidence of quite how entertaining and memorable of a state Utah is. It really isn't memorable. Now to the people of Utah (this is redundant as I don't expect anyone from Utah to read my blog), this can be a bit harsh, since all I did was drive from Nevada to Salt Lake City, saw a few canyons, and then escaped North towards Boise, Idaho. But back to the trip. Right, err… We left Vegas and after a few hours of driving took a turn off for Zion Canyon, which would take us about half an hour off our course into some hot hot hot temperatures, a small village, and a breathtaking canyon and park. 

Zion Canyon: Again, I can't remember much, but I do remember that we were running behind schedule, so we decided to skip Bryce Canyon, do Zion properly, and then mash the throttle to the salty lake city. Unfortunately we were very behind schedule. So a quick drive through Zion, its village, and the start of the park was all we could afford if a) we wanted to also have some lunch and b) we didn't want the Porsche to melt into a heap of yellow play-doh. It was hot out. But Zion was beautiful. See photographic evidence above and below. 

Ticking cool with a view. 

Salt Lake City Arrival: Aside from the highway catching fire, there isn't much to report between Zion Canyon and Salt Lake City. The fire did catch me slightly off guard as there were absolutely no warning signs that behind this fast right hander up the mountain there would be stand still traffic. Since I live to tell the tale I feel obliged to now take a second to say "danke" to the engineers at Porsche circa 1997-1999 for that Porsche 996 stopping power. Several times on the trip I had to throw absolutely everything I had at the middle pedal and not once did the brakes lock up or did the back end come round to meet me. This one time, we were on a desolate highway cruising at speeds higher than required for a Boeing to get airborne, and as we came up on this little American econobox in the right lane it all of a sudden decided to cut left in to the fast lane for no.reason.whatsoever. Swerving right would of spun us off, driving left on the shoulder would of probably caught a wheel in the dirt and send us, as passengers in our own car, spinning and flipping for hundreds of meters. So I stepped on the brakes with the intention of engaging the ABS, but no ABS came and the 911 slowed down to around 100 km/h with meters to spare.

Then of course the key is to take it easy on the brakes for a while as the last thing you'd want to do is fry the brake fluid. That once happened to be in a new BMW and losing your brakes is I'm convinced one of the scariest things you can experience in life.

But back to this drive to SLC. I believe it was a five hour drive. Perhaps one of our quickest. Definitely in the top three with Redding to San Francisco and Salt Lake City to Vancouver (that final day 1,580 km drive that we completed in 13 hours and included three fuel stops, one lunch stop, and one quick in and out outlet mall gift pickup. A drive I'll never forget). Man against machine. Or machine and man against exhaustion. Or men, machine, and Escort Passport 8500 X50 against the fuzz. Whichever way you slice it, that was one epic drive, and the drive from Zion to Salt Lake City was equally quick. The last hour I remember being quite boring as we were on this highway that was following the lake but had this frustrating barrier that prevented us from enjoying the view. The sun was setting, and we luckily were able to distract our minds with finding a hotel for the night and perhaps, ideally, some dinner as well.

I've never had to stop so damn abruptly for such a damn strange reason as a highway on fire. 
First we got some gas in a bad part of town, then we drove up to the top of the city, and then back down, straight into the Hilton. Any rooms available? Yes? Breakfast, wifi, and valet included? No? That's extra? How much extra? That much extra!? Ok fine. But for the love of God, please be the one valet that waits the all-important 5-seconds before cranking the flat-six and for once doesn't bottom the front out. You will be? Perfect. Will you really? Because they all say they will wait the 5 seconds, and that they won't bottom it out, but every single valet, from LA to Vegas has failed to do exactly those two things. So I passed him my keys and a brief moment later I heard him crank it over right away and proceed to dip into the -1 parking level with the vigour of a teenager who had just got his license. It's moments like these that I wonder why I had every part-time job under the sun between the ages of 12 and 20; from doggy walker to babysitter, from detailing cars to pumping gas, from cooking Italian food to blogging, I for some reason never tried to become a valet. What was I thinking?'

I love car!
At this point you'll either be in agreeance with me in that valets can sometimes suck, or you can call me out for being lazy by refusing to park my own car. Well, I'll have you know that sometimes hotels do not allow self parking. Like in Vegas and LA. So case closed. I'm not lazy. Well I'm lazy, but not as lazy as you think I am. Now where can we quickly shovel our faces full of food before going to bed, face first, into some either slightly too firm or slightly too soft Hilton pillows? The friendly hotel manager pointed us to a restaurant called Fishmarket. It was there where I found the strangest collection of people I've ever had the displeasure of running into. From washed up uncomfortable midlife crisis guys targeting the lone awkward female at the bar, to only be trumped in awkwardness by the first date in the booth next to us, to the absolutely mental waiters. I say mental, but what I really mean is the absolute bar-none single worst restaurant experience. All of this, and more (!), in Salt Lake City! What a lovely place, what a lovely face. Our waiter had clearly been weeded all night and had just come to his senses. He clearly wasn't happy that we walked in after the second dinner rush (granted), and he acted (and sweated) as if a ticking bomb had been strapped between his legs that was designed to go off would he dare to exchange in any way shape or form a single pleasantry. From what I remember about the food, my dad was quite happy with his salmon. So we've got that going for us, which is nice.
The top bit of Salt Lake City. 

