Baja to British Columbia: 1,500 Miles on Interstate 5

We get hit by rocks, visit volcanoes, and perform a burnout or two from behind the wheel of a 2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8

By Keith Buglewicz | Photos By Keith Buglewicz | April 05, 2013
The U.S. Interstate system is a modern marvel. Inspired by European highways--especially the German Autobahns--the Interstate is a uniquely American road system, simply because of its sheer size. It's well-marked, easy to use, and even logically laid out: Traffic flows north and south on odd-numbered routes; even numbers go east and west; lower numbers are on the west and south; higher numbers on the east and north. Yet despite this, the Interstate has a reputation of being dull, bypassing more interesting places in favor of the shortest route possible. Maybe there's some truth to that, but assuming the Interstate is simply a means to a destination ignores what's nearby. We've set out to drive all the Interstates--local bypasses notwithstanding--by finding the right car, the right time of year, and the right place for our journeys. What we've discovered is that, like any road, the journey is half the fun. I really, really needed a road trip. A good one, nice and long, the whole cliché of a "man and the road," all that stuff. Yeah, maybe road trips are becoming a thing of the past, thanks to airlines whisking us from A to B, all while ignoring the places in between. But there's still something about getting behind the wheel of an awesome car, pointing it in one direction, and just driving all day long. For someone like me, it's therapy.
The plan for my trip was simple: Drive the entire length of Interstate 5, nearly 1,400 miles of uninterrupted concrete and asphalt winding through the farmland, wild rivers, active volcanoes, big cities, and small towns of the three West Coast states, all of it from behind the wheel of a Header Orange 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8. For me, Interstate 5--at least, the southernmost 450 miles of it--was familiar territory. Living in Los Angeles, I've had many opportunities to hurry south to San Diego, north to Sacramento, and occasionally rush as far north as Redding, California. But it has always been in haste, radar detector beeping, trying to make the best time. Now, I had the opportunity--the mandate, really--to stop and smell the roses and see what the road had to offer. The Interstate system has a reputation of being dull, bypassing more interesting places in favor of taking the shortest route from A to B; it even plays as a background antagonist in the movie "Cars." Granted, there's some truth to that. But the Interstate is only dull if you ignore your surroundings. I've found that one only needs to pull off the highway to discover new experiences and places, as I was about to rediscover when I rolled north from the San Ysidro border crossing with Mexico on my way to Blaine, Washington, and the Canadian border four days later.
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The open road. It beckons some of us, compels others, and maybe even scares off a few. But for most, one of the great joys of owning a car is enjoying it on a road trip, whether it's blasting down an Interstate, exploring the wilderness, or driving to your favorite annual hoedown. We love road trips, and we love telling you all about them in words and pictures, so come ride along with us as we hit the road and discover what's out there.
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