british columbia

DNBC Show – Vancouver BC – September 2010

Sunday was not an ideal day for a roadtrip, what with the early fog, the persistent drizzle, and the occasional wall of smashing rain, but Cara and I made the best of it and trekked to North Vancouver BC for what has become my annual end-of-season tradition, the DNBC Show at Waterfront Park. The grass was swampy and the group was small, but we still had a great time with our fellow non-weather-dependent gearheads and I came home with the Best In Class trophy in the Modern Coupe class. It’s a custom, handmade one that Richard put together that I was especially excited to earn.

Cara is a fantastic roadtrip partner and not only put up with but actually enjoyed all the open hoods, car talk, highway time, and getting semi-lost on the way home looking for souvenirs in Surrey – I can’t wait for our next adventure. 🙂

Gallery is here – slideshow button is at the top-right corner.

Winter Olympics, Vancouver BC – January 2010

Danielle, Jordan and I spent a whirlwind weekend in Vancouver attending as much Olympics as we could without advanced reservations. Cassidy and Ali generously made room in their condo and we explored the city together, taking in the official Olympic facilities, the dressed-up city of Vancouver, and the millions of joyous, friendly, congenial Canadians filling the streets to support their country and welcome visitors from all over the world. We watched Canada bring home hockey gold Sunday afternoon from a packed Robson Street bar and then poured into the cheering, honking, high-fiving streets of Vancouver to celebrate their victory with the 26 million Canadians (80% of the country) who are estimated to have watched the match. It was an incredible experience being part of something as huge and international as the Winter Olympics and especially meaningful to join Vancouver in their triumphs – both as hosts and athletes – as it’s a part of the world where I’ve always felt particularly at home (and we already know I have a crush on British Columbia). Photos are below and the couple of videos I shot are on YouTube. The Olympics were a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m so glad we found a way to be there; even without front row tickets or an autographed jersey we felt included in something amazing, something we’ll never forget.

Gallery slideshow here.

Knox Mountain Hill Climb in Kelowna, BC – May 2009

It was a perfect weekend to cruise over the Okanagan mountains to Kelowna, BC and attend my favorite northwest track event – the Knox Mountain Hill Climb. I originally ventured into the great white north seeking this unique, european-style rally two years ago – with my buddy James Walper – and the event was just as excellent as I remembered it. The drive up there, even more so; please bear with all my out-the-window shots as I was completely enthralled by the scenery along the highway, but there was rarely room to pull over and take a proper photo (plus I never would have made it home). 😉

Although I didn’t intend to bring any souvenirs, I did manage to return with a horrendous allergy/cold/flu (swine?) but had a worthwhile trip despite not being able to hear or sleep or breathe for most of it, and managed to confirm a few things for myself:

  • My Z is a fantastic car. Besides being totally sexy, it is just brilliant to drive (finally getting the new suspension settings where they should be surely contributed to that) and the 700 miles I logged this weekend flew by, bringing me home all too soon. I can sit in that driver’s seat for literally hours without even considering a break, and while there are things I’d love to fix, I’m extremely happy with where it’s at right now. I guess it’s just nice to validate that all the hard work and money are worth it – and they are. 🙂
  • I am good at traveling alone. A few weeks in a foreign country with a lonely hotel room and an expense account have taught me that it’s okay (enjoyable, even) to walk into a restaurant and request a table for one, and I’m resourceful and creative in finding ways to entertain myself in a strange town. Of course, I would have loved a roadtrip companion, but I’m pretty experienced at flying solo and it’s something I do well. I like that about me.
  • I’ve got a crush on British Columbia. There’s a lot of it to love: all the rugged, dramatic, sweeping wilderness that I grew up surrounded by in Montana, but on a larger scale; all the lush cascade rain forests of Washington, but with more sunshine; wide open highways and a driving populace that knows how to “stay right except to pass”; the metric system (it’s easier to use, people). Everytime I’m up there I find another reason to go back, and Kelowna is definitely on the short list of places I’d like to “keep an apartment” someday.

The other thing I learned this weekend is how quickly my dual-battery grip is exhausted running the autofocus on AI Servo… so I didn’t shoot as much of the race as I would have liked to. On the bright side, that left me time in the afternoon to actually just enjoy it as a spectator, rather than through the lens (and halfway up a tree). Next year, though, I’ll have battery reserves for the late afternoon, and two working nostrils so I can stay for Sunday’s runs, too.

Click here for the gallery

You can measure the quality of a weekend by how far you can open your eyes on monday.

