Friday, October 11, 2013


I'm sure most of you have a favorite drive or two or even ones that you'd like to make.

One of my favorites is Alberta's Highway 22 between Longview and the Crowsnest Pass. A two laned strip of asphalt winding through the foothills of the Rocky Mountains it offers some great views. It's 110km (70 miles) from point to point with a 100km/hr speed limit.
From Surrealplaces on Flikr

At the north end Longview has a couple of great little restaurants. At the southern end the Crowsnest Pass offers up some excellent fly fishing for those so inclined.

Longview is also a great starting point for another of my favorites. Head west from Longview on Highway 541. Once you reach Highwood Junction turn north onto Highway 40 over the Highwood Pass which at 2206m (7238ft) is the highest paved pass in Canada. 

Highwood Pass from the air (source wikipedia)
If you look closely at the photo above you can see the summit parking lot in the bottom right corner.

From the ground (source wikipedia)

Continuing north brings you to Kananskis Country, a very picturesque part of the country with tons of camping, hiking and other outdoor activities. Be sure to detour up to the Boulton Creek Trading Post in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park for an ice cream.

I do have to put one caveat in here. There was significant flooding in Southern Alberta this past June and the highway over the Highwood Pass has been closed all summer. It will most likely reopen in June of 2014.

If you continue north from Peter Lougheed Park along Highway 40 you'll reach Highway #1, better known as the Trans Canada Highway. Once at the junction you can choose to turn around and head back the way you came, head west towards Canmore and Banff or east to Calgary.

This stretch of Highway 40 was featured in the opening sequences of the movie "John Q".

What's your favorite drive?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A day trip to Rosebud

Back in August Sharon and I along with our two youngest had the opportunity to see Rosebud Theatre's production of "Cotton Patch Gospel" which features the music of Harry Chapin

Rosebud is a drive of about 130km/80m from home across some very picturesque prairie country and seeing it was only the four of us we took our trusty Festiva.

Didn't think to take pictures on the way out but here are a few on the return trip.


Across the  pond
Yes, there are corners on the prairies.

Westbound on Alberta Highway 9

As you can see it was a beautiful day for a drive. The car ran well and we all enjoyed both the play and the journey.

Just for fun here's a sign I saw in Rosebud's gift shop...

How romantic!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A road trip called "gorge"-ous, day five Tuesday June 11th.

After breakfast at the hotel we decided to stop by Sandpoint City Beach for a morning stroll before heading off home. With it being early on a weekday it was quite empty and we enjoyed the views and the quiet.

Sharon with the Statue of Liberty ;)
City Beach, Sandpoint ID

 Refreshed by the morning air we hit the road into the woods of Northern Idaho. Crossed the border at Easport and made our way to Fernie. Got out there to stretch our legs for a bit on the road up to Mount Fernie Provincial Park.

In Mount Fernie Provincial Park
From there we continued east on Highway 3, north on 22, across to Nanton and then north to Calgary on Highway #2. Went out for supper before heading home.

Welcome home.... arrived in Calgary early in the rush hour!
To wrap things up... enjoyed the trip in spite of the rocky start and having to take the van rather than the Festiva. We'd like to head back to the Portland area again perhaps for a little longer. One thing we weren't able to squeeze in was a visit to see the infamous "Spruce Goose".

Here's to the next road trip!

Monday, June 24, 2013

A road trip called "gorge"-ous, day four Monday June 10th.

This day we are making our way eastward along Oregon Highway 30, the historic Columbia River Highway. A beautiful stretch of two lane road twisting and turning its way along the southern side of the Columbia River Gorge... you could say a "gorge"-ous highway. Would much rather be driving the Festiva today!

Historic Route 30...

First stop of the morning was at Vista House located on the Crown Point Overlook. The Vista House was built in 1917 on one of the most beautiful scenic points on the Historic Columbia River Highway, as place for travelers to rest and refresh themselves as they made their way down the magnificent Columbia River Gorge. 

On the way up to Vista House...

Photo from

Looking east up the gorge from Vista House
After a quick stop we continued up the gorge to Latourell Falls, the first of many waterfalls along the way. The falls plunge 224 feet over a massive wall of columnar basalt before cascading hastily towards the Columbia River.

Enroute to Latourell...

Sharon and I at Latourell Falls.

