posted by Matt W on August 21st, 2013

Toward the end of my senior year of high school, Joe A. and I, along with a couple buddies decided we would take a road trip. Now up until that point of my life, road trips had been a family affair, and while they seemed epic in nature, the furthest we had ever driven as a family was to Grand Junction, Colorado for a family reunion. The only things I remember about the actual drive are my Dad got a speeding ticket and we had to go to the local police station to pay it, and they had really good pecan pie somewhere in Utah. The “guys” trip was definitely a different experience.

First of all, we decided to cross the border and go into Canada. Now pre 9/11, crossing the border wasn’t that big of a deal and we had heard the Canadian Border agents were pushovers, but not to mess with the US border patrol coming back into the US. In addition to being obnoxious to the Canadian agents, we were four recent high school graduates in a van with two front seats, two bean bag chairs for back seats, a couple of coolers, four duffle bags of clothes, and miscellaneous camping equipment strewn throughout the back. If we tried to cross the border like that today, we would have been taken into custody  on the seat belt violations alone. They let us through (suckers).

We decided to stay the first night in a nice hotel, and camp the rest of the week. We picked the Four Seasons, Vancouver for some reason, god only knows why. The things I remember about the Four Seasons were that

  • we rolled out of the back of the van soaked in sweat because we were traveling in vinyl bean bag chairs,
  • we gave the bellhop our 4 duffle bags to take to the room (but probably no tip),
  • we were the youngest people in the hotel by 30 years,
  • we “created” a whirlpool in the hot tub by running in circles and when an older woman got into the tub, she bobbed around the tub for a couple of minutes until the current slowed, and
  • we paid our bill with cash.

We were morons.

The other thing I remember about Vancouver was we went to an Italian restaurant and realized one of the guys in our group actually spoke fluent Italian (he’d told us that for years, but how were we to know) and the owner was really nice to us. He gave us free breadsticks (although they were probably free to everyone). The rest of the trip, we made our buddy teach us how to swear in Italian, because that is what high school guys do. And as my brain chooses to remember the truly unimportant things and forget what actually might help me in life, to this day, I still could start a bar fight in Italy with a few choice words.

The rest of the week was spent camping throughout British Columbia and Eastern Washington. The highlights were

  • a fish roundup (we chased fish with a net because we couldn’t actually catch them with a pole),
  • eating our campfire cooked fish (it was truly awful and bony),
  • realizing one of the guys in our group couldn’t really swim (my lifeguarding class from high school actually came in handy that day),
  • passing back through the US border (suckers), and
  • any food that we didn’t make for ourselves (we had no clue how to cook).

We had a great time.

Ironically, I don’t remember much about the breathtaking landscapes we drove through and camped in. Being young and stupid, I guess we didn’t realize just how amazing the scenery we were surrounded by was.

“Oh yeah, that is a cool waterfall, now teach me another Italian swear word.”



File Under Jack of all Trades, Weekend Warrior