Thursday, 4 July 2013

Furnace Creek, Death Valley

We ended up taking the 395 from Lake Tahoe to Vegas.  This should be on everyone’s bucket list if you like to drive.  We started in mountains, and ended in the desert.  It was worth the 10-hour drive.

When we started off in the morning, we did discuss whether or not to go through Death Valley because of the extreme heat warning.  Tim being Tim – we are going! This is a once in a lifetime experience.  I gingerly agreed, and followed. 

The views were to die for, and the road kept you totally engaged with the twists and turns.  About two hours into the drive we came to a summit of one of many passes, and as you reached the top, looking down was a huge lake nestled in was looked like a volcano plume. We had no idea that it was coming, and wished we took a picture, but it becomes problematic when you are traveling at 80mph, and fly but the only scenic look out point.

The heat started to crank up a bit by Bishop, California so it was now top up for the rest of the day.

Well…… was time; the Death Valley sign was right in front of us, and no turning back now.  It was a cool 37 degrees C, so I thought we would be okay. 

The road itself is like riding on a rollercoaster.  No sure how someone in the passenger seat would survive.  It was so fun, and the temp was now 43 degrees C.  As we head through the desert in is like you are on the moon.  There are quite a few big hills. You go from below sea level to 5000ft above sea level.  At the highest point, there is a pull out you can look down the whole valley.  It was like a mini Grand Canyon, but the coolest thing was as we were standing in the 45-degree heat, an American Fighter Jet did a fly by in the canyon.  It was the best thing ever to see that.  He did a little flip, and everything.  Total Top Gun.

Now… the pit of despair –Furnace Creek.  Hottest place EVER!!!  I truly did not believe that it could get that much hotter, but is so did!  52.5 degrees c.  We got out, and it was like a blow dryer on hot blowing on you.  I really loved the signs to they had posted as you went back up in altitude.  Turn off air conditioning for the next 10 miles to prevent over heating.  Ah nope, that is not gunna happen!!!  I was actually panicking because this is the first time in this trip that my engine temperature gauge moved.  If it to over heat, I am in the middle of nowhere, not a busy road at all.  (could be that the smart people did not go through Death Valley)  I was going to melt in the middle of the desert.  We did make it through, but the cars were definitely cranky.  I was never so happy to see 47 degrees C in my life; which was the temp all the way to Vegas from there.

Once we arrived in Vegas, we were greeted with a frosty cold beer, and Tim and I discussed that was probably a bad move going through Death Valley, and our friends agreed.  We can say that we have done it, and don’t have to do it again in the summer
Now please enjoy this brief interlude, because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!!!!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Oregon. Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, California

What a drive from Baker City to Lake Tahoe.  It was so boring; we thought we were going to poke our eyes out.  Here are the “highlights”
  1. It does get too hot for the top down.  We have decided that 33 is the max
  2. Wondering if your car is going to melt at 42 C.
  3. You should never hear the same song twice in one day on satellite radio!
  4. Was never so happy to see a little shack on the Indian Reserve in Nevada, in the middle of nowhere that served hot dogs! 
  5. If you have ever driven to Regina, Saskatchewan….that had more to see than this leg of the trip.
  6. Was sooooo happy to see our hotel in Lake Tahoe 11 hours after we started.

Lake Tahoe

We took a break today and stayed in Lake Tahoe, on the California side.  This place is amazing.  Our hotel was close to a little town called Truckee.  This was the coolest little town.  It has the Banff vibe, but it is a functioning Heritage Park.

All the building are historic, and have been restored.  Right down to the old school gas pumps, though they didn’t work, added charm to the whole thing.  The restaurants were quaint, and the food was nothing short of spectacular.  One thing we are doing from now on is sharing a single serving of whatever.  We keep forgetting how big the USA portions are.

Of course what would a trip to Lake Tahoe be, without going to the lake?  It is the clearest lake we have ever seen.  You can see the bottom, and the fish swimming in it.  Kinda sucks for them!  There is so much to do there.  Hike, boat, bike, paddleboard.  It would worth staying at least a week here, just to do everything.

Now is the time to start the final leg to Las Vegas.  We have asked around, and the consensus is the 395 the whole way.  It would appear to be like our first day of driving, which was great.  This will take us through Furnace Valley, of which the forecast high is 127 F by the tine we reach it today.  This will be officially the hottest place I have been.  Might be a little frightened to get out of my car.  Vegas or bust baby!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

All the small towns USA

First full day of really driving, and drive we did.  We sailed down to the border at Cranbrook, and waited in a line to what seemed took forever.  They were checking everyone’s trunk/camper/everything.  Tim was first up……or lord what could possibly happen.  At one point he pointed at me, and I was thinking to myself, what has he said?  I can’t get out of the car to save him.  After about 1 min, he drove away – wait what?  No search???  My turn – this really big mean guy just reached out his hand for my passport, and said,  Why does he have such a nice car, and you have this???  What? Really? Did he just say that? Next question.  Do you guys race?  No, I said, he has a 427 and I clearly have gerbils in my car.  Yeah, I guess, he said.  Gave me back my passport, and said enjoy.  God Bless America.

