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Friday August 4th: You Want to do WHAT?

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

At the Arctic Circle: Pictured left to right bottom row: Joe’s CJ-3B, Joe, Emily, Bill, Cowboy, Russ, Don, and Jim’s CJ-2A. Picture left to right top: Jim, Marty, and Don.

This is the full and final update related to Alaska Or Rust trip. Our collective objective was to drive as a group from Dawson Creek, BC, to Fairbanks, Alaska.

In the late afternoon of Thursday August 3rd, the group finally arrived in Fairbanks, tired. When we went to check in, there was some confusion, but we got everything corrected. Afterwards, we all went out to have some great barbecue at Big Daddy’s BBQ in downtown Fairbanks. We’d been on the road since early morning, so pretty much everyone was tired.

While awaiting the delivery of our meals, Joe got the idea that we all should drive to the Arctic Circle starting at 3am or so on the morning of August 4th. He calculated the trip would take six hours and that they’d be back before our 11:00am meet-up at the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. Essentially, they’d be driving on only a couple hours sleep on a muddy, gravel road.

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The drive to the Arctic Circle sign. It’s a mostly gravel and mud road with few pullouts and a lot of big rig trucks. It’s a 194 miles north of Fairbanks.

After some discussion, others decided they wanted to go, too. This led to more discussion on when they should leave. Eventually, the group decided to leave around 2am (I never did hear when they actually left). I told them to have a good time, but also that they should be back by 11am, because they’d all agreed to attend the museum event.

“Oh yeah, we’ll be back in time,” They promised. Personally, I had my doubts, but it wasn’t my role to tell them what they could and couldn’t do. At one point Cowboy asked me if I’d be mad at them if they didn’t show up in time. I told him that of course I’d be mad. I’d passed the idea of the meet-n-greet by them before having Rick make the arrangements and everyone agreed it would be fun. But, I also told them that I’d get over it. I appreciated their sense of spirit; I just wanted them to abide by what they agreed and that was to attend the meet that we’d worked to arrange.

To make a long story short, 11am rolled around and they weren’t back. Those left in Fairbanks rolled over the to the museum. When we arrived we learned there were already folks there who wanted to meet us. Noon rolled around and they weren’t back. 1pm came and went and they weren’t there. Finally, about 1:20pm, they appeared at the parking lot. Here are some pics of their journey:

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On the way north.

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Sixty miles to go.

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The Arctic Circle drive is dirty business. Bill’s face it peaking out over his rolled down window.

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Marty at the Yukon River crossing.

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The view from inside bill’s jeep.

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Unrolling the Alaska Or Rust sign at the Arctic Circle.

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Emily having fun despite the cold and mud. She’s ridden the entire venture, from Maryland to the Arctic Circle, in Joe’s open jeep.

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The four jeeps that made the journey: Bill’s CJ-5, Joe’s CJ-3B, Jim’s CJ-2A and Marty’s custom flattie.

The Arctic Circle party arrived at the museum with stories of running out of gas and of using all the spare gas in the cans they’d brought with them. In fact, Rob had tried to go with them, but had to turn back because of a carb issue. Had he gone, they likely would have still been out there due to a lack of gas.

To their credit, they reached their goal, snapped some pics at an Arctic Circle sign, then returned in time to meet some of the folks who’d come to the museum.

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Speaking of the Fountainhead, it was a pleasant surprise. What a terrific museum!! It’s a privately held museum built after the owner spent time exploring other automobile museums. The result is telling. The cars themselves are absolutely fabulous, with some one-of-a-kind vehicles. There’s plenty of Alaska memorabilia and stories. Several videos in small kiosks provide a break for visitors. There’s great use of vertical space, with huge photos of old cars dotting all the walls. The background museum (from the teens and twenties?) felt perfect. There’s also a windowed restoration room so people can watch a vehicle restoration in progress (something I thought would be great for a jeep museum).

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Even better, the owner himself was explaining what he’d done to the cars, how certain parts worked, the differences with modern cars, and the details that made certain cars unique. This museum is a real treasure and every one of the Alaska Or Rust crew members walked away impressed at the collection and its presentation.

After the museum, everyone took a short break before heading to the Pumphouse for dinner. There, we had a delicious meal. Several presentations were made, including the gift of the signed Alaska Or Rust banner to Hugo for being such an inspiration. And, I received a signed t-shirt for being chief cat-herder throughout the trip (which of course I couldn’t have done without Ann). Everyone reiterated what a special trip it had been and, indeed, I believe it could never be repeated in the way we’d done it. Between Hugo and Fernando’s presence and the fine Canadians and Americans who helped us along the way, it was the trip of a lifetime.

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With dinner over, we had one last event. Gene’s Dodge Chrysler Jeep and Ram dealer offered to let us have one last meat-n-greet. Several other Fairbanks’ jeeps attended as well. Patterson and Rob’s bobcat hood snagged some more signatures, while attendees got some free swag. It was a fantastic end to a fantastic trip.
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When the dealership closed for the evening, jeeps were driven away or loaded up. It seemed the perfect analogy for our trip. We had completed our mission.

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For many of the Alaska Or Rust crew, Joe’s personal story resonated. His father purchased a camper, but passed away before he could use it. Joe swore to himself he’d live life and go where he wanted while he was still young. That’s a spirit that defined many of the folks on this adventure.

Most of us didn’t know if their jeeps would work once they unhooked them or rolled them off their trailers. Many took a leap of faith, not only in their vehicles, but with their fellow travelers, as we didn’t know each other well. In the end, we parted ways, sadly, having developed close friendships and knowing most might not see others, ever. Yet, talk of another adventure fuels our optimism that we will one day reunite and tackle something special, something that inspires us all.

What’s next? You can follow some of the others’ adventures through the Alaska Or Rust Facebook Page. And, to these fellow travelers that I now count as close friends, I you wish a Bon Voyage.

As for us, Ann and I will go south to Anchorage with Fernando, Hugo, Luis Carlos, and Gisselda. We’ll continue our trip reports. And, it wouldn’t surprise me if we reunited with our new Brazilian friends someday in the near future in South America … Our adventures will continue!

 

2 Comments on “Friday August 4th: You Want to do WHAT?

  1. Lew

    Wonderful trip Dave and Ann. It is a tiring experience, especially having to write a trip log here, but you will never regret it. Not sure of your road trip plans on the return, but have a blast. Thanks again for keeping us all in the loop. We’ll continue to look forward to continued progress reports and photos.

    One note of caution, if you drive back, the Cassiar highway is pretty, but also the roughest paved road Ive ever tried to drive pulling a medium sized trailer (boat full of household goods). We eventually had to abort that route after only 30 miles to avoid destroying the suspensions and return to the main Alcan. Ive flown down in it in a supercub and it is pretty, but not many services along the way.

    Good luck on your return!

  2. Mark

    Thanks Dave and the ‘RUST Crew’ for allowing me to follow your adventure almost Live! I tickled that all who made the trip had FUN, that’s the whole point of the trip. I couldn’t be there physically with the ‘Rust Crew’ but I was there in spirit. I hope all will have a safe journey home and add a small adventure along the way.

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