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Thu, Apr 24, 2014

PART I: Driving the Cruze from Canada to Mexico

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Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series.

Day 1: Washougal to Discovery Bay

About mid-morning Saturday, we started north from Washougal, Wash., to our first destination, near the Canadian border of Discovery Bay, just east of Port Angeles.

This was kind of the shakedown part of the trip learning the car and finishing the audio book we started on a trip to Seattle earlier in the week.

The 2013 Chevrolet Cruze that we were driving gets great fuel economy. On this first leg of our drive, driving at the speed limit or slightly above, we averaged just over 50 miles per gallon.

Wow, are we impressed.

Highlights along the trip included a 20- minute stop on the long Hood Canal Bridge while it lifted for a sailboat.

 The guy behind us said it might have been for a nuclear submarine because there is a base nearby. We also watched foot-long fish jumping out the water, trying to get away from a couple of hungry seals.

It’s morning of Day 2, and we’re getting ready to drive  through “Twilight” country through Forks, Wash., and then south toward Long Beach, Calif., and then on to the Worldmark in Gleneden Beach, Ore.

Day 2: Discover Bay to Gleneden Beach

Few places in the contiguous 48 states are as remote as the rain forests of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula.

Our drive started from Discovery Bay proceeding West on U.S. Highway 101 through Port Angeles to Forks, then south toward Aberdeen, Wash. Fans of the “Twilight” books will remember Forks. A few years ago, we spent a week taking our granddaughter and her cousin on what we called the “Twilight Tour” to see everything there was to see that is related to the popular series.

On that 164-mile section of Highway 101, we probably didn’t pass more than 100 other cars, and that included in the city of Forks.

It really is a wonderful drive through the rain forests between Olympic Mountain peaks, which reach nearly 8,000 feet and the Pacific Ocean.

The few cars we did encounter gave us a chance to try the Chevy Cruze diesel’s impressive passing power.

The Cruze engine in our car is a 2.0-liter turbocharged clean diesel engine that is rated at 151 horsepower and 264-pound foot of “low-end” torque. It was surprising how quickly we could pass a slower moving vehicle. The buff magazines list the 0 to 60 mph time at 8.6 seconds.

Even traffic between Aberdeen and Astoria, Ore., was light until we drove onto the 4-mile long Astoria-Megler Bridge that crosses the Columbia River.

The bridge was built in 1966 and a toll was charged for 30 years before its booths were removed. It was interesting to see all the freighters anchored just off the shore from Astoria, we assume waiting to go up the Columbia River to ports in Longview, Kalama and Portland.

We finally stopped for fuel just south of Tillamook. The Cruze trip computer said we had gone 578 miles on 12.3 gallons of diesel fuel, so we’re averaging 47 mpg so far, which is wonderful considering we are not easy on the accelerator.  

The Cruze fuel tank capacity is 15.6 gallons, so we still theoretically could have gone another 150 miles.

The trip computer has a function that shows the best recent fuel economy, and for one section of our drive we averaged 54.1 mpg, but that must have been when Barbara was driving.

We’re resting a second night in our Worldmark timeshare that is in Gleneden Beach and then starting before dawn Tuesday for the 540-mile drive to Windsor, Calif.

Day 3: Gleneden Beach to Windsor

This was our toughest day on our road trip from Canada to Mexico, but it was also the most scenic.

The drive started before 7 a.m. in the fog-shrouded coast city of Gleneden Beach and finished 13 hours later at the Worldmark resort in Windsor.

Our route south on Highway 101 led us right along the southern Oregon coast, noted for the magnificent scenic vistas, massive rock islands just off the beaches and heavy forests sprinkled with trees decorated with fall colors.

Traffic was surprisingly heavy during the early morning hours, reminding us that this was midweek and people were going to work from their coastal homes.

At three points, we came across large herds of Elk grazing right next to the road and not the least concerned about the number of people pulling over to gawk.

At one spot just south of a large Redwood Grove in California, we saw a heard of more than a 100 browsing on the lawn of a campground. There were about 10 big bucks with racks of horns crowning their heads and a dozen or more young calves.

This was one of the longest drives we’ve done in one day and were glad when we finally pulled off  to our timeshare. We were ready for a quick sandwich and good night’s sleep.

We have some friends who live in Marin County. They came up and had a few glasses of wine with us, before taking us to lunch at one of their favorite local spots, a place in downtown Healdsburg called Willi’s Seafood and Raw bar.

As the fuel tank dipped toward the empty line, we filled just north of there on the Redwood Highway, averaging about 45 mpg for that section of the trip.

In the morning, we leave Windsor, fight our way through Highway 101 commuter traffic to the Golden Gate Bridge and then head for Aptos, on the Monterey Bay, just south of Santa Cruz to have lunch with Barbara’s sister Carol. Then it’s on down to Big Sur and to the Pismo Beach Worldmark.


See the Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, print edition of The Murfreesboro Post for Part 2 of the trip.

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