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The 2004 VolvoXC.com Pacific Northwest Gathering

CIMG0873.jpgThe third annual VolvoXC.com Pacific Northwest Gathering held this past July 10-11, 2004 weekend, was everything it promised and tons more. Great people, stunning scenery, exciting roads, interesting conversation, variable but still good weather and most importantly, tons of Volvo Cross Country's!

We kicked off the event with breakfast at our home here in West Vancouver on the Saturday morning. Eric Duschene from Volvo of North Vancouver was the first to arrive at around 8:30am with gifts from his dealership and Volvo Canada, including hats, pens, bottled water and a few other prizes for the attendees.

Long time VolvoXC.com board member Art and his wife were also early risers, bringing a great assortment of give-aways from Anglo-Canadian Motors of Edmonton/Red Deer. A special thanks to all the corporate supporters of our event, hugely appreciated!

From there the group gradually grew through the morning to include eight Cross Country XC70 and V70XC's.

In every way the breakfast was a huge success, in fact so successful that we were all so engaged in conversation that it was well over an hour past schedule by the time we finally got on the road! This wasn't a big deal as the original plan was to well, have no plan, but we did want to make it into Whistler for a reasonable lunch hour.

One of the more interesting parts of the trip was seeing everyone's reaction to seeing all our Volvo XC's in a continuous line. I'm sure we were a conversation piece for almost everyone who passed. I spent most of my time leading the pack so I didn't really see the reactions but after the third and fourth XC pass, expressions traveling in the opposite direction seemed to grow more and more confused or curious.

Our first encounter was with a solo cyclist riding along Marine Drive in West Vancouver. the first car passed, second, then third and he swerved almost into traffic looking back to see what else was coming. Probably thought he was in some strange "Groundhog Day" phenomenon or something!

As a bit on an aside, if you're planning on a group drive try to ensure that every car in the group has a FRS radio in hand. This not only helps with keeping the group organized, but more importantly makes the trip much more enjoyable by opening the discussion across the entire group while traveling. On a number of occasions some members would point out interesting facts and trivia about some of the places we drove by... cbob is particularly knowledgeable of the region as he's lived in Whistler for a number of years and his comments really helped to make the trip all the more interesting.

Our first stop was at Murrin Lake just north of Britannia Beach when we stopped to try to re-group with KazDog who'd fallen off behind. As luck would have it we had seven cars, 6 FRS radio sets and Kaz was the one without the radio.

While waiting in the Murrin parking lot, we nominated cbob to double back to try and find him. No more than a minute later we see Kaz ripping past trying to catch up. Not seeing us parked and waiting. Seeing him pass, cbob turned around and after regrouping we headed up to Squamish. We had previously decided to stop at Garibaldi Highlands, so assumed that's where we'd find Kaz. After arriving at the Highlands and gassing up, we waited a few minutes and finally noticed Kaz sitting there waiting for us in a distant corner of the lot. Back on the road and together again.

Next stop was the Tantalus Range DSC_2966.jpglookout, about 10 minutes north of the Highlands. Unfortunately a light rain and clouds had set in to obscure the usually amazing view, but not to worry. The parking lot was empty giving us a chance to grab a few group photos!

After that it was off to Whistler. We arrived in the Whistler Village day lots at around 2:00pm, having lunch at Mark James' Whistler Brew Company. After an hour or so of more engaging conversation we returned to the cars for a few more pics then were off again.cbob had to take care of some chores at his Whistler home so he left us at this point, promising to meet up in Lillooet the next morning so after a bit of a mix up on the radios we were back on the road.From here we drove through some of the most amazing scenery B.C. has to offer, from Pemberton to Mount Currie and up through the Duffey Lake Road. WeDSC_3004.jpg stopped for another photo opp about the way through. KazDog needed to get back to Vancouver, so he took off at this point, continuing along the planned route but of course at a much faster pace than the group.We arrived at the Mile-0 Motel in Lillooet at around 6:30pm. As we were getting out of our cars we heard a big shout out from the Motel steps. Volvos Rule!!! After this warm welcome, a group of people came out to welcome us to talk with us about our XC's. ScottyC and his wife had to be back in Vancouver that evening so we bid them farewell and they continued their way along the route, leaving the rest of us to plan the evening.Nina's Greek Restaurant was unanimously recommended as the best place in town and since last year's gathering ended with dinner at Squamish's best Greek restaurant, we thought we'd continue the tradition and give it a try.Dinner was great and again interspersed with engaging conversation, finishing up around 10:00pm with plans to reconvene at 9:00am Sunday.After a much needed rest, Sunday turned out to be another fine day. As promised, cbob was waiting for us in the Mile-0 parking lot at 9:00am sharp. We spent the morning with breakfast at a local diner then walked over to the museum for a quick look around.The original plan had us doing some mild off-roading from Lillooet to the Stein Valley and then catching a reaction ferry across the Fraser River to Lytton where we'd continue our way down Highway #1.

We decided instead to escort theRounding the Bend.jpg Art and John@CdnRockies crews over to Cache Creek, and then continue our trip south along the banks of the Thompson River. I think the decision was well worth it, as the scenery was unreal. Most notable was Pavillion Lake which is home to some of the greenest water I've ever seen, just a shame I didn't catch a photo.

We arrived in Cache Creek at around 1:00pm and found a parking lot to take a few final group photos, or at least of those who remained. Once that was all done we said our goodbyes to our Albertan contingent and the three remaining cars were off again down Highway #1. On the way back to Calgary, John@CdnRockies stopped in Salmon Arm for a furniture pickup, and later mentioned that on the way home, his car performed absolutely perfectly through the steep Rocky Mountain inclines... And that was even with a loaded 2,500 lb trailer! DSC_3056.jpg

After stopping for lunch in roadside diner Boston Bar, we decided that time was running a little too short for us to make it to the Domaine de Chaberton winery in Langley before closing time, so we took our time just rolling through the rest of the route. We took one last stop in Abbotsford to fuel up, pointed barrysharp in the direction of the Sumas border crossing and continued along the #1, down to two cars, cbob and coastal. The event ended, a tad unceremoniously, saying our goodbyes over our radios as we sped off into the HOV lane, leaving cbob to take his return exit Downtown.In every way this trip was yet another huge success for the VolvoXC.com community.

I think the most important part of any trip, whether it's a vacation at the beach or a Volvo club get-together, is theDSC_3069.jpg memories you come home with. Sure the actual experience is important but if the memories are just a blur or you end up having one bad experience, then the whole trip seems to be tainted. This event wasn't about that one amazing experience or highlight. it was a weekend of consistent good times with great people that in the end, gave me great satisfaction in not only helping to organize the event, but also being a part of the whole experience.Very special thanks go out to Art for organizing the motel reservation group rates, Eric Duschene from Volvo of North Vancouver for attending the morning breakfast and bringing all the generous give-aways from his dealership and Volvo Canada. And of course we can't forget Anglo-Canadian Motors of Edmonton/Red Deer for supplying an additional variety of great prizes.We're already talking about next year's event. Options discussed so far include Okanagan wine tours or a trip to Tofino. Keep in touch on the VolvoXC.com forums (www.volvoxc.com/forums/) for more information. See you there!

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