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”

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”

Iceland Ring Road Itinerary: A road trip like no other

By Dave S. Clark

Planning your Iceland Ring Road itinerary? Here’s why you should get excited – great roads, amazing scenery and friendly people make Iceland the perfect road trip destination. My wife Karlie, who writes the Miss Wanderlust blog, and I spent 10 nights in Iceland and were able to go around the entire Ring Road, and saw a good chunk of the beautiful little country with the exception of the West Fjords and the Highlands.

Our Ring Road itinerary wasn’t perfect but that’s the great thing about having a car. If you want to get moving, you pack up and go. Before heading to Iceland, we made a 10-night itinerary and booked our accommodations as we were going in June, just before the peak of high season.

The itinerary:

Day 1 and 2: Reykjavik – Adjusted to jet lag, explored downtown and went up Hallgrimskirkja. We stayed at this well-located Airbnb apartment. We also met up with Inga from Tiny Iceland who really made our stay awesome. If you’re going to Iceland, get in touch with Inga!  Continue reading “Iceland Ring Road Itinerary: A road trip like no other”

Sampling switchbacks from the World Cup Rally and Liege-Sofia-Liege in Kotor, Montenegro

By Dave S. Clark

There are many reasons to go to the ancient town of Kotor, Montenegro. It sits on a unique, deep blue fjord-like bay and is surrounded by mountains jutting up from every shoreline. The tight lanes of the Byzantine walled city are a blast to explore and get lost in. It’s the best place to get a pizza doused in ketchup. And it’s also home to one of Europe’s most scenic drives.

The drive is a 25-switchback marathon rising above the towns of Kotor and Tivat. It’s the best possible spot to be able to fully appreciate the Bay of Kotor’s beauty. I could probably pass on the views of the cheap looking resort town of Tivat, but that’s not why you drive up the switchbacks. The quality of this drive isn’t a secret. It was a regular fixture in the Leige-Sofia-Leige rally race, a 1960s endurance rally that ran from Belgium to the capital of Bulgaria, then back again. In 1970, it was a tricky part of the route for the Daily Mirror World Cup Rally, which saw drivers race from London, all across Europe, board a ship in Portugal, gather their cars in Brazil and continue to race all the way to Mexico City. This 16-kilometre stretch was a small but memorable section of the 16,000+ kilometre event. The first road along this route was built in the 1880s by the Habsburgs and near the top, there is a decrepit customs house, that once served as the border between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Kingdom of Montenegro. But now, its all a part of Montenegro.  Continue reading “Sampling switchbacks from the World Cup Rally and Liege-Sofia-Liege in Kotor, Montenegro”

Datsun Matsuri a celebration of vintage Japanese tin

By Dave S. Clark

Every Victoria Day long weekend, Datsuns from across Western Canada converge on Kelowna, BC for Datsun Matsuri (which translates to Festival in Japanese), a car show honouring the Japanese classics that is run alongside the historic Knox Mountain Hill Climb.

Despite decades of snowy Canadian winters doing their best to rot away the rust-prone Datsuns, many of them survived and got into the hands of enthusiastic owners. This year, I was able to join those owners in Kelowna with my friend Dave Myers from MyAutoProject.com, who hosts the show.

This is the third year Dave has hosted the show and I was pretty excited since I hadn’t been able to make any of Dave’s Datsun meets since I drove my old 280z to the All Alberta Datsun Meet in 2011. It was a memorable day as it was barely above zero and my driver’s side window had been smashed out two days prior to the meet, which meant I had to drive to the meet windowless in order to buy a spare one off a fellow Datsun owner.  Continue reading “Datsun Matsuri a celebration of vintage Japanese tin”

The therapeutic marathon drive to Whiteshell Provincial Park

Jessica-Lake-Lodge-MapBy Dave S. Clark

Some people think it’s crazy. Others think it’s stupid, dangerous or painfully boring. To me, it’s 15-hours of pure rubber-on-asphalt therapy.

Nobody has probably ever described driving across Saskatchewan and through large segments of equally flat Alberta and Manitoba as an therapeutic before, but I guess I’m different.

I first made the trip to Jessica Lake in the Whiteshell Provincial Park when I was just five months old (I wasn’t driving yet.) During my first few years, we make the trek from BC’s lower mainland. Since then the drive has been made annually from Edmonton, save for two years where I lived in Manitoba where I drove the reverse route just as often. Continue reading “The therapeutic marathon drive to Whiteshell Provincial Park”

Erg Chigaga a moving Moroccan adventure

By Dave S. Clark

The Sahara Desert – its name alone conjures up images of sand, extreme heat and a quest for survival. It’s the world’s third largest desert and the largest desert that will kill you with heat rather than cold.

It’s something you can’t miss when you go to Morocco and if you haven’t already added it, you should tack it on to your bucket list.

There are two large expanses of sand dunes in Morocco that tourists go to – Erg Chigaga and Erg Chebbi. While we had heard Erb Chebbi was extremely beautiful, we also heard people call it the ‘Coca Cola desert’ because you can sit in your hotel or a café and sip your favourite American beverage while looking out over the dunes. Erg Chigaga, however, was very remote, which was what we were after. When I picture myself being in the desert, I don’t imagine other people around. It’s a place of solitude. A place where you wander alone to try to find yourself. It’s not a place to be around other tourists. Erg Chigaga it was. And remote it is.  Continue reading “Erg Chigaga a moving Moroccan adventure”

Solheimasandur plane wreck a glimpse into Hell

By Dave S. Clark

I have a strange fascination with the derelict, the wrecked or the nearly destroyed – whether it is a beautiful shipwreck in St. Pierre, the abandoned Cuban planes rotting at a unused airport in Grenada or the shell of a plane than crashed in Solheimasandur in southeast Iceland.

When I first saw photos of the plane crash in southeast Iceland, I knew I had to go there and see it for myself. It seemed so eerie and amazing the way the white wreck was juxtaposed on the black sand and how it was all masked in a dense fog.  Continue reading “Solheimasandur plane wreck a glimpse into Hell”

A fork in the Iceland Ring Road

Dave S. Clark

There’s a proverbial fork in the road – the Iceland Ring Road. Do you take the easier, flatter and longer route or do you take the rough, narrow, slightly more dangerous road that will get you there faster, but may not get you there at all?

Driving the ring road in Iceland’s East Fjords, I came to this exact predicament. My wife and I had left the beautiful south coast village of Höfn in the morning and wanted to reach the lunar-esque Mývatn area by the afternoon to get a head start on seeing the long list of geothermally-charged oddities the region is known for.

The drive that morning had been spectacular so far, the sun was almost shining, which was a welcomed sight from the grey days that had preceded. You couldn’t say it was sunny, but there was the odd break of warmth through the thinning clouds. As we drove right along the coast, it was hard not to stop every couple of minutes to get out and just admire the frigid North Atlantic waves crashing a few hundred feet straight below you.  Continue reading “A fork in the Iceland Ring Road”

St. Pierre et Miquelon: Road trip around a tiny island

By Dave S. Clark

If you aren’t an expert on North American geography, if you don’t have distinct memories of your Grade 6 Canadian geography class, or if you aren’t from the Canadian Maritimes, chances are, you’ve never heard of the tiny little islands of St. Pierre et Miquelon.

Luckily, I have a very distinct memory of my geography classes from 15 or so years ago, so I never forgot about this French overseas territory that is nestled within eyesight of Newfoundland.  Continue reading “St. Pierre et Miquelon: Road trip around a tiny island”