The Big Roadtrip 2002!

Eugene, Oregon, USA, to Hope, British Columbia, Canada

- 24 August 2002 -

So this was it: The Big Roadtrip. Weeks of preparation (read: ripping my CD collection to MP3s and putting them on MP3 discs, which my car can read) had come to this -- the day I would leave Eugene for three weeks on the road... three weeks of visiting rockin' friends and seeing places I had never been before. Three weeks of utter coolness. :)

This is not the Mighty Yansamobile. :b

This car was parked outside of the gas station I stopped at on my way out of town. It wasn't there when I drove by the night before, which means that it must be operating, but...

The Salem Hills on a clear morning in late summer.

Portland, Oregon! :D

Okay, so I grouch about big cities from time to time. But as I type this, I'm in the Midwest, where it's hot and humid, and where cities have terribly confusing freeway systems, and where cities sprawl on forever. Naturally, I find myself missing the Northwest -- even its urban portion. :b

(This roadtrip is turning my more-or-less libertarian self into something of a mild urban planning advocate -- I'm finding myself spontaneously admiring the compactness of Oregon's cities.)

More of Portland (specifically, the portion with taller buildings that lies east of the Willamette).

The UFO-shaped thing on the left is the Rose Quarter, Portland's new(ish) coliseum. The two pointy tower things are the Oregon Convention Center. (Portland thinks it's all that matters in Oregon, but it's wrong. So very wrong. ;) )

Some generic Sales Tax State (Washington State) scenery, from the part of I-5 between Woodland and Longview.

Typical Washington traffic. Heh. ;)

So there I was, in Washington, driving the speed limit (70 MPH! w00t!), and trying to pass its crazy drivers (who either go 20 MPH above the speed limit, or 20 MPH below the speed limit -- there's no in-between in the Sales Tax State!)

So this police car gets behind me and turns on its lights.


I pull over to the right lane, thinking they were after the speeding drivers ahead of me. No. The cop pulls back into the left lane, behind me.


I was driving the speed limit, but heaven only knows if there's some kind of other law I was unintentionally breaking ("Sir, it's a crime to be a libertarian hippie in the state of Washington -- we are hereby confiscating your Reef CDs"). So I pulled over into the emergency lane. They pulled over behind me.


I was only three hours out of Eugene, and I was being ticketed already?!?! And for what?

Then the driver cop gestures to the other cop -- pointing to the right, off toward the fields -- and they zip into the right lane, drive around my car, and zoom forward on the shoulder of the road.

I got back on the road, and traffic suddenly ground to a halt.

I had my windows down (it was a nice day for a traffic situation, about 72 and breezy, very nice), and I started listening to the other drivers. There was apparently a big car wreck up ahead. Nobody had any information about it, though. I started flipping through the radio dial, trying to find some information... I found that 107.7 ("The End") is an excellent alt-rock station, but you'd expect that sort of thing from a station in Seattle, the world capital of alt-rock. :b

Eventually I found a radio station from Olympia (a lite-rock station, ick) that gave details as to what was going on. There was a nine-car pileup at the Bucoda exit. (The Mellon St. exit, actually, but the previous sign said Bucoda, and I like to say "Bucoda", and yeah.) All traffic was being redirected through the city of Centralia.

So that's what occupied my next two hours... waiting in traffic for the police to re-route me through Centralia. Some folks decided to follow the police officers' example and drive down the right shoulder of the road... the rumor among the stalled drivers was that those folks got $2,000 tickets for their impatience!

We were redirected through an older residential neighborhood in Centralia. The residents got out on their lawns, grabbed beers, and watched us crawl through their neighborhood. It was a tad disconcerting. Anyhow, two hours later, I got back on the freeway, heading north. 

This roadtrip had already proven to be full of surprises -- I had never intended to get a long, in-depth tour of the county seat of Lewis County, Washington, but life tossed me a Centralia, and I made Centralia-Ade (or something).

Any fans of Sleater-Kinney in the audience? ... come on, don't be shy. :b

This is the I-5 exit for Sleater-Kinney Road in Olympia, Washington. S-K fans tell me that the band was apparently named after this road. My uneducated guess is that one or more of the band members must have gone to Western Washington University in Olympia before they moved to Portland and achieved their fame.

I've heard a few of their songs, and I have some mild road-geekiness tendencies, so naturally I had to take a picture. :)

Seattle, King County, Washington.

This is the city that shaped my generation. 

(Which is odd, since I can remember my childhood, when it was famous for Heart... yeah... ummm... and... uh... Heart! :b ... also, when I was a kid, concert tours used to go directly from San Francisco to Seattle and skip Portland altogether. That's what I remember of Seattle in the pre-hipster days. Now they've got coffee and Frasier and flannel-wearing Californians. ;b )

More of Seattle.

