The Great North American Road Trip
The long distance road trip seems to be a lost art these days. With airports appearing in even the smallest of towns, air travel has become the preferred method of travel. It is just so easy, quick and cheap to fly these days.
Does that mean the road is officially dead? Well no, there are still some of us brave (crazy?) souls out there who like all that a road trip has to offer. The open road, the freedom, the lure of spontaneous adventures and fresh air will always be persuasive factors in embarking on a road trip.
It wasn’t too long ago that the family vacation revolved around packing everyone into a station wagon and heading out onto the highway. But, as mentioned earlier, times have changed. However, I have not.
So, onto the story. As I have mentioned a few times before in these blogs, I headed out to NYC this past weekend for the Bullrun rally. I was getting the chance to take the green flag for the start of the rally amongst the regular teams. Being roughly 800KM from Manhattan, driving my car out there was no big deal. However, a simple straight shot to and from New York City wouldn’t be all that fun; I needed more. Cue the idea to jam pack close to 2500KM of total driving in 3.5 days.
Thursday July 9th, 2009
I embark on my trip. I need to be in New York City for 11AM on Friday so I figure the best action I can take is to drive the long haul Thursday to get myself close to New York City. I drive 866KM across upper state New York to Meriden Connecticut where I stay for the night. The trip is rather uneventful. For the majority of the trip it is just me, overnight couriers and bugs……..a lot of bugs. By the time I arrive at my hotel, visibility out my windshield has been reduced to near zero.
I notice a curious thing along the way. It seems that the USA is much more blunt and/or to the point when it comes to road safety. In the USA the have signs that feature catching phrases like ‘Click it or Ticket’, and ‘Buckle Up’. In Canada we take the much more formal approach and display signs that say ‘Use of Seat Belt is Compulsory’.
Friday July 10th, 2009
I head outside at 9AM to perform a task that is a mafia favourite; debugging my car. Ok, well, maybe it is not the exact same thing. Anyway, after 30 minutes I can once again see out of my windshield and I begin my trip to New York. 2 hours and I’ll be amongst the chaos that is Bullrun.
I grossly underestimate the amount of time it takes me to get to New York City as I roll into town closer to 1:30PM. Who knew one of the biggest cities in the world would be packed with traffic? As soon as I arrive at the meat packing district I realize just how big and amazing the Bullrun Rally is.
I meet with Tony and Theresa from ASAP Signs and receive my 2nd set of official Bullrun decals. As mention in an earlier blog, my first set went missing in the mail the previous week (update, 3 days too late my decals have finally arrived). I immediately set out to apply the stickers to my car in the truest of New York City fashion; on the side of the road of a busy street. Luckily, I am not alone as I have 4 great friends wander down the street to assist me. You would be surprised at how many displaced Canadians there are around New York City. Anyway, a big thanks goes out to Jeff, Tobias, Howard, Lee and Gail for all their help. In fact, a special thanks has to go out to Jeff who risked life and limb to get my car ready for the rally. He sat on the busy Grenwich street applying decals to the side of my car while Buses and Trucks whizzed by him a mere 2 feet from his head. Seems I am not the only nut at this rally. I decide there and then that I have found my kind of people.
Saturday July 11, 2009
Springing out of the bed at my Times Square Hotel, I am pumped about the day ahead. I head downstairs to collect my car from the $60 USD valet parking. Apparently Manhattan is not cheap, who knew? I head out to the starting line for the Bullrun 2009 rally at 9AM.
After an hour and a half of mixing and milling with the other teams, we all take the green flag at 10:30AM. I find myself to be lucky enough to follow Team Shelby out from the starting line. I think to myself, ‘hey, this guy won season 2 of the Bullrun Reality television show, who better to follow out of the city?’ Well, after driving for close to 5 minutes, he pulls up next to me and asks me for directions. Flabbergasted and a little star struck, I don’t have an answer for him. My GPS is on the fritz amongst the tall towers of New York City and I am just as lost.
I finally do find my out of Manhattan a few minutes later. Now this would be the end of the story for any normal (sane?) person. However, not for me. I had already planned to head south with 9 other ‘teams’ of drivers who, just like me, were not able to afford the $20 000 entry fee for the full Bullrun rally. Destination? Ocean City Maryland!
We cruised through 3 more states and covered 375KM on our way down to Ocean City. Along the way, a funny thing started to happen. People started taking pictures and video of us, the non-participants as we drove down the highways. I guess 6 cars cruising together fully adorned with Bullrun decals will do that.
Sunday July 12, 2009
So this was the big day. Ahead of me was a 1055KM trip. I would travel through 4 states and 1 province this day alone. Possibly against better judgement, I planned to do it in one shot with stops set aside only for gas and food. I say good by to the rest of the ‘fan runners’ and head out.
The drive was beautiful. Anyone who hasn’t driven through the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania really needs to. While taking in the scenery, I noticed I was still garnering a lot of attention from passing motorists. Maybe it was my bright blue paint job that is plastered with copious amounts of Autotrader and Bullrun stickers. Who knew?
10 hours into the day, I finally cross the border back into Canada. Offering up the best in Ontario traffic, the final 150KM takes an unprecedented 3.5 hours to complete. Welcome home Mike, welcome home.