The GART – pt 2. CanaMex route.

Route 93 – The CanaMex Highway.

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The standard CanaMex Highway is the major North to South American route. You don’t have to cross the border, starting at Port of Roosevelt in Montana and ending up in Wickenburg, Arizona, or you can really travel the Americas by starting in Jasper, Alberta and cruising over three states to Tucson, Arizona, about 70 miles away from Nogales at the border. The first route is around 1457 miles long (or 2345 kilometres) and would probably take around three weeks. The latter is around 1995 miles/3210 kilometres, and I would suggest taking around 10 weeks to do it.

Now that the logistics of the trip are over we can get along with the Fun Parts; starting up in Jasper, Canada. The only place I have been to in Alberta was Edmonton which, granted, was a riot, but was a bit too north for me to get a look in at Jasper and Banff. However I’ve called upon some sources (Thanks Brad!) and hopefully can give some good enough information about everywhere!

Jasper is found pretty much in the middle of the Canadian Rockies. Depending on the time of year you go there are different things to do there. However, what I would suggest doing is visiting Maligne Lake. There, you can fish (check permits first!), rent kayaks and canoes, and in winter they offer snow-shoeing and Canyon ice-walking.  It’s beautiful camping territory up there as well, if that’s your thing! As for food I would suggest Evil Dave’s Grill. Their Caesers (or Bloody Mary’s for those UK readers) look lethal, as do their Lollipop shrimp and Alberta beef. Yum!

Because Canadian distances are incredibly deceptive, Banff looks close to Jasper, though it is a good 4 hour drive away. But worth it, as there is a wealth of beautiful countryside to go through and indeed see once you are there.

You can hike Sulphur mountain which is pretty much right in the town itself. It’s not terribly difficult at all and has some nice views on your way up. If needs must there is a cable car (I’m such a fan of cable cars) and I’m lead to believe it’s free to take down if you’ve walked up… however you have to pay to ride up. I have also been suggested to go out to Johnston Canyon which is about a 30 – 40 mins drive from the town. It’s a great a hike with some walkways that ends in a beautiful waterfall.

After all that hiking you’re bound to get up an appetite, so I shall give a small list of places to go and things to get there. Courtesy of Brad!

  1. A Barpa Burger from Barpa Bill’s Souvlaki Restaurant.
  2. A ‘Litre o’ Sangria from Magpie and Stump. I’ve been told it’s the best Sangria our of Spain. Ask for a ‘litre o’ to get a litre of your favourite drink!
  3. Head to Eddie’s for a gourmet burger – Aussie style! For drinks try a TrashCan. I just hope it’s tastier than it sounds!
  4. Another good watering hole is the Rose and Crown, with live music at weekends
  5. For those late night munchies head to Aardvark for pizza and sub sandwiches.

So we’re done with Canada! For now…

There’s sadly no Man v Food stop in Montana (Get on it Adam) so if you can face the prospect of a state without food challenges, travel six hours south and you’ll reach Sun River, Montana. The main information I found about this site revolves around fishing and camping. Some companies offer packrafting, which I have sort of down in my own country and would definitely root for – it’s great fun!  Another two hour drive south and you’ll come to Missoula, MT.  Now, if I was going there I’d personally be hitting up the Ghost towns, which may not be for everyone but it looks right up my street. There also a number of breweries and campsites you can visit, and if you just aren’t happy with that you can try the bar where time stands still for two hours a day and head to Finn and Porter’s bar and grill, where happy hour lasts for three hours…

Next on out whistle-stop tour of the United States (and Canada) is Bitterroot National Forest, which borders Montana and Idaho, the next state we’re heading into.  Bitterroot offers a Full Moon Walk, which starts at about 7pm and lasts an hour and a half. There’s so much else you can do during the day, such as hiking, horseback riding, boating, and hunting. Not sure how we all feel about the option but hey. The option is there for us.

Pass through the forest and we end up in Idaho (No, Udaho. Guess whose least favourite joke that is. Hint, it’s everyone I know because I say it all the time) Unfortunately all three of the Man v Food locations are located in Boise, which is near the border of Oregan and far away from Highway 93. About five hours south of the Montana border is Sun Valley, where you can ice skate, snow board and climb up numerous mountains such as Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. There’s an activity there called Snow Tubing, which caught my attention, so after a quick google I found this video. Look at it. How peaceful does that look? Very.