Next stop... Bridal Veil Falls. These falls are the only in the area which occurs below the historic Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway - the base of the falls standing probably no more than 20 vertical feet above the Columbia River and the crest is 118 feet above that. It's a pleasant walk down to the falls from the well signed parking lot.

Bridal Veil Falls. If you look closely you can see the highway bridge across the top of the upper falls.
After Bridal Veil we stopped at Wahkeena Falls. The falls plunge over two steps, the largest being 180 feet and the smallest 62 feet. Wahkeena is aYakima Indian word meaning "most beautiful" and I think I would agree.

Next stop... the big one, Multnomah Falls. The falls are usually cited as dropping 611 feet, 542 feet in the upper and 69 feet in the lower tier.However there is a small cascade between the two and a 10 foot fall immediately above the main drop which is sometimes called Little Multnomah Falls, which would bring the total height of the series to about 630 feet. A magnificent sight regardless of the numbers...

Sharon at Multnamah Falls. Benson Bridge in the background.
After our little walk up to the falls we grabbed a snack and headed as far east as we could before joining I-84. The remainder of our drive was fairly uneventful. We stopped in Kennewick to pick up some Cherry Coke, which our kids love and is rarely available in Calgary. On our way down we had driven through in the dark so it was interesting to see the terrain between Kennewick and our overnight stop in Sandpoint ID in the daylight. We discovered that the maps on our GPS were not quite as up to date as they could have been even though I had updated them before we left. There was a fair bit of new construction around Sandpoint that threw us off for a bit but we were able to find our hotel after a short detour.

Tomorrow has us on our homeward leg of the journey. Stay tuned. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A road trip called "gorge'-ous, day three Sunday June 9th

Sunday rolled around bright and sunny. Had our breakfast then headed back into downtown Portland to our first destination: Powell's City of Books. This incredible  store is four floors, covers an entire city block and has a second building across the street! What a view when you walk in the door...

A book lover could spend a day or two here and still not see all there is to see. We spent two or three hours including some time in the rare books room up on the third floor.

The view when you come in the door!
Directory! We also had a map....
Sharon... living a book lover's dream!
 We picked a few books including one in keeping with the automotive theme of this blog...

Need I say more...
Strolled back to the van, programmed the GPS for our next destination and headed off.
Pittock Mansion here we come! To quote the website... "Nestled high in the West Hills of Portland, the Pittock Mansion soars 1,000 feet above the city's skyline. A century old symbol of Portland's dramatic transformation from a small lumber town to a bustling city, it's an architectural wonder".  

This incredible home featured locally sourced materials and craftsmen to highlight and demonstrate what the region had to offer. The home had an intercom system, central heating with thermostats in each room, central vacuum system, an elevator and indoor plumbing to mention but a few of the "modern" conveniences. They may not seem unusual to us today but remember that this home was completed just before the start of World War 1!
The final estate included the mansion, a three-car garage, a greenhouse, and the Italianate gate lodge servants’ residence, all situated on 46 acres of land almost 1,000 feet above downtown Portland.

The library, one of the first rooms you see as you enter the home.

The "Turkish Smoking Room" with original paint on the ceiling!

One of the intercom stations...

The last Pittock descendant to live in the house left in 1958. It's been open to the public since the mid 1960's after being saved from a developer's plan to demolish it and build an apartment complex. After the tour around the home we took a walk on the grounds to take in the views which were astounding!

Afterwards we headed of to Troutdale, a suburb of Portland on its eastern edge, and checked into our hotel. We decided to head out for supper again instead of making our microwave KD. Our choice was McMenaman's Edgefield. Once a "poor" farm, built in 1911 to help the poor become self-sufficient through farming. This "back to the land" concept in social welfare was based on the belief that the poor could enjoy fresh air and country living while growing their own food. It was all but abandoned and headed for the wrecking ball when the complex was purchased in 1990 by micro-brew pioneers Mike and Brian McMenamin, who wanted to try their hands at the hotel business. McMenamin's Edgefield is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a destination resort with pubs, restaurants, theaters, gardens, and a golf course. The complex includes a winery, brewery and distillery, a restaurant, and a concert venue that has hosted such notables as BB King and Ringo Starr. We arrived in time to enjoy happy hour prices in the Power House Pub and watch a movie! Not very often a couple can have a meal, a drink and watch a movie for $30.00. If you're in the Portland area this is a place we'd recommend!

