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READY: Driving Alaska and Yukon

Driving Alaska and Yukon

We always wanted to drive to Alaska – my husband Mike, son Tom and I, so in July of 1993 we finally left Vancouver and off we drove to the Far North. We rented a tent trailer, packed our Ford Aerostar up to the roof with equipment and food enough for tree people for tree weeks. We drove North to Prince George and on to Dawson Creek. From there the excitement began to mount as we picked up the famous Alaska Highway, stopping for snapshots at “Milepost Zero”, one of the most photographed mileposts in North America.

At that time there were many parts of the Alaska Highway still under construction and just past Fort Nelson we encountered our first holdup. All traffic was moving very slowly because the road looked more like a creek bottom than a highway. Despite reduced speed, rocks were flying in all directions and then it started to rain. Dirty water and mud painted all the vehicles brown.

We were joking about how nicely our holiday was starting when Tom, sitting on the back seat said: “I have good news and bad. The good news is – we won’t have to wash our back window. The bad news is - we won’t have to wash it because it’s broken!” At that moment, pieces of glass were flying around inside the car. We stopped, removed the broken glass, covered the opening with blue tarp and kept on going. Mike did not feel we had a problem as we felt sure the window could be replaced in Watson Lake. Wishful thinking! The people at the body shop told us the glass would have to be brought in on special order. But on the positive side, it would only take five days. (!) Instead we decided we would get it done in Whitehorse, the big capital city of Yukon where, we felt sure, they would have the glass for our Ford. Again, we got the same story – the glass would have to be ordered, but this time the wait would only be four days.

Mike was always adaptable and good at solving mechanical problems. “Would it not be possible”, he asked, “to replace the broken glass with Plexiglass?”

“Certainly!” they replied. And within an hour we were on our way to Dawson City.

Soon the rain stopped and we had beautiful sunny weather for the rest of our trip.

During the next few days we suffered three bad cracks in our windshield and three flat tires. But we never gave up, even when driving a mud-encrusted car with no rear window and a windshield threatening to disintegrate at any moment. We did not turn back or change our route but manage to visit all the points of interest we had hoped to see. We spent three weeks in Alaska and Yukon putting 9,000 kilometers on the odometer. We visited Fairbanks, Anchorage, Kluane Park, McKinley Park and also drove “The Highway At The Top Of The World.” A thrill for all of us and especially for Mike was when we actually stood on the Arctic Circle. We drove the St. Elias mountains by Matanuska Glacier, took the ferry from Haynes to Skagway, climbed up to White Pass and relaxed in many hot springs.

We met travelers from 44 U.S. states and every Canadian province and territory. On our way home this sticker appeared on our newly-replaced rear window: “We Drove The Alaska Highway In 1993 And Survived”. Tom and I take comfort in remembering Mike’s great pleasure in the trip.

by Marcella Krupa

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