The pillows turned out to be fine. The breakfast had an omelet bar which reminded me of that episode on King of Queens where Carrie's coworker gets laid off and specifically requests an omelet bar before agreeing to quit. But once again, I digress. The day ahead of us would prove to be a long one. Depending on our valiant efforts, sheer willpower, and a heavy right foot, we would either make it to Vancouver in one, or two days. The upside of making it one day is being in well, Vancouver, one day earlier. It being the best place in the world, and us being in possibly the least best place in one of the least best Western states, the choice was simple. Given two very thinkable options, we took option A. Straight ahead to the land of poutine and beaver tails. Well, straight for a while into Idaho, then left into Oregon, and then left and up some more into Washington before absolutely flooring it past everything into Canada where we would immediately slam on the brakes and play nice. Actually I think what happened is we slammed on the brakes about 500 meters before the US borders because I'm convinced they can do a hell of a lot more than just take pictures of your car when you're about to pull up to the little office with the officer in it. I bet they can listen in, track your car, track your purchases, average your speed, and read up on your family tree, and all within 5 seconds of you pulling up to the little booth. This is what I believe. Yet earlier in July I was driving back from the States without a passport, and the guy said he was unable to punch my name into his computer and verify that I was a Canadian - even though I had a valid driver's license. He said they only have those kinds of computers inside, and not in the little drive-up booths. So if that's the case, maybe my high-tech paranoid beliefs of what that man in the box knows should be revisited.

Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Canada, HOME (!): Take me home baby! Post-sketchy gas station stop in Idaho and a forced Jack In The Box lunch experience we began enjoying ourselves through the tail (North) end of Oregon. We could start to see hints of Canadian Evergreens as we crossed into Washington, and then from there on it was nothing but fast twisty highways through immense mountain ranges until we joined the I-5 near Seattle, and drove up to the always enjoyable (view-wise) Peace Arch Border crossing. We were almost home. Almost. The Porsche had held up. The tires were still there. The windshield was still protecting us from bugs (side note: What's the last thing to go through a bug's head when it hits your windshield? --- It's ass! Ha!), and the brakes were still slowing us down plenty. After a poke around the Porsche, we were set free into Canada and then I spent one of the most enjoyable hour long drives of the trip driving from White Rock into downtown Vancouver. What made it rewarding was not that we completed a near 6,000 kilometre trip; a trip that my dad and I had talked about driving since I was still only just six feet tall, not that we did it in a 911 - my 911, but that I was coming home to Vancouver. With the sun setting between Vancouver Island and the North Shore mountains, with the False Creek Condos greeting our entry into downtown via South East Granville and over the Granville Bridge, looking right over the Burrard Bridge and getting that funny aching feeling in the top of your stomach when realizing that you live here and that you love living here, that's what made it rewarding.

It's a cliche, I know, but sometimes you really do need to go away in order to come, and appreciate home. Vancouver you'll always have my heart. Then again, there are 196 countries in the World (and I have a friend, Dan, who can name them all) and I've only seen maybe 30. Who knows what else is out there.  Well surely some people do. I should meet up with said people and see if I can find a mutual agreement on like the top 10 countries to live in. This would be cheaper. Then I shall go to those places. In my 911. This reminds me of that Mitch Hedberg line that goes something like: "The other day I bought a map of the world to hang on my wall. And I'm planning on putting pins in all the places I've been, but first I've got to travel to the top two corners of the world in order to be able to hang the map up."

Two weeks in July that I'll never forget.
We arrived in Vancouver around 9:30 PM, hence the sunset. Once the car was parked and unpacked, we were just in time to catch the third and final 2014 Celebration of Lights, which is a fireworks spectacle where countries go head-to-head and try and outdo each other with fireworks. What's remarkable is that Canada is rarely one of the competitors. So basically we are getting other countries to literally blow their money up in front of us, for the entertainment of us, Canadians. Remarkable. But unfortunately my rooftop patio closes after 10 pm so we didn't make it. We did however,... hear it! And that's not nearly as good as seeing it, sadly. Luckily Earls was open late and we each tried one of the Thai bowls and a several Stellas. What a day. What a drive. The following two days my dad and I played tourist in Vancouver. The weather was stunning, and Stanley Park, Dunderave, Capilano, Cleveland Dam, Whytecliffe Park, the Sunday roast on the patio at the Teahouse, and the West End were all on their best behaviour, in their best light, and once again reminding me that there's no place like home. Thanks for reading, and please remember to get out and drive.