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The [Road] Trip Report

This sub-report covers our road trip from a car driving-enthusiast perspective. There are many pictures in here that are not in the main report. Such pictures have a special color around the outside of their thumbnails.
The car enthusiast in me always yearns for roads through wide open spaces, high mountain passes, and twisty forested canyons. For this reason, the west has always been attractive to me. Pound for pound, it has better scenery, less traffic, and far twistier roads. So, as much as I like to scale high peaks and wade through the bottoms of deep canyons, I also looked forward to exploring the roads out west again in a fun-to-drive vehicle.

The instrument of choice for this iteration of my epic cross-continent drive was my 2002 Honda S2000. A snug, tight, excellently-handling rear-wheel drive roadster. After getting a taste of twisty road roadster driving with Luke in 2000 (Click here to see those pictures), I was looking forward to several weeks of it.

Our planned route was a huge loop, starting and ending in Ottawa. The way out west was partially through the states, partially through Canada, then south along the pacific coast, and then back east and diagonally back up to Ottawa (see map).

I was looking forward to driving on a number of scenic and fun roads that I'd been on before, as well as mixing in several new and interesting roads. Although I often like to find out-of-the-way scenic roads, I also like to find out-of-the-way hardcore-twisty roads. And so I hoped to find a few ones of those on this trip.

As you may have already read in the main trip report for this trip, I had along with me long-time friend Luke Ward and his wife, Sophie Huggins. And, for the last two-thirds of the trip, I had Jennifer along, whom I was picking up in Victoria, BC. She seemed as keen on the fun-road-driving aspect of this trip as I was, and that was exciting and refreshing!

I left Ottawa Friday afternoon on September 3rd. It was a beautiful hazy late summer day. The first day's journey was to Markus' Amogla camp in Sault Ste Marie, where Markus and his family had graciously offered us lodging for the night.
Departing Ottawa
Waiting near Arnprior, ON
Amogla camp stopover
In general, our objective was to maximize our time "out west", so our first few days were long ones, driving long distances and not seeing too much. Even so, I picked as nice a route as I could piece together given what I know. The second day was a drive from the border crossing at Sault Ste Marie, then west... to halfway across Minnesota. A highlight of this day was a nice drive along the south shore of Lake Superior (Michican Route 28 between Munising and Marquette).
Posing by Lake Superior
On the third day, we continued our westward marathon driving, arriving at "western-y" looking land by mid-day, where we transitioned to prairie. Our route west was along Interstate 94, a route I had not yet been on before. West of Fargo it is a nice open ride through prairie, and an excellent scenic stop is the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which has a super-nice very twisty loop drive (which was partially closed as of September 2004 for construction - still worth it, though, for the portion that is open). I took many nice brochure-esque shots here (see below)
Jerry Bruckheimer?
Beautiful western badlands
Admiring the scenery at TRNP
S2000 on Twisty section of Loop Rood
More loop road shots
From Theodore Roosevelt National park, we continued briefly along I-94 into Montana before transitioning to some secondary roads (state highway 200, which ran roughly straight west). Here we were in western ranch country proper, with rolling prairie, rugged cliffs, and far-distant peaks.
West into Montana
Late-day rainshower
Day four saw us heading north from the Grand Falls area towards Glacier National Park. Our route went up US89. This route is actually pretty nice in spots. North of Choteau there are some nice open prairie sections, with the front range of the Rockies visible to the west, and it also has some occasional nice twists as the road winds down and back out of some deeper prairie undulations.

Past Browning, near Glacier National Park's East entrance, there are some really good tight sections. Lots of tourist traffic, though.
Zooming along
Grassland twisties
Open-topped towards the mountains
Glacier national park is a spectacular place to drive through. The distinctiveness of the mountains here is wonderful, and the showpiece road of the park, the "Going-to-the-sun" highway, goes right through it all. Oh, and the western side of it is pretty twisty, too!
Glacier National Park
Entering Glacier NP
Rising sun Campground
Specatular Jackson Glacier
Mount Clements
After hanging around Glacier for a few days, we head west. My next destination is west into BC, to first visit my friend Kennedy in Vancouver and then to pick up Jennifer in Victoria. Along the way, I try to explore what looks like the most "interesting" and scenic way there, and find a few interesting roads, one of which is a recently chip-sealed forest road in the Kootenai national forest in western Montana. Tricky to follow (there are a few non-obvious turnoffs), narrow, but very twisty.
S2000 above Lake Koocanusa
After hanging around Glacier for a few days, we head west. My next destination is west into BC, to first visit my friend Kennedy in Vancouver and then to pick up Jennifer in Victoria. Along the way, I try to explore what looks like the most "interesting" and scenic way there, and find a few interesting roads, one of which is a recently chip-sealed forest road in the Kootenai national forest in western Montana. Tricky to follow (there are a few non-obvious turnoffs), narrow, but very twisty.

By Friday, September 10, I was on the huge ferry churning out of Tsawwassen towards Vancouver Island to pick up Jennifer. It was neat being all the way out on the Pacific Ocean after starting out from Ottawa less than a week before.
Churning towards Victoria
spark admist mediocrity
Ferry to Vancouver Island
Picking up Jennifer meant being more careful with packing - after all, this was an S2000, and here we were - and two people, with full camping and hiking gear. Creative packing did eventually solve the problem, but let's just say there were no dead air spaces anywhere inside the car!

The first order of business was to rejoin with Luke and Sophie at a campground at Mount Rainier National Park. We unfortunately only got brief glimpses of Mount Rainier itself, and although there are very good twisty road sections in the park, it was mostly damp, so we couldn't really push it much. I did meet up with a large Miata club outing at the Sunrise lookout at Mount Rainier (see picture below). They were hardy souls, choosing to ride with the tops down even with all of the dampness.

However, for future reference for anyone looking for great scenery mixed in with some good twisties, Mount Rainier offers.... the Road to Sunrise and the road across the south of the park through Paradise are two very good ones.
White River Campsite
Misty Mount Rainier
meeting the Miata Club
Next, it is south to Mount Saint Helens, and two EXCELLENT roads that I'd been on before but wanted to try again with the S2000: Forest Roads 25 and 99 in Gifford-Pinchot national forest. These roads are well paved, very very twisty and long. We aren't talking about a short stretch of twisties in between straight-ish sections. It is twisty continuously for a long time - almost the entire length of FR-25 and all of FR-99. FR-99 heads west into Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument to the Windy Ridge viewpoint, and is also amazing for the devastated areas that it winds through. The national monument is quite interesting, especially with the recent eruptions!
Windy Ridge Road
Mount Saint Helens Devastation
At the end of a winding road
Parked in the devastated area
Our next major stop south was Crater Lake National Park, a much older and larger Volcano in southern Oregon. Crater Lake National Park offers high-altitude views of amazing Crater Lake, a huge deep blue lake in the Caldera of the Volcano. A very scenic moderately twisty road winds along the rim of the Caldera.
Crater Lake Rim Drive
S2000 at Crater Lake
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