Cara and I spent an excellent day at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway – my first taste of racing on the huge Nascar scale and part of our epic March roadtrip. Besides being enthralled with the Nascar marketing and promotion machine, I thoroughly enjoyed the fans, the race, the massive sound that immediately follows “Gentlemen, start your engines”, the drama of the occasional wreck, and a day out in the desert sun with my favorite race fan.
After 1 hour of Dirt 2, I logged into Gamefly and hit KEEP. I was literally cheering at the screen when I’d nail a 1st place win, and if there had been champagne handy I would have sprayed it all over. I love hearing Travis Pastrana address me by name, I love the driving dynamics, I love the music, I love the smooth transitions between racing, menus, and replays with no giant block of loading/wait time, and I love winning and hearing real drivers tell me I’m a badass behind the wheel. Dirt 2 is a genius game that’s really well put together and I’m going to love playing it through. I haven’t even touched MMO yet and I’m already convinced this game is a keeper.
Matt heard that Griot’s was rolling out the red carpet for the grand opening of their new facility in Tacoma and that it was likely to turn into an informal car show, so we rolled down there to stock up on Speed Shine and see what showed up. I caught some really beautiful classics in the parking lot, and (perhaps due to the peer pressure for such things in the parking lot of a detailing specialty shop) most of them were spotless and gorgeous. There were also some rare specimen from racing history inside Griot’s on display, which were – of course – cleaner than any water glass in any restaurant in America and I leaned as far over the ropes as I felt I could get away with and grabbed some shots of them, too. I also bought a really fancy car wash wagon/bucket contraption that is totally unnecessary and really awesome.
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.