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Old 12-21-2018, 03:39 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, AK
2,574 posts, read 4,005,795 times
Reputation: 1984

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Several people mentioned the buffaloes... When we were bringing up the mini-buses I was driving at that point. The two guys on my bus were dead asleep (we'd rigged up beds on the seats). I slowly came to stop among the buffalo and opened the bus passenger door. Softly whistling I got a buffalo to get really close. I was hoping to get it to put it's head in the door 'cause I thought it would be hilarious to have the others wake up with a buffalo on the bus. The sleepers awoke before it all came together...
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Old 12-21-2018, 05:55 PM
 
Location: Southern New Hampshire
6,840 posts, read 12,005,793 times
Reputation: 19960
Love all these stories (what can I say, I am a sucker for stories about Alaska), but holy crap, they are terrifying.

Glad you are all here to write about them! Happy holidays to you & yours.
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Old 12-23-2018, 09:18 AM
 
172 posts, read 48,056 times
Reputation: 584
Late summer, about a decade ago. I'm driving a Tahoe and pulling a medium sized travel trailer. I'm heading south, and sometime in early evening I stop at Beaver Creek to get fuel. The woman at the counter asks how the road is? I tell her that I'm heading south, but it isn't great. She chuckles, and says, "if you think that was bad, here to Destruction bay is gonna' be the worst thing you ever drove on". Holy sheet, she was dead on. It was a goat trail with sections that were nearly gone. There were huge cracks, potholes that were like long troughs, running for hundreds of feet. Huge heaves, holes, places where traffic just left the "road" and drove on the shoulder for hundreds of feet. The whole time I'm slowly fighting this mess there is some poor bugger on a Harley behind me. He is working his butt off to keep the thing upright, while slowly crawling through the mess. It took over five hours to go the next 120 miles. At 2 AM I pulled off in Destruction bay, and shut down. The Harley guy pulled into the grass, a hundred feet back, stepped off his bike, and promptly fell asleep in the grass. No tent, no sleeping bag, not enough left to bother opening any of his baggage. Gives me a chuckle every time some keyboard expert proclaims, "The AK Highway is no different than any two lane highway in the states".
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Old 12-23-2018, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Bernalillo, NM
1,008 posts, read 1,775,068 times
Reputation: 1618
Some great stories. I had several of my own "interesting" winter highway driving experiences in the 60s-80s, but those were along the Parks and Richardson Highways rather than the Alcan. So they don't count for this thread, but the ones here sure are bringing back some memories. Keep them coming!
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Old 12-23-2018, 12:48 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, AK
6,357 posts, read 3,430,959 times
Reputation: 13112
Quote:
Originally Posted by wharton View Post
Late summer, about a decade ago. I'm driving a Tahoe and pulling a medium sized travel trailer. I'm heading south, and sometime in early evening I stop at Beaver Creek to get fuel.

I've done a lot of things on the highway, but getting fuel at Beaver Creek is not one of them! I always top off in Tok if I'm southbound. That will at least get me to Haines Junction or Whitehorse. Northbound I'll fill up at Whitehorse and I'll top off at Haines Junction if I have to. That will get me to Tok.
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Old 12-23-2018, 04:20 PM
 
172 posts, read 48,056 times
Reputation: 584
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlaskaErik View Post
I've done a lot of things on the highway, but getting fuel at Beaver Creek is not one of them! I always top off in Tok if I'm southbound. That will at least get me to Haines Junction or Whitehorse. Northbound I'll fill up at Whitehorse and I'll top off at Haines Junction if I have to. That will get me to Tok.
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IIRC, I left Tok with the idea of filling at Border City, and found it was closed. You're right about buying fuel in the more remote areas, it can be stunningly expensive, and sometimes a bit sketchy. One remote roadhouse used to be famous for insane gas prices, and it took a rough ride, 1/4 mile down a nasty "driveway" to reach the pumps, only to find out that these clowns wanted 25% more than any other station on the highway. I also encountered a woman who was at the Watson Lake visitors center, and filing a complain with a Mountie. She was claiming, very aggressively, that she had been scammed by the owner of a remote roadhouse, as the guy filled her tank.
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Old 12-23-2018, 05:07 PM
 
Location: Anchorage
848 posts, read 632,616 times
Reputation: 951
In 1972 after following a pickup with a camper from the start of the Alcan [start of the dirt] for about 4 hours. The pickup stopped at a restaurant as did I. It was crowded and we both sat at the same table and ate. We talked very little but he said that he was retired. As we left after eating the older driver asked... Where does this road go? I thought at the time that that is the attitude I want to have when I retire!
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Old 12-23-2018, 06:42 PM
 
