The Great Beater Challenge 2023: Day Two

After a successful first day, it was time to turn around and head back. The first task was to hit the water on a scenic ferry ride. Would the second day be as mechanically unremarkable as the first? Would we make it back to 1985 … I mean Fort MacLeod?

This is close to the original route which is probably my favorite of all the Great Beater Challenges routes but there is one downside. A good portion of it is the same as day one but just in reverse. But the first portion of the day was different as we would travel down the side of Kootenay Lake which required the previously mentioned ferry ride.

We got up at a very early hour and set out with a smidgen of light in order to make the first ferry crossing of the day. Given our historical tardiness it made sense to be in the first group to depart.

It was only a short drive to the Balfour to catch the ferry followed by a wait for loading. This Koolbus sells shirts and other tourist items but was not open yet.

The sun was just coming up at the Balfour docks.

Next to the regular docks was the larger ferry loading dock which was a lovely sight with the rising morning sun …

… which we ruined the scenery with our clunkers.

There were a few normal folk and I cannot imagine what they thought was going on.

Here is a short view of the loading process and to give you an idea of the size of the ferry. There is also a smaller ferry but it was not running on this day.

A few other teams were similarly afflicted with a dog along for the ride as well. This one looked pretty happy to be on a ferry.

While the lake is large it is very calm so no special tie-downs are required.

We got a position of pride at the front. Or maybe they just wanted us off as soon as possible.

Tradition (and points) dictated everyone do a Titanic pose.

The ferry has a vintage-looking lounge. Several teams lined up to buy a breakfast item or coffee from the onboard cafeteria. I choose to spend my time admiring the scenery and exploring the ferry.

The sunrise was fading but still quite the sight on the lake water surface.

One last check before de-boarding.

A lovely winding road along the lakeside followed the ferry unloading. Too bad about all the garbage cars cluttering the road.

They are apparently not a fans of the metric system around these parts.

A stop at “The Glass House” which long time readers might remember from the first year. This amazing building was constructed from over half a million discarded embalming fluid bottles.

Many of the portions of the structure are circular and resemble a castle.

The family lived here for many years but it is now a museum which has unfortunately never been open when I have passed by.

Our brave motorcyclist was still going strong. He had the Del Boca Vista Retirement Community carry some of his luggage as he viewed them as potentially the most reliable. It was still an impressive distance to cover in such a short period of time on such a small 125cc bike.

The road had quite a few trees next to it but each gap offered a spectacular view of the lake.

The winding road straightened out as we transitioned to an agricultural valley after leaving the lake behind.

Shortly after we were back in fruit country.

It was unclear what we were supposed to be afraid of here. Jim, Margo, the plums?

Back in 2016, it was in this Tim Horton’s parking lot that I distinctly remember actively searching for junkyards for when not if the Dodge Aires died. Somehow it slowly made it home and completed the challenge.

This church as a close a building as we could find to stand in for the clock tower from the Back to the Future movies. Sharp eyed readers will note that we had changed costumes for the second day.

Along the route back we came across a business yard that seemed to specialize in desirable classic SUVs including this cache of Land Cruisers.

My friend Rod has a very rare Land Cruiser pickup that he is restoring and you never see them anywhere. They had several here.

Perhaps you prefer to roving over cruising? There were a few classic Land Rovers about as well to scratch that itch.

If one had a sports car like a Delorean it would make a glorious noise through this tunnel but our budget time machine Elantra lacked that feature.

As we just crossed the border into Alberta we came across the spot where a few years back I had managed to flip my Suzuki TU250X after the front brake locked up randomly at speed. The result was a smashed-up bike and shoulder broken into four pieces. The Elantra had no such issues thankfully.

The mountain scenery is definitely lovely in this area.

We spotted another early Suzuki off-roader going the opposite way. These are normally very rare to see.

This rather nice classic 1965 Chevrolet Nova greeted us when filling up at the same first/last Alberta gas station to get the (comparatively) cheap gas.

The final hour or so was across the prairie back to Fort MacLeod. We managed to make really good time on the second day and to my shock Rod and I were actually the first contestants to arrive back at the start/finish line. We briefly considered that we had arrived at the wrong place before other folks arrived. Some of the slower participants were quite delayed as a big accident (not involving the Great Beater Challenge vehicles) trapped them in British Columbia for several hours. Given my wife’s dog and the lack of shade, we were not able to stay for the awards ceremony. But did get scored and I suspect we would rank mid-pack as per usual.

With that another year’s event is in the books. The Elantra had done well. For a car that spent most of its life as a strictly commuter car with its first owner, it has had a much more interesting second life with my family as the second owners. It has been my race car, dump run truck and now Great Beater Challenge competitor. If the weather god’s smile on us this winter it have a go at ice racing as well. Not bad for a modest Korean car that some might label boring.

There are additional photos on the event’s Facebook page –

The 2023 Great Beater Challenge Series

Back to the Future (and the Challenge) – Vehicle Prep

The Teams

Day One Part One

Day One Part Two

Day Two