This post will sum up our trip and tell you a bit more about taking a small car on a big journey and doing it all on a small budget. If you have followed my last few blogposts about this trip, you will have seen many of the highlights and beautiful scenery along the way( I will post links back to those blogs at the start of each area in this post). This post will differ in that many of the photos shown are from my iphone 3GS and some are from my Canon 7D. This will show a lot more in between moments that I did not show in the previous 5 posts as well as some more technical writing about the trip.
We started the trip on June 1st, 2012 and returned home on June 17th, 2012. We bought our 1990 Miata under a month earlier at 98,000 km’s and brought that mileage up to about 106,000 km’s by the end of the trip. Below is a map covering the route we took.
Crossing the Lewis & Clark Bridge over the Columbia River into Oregon and stopping in at the Astoria Coffee House and Bistro
Just past Tillamook our Miata hit the 100,000km milestone of it’s life.
Our first campsite at Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park. Perhaps I should take the time here to talk about what we packed. I’ll first start by saying what we sacrificed; A cooler, a coleman camping stove, full-size camping chairs, and Fluevogs. That’s right, no Fluevogs came with us on this trip. Hard to believe for those of you who know us. We actually did pack in the Coleman and some other pots and I decided I didn’t like how much extra weight the car was carrying, so we ditched the stove, the pots, and some clothing at my parents just before we crossed the border. Now on to what we did pack:
Clothing(this was a tough one, we had to continually cut down what we wanted to bring before we left), toiletries, two towels, two pairs of shoes and flip flops, light blankets for bedding, roll-up inflatable mattresses(you can see those tied down to the convertible deck behind the seats in the above photo – not the smallest of things), a small tool kit for the car, small LED flashlights, a pot, some forks and knives, some rope, a 2 person tent, pegs, a tarp, a full-size camera bag(more about this to follow), a Manfrotto Tripod, and the spare tire. As you can see the trunk was a little unorganized at first, but we quickly developed an unpacking and packing method that worked well, and we were able to pack the trunk better each time.
ATV’s in the dunes!
Siuslaw River Bridge
The day we left J M. Honeyman it started to pour rain on us. This was the first real test of rain in the Miata, and it did great; Didn’t leak a drop! We decided to outrun the rainstorm as we didn’t want to unpack and setup the tent in the middle of a storm. This decision did take us much farther than we had wished to drive that day and becoming desperate to find a place to sleep for the night, we found an RV park on a pretty nice Golf Resort in Garberville(Terrible name for a town right?). It was a small place in a forested valley. While we weren’t so keen on staying in an RV park, we discovered some of it’s perks. We were able to make use of the resorts’ hot tub, and we met some really nice people who were leisure vehicling(my new word for RVing) around us.
Our first brief stop in California was the Tour Thru Tree in Klamath. The Red Convertible Camaro ahead of us was the only other car there at the time.
A little ways South of Garberville we took the #1 off the 101 towards the coast. For the driving enthusiasts out there, this is one of the most incredible drives I have ever done! Go look it up on a map, and then go do the drive! It’s absolute driving bliss! The twisty roads through the Redwood’s last a good long time and then spit you out onto the coast where you have plenty more fun on the curves along the open ocean.
Cooking was also an interesting aspect of the trip. As I said before, we had to ditch a cooler because of space so meals were usually bought each day before the usual dinner time. We kept things pretty basic, enjoyed veggies and small amounts of meat, and bought items to snack on through out the drive; dried fruit, nuts, etc. We also did s’mores over the fire and popped some popcorn in our pot. Corn on the cob was another common one we put in the pot. On our drives we kept two water bottles and refilled them often to stay hydrated.
First trip over the Golden Gate Bridge!
Ghirardelli’s! Why yes, I would like this giant slab of chocolate…
On our way out of San Francisco we stopped in quickly at an oil change shop and got the Miata’s oil changed. It’s imperative to do this on such a long trip.
The Big Sur.
My first time at an In-N-Out, and our last stop in California.
Below is our drive through the Arizona Desert at night. It was a very long drive, and 99% of the other vehicles on the highway were semi trucks. We were very happy we did not do it during the day though. Temperatures would have been too high for that long of a drive in a car with no A/C. We also avoided driving through the LA rush hour this way.