Tomorrow we start the journey home, heading east through the Columbia Gorge....

Monday, June 10, 2013

A road trip called 'gorge'ous... day two Saturday, June 8th

After yesterday's adventures we decided to sleep in a little longer than usual especially since we discovered breakfast was available until 10:00am! We only had a short drive planned for the day so that wasn't a concern. Ate our breakfast, filled the thermos with coffee, packed up and headed out to our first destination. 

Our route took us along the Washington side of the Columbia River on highway 14, a beautiful stretch of well maintained two lane highway.

The ever-present Mount Hood.

Mount Hood is a prominent fixture on the horizon. Coming in and out a view as we drove the twists and turns on Highway 14. First stop for the day was the Maryhill Museum of Art. This beautiful building was initially conceived as a private residence for Samuel Hill and his family. While it was under construction he decided it would better serve the community at large as an art museum. He and his family never did live in the place but it makes for a great museum. We spent a couple of hours admiring the exhibits.

At the Maryhill Museum of Art.

Samuel Hill - Road Builder and the visionary behind Maryhill Museum of Art
One of the exterior staircases

 The views from the grounds are incredible as the property is perched 400 feet above the northern shore of the Columbia River.

Sharon and I. If you look close you can see the bridge we would later take to cross the Columbia.

The Maryhill Museum from the access road.
Leaving Maryhill we backtracked just a bit and crossed the Columbia River over to the Oregon side. Between Kennewick, our first overnight, and Portland there are four hydroelectric dams across the Columbia River. Between them these four provide over 6000MW of power. 

The Dalles Dam, one of four between Kennewick WA and Portland OR.

Stopped in The Dalles for gas and then continued westward into Portland and a visit to the Architectural Heritage Center. The first of the two main exhibits was the history of Portland's street cars. Portland still has a streetcar to this day! The second exhibit was a collection of glass door knobs. A surprisingly interesting display showing the large variety of manufacturers, styles, types and different manufacturing methods. No automotive door knobs though.

A variety of door knobs from the past in a gorgeous cabinet.
Following our visit to see the door knobs we decided to head back to the hotel and check in then figure out what to do for supper. On the way we spotted a very odd looking van. We tried to get in front to take a couple of closer shots but were only able to snap this one...

Not something you see every day!
Did a bit of digging and discovered that this is the Never Never Van owned and created by one Scot Campbell of Portland. You can find a bit more info here.

Once back at the hotel we decided to try one of the local restaurants rather than the typical fast food places. Our choice was El Indio on NE Halsey Street. Here's the Urban Spoon write up. The food was great, service quick and the portions huge. Sharon was unable to finish hers so we boxed it up and shared it for lunch the next day. So if you're looking for Mexican we'd highly recommend El Indio.

So ends our second day. We've been blessed with great weather and no further mechanical issues. Looking forward to what tomorrow has in store! 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A road trip called 'gorge'ous.... day one Friday June 7th.

After a late night in the garage it was time to head out on our road trip to Portland OR. This trip would see just Sharon and I in the Festiva with our first overnight in Kennewick WA then on to Portland for two nights. The return would see us stopping in Sandpoint ID then home on Tuesday evening.

Got away a little later than we had hoped but headed west on the Trans-Canada highway to head through Banff and Yoho National Parks.

Western bound on the Trans Canada Highway

The car is running great, traffic was relatively light, and the weather perfect for driving. So far so good...

Through the Banff National Park gates

Passed through Banff, turned up Highway 93 with Radium Hot Springs as our next first stop. We even passed a Porsche! Not that he was going very fast but it still felt somehow satisfying. So far so good...

After that we both noticed that the car was making new noises like the lifters losing pressure. The noise was getting louder the closer we got to Radium and as we passed through Sinclair Canyon the oil light came on... now it's not so good. Although we did see a bear, but not in enough time to get a picture.

Through Sinclair Canyon just east of Radium Hot Springs

Pulled into the gas station at the bottom of the hill and discovered that there was no oil! Checked underneath and the oil pan gasket repair I did the previous evening had failed... now it's getting worse.

