TL;DR: Plans are laid somewhat, accommodations are sort of determined, bad jokes happen, and a brand is born.
When we, the Litts, strolled onto the glorious sunlit patio at The Boathouse, our local pub and live music venue on the shores of Victoria Park Lake (AKA glorified bird bath), Taylor had his collar popped to shield his neck and was huddling under the red Mill St. Brewery beach umbrella. As Daywalker references and well-intentioned ginger jokes were rapidly exchanged, I silently wondered how he was going to survive our drive through some of the sunniest desert environments in the United States.
We joined Taylor, Brittany, and Devon, and ordered our drinks. We all sat nursing sweaty glasses of ice cold cider that was the perfect refreshing blend of sweet and tart on a sweltering day. Michael had placed the wheels from Project Feint on the table in front of a chair, as though the equipment had just as much right as any of us to be joining in on the conversation. No one talked about them. No one touched them. We barely even looked at them. They lay there, quiet and wrapped in foam and mystery. The five of us existed in a kind of electric quasi-silence where words were clipped and conversation constrained, because we risked saying too much before Michael McCauley (Mike), arrived. To plan properly, we needed everyone present.
Then Mike arrived and the floodgates opened. Our pent up enthusiasm was released. The wrappings from the wheels were torn off in an impatient frenzy, and the wheels were passed around. Amidst the oooh’s and aaah’s, an anthem of appreciation in honour of free swag, the conversation turned to the weeks ahead.
First up: logistics. Getting to San Francisco. Who was flying with who? When and on what day were people's planes landing? How and when should we pick up the cars? (That’s right, we don’t yet have them.) What time should we be pedal to the floor, wheels to the pavement, on Monday? Where will we all stay Sunday night?
Wait a minute. Where will we stay all the nights?
Immediately following a near frantic discussion of Day 1 in San Francisco, we realized that we had a lot to talk through. So we organized. We made a list. On it: 1. accommodations, 2. video shot list, 3. … In spite of our best intentions we were too excited to stay on topic long enough to make a list.
Tripping over each other, volleying our climbing excitement back and forth, topics like: how we’re going to set up the GoPros and the drone; getting race track time at Mazda Raceway Leguna Seca; Magnus Walker, the Urban Outlaw himself, joining us on a leg of the journey; Tamir Moscovici, Director of Urban Outlaw, possibly joining us on the trip; coverage on SpeedHunters and PistonHeads; “Skinny dipping! Let’s go skinny dipping!” followed by, “Can we please not go skinny dipping?”; and actually figuring out how to export a classic car from the United States and importing one into Canada, kept interfering.
We oscillated between peels of nervous, borderline ecstatic laughter, and hushed urgency as we worked through all the necessary details. An unspoken common understanding began to form amongst us. Like a growing shadow that eventually becomes impossible to ignore, it was becoming apparent that our road trip of dreams had taken on a life of its own. This journey truly does mark the end of an end of an era for all of us, even though I have no doubt we’re all going to gain something different out of the experience.
Eventually, we moved on from logistics and the burning question of What to bring? was put to the group.
“Devon doesn’t understand!” Brittany laughed. “What shoes should I bring? Sandals? Runners for hiking through the canyon? Heels for going out?”
All great points. I’d been wondering much the same myself. Normally, bringing a range of items on a trip isn’t that big of a deal. But this time, it is. One of the defining features of Porsche cars is that they’re sleek, trim, and overwhelmingly small. They have a “frunk” (front trunk) that fits a large cat or a small child (not that either of those things should be placed inside any frunk, anywhere). There won’t be any space to bring #allthethings on top of all the gear we need.
Brittany and I agreed to take the conversation offline so that we could collectively decide upon the level of grime we were willing to accept.
With all the remaining tasks doled out, like Brittany and Devon looking into what’s involved with trekking an enormous Castle tent that sleeps a million people over the border (we tentatively decided on camping, all of us in one tent), we had one very important task left to complete. To date we’d been referring to our group as a team, a crew, a collection of individuals, but we all knew that we’d need something that packed a bit more punch. We needed a Name.
“People Exploring North America in Sportscars?” Devon suggested, eyes twinkling and looking as though he could barely contain himself.
We all stared at him, unsure how to handle his awful suggestion.
“Well, we need a hashtag,” he said, slowly. And then it dawned on us what that would be, and laughter broke out around the table. The first penis, or #PENAIS, joke of the trip had been made. In true juvenile form, we seriously considered his suggestion. But doubts crept in and respect for our mission got the better of us, and we kept brainstorming.
Then, “What about EndangeredExperiences?” It was a tentative suggestion because speaking in front of groups makes me nervous. Everyone’s faces turned inward as they considered it. My fingers were crossed. Slowly, all five heads began to nod and murmurs of appreciation passed between us.
“That’s it!” Mike exclaimed, sealing the deal. Michael looked at me with pride, and moved in for a kiss. My face flushed.
“You sure we can’t use the hashtag #PENAIS?” someone, I think Michael, asked. I think it was Michael because shortly after that he admitted to being bad at hashtags.
“Your hashtag game is weak,” Taylor teased. “You’ll get practice though, because we need to be on Instagram.” If anyone, he would know.
“EndangeredExperiences.com is available,” Devon said, looking down at his glinting phone screen. “But the name is too long for Twitter. How do you feel about @EndangeredExp?”
“We’ve got @EndangeredExperiences on Instagram,” Mike said, also looking down. “I’ll share the password so you can all add it to your phones.”
With that, the tech leaders of the internet generation seated around the table set about hammering in our proverbial fence posts to section off our slice of internet real estate. In just seconds we had a website, a blog, an Instagram account, a Twitter handle, a Facebook page, and an online communications strategy. We were all ready to board the train at Platform 911!
With the internet solved, a rough schedule in place, accommodations sort of figured out, and our fingers crossed that we weren’t sentencing ourselves to a slow torturous death in the desert, we were done. Conversation dwindled naturally as we each began to process all that was discussed during the past four hours. A light, barely perceivable thrumming of energy seemed to pass between us as we each considered our role in the journey ahead. The sun was still high and the sky was cloudless (many times we had to move Taylor and rotate the umbrella); the ducks, geese, and gulls were broadcasting the delight we all felt that summer was finally here.
Into that thrumming satisfied silence that had crept between us, Michael gave voice to what we were all thinking. “It’s going to be a fucking adventure. That’s for sure.”