Staying at my grandparents in Chandler, AZ.
Our packing got much more organized, so much so I was able to fit one of the inflatable sleeping mats into the trunk. Leaving just one mat, the tripod, and the tent to fit more snugly on the deck behind the seats. This worked well, and was much more streamlined in the wind than with the the second mat tied down on top of the 1st mat and tent. My tripod lay just in front of the mats, untied and quickly accessible. My camera bag, a Lowepro Fastpack 350 was nestled into the trunk in a way that I could open the bag up and get anything out of it without taking the entire bag out. All I had to do was fold the towels out of the way and I had easy access to it. The towels were mostly there to protect the inside of the trunk lid from getting scratched, and also for a bit of extra comfort on the inflatable mattresses, which do have sections in them that function as pillows, but the towels added a little more support. Here’s the list of what I brought in my camera bag for the trip
– Canon EOS 7D – Canon 24-70 f/2.8L – Canon 16-35 f/2.8L – Sigma 10-20 f/4-5.6 – Circular Polarizer – Fader ND Filter – 2x graduated ND filter(one hard edge, one soft) – 3x batteries – charger – 4x 16GB memory cards – lens cleaning kit – 15″ macbook Pro – Macbook charger/cable
Defibrillators on lamp posts…
Flagstaff, and a sign for Albuquerque!
The Grand Canyon
I think the three pictures below sum up Utah pretty well.
left: Canyons and incredible red rock formations
middle: Mormons and polygamy, and those that oppose it in satirical, creative and drinkable ways.
right: flat, bland driving with a hope of mountains somewhere far, far in the distance.
After Utah, we cut quickly through the bottom corner of Idaho and looked for Shoshone Falls in Shoshone. Turns out they are not in Shoshone, and we had already long passed them. We made it to Oregon, where we camped for a night along Snake River on the Oregon/Idaho border. It was a beautiful spot, but the winds picked up fiercely that night, and out of fright from our tent flying into the river, or a large tree branch falling on us or the Miata, we barely slept. We made it through the night, packed up(the entire packing and unpacking process usually took us about 20 minutes), and made our way to Leavenworth, WA.
After a night of almost no sleep, and a very long drive, we booked ourselves a luxury room in the Bavarian Ritz, and spent the rest of the evening drinking craft beer, eating bratwurst and pretzels, and listening to accordions. We were very happy to be back in a place with greenery around as well. It seems most of Utah, Idaho, and even a lot of Washington are dessert/prairie.
The next day in Leavenworth was the Leavenworth Drive, which brought hundreds of German automobiles into the town, along with a few of our friends from Vancouver who we met up with for some lunch and beer!
After lunch in Leavenworth we rushed off to the Oroville/Osoyoos border crossing into Canada. We made it into Osoyoos and camped for the night at the side of the lake. The next morning we took some time for Similkameen Valley wine tasting, and arrived home that evening.
The trip was a great journey for us, it grew our relationship, and we are able to really enjoy reflecting back on it, cherishing certain things and laughing about others. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat, though I think we’ll take a trip to MEC first. We browsed around there a few weeks back and discovered that they have a ton of things that would help us save space, including sleeping mats that roll up to less than a quarter the size of the ones we used. I think it’ll be worth spending some money there before our next trip.
So is a first generation Miata a good car to take on a road trip? I would say that greatly depends on the kind of roadtrip. Perhaps I can offer a little more insight. I would not take it down the I-5 to California EVER, or on any long drive on other large, high-speed American freeways. That is simply not the way to enjoy the car. It is quite noisy, and feels pushed around by the winds a lot when you are on the big freeways. Plus you feel can feel pretty small and vulnerable next to all the ridiculously oversized trucks and cars these days. However, there is almost no other car I would have wanted to drive all the way down the west coast. It was perfect for the twisty roads, driving with the top down is, well, it’s the best, and the road-feel in this car is something else. It’s got soul this Miata.
A trip to me is never fully completed until we have unpacked and I have thoroughly cleaned the car. So there we have it, a clean car, and the last Coast to Canyon blogpost!