And by crazy I mean awesome, of course.
On February 3 we set off on a bright, sunny (albeit a bit chilly) Vancouver day. It was Judi and Cotty and the Blue Gnu (it’s a blue VW Golf TDI) and me in my Mini Cooper which I aptly named “Mini Me.” I’d been trying to think of a name for my car since I bought it, how hadn’t I thought of that one earlier I don’t know! I felt prepared for some winter conditions. I’m a west coast girl so I don’t have a ton of winter driving experience but I felt OK going into it. How bad could it be, right?
I hadn’t been on a really good road trip in a long while. My friends (in the Blue Gnu) are road trip masters. They did a trip from Vancouver to Key West via Quebec City last year. Check their blog HERE to see the awesome insanity of it.They’ve converted their car to an RV, so essentially it’s now a ‘caRV.’ (Get it? It’s a car but like an RV!)
As you can see, I was VERY excited to get rolling! After a couple of stops along the way to the border, we finally got to the Peace Arch crossing with the usual hour-long border wait. I’m always a little bit nervous going through customs. Even though I’m honest to a fault, I always feel guilty for some reason. I’m wracking my brain, “Do I have contraband fruit? More than $10,000 cash? Have I been on a farm in the past 6 months.” So many things to think about and the American officers are never the, how do we say… friendliest.
I didn’t take it as a good sign that my friends seemed to be spending a bit too much time ahead of me chatting with (being interrogated by) the border guard. They were pointing in my general direction and he had a woefully nasty look on his face. They were directed to park in the lot by the offices. Great. I pull up. He asks me all the usual questions. I try to look as cute and innocent and be the polite Canadian that I am. “Where are you from?” Vancouver. Then he asks, “Do you have Saskatchewan plates on you car?” Is it strange that my first thought to respond was “YOU know that Saskatchewan exists? Wow!” Instead I answered, “Not the last time I looked.” He handed me an orange slip of paper and told me to park beside the Blue Gnu.
We went into the office and took a number. It was clear to me that racial profiling is still an issue when it comes to crossing the border judging by the other people in the lineup. When our number was called I wasn’t overly thrilled to see that our customs officer was a Hispanic version of Roseanne Barr. No smiles, very little humor, this woman was all business. Judi did get her to crack a tiny smile at the very end of our interaction with her.
We spent a slightly chilly night in the far reaches of Oregon close to the Idaho border. I wrapped myself in my down sleeping bag and snuggled into the passenger seat of my Mini. It wasn’t as crazy as it sounds. Really! The map indicated that there was a cool waterfall just off the road where we were going so we took a slight detour and made our way to Shoshone Falls.
As you can see, everything was pretty damned frozen since the temperature was at least -10C. Shoshone Falls is located on the Snake River in southern Idaho and is considered to be the Niagara of the West. It wasn’t overly impressive because of the frozen-ness of it, but we certainly had the place to ourselves because of that! Remember, only crazy (fun) people road trip in the winter.
I can now say that I’ve had a shower at a truck stop after sleeping in minus 18.5 degree cold in a place called Beaver, Utah. Yes, you read that right, I slept in Beaver. But I survived (my friends were worried that I might have frozen in the middle of the night) but I was pretty cozy and frankly I’m of tough German/Ukrainian heritage so I can handle it. Arrrrrrr…..
I had a slightly frightening experience while driving the first night somewhere in the heart of Oregon. It was around 9:00 at night. It was lightly snowing. The pavement looked sparkly. We came around a corner to make our way up a pretty sizable hill and noticed that all of the big rig trucks were pulled over on the side of the road, putting their chains on. Not a good sign. Apparently there was a crushed up tin can of a truck in the ditch that I didn’t see, thank god. I probably would have sh*t my pants a little.
I was following my friend’s car, keeping up but not tail gating. I couldn’t see ahead of them very well as it was foggy and suddenly they braked a bit, so I braked a bit but a little too hard, and suddenly realized “Oh crap, I’m not stopping.” Being the conscientious driver I am a signaled left and moved over to avoid slamming into my friend’s car. I guess I jerked the wheel a bit too sharply (you know, because I was in a freaking panic) and suddenly found myself fishtailing back and forth in slow motion. Back… and forth… Back… and forth. White knuckling it the whole time, just going on blind instinct and sheer terror. I don’t know how fast I was going, only that I was trembling and pumped up on adrenaline when we finally pulled over at the top of hell hill.
The benefit of road tripping in the winter? No crowds and the opportunity to see these beautiful sites in a different light than you normally would. The blue skies and bright snow in Bryce Canyon made it a magical experience and it’s one that most people will never have. So yes, maybe only crazy people road trip in the winter, but crazy = fun so I’ll choose crazy, because I choose FUN! #choosefun