Location: Airports all over the world
5,937 posts, read 6,124,814 times
Reputation: 99100
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlaskaErik View Post
I've done a lot of things on the highway, but getting fuel at Beaver Creek is not one of them! I always top off in Tok if I'm southbound. That will at least get me to Haines Junction or Whitehorse. Northbound I'll fill up at Whitehorse and I'll top off at Haines Junction if I have to. That will get me to Tok.
After doing all the conversions for currency and volume the most I had paid for gas was less than $2 a gallon. That was until I decided to not top off at Haines Junction. After turning North I started doing the math and realized I was a couple gallons short of making it to Tok. Just as I was getting to Kluane Lake I spotted a gas station so I decided to get $20 worth just to be safe. I knew I was in trouble when they had to first start a generator so they could pump the gas. Afterwards I did he math and found I paid $4 a gallon. When I first started the trip in Washington state I was only paying 75 cents a gallon.
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Old 12-24-2018, 08:10 AM
 
Location: The South
4,740 posts, read 3,299,650 times
Reputation: 7009
I drove up in 2000, Dodge diesel, towinga fifth wheel camper. Drove the Cassier. The whole trip, I had one flat on the trailer. Roads were mostly good, no mud, guess I was lucky.
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Old 12-24-2018, 05:06 PM
 
Location: Wyoming
9,261 posts, read 16,780,565 times
Reputation: 13723
I drove up in late May of '68 and returned in late December of '70. The trip up was easy with no problems. I'd just bought a new '68 Chevy 1/2 ton pickup (my first new vehicle purchase) and had a 4-foot high topper on the back. We (new bride was with me) had the front half of the bed full of clothing, etc. and used the back half for our sleeping bed and camping gear. It was mostly gravel at that point, so I'd built a front guard covered with window screen to protect the lights and grill and plexiglas to protect the windshield. No broken lights or windows, no flat tires. I felt pretty lucky. We mostly drove 35 mph, slowed even more and pulled over as far as possible when meeting trucks. We stopped for the night at around 3 p.m. each day, then got an early start in the mornings. It was a marvelous trip. A couple miles of the road was paved at White Horse. That new road felt so good on our butts that we turned around at the end of the pavement and drove it again!

Going back wasn't quite so smooth. We had a 6-month old son by that time. I'd traded the pickup topper for a slide-in with furnace. We shipped most of our stuff back through the mail service but packed the overhead compartment full with china and other stuff we didn't trust with the mail. Had a flat tire near Tok Junction, iirc, on the first day so had to change that in -30F temps in the dark. Not too long after that we pulled over and "camped" for the night. Furnace helped, but it was still below freezing in the camper.

Next day went well until a few miles south of White Horse at around 6 p.m. The snow-covered road was smooth but not as wide as it looked. We were about to make a left turn across the road for fuel, but an 18-wheeler was meeting us, so I pulled over (right) a bit to meet him. No road! The snow had been plowed off and it looked like all road, but there was nothing under the outside edge except for more snow... and a ditch. The pickup rolled over onto its side. My wife caught the baby in mid-air; I was suspended by my seatbelt. Pickup slid for 30 or 40 feet, mostly on snow, but we did find one big boulder that broke out a camper window and put a nice crease down the side of the camper and truck. Other travelers and the manager of the gas station we were headed for came out and helped us out of the truck and got us a motel room.

The next day the motel owner supplied us with some ropes to run under the truck/camper, and we were able to get a few motorists to help us pull it right-side-up without doing any more harm to it and to keep it upright while a tow truck pulled us out of the ditch.

Fuel had run into the right bank of cylinders so the engine wouldn't turn over, so I removed the spark plugs on that side to crank it over and pump the fuel out of the cylinders. Unfortunately I didn't remove the spark plug wires, so when the engine turned over and spewed fuel out, the spark plug wires ignited the fuel. FIRE!!! We had it parked in front of our motel room, so wife and I both ran inside to grab water. The first thing I tossed on it was a gallon of lemonade, then ran back inside to refill that with water. My wife was running out with a couple glasses of water at a time. I did have a fire extinguisher, but the lemonade and water worked quicker than digging it out. The motel owner wasn't too happy with me, as he had visions of his motel going up in flames! Anyway, I got the oil changed (after heating up the cans of solid frozen oil), and we were back on the road about 24 hours after finding the ditch. We slept in the cab the next couple nights, with the engine running. No more problems. We arrived at my parents' house in Iowa on Christmas night, rather than Christmas eve as we'd planned.

The next time over the AlCan I flew my plane IFR (I Followed Road), although we stopped in White Horse for the night rather than fly on into Anchorage, so the next morning it really was IFR (instrument flight rules) from Tok into Anchorage.
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