Mud, rain, hail and a torrent of fun: Northern Loon Rally recap

Ever since building my ’67 Volvo Amazon for the Canada 5000 rally-inspired road trip last year, I’ve been itching to get it into a proper TSD to see how it performs. When Tom Chichak asked if I wanted to compete in the Edmonton Rally Club’s Northern Loon Rally with him, I couldn’t pass up the chance.

As is always the case when I enter any type of motorsports event, the car preparations went on right up until the last minute. The biggest challenge was getting a working odometer in the car and I left that in Tom’s capable hands. After trying unsuccessfully once again to get my TerraTrip working, he moved on to installing an Alfa Pro. After some last-minute calibrations, he got it working beautifully on the Friday night before the Saturday event. Continue reading “Mud, rain, hail and a torrent of fun: Northern Loon Rally recap”

Book Review: The Road Across Canada by Edward McCourt

Many people have driven across Canada, including several who did it long before Edward McCourt set out for his journey from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Victoria, B.C. But nobody has ever chronicled their trip in such a beautiful fashion as McCourt did in The Road Across Canada.

Full disclosure: this book was published in 1965, so it’s more than 50 years old and has been out of print for decades. But there’s still plenty of copies floating around. I found an ex-library copy for about $5 on AbeBooks.com.

McCourt made the trek with his wife in 1962, the same year the Trans-Canada Highway was officially opened, although it was far from being completed at that point. The book is broken down into chapters on each Canadian province that McCourt drove through. Along the way, he masterfully intertwines relevant tales of Canadian history to the regions he is passing through. Canadian history can be a bit dull, but McCourt finds a way to make the tales interesting and engaging. Having driven many of the same routes over the years, I am quite familiar with the towns and cities he visits. He paints each stop wonderfully and with great accuracy, which isn’t always flattering. Continue reading “Book Review: The Road Across Canada by Edward McCourt”

Alberta Adventure: Pushing personal boundaries to hike Jasper’s Sulphur Skyline

Dave S. Clark

For me, travelling has always been a slow process of pushing my personal boundaries. Growing up, I travelled Canada, where I knew the culture and the language and felt pretty much at home. Then I made the jump to Europe and the Caribbean, then to Asia and Africa, pushing myself to explore regions that were much different than back home. I began to discover things I loved, which gave me the urge to explore them in more depth. For example, I loved the Moorish architecture of the Hotel Sevilla in Havana, which we stayed in a couple of times. That prompted a trip to the Andalusia region of Spain. That spawned the idea of a trip to Morocco.

When travelling, I’ve always tried to find great hikes, whether it was partway up the side of a mountain to Second World War-era pillboxes in Oahu or along an unrestored section of China’s Great Wall. One thing that I’ve always wanted to do was hike to the top of a mountain. The challenge was I only wanted to hike, not climb. Actually climbing things and using my arms and legs in unison to ascend a chunk of rock is still terrifying to me. I’ll hopefully get there one day, but I like to take baby steps. Continue reading “Alberta Adventure: Pushing personal boundaries to hike Jasper’s Sulphur Skyline”

Alberta Adventure: Jasper in January is the perfect winter escape

By Dave S. Clark

When it comes to winter in Canada, there are two options. You can stay inside and hibernate for four to six months, only appearing to go to work or to get groceries, or you can bundle up, embrace the weather for what it is and enjoy the great opportunities the northern wintery world has to offer.

Usually, I do a little of both – hunkering down and staying indoors when the mercury drops really low, and lacing up the skates for the outdoor rink or going for the occasional snowboarding trip when the weather is bearable.

As an Edmontonian, I’m lucky to have an incredible winter escape in Jasper, which is just four hours west. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Jasper is a blessing in both the summer and winter for those with the outdoorsy or adventurous spirit.

If you plan on heading to Jasper in the winter, there probably isn’t a better time to do it than Jasper in January, an annual festival full of activities, which is celebrating its 27th year in 2016. I’ve lived in Edmonton for almost all of those 27 years, yet had never experienced the festival until this year. Continue reading “Alberta Adventure: Jasper in January is the perfect winter escape”

Alberta Adventure: Exploring Elk Island National Park

By Dave S. Clark

It’s easy to travel anywhere in the world these days, with the ability to book anything online, an abundance of information on every possible destination and technology to keep in touch with everything that’s going on back home. But with long distance travel now so accessible, it’s so easy to forget about what’s going on in your own backyard.

