Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Open Road

Yesterday, I had to admit to myself that I like to drive fast. Not in a Nascar way. More in a I-don't-really-like-to-be-around-other-cars-on-the-road way.

I instructed a computer-training class in Trail yesterday, which is about an hour away from home. I had to be in classroom for 8 am so it was an early morning rising. I realized after getting on the highway that it has been a long time since I have been in any gear above third. These days, my driving has mostly involved around town. It was about 20 minutes from home as I was being curtailed by two vehicles ahead of me - when there was a clearing and I passed them, that's when I realized I was annoyed at driving 5 kilometres an hour under the speed limit. With dry roads, I was ready for the open road. Open road to me means not having anyone around me, particularly in front, holding me back.

Of course, I remind myself, this is a piece of cake compared to the summer on our windy mountain roads where there are very few opportunities to pass. Now that I think of it, I can remember a good deal of the passing areas from here to the coast. There are definitely not enough.

But really, my favourite way to get to the coast is through Washington State. On the two-lane-in-one-direction Interstate, I can put the car in cruise control and pull around any vehicle that likes puttering. For most of the state, I am more often the passer than the passee. But when I get to the coast, closer to Seattle, I have met my match. Those city folk are in some hurry. Fine by me, as long as they move along.

After a lot of time on the road, I have observations which may help others on their journeys....

1. Mountains have unpredictable weather. On July 25th in the late 90s, Aimee and I were driving back from the coast and rounded a corner near Greenwood and the ground was covered in white. For sure, between here and the coast, a usual 8 hour journey, I will encounter sun, rain, sleet, fog, and inspiring peaks. Ryan told me once when he drove from Nelson to Seattle that he experienced freezing fog. According to this article, we can have freezing fog, ice fog, and freezing drizzle. Yikes!

2. Don't speed through any towns or cities. Law enforcement is not fond of this kind of driving. For safety reasons. To me, this is logical. I just don't do it. But when I have seen the person who just passed me being pulled over by the cops, I smile.

3. Think ahead. For an 8-hour journey, bring along entertainment. What I learned is that four CDs is not enough. In the midst of packing, taking out the garbage and the compost, this is an easy oversight, but one that becomes urgent four hours from home.

4. Rental cars don't have winter tires. What the hell are they thinking? One winter, I travelled to the coast to pick up my children for Christmas break; I decided to rent a car as my car was aging. I had a full-attention, eyes-peeled-on-the-road kind of trip. Along the way, I saw two major accidents. And I had my own experience of sliding out of control. Winter tires are required. By the time I got to the lower mainland, it was 12 hours after leaving home, and my shoulders were touching my ear lobes. On the journey back, the roads were clear all the way home. Which brings us back to Item #1 above.

5. Pit Stops. I try to have one new place to stop on each journey. This how I discovered this place and this. And during cherry season, well, the Okanagan is the best place in the world to pass through.

Easter is often my first road trip after winter. This can be the sweetest time of the year to travel as people seem to be staying close to home. Which is perfect for me. There is nothing like the Open Road.

No comments: