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Old 12-21-2018, 09:18 AM
 
Location: Alexander Archipelago
3,021 posts, read 1,615,221 times
Reputation: 3036

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Please post up any stories of woe you'd like to share about driving this route.

I've suffered little misfortune my couple times driving it, thankfully.

The frost heaves before Tok separated my exhaust at the muffler, making rest of excursion a bit louder. It actually wasn't bad at all though.

Also sheared a couple bolts on my bike carrier, so it was barely hanging on by the time I got to a hardware store in Anchorage.
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Old 12-21-2018, 12:33 PM
 
Location: sitka, Alaska
230 posts, read 245,133 times
Reputation: 241
Gosh 18 years ago I almost hit two buffalo then a herd of caribou going into Whitehorse.
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Old 12-21-2018, 12:38 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, AK
2,574 posts, read 4,005,795 times
Reputation: 1984
First trip: in a 1991 Subaru Justy. Man, I miss that little car... Early January. Doing the Cassiar. Driving it straight through with my dad, taking turns driving and sleeping. Apparently dad got mixed up on who was doing what and was sleeping when he should of been driving. Doing 70 MPH on icy roads and he wakes up at the end of a long straight stretch right as we go into a curve and down a hill. He hits the brakes and we do 360's all the way down the hill. Fortunately we hadn't see another car in hours, so we had both lanes to our selves. We almost pull it off, but wind up in the snow bank at the bottom of the hill. Did I mention we hadn't seen a car in hours? No shovel 'cause we are dumb. After about an hour a log truck comes by. No tow strap 'cause we are dumb. He uses one of his load wrappers to hook onto us and pulls us out.


2nd trip: Headed south in early December. Again in the Justy. Pull into Dease Lake on the Cassiar 5 minutes after the only gas station closed. Next gas station is 300 miles south in Kitwanga. So we bundle up and sleep in the car 'cause we are cheap. Wake up, go in and eat breakfast. Come out and notice our tire is flat. The spare is buried under all of our stuff. Completely unload the car (good thing it's small, but stuff was really packed in there), put on the spare, get gas and go to the only shop in town. Lady behind the counter says the mechanic should be on his way in. We wait. 15 minutes. 30 minutes. An hour. Mechanic is apparently still passed out from the night before. We make small take with the lady to pass the time. Co-driver mentions he's a mechanic. Finally she realizes her mechanic ain't makin' it and tells us go ahead and repair the tire ourselves. We head into the shop, find the patches and tire machine and 15 minutes later we are done. Go to pay and lady said she couldn't charge us for our own work. Finally accepted $5 for the patch. Tire back on the car and away we go.


3rd trip going north. February. Cold. So very, very cold. Defrosters running full blast would only keep a small hole directly in the driver's field of vision clear. Feet frozen and can't shift the airflow from the defrosters... Car didn't want to keep running. After a whole bunch of phone calls to mechanics we finally figure out the PVC valve has frozen up. Finally make it to Destruction Bay and grab a hotel room. Plug in the block heater and put the comforters from the hotel beds over the hood. Next morning spent some time with the hotel hair dryer warming things up. Got it thawed and on our way.


4th trip. Bringing up two used mini-buses. Had a belt break in... Prince George I think. No worries, found a parts store, but the belt, made the repair in the parking lot. Pull into Dawson Creek about 6pm on Friday night. Have dinner. Go to pay with the company credit card and it's declined. Call the number on the back for the business card customer service. Get a message that they are open 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday. What?!? Find a number for the non-business customer service. They can see the card is locked up 'cause it was used in Canada and that was unusual. So for security purposes they shut 'er down. But that's all non-business customer service can do for us, they can't actually unlock it. We are suppose to be back in Wasilla by Sunday... We can just sit in Dawson Creek for the weekend. Between the 2 minibuses we had 5 of us. We all pool our money and personal debit cards and managed to get home and re-reimburse every one later.


5th trip: Driving a U-Haul for a friend that flew up. Towing a trailer with a small SUV on it. Stopped in the Liard area for gas. Was cold, cold, cold. Was going to start the SUV let it run for awhile and noticed it was almost out of gas. Filled it up just because. Got back on the road and a bit later noticed some sparks coming off the trailer. Pull over. Dual axle trailer has a flat tire. With the SUV on the trailer it's cause to rim to hit the pavement, causing sparks. No tools. Middle of the night. February. Cold. So we unload the SUV. Without the weight and with the still good tire on the other axle (so 3 out of the 4 tires on the trailer) we figured we could pull it. Good thing we put gas in the SUV or driving it separately would NOT have been an option. So I drive the SUV, co-driver drives the U-Haul and we had to Watson Lake. Get there at like 3am. Grab a hotel room at the Big Horn. Sleep a few hours and get our first shower in a few days. Head to the authorized U-Haul repair shop. Tire on the trailer is just destroyed. The mechanic seemed personally offended that we would do that to a tire. But hey, we weren't going to set on the highway in the cold in the middle of the night and hope someone would come by with an extra tire and jack. Tire fixed after a couple of hours, loaded the SUV back on and away we go.
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Old 12-21-2018, 12:42 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, AK
6,357 posts, read 3,430,959 times
Reputation: 13112
The first time I pulled a trailer up my China bomb tire exploded 30 miles out of Tok at night with no shoulder to pull over on. I did have the foresight to bring along a spare, so I was back on the road in less than an hour. Now I always upgrade my tires when I buy a new trailer. Never had any problems with tires after that. I've driven the highway 17 times since 1975.
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Old 12-21-2018, 01:28 PM
 
Location: Interior Alaska
1,963 posts, read 1,741,153 times
Reputation: 1450
AKStafford -- that made me laugh. Great stories. +10
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Old 12-21-2018, 02:13 PM
 
Location: Alexander Archipelago
3,021 posts, read 1,615,221 times
Reputation: 3036
Thanks everyone, so far. A colleague of mine almost hit a couple bison on his last winter trip too, towing a trailer.

Anything going wrong in winter is deadly serious business.

My sister still owns one of those old Justys with the three cylinder engine.
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Old 12-21-2018, 02:27 PM
 
Location: Airports all over the world
5,937 posts, read 6,124,814 times
Reputation: 99100
My one solo trip in 1983 was an adventure I won't forget. Was driving a beat up Ford Elite with second gear in the automatic transmission not working. I had 1st to get moving and 3rd to cruise. The car was packed with everything I owned. We are talking floor to roof packed with just room enough for me to sit and drive. Could not see out the passenger side windows or the back window. Got my first and only flat tire less than 5 miles into the trip. Got to Canadian Customs about 10 pm. They decided they wanted to remove and go thru everything in the car. Two hours later they decided I was telling the truth and said I could put everything back in the car. 30 minutes into Canada I get pulled over by a Mountie. Once he determined I really was sober he let me go. So much for day one.

Day two I was driving down a long straight stretch with the cruise control set at 70 mph when I got distracted. Next thing I know I was driving with 2 tires in the ditch. Cruise control still set at 70. Went maybe 100 feet that way before yanking the car back onto the highway. Cruise control still set at 70. At the motel that night there were two guys in the room next to me in the process of hastily throwing themselves out as the owner had call the Mounties on them. Was quite entertaining to watch.

Day three I am finally on the Alcan highway. At a place called Pink Mountain they were rebuilding the highway. It was pouring rain and there was a 50 yard section of highway that was just dirt. They were only letting one car at a time go thru. When it was my turn I shoved the transmission into 1st and stomped on the gas. Got up to about 30 mph and shoved it into 3rd and gave it everything it had. Was doing about 6o mph when I hit the mud. Mud was rooster tailing out the back. I looked like I was in a mud bogging competition.

Day four I smell something getting hot in the car. I pull over and look underneath the car. It is completely packed with mud. All I can see is the driveshaft coming out of the mud and going to the rear end. Found a service station in the middle of nowhere. The mechanic and I spent about 20 minutes chipping mud away from the car. Only charged me 5 dollars.