For years, I have driven across two and a half provinces to swim, canoe and boat around my favourite lake, which is just a few kilometers, as the crow flies, from the Manitoba-Ontario border. Twenty minutes into that 15-hour drive, I’d pass through Elk Island National Park. I’d be driving around 110 km/h, trying to make good time, and, if it was early enough, I might see some bison. They’d flash by as large, dark blobs that I never gave much thought to.

It wasn’t until I was standing on the beach of Astotin Lake, as the sun set over the mirror-still water which was only broken by two canoeists, that I realized I had been speeding by a gem right in my own backyard. I could do nearly everything I was doing in Manitoba – canoeing, sailing, hiking and just breathing fresh air – without even having to drive half an hour from my house. Continue reading “Alberta Adventure: Exploring Elk Island National Park”

Alberta Adventure: Cypress Hills road trip – An island of amazing drives among a sea of prairies

By Dave S. Clark

It can be painful, excruciatingly so, to find great roads to drive on through the prairies. The roads are long, flat, straight and beautiful in their own right, but they can be a bit boring if you want to go for a spirited drive. But it’s not all flat and boring. Sitting right on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan and only a short hop from the Montana border is an ancient island rising up from the sea of surrounding plains – Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.

When I think of driving in Alberta and Saskatchewan, I think of telephone poles being the only thing that resemble trees and arrow straight roads, dotted on either side with cattle. Cypress definitely had the cattle, free roaming all over the park, but none of the roads were anything but straight. Continue reading “Alberta Adventure: Cypress Hills road trip – An island of amazing drives among a sea of prairies”

We made it and so did the Volvo Amazon! Canada 5000 a huge success!

By Dave S. Clark

We did it!

The L. Hansen’s Forwarding Canada 5000 Rally Against Alzheimer’s was a major success, mostly due to the fact we actually made it all the way from Edmonton to Vancouver to Halifax in the 48-year-old Volvo Amazon that we rebuilt in the months leading up to the trip.

We were also successful in raising between $11,000 and $12,000 (still waiting on confirmation) for Alzheimer’s Societies across Canada, which we’re extremely proud of. You can also still donate by visiting www.Canada5000.ca. Continue reading “We made it and so did the Volvo Amazon! Canada 5000 a huge success!”

Introducing the Canada 5000

By Dave S. Clark

I’m very excited to announce a project that I’ve been working on for the past few months – The Canada 5000.

The Canada 5000 is part history project – recounting the famous Shell 4000 Rally races that ran across Canada in the 1960s. It’s part road trip – following various routes of the original Shell 4000 Rally, but stretching it out to 5000 miles across nine Canadian provinces. It’s part car rebuild – we’ll be driving a 1967 Volvo 122S, so I’ll be taking a non-running 48-year-old Swedish sedan and bringing it back to life so that it can make this journey. It’s part writing project – I’ll be documenting the whole experience and interviewing the drivers and co-drivers who ran the original rally. It’s part fundraiser – my partner in this project Dave Myers and I will be raising money and awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease. Continue reading “Introducing the Canada 5000”

Memories of the Edmonton Indy

By Dave S. Clark

Summer is in full swing in Edmonton and that means festivals galore, although with one big absence again – the Edmonton Indy – which waved its final checkered flag in 2012.

Even though I didn’t go to the first Edmonton Indy in 2005, it was responsible for getting me hooked for the rest of its eight-year run. I live less than six kilometers from the now-closed Edmonton City Centre Airport and I distinctly remember waking up that first weekend to the sound of race cars ripping around a distant track. I had never been a Champ Car fan, so I hadn’t bought tickets for the race, but all weekend long I was taunted by the sounds of Cosworth turbo V8 engines.

In 2006, my buddy Joel and I decided to get general admission tickets and despite not having a place to sit down or any spot to get a really good point of view, we had a damn good time. The Champ Cars were exciting and fun to watch and the support races were just as good, if not better.  Continue reading “Memories of the Edmonton Indy”

Memories of Race City Calgary

By Dave S. Clark

Last week, Edmonton’s Castrol Raceway officially opened its road course, a project 20 years in the making. I attended the grand opening and it got me itching to go racing again and hopefully will inspire others to do the same.

But it also got me thinking about the little bit of racing experience that I have, most of which was at the race-track-turned-garbage-dump formerly known as Race City Speedway in Calgary.

I was never more than a Race City rookie. I’ve only spent two weekends driving at the track and only one was for an actual race. I might have been around the track 150 times at best. But when I think about the track and picture it as a landfill now it makes me sad.  Continue reading “Memories of Race City Calgary”