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

Oh, Canada

I'll be honest here: I was still on such a high from fulfilling a childhood dream that I barely remember the drive from where I reentered the highway to the outskirts of Seattle. I remember Seattle itself because it was so visible; there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and the weather was in the 80s. The locals were amazed at their good fortune. Traffic slowed as I crossed through the city, and I declined to explore this time. My destination was still a couple hours north, the hours were getting short, and I wanted to get to the border before sunset.
As north as it is, Seattle is not on the border with Canada. After battling the Seattle traffic, I had a good two hours of driving left ahead of me, and for some reason, they were the longest of the trip. The car was still comfortable, the music still randomizing an eclectic mix--although Rhapsody in Blue followed by Bohemian Rhapsody couldn't have been coincidental--but the want of being there had simply overridden everything else. The last exit for the United States leads you off Interstate 5 into a little town called Blaine. Drive through the traffic circle at the end of the offramp, and 2nd Street takes you to a small, grassy park--the kind where dogs run and fetch balls, children play on the swings and slides, and the houses bordering the street are in another country. A three-foot-deep trench is all that separates the United States from Canada, at least in Blaine, Washington. Two border patrol agents rode by on bicycles, and paused to ask about the car. I chatted for a while, gave The Speech, and asked what they'd do if I just wandered over to Canada and knocked on someone's door. "We wouldn't care," one said, "but the Mounted Police might have something to say about it." Good point. I wandered around a little more, down to the Peace Arch State Park straddled by the north and south lanes of Interstate 5, and casually strolled into Canadian territory without even realizing it; only later did I learn that one side of the arch is the United States, the other is Canada. Compared to the Mad Max-style high security of the Mexican border, the casual nature of this border was comical. I went back up to the park, and a group of Canadians wandered past. We chatted a bit, and when I told them what I'd been up to the past few days, they offered to take my photo. I handed them my camera, leaned up against the "Canada" post at the border, and smiled. Yes, they were polite, and no, they didn't ask, "So, you're aboot to head home then, eh?" Over the 1,561 miles of my trip, I managed to average 23 mpg, much better than I could have hoped. The 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 was, as I had suspected from the first moment I ever drove it, the perfect long-distance road trip car. Throughout the trip, I was eager to get back behind the wheel. It rewarded me as much as any sight, any person, anything I actually did on my journey. And although the trip home wasn't nearly as scenic--that 18-hour blast with associate editor Trevor Dorchies and me trading driving duties is another story for another time--the car rewarded me the whole time. So did Interstate 5. Far from a mind-numbing crawl between cities, the road itself--not just the attractions, but the road--was captivating. Sure, it was dull at times. Any road is. But the sights along the way, its sweeps and curves--and yes, even those long straight stretches--added up to a magnificent ride. Throw in the places I saw and the people I met along the way, and you have just about the perfect road trip. Until the next one.
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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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