Cruisin’ Cross-Country: Travels with My MG

Photo for Cruisin’ Cross-Country: Travels with My MG

The MG Car Club Northwest Centre (Seattle, WA) recently presented Jennifer Orum with their award for 2013 Driver of the Year. She has driven across Canada and the U.S. from west to east, and back again, several times in her bright red MGB and won many "long distance awards" at NAMGAR GTs.

Her MGB has taken several prizes in the "Other British" show class. She will be driving in the CCMGC/NAMGAR Regional Event, Cruise to the Capital in July 2014, and gives you a taste of the experience in this article.

'Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - nothing – half so much worth doing as simply cruising along in an MG roadster.” [With apologies to Kenneth Grahame & The Wind in the Willows].

In the last four years, my 1970 MGB and I have made three multi-thousand mile solo journeys from west to east across Canada and the U.S.: to GT-35 in Wisconsin in 2010, to GT-37 in Ohio in 2012, and to GT-38 in North Carolina this year. Most people, at least classic car people, can understand taking such a journey once, but three times?

The answer is simple – long distance cruising in North America with an old British sports car can be an opportunity to constantly see new things, meet new people, and have a whole lot of fun. Every trip brings different experiences and certainly the occasional challenge, but overall this is a low risk/high payoff activity. And while I certainly prefer travelling with other MG enthusiasts, when I’ve decided to take a route that no one else is taking, my choice is clear – go it alone or not go. With a well-maintained classic car, a GPS and maps on board, and a soupçon of adventurous spirit, staying at home with the B in the garage is not a reasonable choice.

RockiesStarting in Vancouver, British Columbia where I live, the first part of any journey east brings a kaleidoscope of mountains, valleys, rivers, and twisty roads so loved by folks with old English sports cars. Trans-Canada Highway 1 goes through the Rocky Mountains and four National Parks in Eastern BC/Western Alberta. One of the many highlights is Rodgers Pass in the heart of Glacier National Park, not just stunningly scenic, but also designated as a National Historic Site.

B52, as I affectionately refer to my B, doesn’t have problems with any of the mountain roads or passes – no engine problems, no overheating. Coming down through the Rocky Mountain foothills to the oil boom city of Calgary, the open plains begin. Vast fields of bright yellow canola flowers dot the summer landscape along Highway 1 in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. On each of my journeys east, B52 and I have taken a side-trip northeast of Calgary to the Badlands and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, which has one of the largest dinosaur collections in the world.

Double RainbowTrans-Canada 1 in Alberta and Saskatchewan is a four-lane divided highway to make the drive easy. At Moose Jaw (love those prairie town names!) a turn to the south-east brings Hwy 39, which is a part of the CanAm Highway system connecting Canada to Texas and ultimately Mexico for international trade. The portion of Hwy 39 in Saskatchewan is a CAA/AAA Designated Scenic Byway. Twice B52 and I have entered the U.S. via Hwy 39 and the North Portal border crossing to North Dakota. Oil-rich and full of canola fields, this state has many things in common with Alberta. I’ve been fortunate to twice see double-rainbows as we zoom along North Dakota highways.

At Minot, ND, a turn east meets up with Hwy 2, the most northerly east-west highway in the US that goes east through Grand Forks and then across Minnesota and Wisconsin and on to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Very fortunately, Hwy 2 has the advantage of avoiding the big Interstates, but is also a divided four-lane highway for large sections. B52 and I have crossed the Mississippi River several times in our three cross country travels, finding it a small, tame, and scenic waterway in Minnesota where it is also crossed by Hwy 2.

The Great Lakes create an obstacle to travelling east. My B travels have twice taken me southeast around Chicago, and when enroute to Ottawa this year, across Lake Michigan by high speed ferry from Milwaukee, WI to Muskegon, MI. Several folks on the ferry suggested a better and more scenic route to Ontario is through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where Hwy 28 passes close to the southern shore of Lake Superior near Munising and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The entry into Canada is via Sault St. Marie, Ontario, where Trans-Canada 1 reappears for a cruise via Sudbury and North Bay to Ottawa.

B52 and I will, in fact, be taking that route in our next cross country journey in July 2014 from Vancouver to Ottawa, the site of NAMGAR’s GT-39. Luckily this time we won’t be solo, since I’ll be with a fun group of adventurers driving their MGs and other British cars on the Canadian Classic MG Club’s Cruise to the Capital (C2C). Hotel details will be posted shortly on the NAMGAR website.

Click here to download the Cruise to the Capital Registration Form.

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Last updated on January 4, 2014.