I had such a blast on this weekend’s roadtrip, and i really wanted to sit down and log it last night while it was still fresh, but anyone who saw me last night (namely Danielle, and that jerk from craigslist who shorted her $20 in the U Village parking lot – what is it with craigslist people? oh well, last laugh’s on him: he thinks he drives a baller’s “Tahoe” but it’s a late-eighties Blazer. Someone got suckered by the used car lot!) knows i shouldn’t have been looking at a computer screen. My eyes are still a bit bloodshot today, but 9 hours of sleep and half a bottle of eyedrops have made great strides. That’s also why i haven’t processed the 4 memory cards (512 MB) of photos, either. But i might try and do that tonight, if my eyes can take it. I’ve got some contract work in the queue, too, and that does take priority…

I left work early friday for a doc appt with the very capable (and wow! incredibly hot) Dr. Jeannie. Before you go thinking i’m a traitor, Eric was in hawaii getting married. I don’t think he was even thinking the slightest bit about who was covering his appointments. At least, i hope he wasn’t. 😉 I will see him this afternoon and ask him how it went, but i assume he’ll tell me before i have to ask… 😉

Clint left work a little early, too, and we did some last-minute car cleaning and then met Travis, Christie and Peter in marysville, forming our Vancouver BC caravan crew. Clint’s Z, my Z and Peter’s 200sx were entered in the Driven to Perform show at BC Place, and Travis filled his Sentra with snack food and beverages heavy on the C8H10N4O2 and acted as our support vehicle. We met up with Luis about halfway to the border, and he rolled with us for a bit until some unluckily-timed showmanship landed him a $327 speeding ticket (sorry again about that, Lou!). Despite some navigational snafus (it’s not easy to read a map, hold a flashlight, steer and shift when you only have two hands, ok?) we found our way to the east airlock on time, and met up with Vince, Ben, James, Colin, Ron, Aaron, Luis, Tyler and the sweet booth that NWN had built for the show. (I know these names mean nothing to half of you – i mostly enumerate them for my own benefit, so when we’re 70 and i’m arguing with Clint about what that guy’s name was with the nice blue Silvia i can look it up here and prove him wrong 😉

Some cleaning and polishing, followed by late-night Denny’s, where Travis tried to take a picture of some chick he nearly convinced us was JoJo and her two-man Fubu entourage. It’s probably better there is no photographic evidence because now it will become our own private urban legend, as well as the running joke of the weekend.

DTP was a good time on saturday, with the guys at Garage Five taking home most of the trophys in our class, which we’re fine with because their cars are totally sweet. I took a kazillion pics, talked to a lot of canadians “aboot” my “zed” and pretty much laughed myself exhausted with Travis, Christie, Peter and Clint. We had a great time; it’s too bad we can’t afford to do this stuff more. The show staff kept us all locked in the exhaust-fumes-death-stadium until almost 1AM, and upon release we booked it past the hookers, junkies and drug dealers on Hastings Ave and straight to the border, because even with our quick departure we still only had 2 hours for a nap and a shower at Travis’s in marysville before it was time to report to Stanwood for the Twin City Idlers hot rod show. The entire rest of the team made it out for this one *with their actual cars*, which was a first since i’ve been involved. Someone’s always got a mechanical problem, or is in the middle of a build project, or has to work. But for the first time everyone cracked their “real” cars out of hiding (Jason even braved the burbs in his new R32 Skyline) and we filled a (small) parking lot with our Nissan contingent (and Nate’s turbo’d civic, just for variety). In the middle of a classic hot rod show we felt a bit out of place, but the quirkiness of a small-town close-main-street-for-the-day kind of event kept us all entertained, and (creating further amusement) our swag bags included packages of both beef jerky *and* pepperoni. Probably also a coupon for half-price bull castrating and a vintage Chevrolet parts catalog, too, but i haven’t gone thru it all yet. 😉

By the time 3PM crawled towards us, everyone was bleary-eyed and ready for a gargantuan nap, especially the five of us on a two-show international weekend tour. We puttered out of there past the gawking crowds and went home to crash (in bed, not on the road, thanks to energy drinks purchased, donated and surreptitiously acquired from vendor booths in a quantity large enough to fill a small pool), vowing on the way home that there should be many more weekends of spirited driving, walkie-talkie insult wars, celebrity pancake sightings, bikini-clad car show models, and breakdance fighting before we all get too old and start taking ourselves seriously. 😉

Van City Weekend: Part 3

Cleaned up and dressed down, we drove to the top of Mt Seymour for the NWN bbq and showoff. About 70-80 cars by my guess parked in rows in this vantage-point lot atop a windy mountain highway. An excellent drive up and a great way to finish the weekend. Some folks that hadn’t been at the show – like Breezy and Aaron – that it’s always great to see.

After a couple burgers and lots of car talk, it was time to pack things up. There were 7 of us headed to WA or OR that left together, and managed to keep our caravan all the way to everett, despite half of us being geographically challenged and the other half not understanding the “driving in a group” concept. I, incidentally, was in neither half. 😉

We had a wild time moving thru traffic together as a posse, and when Patrick and I parted at the 405/I5 interchange and i was finally driving alone, it was the biggest downer. After such a rockin weekend with so many great people, it sucks that it had to be so short, and that such a trip is so rare! All at once my brain started working again, off vacation mode and back into regular trains of thought, and all the bills, worries, stresses, deadlines and confusion washed over me. The problem with good times, i realized, is that they remind you how bad the bad times are.

