Getting ready to go
Near the end of this past August my wife and I once again had our sights set on California with the smell of In N Out and the taste of watered down beer tantalizing our minds. It was time to turn off work mode for a week and go have some fun. She was flying down with her friend and me, well of course I would make the journey with three pedals and a steering wheel. Things would be a bit different this time though. Instead of the ear smashing and highway blasting Mustang I would be at the helm of my WRX.
Since my first story on the WRX it has received a few simple modifications to change-up the look and drive to keep me smiling on a day-to-day basis. My wife had got me a few goodies from Subie Speed for my birthday including a drivetrain kit to tighten up the shifter, and a set of Blitz coil overs. In may I had Craigslist acquired a set of Enkei nt03 wheels that where re finished in white and looked fantastic on the car.
The issue was the offset make them stick out almost an inch and the tires that came on them were pretty well on their last season due to toe wear. Eventually I picked up a fender roller and did the job to roll the lips and pull the fenders out. I was pretty happy with the fit after that but there was no way The setup would be practical to roll 2200 kilometres and run the LA canyon roads, so, it was time to switch it up.
When the day came to hit the highway I had just finished working in Vancouver for the week and had roughly 6 hours to get all my pre trip maintenance and packing finished.
Usually I spread out things like oil changes, tire rotation, cleaning and nut a bolt checking over a few days. Getting all of the necessary pre trip boxes ticked and having to run all over town to source spline style lug nuts meant my sister and I departed a bit later than anticipated. The reason I had to find special lugs was to fit my new wheel and tire setup. I opted for a set of bronze Motegi Traklites in an 18×9 setup with BFG Sport Comp 2 tires. I was a bit thrown by the thought of bronze at first but it ended up giving the car a fantastic new look and vibe. After swooning over the new wheels and saying a temporary goodbye to my wife I hit the road with my sister as co-pilot.
Getting to California
The first night on the road went by fairly easily. The only slow part of the journey was the border line to get into the States. The Subaru quickly reminded me that not all cars can devour the highway like others.
I am personally used to having a V8 connected to my right foot with fast response and easy pulling power to get over the arduous mountain passes of Oregon/Washington and California. The WRX whilst fairly quick is a bit of a dog when there is a bit more weight added. It seems to do well with higher RPM and for once in my life I was happy I hadn’t straight piped one of my vehicles. Lets face it a 2 litre boxer would have been hell droning into our brainstems.
We cruised into the night with a rad playlist of the 70’s rock my Dad had welded into our brain modules over the years. My sister had only been on a couple of road trips in recent year most of which consisted of moving house or going to see family nearby. I wanted to make sure she got the full USA road trip experience so naturally we stopped mere minutes into Washington at a Sonic drive in. We stuffed our faces with oozingly greasy burgers and tater tots. Surprisingly the digestive stars were aligned in our favour and we were able to continue well into the night. In what seemed like no time at all we had made our way through Washington and over the drawbridge that the I5 crosses from Vancouver Washington into Portland Oregon over the Columbia River. The gorgeous lights of Portland and the sounds of Subaru boxer buzzing away gave me a fond nostalgia of past trips and most recently my passed 29th birthday that we spent there. Shortly after just outside of Salem we pulled into a rest area and called it good for the night.
Early the next morning we woke with the sound of big rigs bounding their way down the grooved asphalt and a nice stomach gurgle from gas station food and burgers. We rustled back into driving mode and hit the highway to make our way from Salem all the way to San Fransisco. We left Oregon behind us before lunch time and made our second Gas stop south of the California Line.
After a delicious brunch at the Hi-Lo Cafe’ in Weed California my sister and I took a couple of moments to discuss our plan for getting into San Fran. Roughly 5 hours away we planned on seeing the Golden Gate bridge before the sun went down. I can’t count how many times I’ve slow rolled in amazement across the monumental structure but it was a first for my sibling. I wanted it to be something she would have time to stop and enjoy. That being said I stabbed the gas pedal and made hectic time and speed into the Bay Area.
Golden Gate to sleeping on the roadside….again
We arrived in the Marin Hedlands on the north side of Golden Gate just before 5pm. The weather was perfection aside from a slightly chilled Pacific breeze and the view from the top of the hedlands was incredible as always. We meandered around snapping photos and Instagram pics for a while and went down into Fort Baker to see the abandoned gun battery and catch another view of the bridge. After we finsihed our full tourist style gawk session we once again started making our way south. We had dinner on the brain and rumbled through San Fransiscos down to the Pacific Coast highway into Half Moon Bay to grab some food and enjoy sitting in something other than the terrible seats in the Subaru.
After dinner and some ridicuous indegestion from some greasy calimari we found our selves stopped at a public beach parking lot in Monterey California. We decided to pull off for the night after watching a motorist take the on coming lane as a passing lane over a double solid. There was about 2 inches that separated them from two oncoming cars and they did not deviate until the 3rd. Who knows why the dumb s*&t did it but it had me a bit thrown off and I decided it was time to sleep.
“Andrew It’s the cops,” my sister shook me awake and I looked out the window to a flashlight and a Police officer asking me to roll down my window. “You guys know the beach is closed right?” He was checking the beach parking lot and clearing it out. Barely alert I fumbled for words as he asked me for ID. “British Columbia? is that Canada?” he asked. I explained that we had been driving all day and pulled in for a rest. He gave us our ID wished us safe travels and then immediately stopped me again. Being that I was about 40% awake I neglected to turn my lights on. He shouted out his window laughing to “Turn your lights on!” We stopped at a gas station to grab a cola and some snacks, had a quick debate about getting a hotel then we decided to keep headed south.
After another hour of driving I pulled to a sandy turnout on PCH and shut the flat four engine down for the night finally. I’m sure my sister will tell you it was a miserable sleep that night after a bit of stress from seeing someone almost head on another 2 cars and being shoed away by the local Police.
I think I’ll cut this one short right here for now. It’s not the most exciting story or roadtrip but I hope it helps cement the fact that whatever trip you take there will always be great memories. Sometimes a miserable sleep, crazy motorists and bad food are the recipe for a ruined day, other times like this its simply a bullet point in a fun story. You may end up sleeping in your car on the edge of a rocky cliff. If that happens we might see you on the road!
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