Pedal to the metal
by Dale Burgos
De Jesus family reunion with members from Toronto to Nanaimo and everywhere in between
(L-R) Bella, Rece, Kiana, Gavin, Tyra, my Ate Net, mom and Elizabeth taking a break on our way to Tofino
There’s probably an entire generation of people out there that have no idea what “pedal to the metal” is referring to. Yet, there are many of you that have done it - yeah, you know who you are. It’s a saying that refers to driving a car and pressing the gas pedal all…the…way…down. It’s a reference to getting somewhere very fast.
This past summer, the Burgos Bunch did just that, but for us, it was completing an epic road trip in a very short period of time. There was a lot, and I mean a lot, of driving involved. It started in my hometown of Nanaimo and ended back in your hometown of Winnipeg. In total, we drove over 7,000 kilometres! But wait Dale, you say, I just Googled it and the math doesn’t add up. Indulge me for a moment as I put on my travel agent hat.
Our three-week trek across the Rockies and Prairies started with us taking BC Ferries across to North Vancouver. Those who haven’t done it, you must give it a try one day. The ferry is big enough for you to drive onto along with hundreds of other fellow travellers. If you’re hungry, there is a restaurant on board that serves an assortment of meals. If you’re lucky, you may be able to spot a pod of Orca whales commuting in the Strait of Georgia. Total sail time from Nanaimo to The Mainland is approximately one hour and 40 minutes. This does not include the hour or more of waiting at the ferry terminal. It’s always best to reserve your spot on the ferry, especially during the summer because it can get very busy.
The next stage was to drive from North Vancouver. I like to do this as quickly as possible. I stay on Highway 1 and pass Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Abbotsford and Chilliwack while trying to avoid the traffic that usually hits in the afternoon. Trust me, you haven’t seen traffic until you’ve seen Vancouver traffic. Unless you’ve been in Manila traffic, which I’m thinking most of you have – then, my condolences.
Once we got past the commuters, we drove the Coquihalla Highway. I wouldn’t suggest doing this in winter, as closures are common due to bad weather or accidents. This is a great stretch of highway that takes you through the mountains; the scenery is breathtaking, Jjust don’t gawk too much if you’re driving. There was a time that it cost you money to use this shortcut. It is now free to all to use. At the end of the pass is Kamloops, our first stop on our road trip.
Next stop was Calgary via the Rocky Mountains. Wow! Driving through this terrain reminds us just how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things. These mountains were here long before we walked this earth and will be around after we leave. Make a detour through Lake Louise and Banff if you can. I recommend early visits to Lake Louise as the parking can be challenging. Banff is a great town – lots of sights and shops. You might even spot a celeb or two while hitting the ski slopes.
Calgary always surprises me. There are always new communities popping up and, like Winnipeg, the Filipino population keeps growing. Calgary is a special place as that is where most of my extended family lives. This was also the destination for many family trips when I was a wee lad.
The next leg is one that I would rather forget – Saskatchewan. I’ve never liked driving through this province. It’s uneventful, flat and devoid of any greenery. It’s boring! Yet it’s a very easy drive. I usually hit cruise control and take a nap. We’ll get to Manitoba eventually.
Once in Winnipeg, we headed straight to my mom’s house, where she awaits with open arms and a warm home-cooked meal. There is nothing better!
No travel tips needed here, you are more up to speed than I am.
The next few days were more driving in and out of Winnipeg, visiting family and friends. We even got in a couple trips to my sister and brother-in-law’s cabin – that drive alone is 1,000 kilometres, round trip.
This brings me to the main purpose for our visit; my cousin’s wedding. I was honoured to be in the wedding party and also act as the Master of Ceremonies. We laughed, we cried and danced the night away! There was the obligatory line dancing and Manitoba wedding and social song favourites like YMCA and Mony Mony.
The day after was the family reunion. It was a bit tough because our bodies ached from busting a move all night. The gathering was held at Assiniboine Park. We weren’t the only ones with the same idea. Thankfully we got a nice spot under a picnic shelter.
The next day, we turned the truck around and pointed it back to Nanaimo. Let’s recap and do the math. Nanaimo to Winnipeg adding a couple round trips to the cabin – that comes to just over 7,000 kilometres. Excuse me while I stretch my legs.
Dale manages the communications department for a school district in BC.