After trying to see if I could fix it we decided to return to Calgary and switch vehicles. Purchased six litres of oil, put four in right away hoping the remaining two would get us at least to Canmore. It turned out that two extra only got us about 60km down the road. Stopped at the Kootenay Crossing store and bought six more litres and nursed the car back to Canmore where we phoned the AMA to arrange to have the car towed home. If there's a bright spot in this we saw what we guessed was the same bear we'd seen a little earlier...

Our bear sighting...

Oil film on the back window... that will be fun to clean!

Getting loaded up for the rest of the trip home.

Doing the switcheroo at home.
By now it's 4;30 in the afternoon and we had arranged to meet a friend in Kennewick for supper at 7:30. Well that wasn't going to happen. We had phoned him to let him know and also let the hotel know that we would be "a bit" late. And late it was. After a relatively tame drive back through Radium then Cranbrook BC, Bonner's Ferry & Coeur D'Alene ID, and Spokane WA we arrived at our Kennewick hotel at 1:30am PDT. I joked with Sharon that for the amount of driving we ended up doing today we could have gone all the way to Portland!

So now our road trip is not in the Festiva but in our '04 Pontiac Montana, which doesn't really qualify as an econobox. It does however fit the "box" part of that.

For day 2 we have planned a relatively light driving day with a couple of museum visits along the way.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Prelude to a road trip.....Thursday June 6th.

Before heading out on a road trip I always give the car the once over; checking oil, tire pressures etc. I had discovered a leaky oil pan gasket the week prior so decided to replace it before we left. Due to workload etc I wasn't able to make the repairs until the Thursday evening prior to our Friday morning departure.

Dropped the oil pan after a bit a fuss, put the new gasket in place and buttoned everything up at about 11pm. Took the car out for a test drive and everything seems good so I parked the car and went to bed.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Watch this space!

It's time for another road trip!

My wife, Sharon, and I are heading down to Portland OR in the Festiva for a couple of days. The first leg of the trip will be from Calgary AB to Kennewick WA via Radium Hot Springs and Cranbrook BC, Sandpoint ID and Spokane WA.

Leg number two will take us along the north shore of the Columbia River with stops along the way. One of those stops will be at the Mary Hill Museum of Art in Goldendale WA. While in Portland we plan to visit Powell's City of Books in the downtown area among other things.

Our return trip will essentially reverse the route but on the south side of the Columbia River with an overnight stay in Sandpoint ID. We'll probably take Highway 3 west to Highway 22, Alberta's Cowboy Trail, rather than head up through Banff to get home.

We'll be updating the blog as we go along. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The continuing attraction of the econobox...

Yesterday's econobox has evolved into today's subcompact yet the attraction continues! As a follow up to my last post here's a post on Subcompact Culture on the continuing attraction of the genre....

And here's another one from the same blog...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


I've often been asked why a Festiva? That's easy to answer now after having one or more Festivas in the past ten years or so but got me to thinking of another question... why did I buy my first Festiva?

After more than twenty years with one company that provided a company vehicle I started a new job that had a 50km/30 mile round trip commute so we decided to pick up second vehicle for me to drive. The main criteria for the purchase where fairly basic: great gas mileage, fun to drive, easy to work on. The first car we picked up was a 2nd generation VW Jetta Carat that had been properly lowered. It turned out that this met the first two criteria but not the third. When we decided to sell that and find something else I remember reading an article in the August 1988 edition of Motor Trend magazine featuring an 88 Festiva that they tweaked just a little. I remember thinking, based on that article, that the Festiva would be a fun car to have so I started looking in earnest for one. Looked at a couple of them and in early 2001 I purchased a white 92 GL Sport for about $1200. The car met all the criteria and I was hooked. I found the Yahoo group and later the forum and the rest is history.

Here's what my first car looked like about a year after I got it, the back end was equally "modified" after being rear ended at a red light.

After that happened I picked up my current car, also a 92 GL Sport Here's a couple of shots of the new one shortly after I bought it. I'd already replaced the exhaust and added the "swoopie" power mirrors.

red ford festiva

red ford festiva, ford festiva

A more recent shot...

red ford festiva, ford festiva
At the Umpqua Lighthouse on the Oregon Coast, June 2012

This car has been my daily driver through fair weather and foul, over 80mph interstate and back country gravel roads and put on well over 300,000km (180,000 miles) since we purchased it. Lots of modifications over the years too but I'll save that for another post.

All that being said it begs the question... leave a comment and tell us why, and how, did you get your first econobox?