Road Rules! Cruising the Pacific Northwest and Canada in Classic Chevys
Words by Roger Jetter
On the way home from the James Dean Days in Fairmount, Indiana, a few years ago, we asked friends Stan and Judy Goodwin of Casper, Wyoming, if they’d ever considered touring Canada. “On my ‘bucket list,’” Stan replied. Thus, the plan for our 2018 road trip was launched. The Goodguys Pacific Northwest Nationals in Puyallup, Washington (one of our favorite venues) was our first planned destination. Canada, via gorgeous Trans Canada Highway One, after that.
While I figured two-lane routes, Stan called me. “Can my friend join us?” he asked. “He’s got a ’55 Chevy. He’d planned an Arizona trip, but this sounded like more fun.” So, Stan’s got a ’57 Chevy, Ken Legstra has a ’55 (pal Dan’l Fuqua riding), and us in a ’64 Impala SS, we had three Chevys going.
Dan and I left Denver in his Impala to meet up with Stan and Judy. We planned on two weeks to see sights and take in another rod run the weekend after Puyallup. Dan and I had been to Canada twice before in our ’54 and ’55 Cadillacs, participated in the Western Canada Power Cruise in 2013 and 2014, but missed seeing Banff National Park and the Columbia Ice fields.
We drove two-lane highways between Casper and Seattle, enjoying views not found on Interstates. In Idaho Falls, Stan’s ’57 chewed up a front wheel bearing. While seeking help at one shop we accidentally met Tom Valliquet, who volunteered his help and shop. We learned Tom had built a Ridler contender ’40 Mercury and several other rods and customs, so his expertise was welcome. By late afternoon the ’57 was healed and we hit the road again.
After three days of driving we approached Mt. Rainer from the east and rolled into Puyallup, found our motel, and headed to the fairgrounds to register. The weekend was filled with tons of cars we never see. Saturday morning, all three of us parked in the “Ya Gotta Drive ’Em” area. About noon, we found that Dan had won that award!
Stan worked the Goodguys booth that afternoon since he’s a Rodders Rep, while Dan and I cruised the fairgrounds. We had stopped to look at a car when one of the Goodguys officials pulled up in his golf cart. “I’ve been looking all over for you. You’ve won the Long Distance award. Be in the ‘Winner’s Circle’ by 10am.” Icing on the cake for the weekend!
After the Sunday awards, we headed for Canada, arriving at our motel in Hope, British Columbia that night. We almost had to sleep in our cars since the manager had just turned off the vacancy sign and locked the office door. Fortunately, she was doing paperwork and let us in!
We stopped at Canadian Hot Rods near Golden, BC the next day to see Wayne Booth, who we’d met on our previous trip. The following day we toured Lake Louise and Turquoise Lake, the glacier, and the gorgeous Chateau Hotel. We then departed for the tourist town of Jasper, Alberta, and the Columbia Ice Fields. Dan and I had read about walking on the glacier, but we arrived at the Visitor Center late, so we purchased tickets for the next day and headed for our overnight in nearby Hinton.
We headed back to the ice fields the next day, stopping to see several sights we’d missed on the way. A bus took us to the monster six-wheeled carriers – the glacier departure point. We sat directly behind the driver and he explained the Athabasca Wind blows down from the top of the glacier and it’s very cold. No kidding! At the top of the glacier, we were allowed 15 minutes to explore. The light jackets we had on weren’t enough to insulate us from the cold wind; after 10 minutes, we were frozen. Next, we were driven to the sky walk…what an experience! Hanging out over a 300-foot straight-down drop was intense and seeing through the glass floor was actually scary, but worth walking on it.
The next day we awoke to rain as we hit the road toward Red Deer and the “major” rod run there. We drove the Yellow Head Highway east and once we got near Edmonton, we took a two-lane highway south thru the gorgeous Drayton Valley.
We did some sightseeing after registering for the show, driving by Sylvan Lake, visiting a specialty used car lot, and touring the town. That evening we headed for the downtown cruise…probably the best part of the Red Deer event.
Rain on Saturday put a damper on the rod run and kept the car count down. Fortunately, Sunday was sunny, and more cars showed up. At the awards ceremony that afternoon our traveling companion, Ken Legstra, won a Top 10 trophy for his ’55 Chevy…a bit more icing on the cake.
After the show we changed the water pump on Dan’s Impala in the motel parking lot – another “side of the road mechanical fix.” Better to do it in town than on the actual side of the road. We’d notice puddles of anti-freeze under his car two previous mornings and knew the pump was going, so we had purchased the necessary parts. It took three hours to pull and replace.
On Monday morning we departed Red Deer, bypassed Calgary and drove to Black Diamond to have lunch in the old hotel there – gorgeous place! We visited Frank’s Slide scenic area and headed to Pincher Creek and our motel. We followed that up the next day with a drive into Waterton Canyon and Lake, where we rode the ‘International’ boat into the United States and back. Then we headed south. At Chief Mountain border crossing we were “allowed” back into the U.S. From mountains and lakes, to pine forests and prairies, driving two-lanes past wheat fields for four-and-a-half hours, we arrived in Great Falls, Montana, that night.
We left Great Falls at 6am the next morning and arrived in Casper, Wyoming at 4pm, said “see ya” to our friends, and drove back to Denver. Five hours later we pulled into my driveway – a long 14-hour day covering 845 miles, but it was trouble-free.
In total, our Puyallup/Canadian trip covered 4,900 miles and 17 days. We got to see lots of gorgeous country, participated in a couple of car shows, and enjoyed traveling and seeing sights in an old car! Would I do another trip to Canada? ABSOLUTELY!
Photos by Dan Jetter, Stan and Judy Goodwin