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Day 13: Aug 2, Perma-Grins Despite Melting Permafrost

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

<– Day 12: Aug 1, Feliz Aniversario Hugo Vidal | Day 14: Aug 3, The Journey Nears its End –>


A few folks (Tom, left, and Jim and Ron, right) from the Alaska Or Rust crew spotted this passed out guy near our Whitehorse hotel. Now he’s kind of famous. This photo is one of my favorites from the trip.

Yesterday we travelled from beautiful Whitehorse to the tiny gas-motel-stop of Beavercreek, just at the edge of the Alaska border.


Yesterday morning the Vidals and FCA’s cinematographer split off from the group and, thanks to Stephen Reynolds, enjoyed a plane ride over the mountains. Also, many thanks to Stephen and his employer The Department of Tourism & Culture who paid for the Convoy Team’s meal Tuesday night! So a big hearty thank you for making Hugo’s party even more special! On top of that, Stephen is an awesome guy!

After the Vidals left, I went down to check on our jeeps and found a pylon in the back of Patterson. I found that amusing. What I didn’t find amusing was that the case of flavored waters I had in the back of Patterson was still there. Why the heck won’t someone steal those flavored waters? They were bought accidentally by my lovely wife and neither of us found them palatable. I’ve left them in the back of Patterson for days, but I’ve had no takers … literally, no one will take them from us!!


Maybe there’s a hint here … that Patterson is a hazard to be avoided???

With Hugo and Fernando on their own, the rest of the group hit the road at 8am, making it as far as the onramp to the Alaska Highway, before pulling off to do some patching. Andreas needed his exhaust patched again, Joe needed a part rewelded to his trailer, but most of all Bill had some cracks in his trailer arms at the elbows. Had they broke, he could have lost the trailer!

Always-Prepared-Marty and Miracle-Don pulled out the battery-powered portable welder and some flat steel. Then, with the help of several others, set out to create metal patches to reinforce both sides.



2017-08-02-fixing-trailer4As they worked away, we encountered our second rude Canadian of the trip. The guy was upset that we had pulled off the highway and were sitting on a side road. He was all in a kerfluffle over the fact that we had parked on the government’s property (which made no sense since I would imagine most public roads are owned by the Canadian government??). We explained we were broken down and needed a little time to get going again, but that didn’t soothe him at all. Oh well, can’t please everyone.

Repairs were rapidly made and the Convoy Crew hit the road again, but soon found ourselves ground to a halt once more, this time by road construction. It seemed like it took a full moon cycle to leave the mud and gravel, but eventually the rough terrain vanished and we found smoothe roads and fast speeds.


The sign read 50KPH, but we were going 0KPH

Once again Bill, in his CJ-5 and teardrop trailer, led the pack. We put him there because his jeep was enjoying the Alaska Highway so much that it lingered on the uphills, slowly savoring each climb.2017-08-02-alaska-highway4 2017-08-02-alaska-highway2 2017-08-02-alaska-highway8


At one point, the women assembled to take a photo as the guys went to the bathroom.


Traveling north, we soon spotted the hills near Haines Junction rising before us. Arriving at Haines for gas, a couple folks went inside to pay. The radio was playing. Who did they hear on the radio? The voice of one Hugo Vidal!! It was an interview from Tuesday night’s birthday bash in Whitehorse. Hugo just seems to be everywhere!

While others got gas, I secured another signature, this time from a family from Juneau. Patterson is a great excuse for meeting people.


Back on the highway, we wound through beautiful, dramatically valleys that were as amazing as advertised. These equalled anything we saw in Banff or Jasper, but with the added benefit of almost no tourists.

We drove until we reached the Thachäl Dhäl Visitor Centre at the south end of Destruction Bay. There, we stopped for lunch. The setting was georgeous. Marty and Don took full advantage of the view. The bugs weren’t even all that bad. The first pic shows what the drive looked like just before entering the visitor center:


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Perhaps an hour passed before the Convoy Crew loaded up and left. The road along the lake yielded one stunning view after another. Soon, the Vidals caught up to us, making our convoy whole again.

We’d been warned that after Destruction Bay the Alaska Highway’s quality degrades (see this Scientific American note on the road damaged caused to the Alaska Highway by melting permafrost). As promised, the bumps and dips became more frequent. We encountered more sections of construction. Calling those areas the Alaska Mudway seemd more accurate. Patterson is now filthly and looks more like a regular jeep than the “refined” convertible it was advertised to be back in the 1950s.

After a short time of driving, Ann and I were surprised by an unusual sculpture garden (perhaps memorial is more accurate). Everyone else kept on driving, but we braked to stop and took some photos. It was a pleasant, welcoming place with seats and sculptures.

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We made one last stop at a cute little rest stop.

2017-08-02-restop1There, Rob asked Hugo to join him in his jeep. He didn’t have to ask twice. As Hugo put it, now I get to ride in a real jeep! Both Hugo and Rob had perms-grins the entire drive, despite the permafrost-damaged roads.


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Our arrival in Beavercreek likely doubled the population of that border town gas stop. The place has a large RV and motel, but not much more other than Bettie’s Buckshot restaurant (at least that I saw).


We leave early this morning to cross the border into Alaska. We have one stop planned in Delta Junction.

On Friday at noon we are planning to have a convoy meetup at the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum in Fairbanks from noon-2pm. If you are in the Fairbanks area, you are welcome to join us! There *might* also be a meetup on Friday evening in Fairbanks, but that has not been finalized. Please check this website or the Alaska or Rust Facebook page for more information this evening as we finalize it.

<– Day 12: Aug 1, Feliz Aniversario Hugo Vidal | Day 14: Aug 3, The Journey Nears its End –>


6 Comments on “Day 13: Aug 2, Perma-Grins Despite Melting Permafrost

  1. Colin Peabody

    Awesome trip!! Aside from the breakdowns and a couple of rude Canadians, it sounds like everyone was having a great time!

  2. Barry West

    Guys don’t you know leaving small gifts along the road side is illegal in Canada? Well! You must use a litter bag and bag your “waste byproducts”. Man I tell you what,…I’m just beside myself. LOL. Oh well, very beautiful country. Wish I was there but you would have to leave me there because I would be panning every stream along the highway. Looks fun and thanks for the updates! Ought to be outlawed, having so much fun. Mumble, mumble, mumble.

  3. Barry West

    P.S. You sure that passed out guy just hasn’t woke up from hibernation? Now that is a funny photo.

  4. keith

    Rude Canadian?
    How can you tell?
    That’s like saying a rude New Yorker.
    It’s just their nature.
    They don’t even know they are doing it!

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