Day five. About 3 am I look out the motel room window. The once completely packed parking is now deserted except for my car. All of the lights were off and no sign of anyone besides me being there. Slid a box of shells closer to the 30-30 and went back to bed. When I checked out about 8am the office was still dark and locked. Since I paid at check in I just tossed the room key thru the mail slot and left. Once in Alaska and not too far from Tok I hit a frost heave while doing about 70 mph. Not sure if the car actually got airborne but everything inside the car including me kind of moved around. Made it to Wasilla a few hours later.
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Old 12-21-2018, 02:29 PM
 
3,750 posts, read 3,095,400 times
Reputation: 10291
Nineteen seventy one, leaving Anchorage, nearly broke and my VW bus just blew the engine not long after I loaded the last of my stuff in it for the ride to Seattle. Go to a bar on Seward Hwy on the advice of a friend,everyone there was looking to leave Alaska and they had a board up to ride-match people with open seating in their car/truck and looking for riders who could help with gas and costs.

Met a guy from Seattle who was working on the slope but lost his job, we had a couple hundred bucks between us, and he had a new GTO. Took turns driving non stop down the Alcan, and while I was driving, a truck and trailer coming at me suddenly jackknifed the trailer, I dove into the snowbank and we were stuck. Two guys came along but no one had a chain or rope, so it was off to the tow operator. A junkyard looking place about thirty miles back.

We talk with an old guy in a shack with four or five dogs on the bed, he took me back to the car in a fifty nine Ford home built tow truck, a truly terrifying ride as the road was narrow and snow packed, we had big rigs coming right at us on bridges a few times. He advised me that I would pay, no matter if the car was towed out by passers by which, he said, was usually the case.

Got to the car and sure enough it was back on the road, the tow truck driver pulls out a rusty looking gun and says, "gimme fifty bucks," I pay and we continue on the road. Got to Seattle and never went back to Alaska..
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Old 12-21-2018, 02:36 PM
 
Location: In the middle of nowhere
349 posts, read 365,230 times
Reputation: 325
First time coming up the highway in late 80's at the border. The border agents commented that we had too much food ( we had less than 2 weeks worth) Wanted to count our money. Then they had us go wait while they pulled all of our stuff out of the car and dump it out. They proceeded to check anyplace they could stick their arms into to feel for anything hidden, 2 hours later, we packed up our car and continued on, nothing was found.


DH and Son drove down the highway on thanksgiving. Pretty much drove straight through until breaking a belt in southern BC. had to wait for several hours until morning to get help. Still finished the trip in less than 3 days.


I think I have been on the highway only 4 times.
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Old 12-21-2018, 02:53 PM
 
Location: Airports all over the world
5,937 posts, read 6,124,814 times
Reputation: 99100
Quote:
Originally Posted by keyman51 View Post
First time coming up the highway in late 80's at the border. The border agents commented that we had too much food ( we had less than 2 weeks worth) Wanted to count our money. Then they had us go wait while they pulled all of our stuff out of the car and dump it out. They proceeded to check anyplace they could stick their arms into to feel for anything hidden, 2 hours later, we packed up our car and continued on, nothing was found.


DH and Son drove down the highway on thanksgiving. Pretty much drove straight through until breaking a belt in southern BC. had to wait for several hours until morning to get help. Still finished the trip in less than 3 days.


I think I have been on the highway only 4 times.
Sounds like you crossed the border at the same location I did. You did not go up thru central Washington by any chance? They actually took my word for how much money I had. Did not have to let them count it. I was ok on the food but had too much ammunition. The Milepost said I could bring 2000 rounds. Canadian Customs said it was actually only 200 rounds. I offered to dump 1800 rounds (mostly 22 ammo) but they decided to let me keep it all.

I thought it was funny that they asked me several questions and wrote down my answers. Then they handed me the paper with my answers and said to go across the street to Immigrations. I handed the paperwork to the immigrations agent who then proceeded to ask me the exact same question. He then signed the paper and told me to take it back across the street to Customs.
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