Feature:  The long distance drive, a journey through time   Part one travel car culture
The route from Vancouver to Ottawa, 4500+ kilometres, 4.5 days, Trans-Canada Highway all the way. Click image to enlarge

Article and photos by Grant Yoxon

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Long-distance drive: A journey through time

I like the long distance drive. When Porsche Canada asked me if I would like to participate in a six-day drive from Anchorage, Alaska, to Vancouver, British Columbia in April with a group of Porsche Cayenne enthusiasts, naturally I said yes.

When approached by Mercedes-Benz Canada to drive a Smart Fortwo from Kelowna, B.C. to Whitehorse, Yukon – in February no less – I couldn’t refuse.

If the car companies don’t give me reason, I’ll find my own. Every year, I drive to the Chicago Auto Show in February just to find bad weather. I drive to the New York show too. And most years I get to the Detroit Auto Show by car as well; short hops as far as I’m concerned. I think nothing of driving to the Outer Banks in a day or Florida in two. New York City is just a morning away.

I’ll drive my 1990 Mustang to Alabama and back again just to see other Mustangs and just for the fun of the long drive.

Irv Gordon, the owner of a 1966 Volvo P1800, who holds the record for the highest mileage recorded by a private owner (2.9 million miles!), is my hero. It was a highlight of my automotive journalism career, when Autos.ca colleague Paul Williams and I had dinner with Irv before the 2008 New York auto show and went for a ride in his car. I’ll never match Irv’s driving record, but I get it. I understand the need to drive.

So far this year, I’ve driven about 20,000 kilometres on Canadian and U.S. highways – mostly just for the fun of it and mostly by myself. I am driven to drive.

Give me any excuse, any excuse at all to drive a car and I will drive, and that excuse came on a Tuesday evening in June while I was preparing to fly to Vernon, B.C. for the Canadian press launch of the Infiniti M35h. My wife was speaking to a friend who had moved from Vancouver to Ottawa eight months ago, leaving her car, a 2006 Hyundai Accent, in the care of a family member. We were surprised to learn she was still without her car. She had investigated shipping options but with the cost ranging from $1,200 to $1,500, she decided it would have to wait.

Her predicament was my opportunity. While I have driven many long sections of the Trans-Canada Highway, it had been more than 40 years since I travelled the distance from Vancouver to Ottawa. So of course, I offered to bring the car home if I could get it when I passed through Vancouver on Thursday. She wasn’t sure, would have to make some calls, and on Wednesday morning I left for Vernon. Wednesday evening, after driving the Infiniti, I got the call and the go-ahead.

“The car will be in a parking garage at Canada Place in downtown Vancouver. Here is the number for the person who will have the keys; and it needs new tires.”

Before desert was finished, I had contacted Mort Koch at TireTrends, an online retailer of tires, and in B.C., a wholesaler and arranged to pick up some new tires. In the era of last minute delivery, I couldn’t afford to drive around from tire retailer to retailer looking for one with the right size in stock. Next day delivery is the norm, and I couldn’t lose a day to tires.

On Thursday, I flew to Vancouver, took the SkyTrain to Canada Place and quickly found my contact. A few minutes later, I had the keys and found the car in the garage.