The Trans-America Challenge 2012

7th May - 8th June 2012


Vancouver to Quesnel

MAY 29TH, 2012

An early start and another grey day. As we left Vancouver it was damp and drizzly with the threat of more serious rain hanging in the air. 

Traffic was very light though and we quickly made it through Stanley Park and onto the 99 North to Whistler. There were spectacular views over Horseshoe Bay and Howe Sound along the Sea to Sky Highway which threads its way through cliffs and creeks. 

The low cloud and mist added to the drama and as we passed Furry Creek the aforementioned threat of more serious rain become reality. We pitied the open cars and those crew members we saw buying waterproofs yesterday got to try them out sooner than they might have wanted to.

Re-starting after the day off however was not what car 33 the Rolls Royce wanted. Half a mile from the Pan Pacific hotel was all Alistair Caldwell managed before the wiring loom went into meltdown. The Silver Cloud stopped dead with dud electrics. Alistair replaced the fuel pump before discovering a short circuit. He managed to get it going and made the lunch checkpoint on time.

By the time we got to Squamish (which claims to be the outdoor recreation capital of Canada) things were looking up. The clouds were lifting and the distant snow-capped peaks stuck themselves into a pale blue sky. The road signs here are in two languages, standard English and St'at'imc (it’s not pronounced as it looks) which is also the name of the Native American Nation who lived here first.

Through Brackendale, the world eagle capital; through Whistler in the Blackcomb Mountains the venue of the 2010 Winter Olympics and up the hill to Lillooet along a road described as a "Winding highway, caution when passing". 

There was still plenty of snow here and it was cold. Duffy Lake had mounds of snow slipping into it but back down the hill there were vineyards and wine tasting in Lillooet which was most unexpected.

In 'Historic Clinton' the local community had laid on an excellent BBQ for our lunch. And we must again thank them for their generous hospitality.

Afterwards it was straight onto the gravel and into the regularity sections. Just like in Montana we had it all here, wide open tracks, trees, lakes and rivers. The sections were long, the views outstanding and the hairpins plentiful. No one finished with anything less than an ear to ear grin. Only one crew however managed to finish with a clean sheet for the entire day, Martin and Olivia Hunt in their Bentley which was a remarkable effort. But today if they got close to the ideal time most crews seemed happy.

The glorious gravel continued until the city of Williams Lake where we came upon Bruce and Judy Washington in their Dodge, broken down with an alternator problem. All three sweep crews however had stopped to offer help so they were back on the road in next to no time and they arrived at the MTC in the nick of time to avoid incurring any penalties.

It was also good to see the newly arrived Ford Capri of David and Sarah Rayner enjoying the backcountry. At the end of this, their first day, they lead the Vancouver to Anchorage crews. Gerry Crown and Matt Bryson lead overall by a slender five seconds over Richard Worts and Nicola Shackleton who had to tighten up some loose wheels on their Jaguar at the mid morning passage control only to discover that what they thought was a sticky brake caliper turned out to be a servo failure. This needed some attention from the sweeps and by bypassing the unit they were able to continue for the rest of the day.

At the night halt in Quesnel the hotel car park saw the usual fixing and fettling as the old crews and the new crews mixed and swapped tales from the day. They're all in it together now.


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