Traveling the Alcan, Alaska Canadian Highway
Friday, June 2012
Some extracts from my Alcan log sent to my family (unedited)
Friday’s Adventure. It could be worse.
What started out as a short day and a short drive turned suddenly into a long drive. I left Whitehorse, Yukon at about 6 AM after having a good breakfast and intent on arriving in Anchorage, Alaska late that afternoon. After all, it was only a hair over seven hundred miles. The sky for once was clear, I was rested and the gas tank was now full after discovering someone had siphoned it all last night while I was sleeping.
So I set the cruise control, turned on the satellite radio and started to put the miles behind me. A couple hours and 100 miles passed as I rolled into Haines Junction. Well, why not fill up, grab a cup and continue to Anchorage. As I started out of town I saw in the distance a road sign flashing, Stop Ahead, Road Closed. There was a lady in the middle of the road dressed in a conservation uniform talking to the car ahead of me. I pulled ahead as the other driver made a U-turn. She was friendly but certainly carried bad news. She announced in a very official manner, “The rain washed the road out about 45 miles down the road. You will have to turn around.” I sat there dumbfound thinking, should I ask her or not? I knew the answer. If I wanted to get to Anchorage today and the road did not open soon, my only choice was to turn around and head back to Whitehorse, then to Dawson City, then over the graveled “top of the world” road and on to Anchorage.
I asked. Her answer was simple, “Yes.” As I turned around I did a mental calculation. I have had detours before but never one that extended my trip by over 400 miles like this would. So back to Whitehorse.
I committed myself to attempt to at least get to Tok, Alaska as that would be a little over halfway and only about 700 miles after the wasted 200 miles to Haines Junction and back.
I bet you are wondering, how could it be worse? I won’t mention the fact that I had no cell service and no way to even call the hotel in Anchorage to cancel my reservations. Crap! Another $135 down the drain. I also won’t mention that a Sirius radio is worthless this far north. At first when the radio started to cut out I thought it was a radio problem. Then I remembered the radical angle that you have to have any antenna set to receive a satellite signal. Basically it points parallel to the land and not up towards the sky. Bottom line, every time I passed a bush I lost the signal. Thank God for CDs as there was no AM or FM radio stations.
Could it have gotten worse? I did not think so until I arrived at the border crossing from Canada to Alaska. As the guard was checking me and my car, as I had to open the doors and windows, we began chatting. I noticed a nice cabin alongside the road near the checkpoint and said, “Do you live here?” thinking it was a long way to any town so it would make sense for the border guard to stay here in the cabin. “No” he said and continued “They helicoptered me up here as I usually work the Alcan crossing.” I replied “I was headed that way but was detoured because of the road being washed out.”
That is when he told me, “You are one of the lucky ones. There are actually two washouts and many people are trapped and can’t go either way. We are trying to figure out what supplies they need and how to get those supplies to them. The road will not be fixed for several days and it is still raining”
So you see, it could have been worse. Besides, I keep telling myself that the last time I had trouble getting to Alaska when I finally got to Ganes Creek I came home with 14.5 ounces of gold.