We continued on to Sandpoint, and stopped for lunch.  At this point Tim said his GPS was not working.  Really? Your car is new?  It turns out that he just did not know how to turn it on.  Gwendolyn the GPS was up and running.  She gave us three routes to Baker City.  Main interstate, “Shortest”, and some other random one.  I picked “shortest”, and let me tell you in was not the “shortest”, but so scenic.  We could not have asked for a better driving route.  Though it added 2 hours to our already 9 hours of driving. It was worth every minute. (which I can say now, but I was pretty cranky for the last 45 mins. – again separate cars awesome for times like these)  One of the best things was driving through the Canola field, the smell was just glorious, the sun was shining, and Tim and I were the only ones on the road, top down, and just flying.  AWESOME

We pulled into Baker City, OR and our first hope was our cars would be there in the morning when we woke up, or not up on blocks.  We were trying to come up with a plan.  Well, lady karma is our friend.  We pull up to our hotel, and see 10 really nice cars in the parking lot, corvettes, Porsche, Shelby Mustang.  WTF what is going on?  Well it turns out there is a car show this weekend!  We just pulled in next to all the other cars, and just smiled.

It was a spectacular day, the only bad thing was Tim made me wash my car at 9:00 at night to get the “bugs” off.  Really?  Last time I checked, we have 14 more hours of driving. Nope you have to get them off, so they don’t bake on.  It’s official, he is now a full fledged McSweeny.  My dad has trained him well…….

Friday, 28 June 2013

Ah - I told you so!

Day one, we just drove to the cabin.  The highway was open, and I cannot tell you the devastation of Canmore and Banff, but I am even more impressed how they got the road in shape for travel so soon.  As I drove by, at the speed limit, I yelled thanks, and good work to all the workers!  It is truly an unbelievable feat what they have accomplished.

With a minor slow down at Canmore and Banff, we continued on our way.  I guess that this point I should mention that Tim and I had a conversation about approx speeds for different legs of the trip.  We decided that 145 km/h would be on Highway 1 and 105 km/h would be our speed for the 93/95 to Radium.  For those of you who don’t know, if you are caught going 30 over the posted speed limit in BC, they impound your car on the spot for 7 days.  They also do not provided transportation to the nearest town either.

During our glorious drive down Highway 1, we had a few new BFF’s that just tucked in behind Tim and I and followed us the whole way to Castle Junction.  It was quite funny actually.  There were small tears in their eyes when we merged onto the Castle Junction turn off.

Tim had settled into a speed of about 115 km/h, and I just let him go.  I just chilled at 105 top down listening to music, on the other side of the highway was a Porsche Driving Club, must have passed 50 Porsche’s going the other way.  Just gave them a quick wave, and continued on.  This just proves that Porsche’s are better than Corvette’s.

Finally caught up to Tim, and just cruised up to the top of Radium hill at which point I knew I would lose Tim once again.  This is one of Tim’s favorite roads to drive Mach 300 on.  He managed to pass all of the big trucks, and had a clear road in front of him.  A couple of RCMP passed us going the other way up the hill. Apparently, Tim took this as a sign from god that he could go really fast.  With that, he activated the GOPRO camera, so he could relive each curve in the road.  Good thing he did, cause he caught the flashing lights on the other side of the road coming after him.  The RCMP spun around, and pull him over.  Just then, I came upon the flashing lights.  I knew it was Tim.  I pulled over in front of him, thinking for sure that his car was going to be impounded.  The RCMP asked Tim why I pulled in front of them.  He replied……….oh, that’s my wife!  Bless the RCMP, he did not impound Tim’s car, and only gave him a warning and $130 speeding ticket.  I think that the RCMP felt a little sorry for him, as Tim had to deal with me at the bottom of the hill.  I TOLD YOU SO!!!!  We are 2 hours and 22 mins into our trip and you have a @#$%#@@ speeding ticket!!!  And that is just another reason why separate cars are good.  Allows you time to cool down.  (ps – mum and dad, we really did not go that fast J)

Thursday, 27 June 2013

The night before CHRISTMAS!!!!

Yes, we are off tomorrow morning.

The weather has cooperated, and highway 1 is open. I was going to call Nenshi to say chop chop on the highway as we are leaving tomorrow, but in his awesomeness, it was not necessary.

Packing will be interesting as our combined truck space is about the size of a bread box,  I guess full body bedazzling will have to do for vegas as not much will fit in the trunks.  Play list for me is intact.  Of course Boston's More than a feeling will be on a continuous loop for the first 30 mins, then Pink Floyd, The Wall will follow.  After that it will just be SIRIUS radio.  Tim has the radar/jammer, but his comment to me is "How fast do you plan on following me"  which means I will lose him in the first 3 minutes as he will be going 160 and my max is 130.  Good thing our walkie talkies have a 40 km range....... Wish us luck!!!