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Day 5 of our record-breaking attempt: Vancouver to Halifax, least amount of fuel. Dryden to Wawa.

August 27th, 2013


Day 5 Statistics:
Overall Trip (from Vancouver): 3488.5 km
Overall Average fuel economy: 4.2 L/100km
Overall Average speed: 81.9 km/h
Total odometer on vehicle: 3959 km

Day 5 Dryden to Wawa, Ontario: 813.1 km
Day 5 Average fuel economy: 4.3 L/100km
Day 5 Average speed: 79.5 km/h

Lying on the ground behind our parked Chevy Cruze, legs writhing, about the length of my palm, was the most massive beetle I’d ever seen. It was ugly. If I didn’t do something to help it, it wouldn’t stand a chance of surviving even the next minute in the busy parking lot.

I grabbed a tea bag out of my purse (don’t ask why I had a teabag in my purse) and gently flipped the hideous creature onto its legs. It hobbled away on the hot steamy pavement, probably feeling a bit sheepish for being caught by a human in such a predicament.

Great way to start the day, this saving-a-life business. We could leave Dryden, Ontario on our quest to set a Canadian fuel efficiency record having done a good deed with a scene from ‘Creature of the Lost Planet’ riveted into our memory.

Before leaving we get the 2nd fill of the trip after 1,403 kilometres. We are truly amazed at this Chevy Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel. We knew it would be good on fuel but had no idea how good.

Apparently, today is Duh Day. At the Time Zone marker near Shebandowan, west of Thunder Bay, I time-travelled from one side of the sign to the other, trying to decide which would make the better picture. Of course, the sunny side won. So we have a nice shot of the time zone we just left in our log book. Duh.

Our drive is decidedly different today than the Prairies, mostly two-lane highway with occasional passing lanes. This is where hindering traffic is not an option. Trucks are working and need to move. We cannot disrupt the flow of traffic no matter how nerdy we are about The Number which has changed to 4.1 L/100 km, the lowest overall average of the trip.

Garry drives for most of it. He’s got a bit of a swagger on about how he needs to: “…expertly predict traffic patterns.”

Although he is driving within a few kilometres of the speed limit, he eyes the trucks gaining on us in the rear-view mirror, accelerates to keep them from getting too close until there’s a passing lane. Then he slows down on the hill and lets them all get ahead of us. If they all pass successfully, he shouts: “The victory is mine!!”, adding a couple of fist pumps in the air.

It’s a good thing I like him.

Then he mutters: “Here comes another bastard,” and applies throttle ever so slightly, fixating on that NUMBER.

We will probably be ‘unplugged’ for most of the day. Between Dryden and Thunder Bay our cell service is sporadic. There’s no tweeting or texting. It’s Monday and our ‘real’ jobs are calling. People waiting for emails, schedules.

We know we can’t stop in Thunder Bay for long but we’re counting on lunch, some wifi and an email flurry in a cozy truck stop.

Ahh Thunder Bay. Can’t go into town! Starving!! Bladder issue!!! Our navigation system tells us there’s a donut shop at the next exit on the outskirts of town. Charming. We share a sandwich and Garry devours two sourcream donuts.

An email from someone watching our trek asks us what wildlife we’ve spotted. Not much. Garry eyes the Cruze in the parking lot and confirms there are no skunks, racoons or moose embedded in the grill.

Back into communication oblivion. The ‘hump’ as Garry calls it ‘over the top’ of Lake Superior has been notorious for no cellular service. People dread it, we hear, and thrash through it, pedal to the metal. Garry and I usually relish it. Guilt-free motoring, like it used to be, where the world couldn’t find you and you couldn’t call, email or tweet (heck, you didn’t even know what that was!). Listening to anything on the radio beyond the local station was not an option.

We aim is to stop at the Terry Fox Memorial and Lookout, marking the spot where he tragically had to give up the run for cancer research.

Duh Day Item #2, we miss it. This has actually happened before on previous cross-country drives. But on those occasions, we could turn around. Not today. During a phone conversation with Daughter in Halifax, she asks, incredulous: “How could you miss it? You’ve been there before. Isn’t it like the only thing on the highway?” Duh.

By sunset, we decide to grab a bite at Serendipity Gardens in Rossport, on the shores of Lake Superior. We know the place and the owners but we see through the windows that it’s packed with normal people having a nice evening. Normal people that don’t have to drive another 300 kilometres at precisely 88 km/h before checking into a roadside motel. We motor on into the encroaching darkness. Starving.

*Quote of the Day:
After 12 hours of driving, still 125 km from our overnight destination in Wawa, two restaurants have slammed the door in our face, or flipped the sign in the window from ‘open’ to ‘close’, Garry says: “Well, Lisa, we’re driving from Vancouver to Halifax trying to set a record. No one said it would be foodie festival.”

*Canadians of the Day:
#1 The Rider: We have no idea who he is but we saw each other on the highway a couple of times at various construction sites where the traffic in one direction had to wait for traffic in the other. He pulled up alongside to chat. He rode from Marathon to Thunder Bay to put a front tire on his Suzuki 900. With his helmet on, all we could see were his sunglasses and that grin.

#2 Norm Banman: A&W, White Lake.
Within seconds of the reality of starvation and another bladder issue ruining our marriage, we enter White Lake, home of Winnie the Pooh, obviously tucked in by then. We drift by three closed restaurant then spot an A&W sign. It looked like a mirage glowing in the fog. Through the window, someone is sweeping the floor, rearranging tables and chairs. Not good.

Garry races to the door. I see him, hands flying, he looks serious but then laughs and waves me over. Norm Banman is about to close the last rastaurant in the last town where husband would ever roll through on a mission to drive somehere with the best fuel efficiency with his fun-loving, affectionate, understanding wife.

Norm rings in a couple of Teen Burgers, we hear stories of his family treks across this great land (“… seven kids in the car and one time, a whole litter of puppies!”). We bask in the moment as he dims the lights, sweeps the floor and turn off that big A&W neon sign out front.

Thanks for the burgers, Norm. And the romantic ambience!

*Sign of the Day:

Oops. Wrong direction! Duh.

On Twitter: #CleanDieselCruze
Follow Lisa on Twitter: @FrontLady
Follow Garry on Twitter: @DrivenMind99
Follow our coast-to-coast trek on: http://blogs.driving.ca/

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