So now i’m back home, facing everything again. Still not sure if my rent check is going to clear. Still don’t have my laptop working, leaving me professionally crippled. Contract job due on the 30th that has much more to be done, with no way to work on it. Should i start working nights? Can i wait until after Tim’s wedding (july 17th) to start? Can i even afford to be traveling for his wedding? Will i make it thru tmrw’s staff meeting without needing therapy? And what am i going to do with this hideous sunburn i acquired driving home today with the tops off? I guess all i can do tonite is just go to bed, and face tomorrow with a bit more sleep and some new perspective. Life shouldn’t have to suck so much during the week just to make the occasional good weekend possible. Something in my life has to change. Also, i need to travel more! 😉

Van City Weekend: Part 2

Friday we left Seattle early and after finding our way across the northern border and into Coquitlam (a Van suburb) we dropped our gear at Vince’s and took advantage of his generosity to wash the road dust off our rides. Once clean, we packed things up to head to Driven to Perform in downtown Van at BC Place Stadium. The plan is, you leave your car there fri nite, and come back saturday for a bit of last minute touch-up time and then the show runs thru sat nite. Took us a bit longer to get into Van than we expected, tho, with Vince’s 240sx on the side of the road! I was following him, and saw his exhaust heating up red-hot, and from the inside pipe out. On the roadside we could see his high-flow cat and a lot of the exhaust piping glowing red, as well. His car was only running on 2 out of 4 cylinders anyway, he was just going to limp it to the show, but this put quite a damper on things! We shuffled around the shoulder as first one, then two, then three tow trucks came by before we had the correct combination of flatbed truck and spare lumber to ease his lowered car onto the wrecker. We still made roll-in time, no problem, but Vince was not very happy about his car! The suggestion was made to bring his car home or directly to a shop, but Vince wasn’t about to miss a show, so the driver unloaded his car right into the stadium airlock!

A few hours cleaning that nite, mingling around with the other competitors, setting up our booth. There were 8 of us showing for Northwest Nissans – Vince and Jeff with their 240’s, Patrick’s Maxima and my 300zx, and some new guys i hadn’t met before – Luis, Aaron, Ron, Mike – also with 240’s. We all burned a lot of calories polishing and wiping, pushing solvent-covered rags across every inch of our paint, windows, dash, engine bay… all of it! … so everyone was more than ready for beer at Boston Pizza when we left and returned to Coquitlam for the nite.

A few hours sleep then back into Vince’s mom’s minivan (since all our cars were locked up!) for breakfast, where the waitress made fun of us for all wearing the same shirts. Then rush to the show, to wait around for several hours to have our cars judged, then wait around for 7 more hours until trophy-time!

It wasn’t all waiting, tho. I talked with a lot of people, about their cars, my car, other people’s cars, things that fit in cars… and played some PS2 on the projector screen in our booth (sweet!). I also wandered around and took pics of lots of interesting stuff that i’ll post when i can. I met several cool fellow 300ZX owners (“300 Zed-Ex” as the Canadians call them) and explained to some honda guys that the blue computer in my dash is *not* a VTEC controller. Also spent a lot of time closing the hood so models could pose with my car, then opening it again so people could comment on how crowded the engine bay is… yeah, never heard that before!

After a whole day in the stuff stadium breathing exhaust and quick detailer fumes, we were all getting restless to go spend some time on the town. Before we could leave, tho, the trophies had to be distributed. None of us really expected much, as there were a lot of cars their whose owners have deeper pockets than us, but we were all pleasantly surprised when Patrick took the 2nd place trophy in the Nissan class!! The thing is freakin huge, like 4 feet tall, and i think he deserved it, even if he has his doubts. He may not have custom paint or some of the other big-$$ things the sponsored guys have, but all of his work he’s done himself (or with the help of friends… ahem. 😉 even things most people wouldn’t touch, like his custom leather upholstry. Also, some of his projects, like the “angel eyes” halo rings around his headlights that required baking open his headlight assemblies in the oven, were pretty intricate and difficult. He’s such a perfectionist that there’s not a single thing on his car that’s “just ok” or “close enough”. I think that and three days worth of detailing are what brought him home a winner.

So, rejoicing in Patrick’s victory we dropped our car’s at Vince’s and piled into the “man van’ – although this time Laura and Holly were along for the ride, the ‘man van’ was a little more co-ed – and found our way to Tonic, a hiphop club in downtown Van. Luis is THE MAN and bargained our way in despite the lines. Along the way Vince took a right turn and was promptly ticketed by a not-super-nice-but-thankfully-too-lazy-to-pay-close-attention cop who, although he didn’t notice there were 8 of us in a 7-passenger van, did observe Vince violate a “no turning right between 11pm and 6am” sign in a completely nonsensical intersection that was incidentally jammed with an ambulance and was impassable anyway. Van City has some messed up traffic laws, eh!

We partied like rock stars until the club closed at 4am, then stumbled our way back our parking spot – some of us (Laura!) stumbling more than others. 😉 By the time we reached Coquitlam, it was a little after five. The sun was beginning to come up, we could tell it was going to be a beautiful day. It was agreed there was no sense in going to bed, as we were planning on being up at 6 for sunday’s plans, so no sleep was had at all! Actually, i managed to slip in two 15-minute naps in between switching my camera batteries on the charger. Some nite! Er, day!