Even more of Seattle.

Even more of Seattle.

The thing about Seattle is that it just keeps going and going. And when you're in Seattle traffic, you keep praying for the farmland to start, because people are passing you at 90 MPH and you're stuck behind a car going 30 MPH and people are honking and people are fingering and you just want OUT OF THIS FREAKING CITY. And it doesn't happen, because there's always more of its metro area up ahead. 

So there you are, going through Seattle, and it looks like it's turning into suburbia, and you smile, knowing that you're going to be away from the worst drivers very soon, but no, there's another set of suburbs, and then you get past those and there's some trees, and you think you're going to be okay pretty soon, but no... there's a city of 300,000 just up ahead. So you're stuck in another big city, behind a car going 20 and a semi-truck tailgating you, and all 39 of the left lanes are packed, and you just want out, and then suburbia pops up again, and then you hope it's finally time to leave Seattle, but no no no NO NO NO NONONO NOT ANOTHER CITY OF 300,000 MOMMY MAKE IT GO AWAY NOOOOOOOO AAARGH AAARGH AAAARGH and so there you are in another big city, and the car has sped up to 25, but the truck is now 12 microns from your bumper, and there's still no space in the left lane, and then suburbia appears... and then another city of 300,000... and then suburbia... and when you're finally out of Seattle, you're almost in Canada.

Star. Bird. Star... bird. 


It's a star! It's a bird! ... or something.

California has taken over.

I-5 north between Mt. Vernon and Blaine has lots of forested mountain scenic goodness. (It's also got slow corners. It feels more like I-5 between Canyonville and Roseburg, back in Oregon.)

Think metric, eh! This picture was taken in Peace Arch Park, which is located along the U.S.-Canadian border near Blaine, Washington.

There was apparently a wedding in the park just before I got there; I saw the bridesmaids walking toward Canada, and the bride and groom sauntering toward the U.S.

The Peace Arch itself.

The inscription on the other side reads something like "Children of a common mother, dwelling together in peace on this land" or something like that. It's a nifty sight, which is good, because you get to see a lot of it while you wait in line to go through Customs.

The lady at Customs thought I was clinically insane for wanting to go through Canada on the way to Minneapolis. She was a very harsh woman, which was rather odd for someone of my generation. Her crankiness, and the crabbiness of the few folks I interacted with in British Columbia, kinda made me feel a bit uncomfortable for my first few days in Canada.

(At least the Canadian Customs folks here didn't search the entire contents of my car, like U.S. Customs did in Pembina, North Dakota. But that's a story for a later page.)

River Road, in Richmond, British Columbia. Note the Canadian flag.

This road is well off the beaten path, and it's not exactly going to make any Lonely Planet guide to B.C. any time soon. Why did I end up here? Because I got totally freaking lost, that's why ;) (I've been very good at getting totally freaking lost on this roadtrip...)

I ate dinner in Langley, B.C., about 15 miles east of Vancouver. Between my arrival in Canada and my dinner, I went through White Rock, Delta, Richmond, Newton, New Westminster, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, New Westminster again, Coquitlam again, New Westminster again, and finally I ended up on Trans-Canada 1 heading in the right direction. I think it took me about an hour and fifteen minutes to find my way out of the Greater Vancouver Area. 

Vancouver is a very scenic and nifty city, but it's a bit hard to find one's way around... :b

Near the end of River Road, in (the map says) Newton, B.C. It's got a nice view of downtown New Westminster.

An orange steel bridge -- I *think* it's the Patullo Bridge over the Fraser River in New Westminster, B.C., but I could be wrong. 

After I had dinner (at a Dairy Queen in Langley, where people just kinda stared at me a lot :b ), I took Trans-Canada 1 east as far as I could go before it got too dark (which turned out to be Hope, B.C.)

This (and the next few pictures) are views of the scenic country between Abbotsford and Rosedale, B.C. This was some of the most beautiful farm country I'd ever seen -- gigantic mountains of the B.C. coast range towering over fields of corn (which struck me as incongruous -- corn is not a major crop in the American section of the Pacific Northwest). And, of course, I got there just at sunset, which made it even more amazing. B.C. rocks, scenery-wise. :)

More of the B.C. Coast Range.

(Note the metric speed signs. w00t! :D )

With views like this, no wonder the hotels in and around this neck of the woods are so freaking expensive... :b

Text written 02 September 2002, on a humid summer day in Springfield, Missouri.
Last updated 19 January 2006.