For the more adventurous head down through Idaho to Twin Falls. There you can head to Shoshone Falls aka “The Niagara of the West”. It’s over 200 feet tall and 900 feet wide, and although it’s $3 entry fee it seems to be well worth it.  You can also BASE jump at Perrine Bridge, where there are festivals yearly that are worth a visit.

Let’s move swiftly through “the Loneliest road in America” to yet another state; Nevada – famed for its gambling. To break up the enormous nine hour stoat from Twin Falls to Las Vegas I would suggest a stop off at the Great Basin National Park and take a little trip up Jeff Davis’ mountain. You know, to stretch your legs a bit. After that you can jump back in the car for another four hours to the gambling centre of the world, the epicentre of cash flow, Las Vegas.

There are three spots to eat in Las Vegas, according to Richman. Let’s jump in at the deep end and eat at the challenge restaurant, the NASCAR Cafe. Food won in this 6 pound burrito challenge. If eating something the size of a small baby does not appeal to you our pal Adam can suggest Hot N’ Juicy Crawfish or Hash House a go go  which probably has a different meaning to some, but I can assure you they are talking about hash browns.

For those of you looking for something to do in Las Vegas I suggest you turn your television on and watch any American made sitcom from the 1980s onwards, as they will each have at least one episode where a main character is swept up in the lights and glamour of being in a brightly lit room 24 hours a day gambling away their children’s inheritance money. If that’s not your thing I suggest a trip to the Venetian – the biggest hotel in the world. It’s the size of a small town and has underground chambers to help staff keep the efficiency. If that doesn’t float your boat, Red Rock is a 30 minute drive away, as is Hoover Dam.

Passing through the Grand Canyon National Park at Lake Meade should provide some much needed respite from the built up chaos of Las Vegas. Drive through the Grand Canyon state and hit up a rodeo in Wickenburg before hitting up Phoenix; where our Man v Food fun begins.

Tragically, the challenge establishment Big Earl’s BBQ, where food won in a 12 slider challenge has closed. According to my (minimal) research the wonder has opened up a new place in Scottsdale, but alas. Instead, head on over to Alice Cooper’stown (no, that’s not a typo). This rock star turned golfer turned restaurateur serves up an interesting menu and you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s gonna be a memorable experience there with such a character at the forefront of it all. Acknowledge Arizona’s close links to Mexico by eating at Los Reyes de la Torta  and then heading south to Tucson.

So we’re nearly at the end of our journey. You’ve been driving for about 35 hours in total and covered 3,050km. You’ve crossed one international border and two state lines (the states are long and skinny in the west huh?) You’re so close to Mexico you can almost taste the tequila; however, you gotta make a couple of stops first. Tucson’s Lindy’s on 4th is our challenge restaurant of the city. The OMG burger (now called the OMFG burger…) is nine 1/3 lb. patties (3 lbs.) of meat with cheddar and Swiss, lettuce, tomato, onion & Lindy’s sauce and, astonishingly for the first time in a while on this trip, Man won! If you don’t fancy high blood pressure I’d suggest El Guero Canelo, famed for its hot dogs or the little nest where you can rest before the final leg of our journey, Mi Nidito.

Finally, Head through Green Valley which has some of the most diverse flora and fauna in the United States until you get to Nogales, AZ, where the film Oklahoma! was filmed…. Watch yourself here; a year ago the largest underground drug bust was carried out, resulting in the arrest of three people. Marvel at the immense security measures at the border of Mexico. Nogales, MX is one of the main ports of entry from the USA to Mexico especially for tourists. It consists of bars, strip clubs, hotels, restaurants, and a large number of curio stores, which sell a large variety of artesanias (handicrafts, leather art, handmade flowers, clothes) brought from the deeper central and southern states of Mexico. Local dishes commonly available in restaurants include many types of antojitos (Mexican food) such as enchiladas, tacos, burritos with carne machaca (dried meat), menudo and tamales, but sadly, no Man v Food.

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Author: Kirsty

24, severe wanderlust

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