Alaska Or Rust Trip Research Archives

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Thurs July 27: Almost to Dawson Creek

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

Hugo & Fernando’s signature on Patteron’s hood.

Today the four of us travelled from High River on Alberta’s eastern slope to Grande Cache at the top of Jasper National Park. (See yesterday’s post here)


Our goal for the day was to traverse the length of Banff and Jasper National Parks. Because we felt the drive would be a long one, we began the day at the crack of 8am. I know that doesn’t seem early, but it sure felt early. The late nights are catching up to us.


Our first objective was to locate a mini SD card for our Go Pro. With few options open at 8am, we were forced to head north to the Walmart at Otokos. There, as I dashed inside to get a card, Fernando and Vidal drove to the gas station to get gas. Minutes later we pulled up behind them. Before I had a chance to place the gas nozzle into the filler hole, two kids and their father came over to tell me how cool the jeep was. I asked if they wanted to sign it and their faces lit up!


Once they signed, I began pumping gas. Meanwhile, Fernando and Hugo, who were in front of me, finished pumping their gas and waited for me to finish. About then, I began hearing a honking sound. Then another. Then another. I looked up from the pump and some woman was trying to get Fernando to drive away from the pump by honking her horn even though there were two other lanes open! No, she wanted the pump in front of me. Fernando tried to ignore her, but she was insistent, so he pulled out. Can you guess what she did?  Continue reading

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Thursday July 27th: The Lonely Road Home

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

(See Yesterday’s Post here)


Scott’s wagon back in the states.

Today was a roller coaster of emotions for Scott and Bob. They started the day finishing up the reinstall of Scott’s engine. With that done, they fired the engine in excitement, only to be plagued by fuel pump issues. Faced with yet another challenge after a week of challenges, they plunged ahead and solved their fuel pump issue, successfully getting themselves on the road.


If only for a short time, they were on top of the world. For seven days they faced trial after trial, long night after long night. Ulysses would have faded under such circumstances. When they finally fixed the wagon Thursday evening, they were fired up as you can see in this photo ….

Triumphant, they roared down the highway, unstoppable … for almost 20 miles or so, before the engine faltered again, this time disabling the wagon. Unable to go any further, they concluded the trip was over for them.

We are all saddened by the news, because Scott was a major force for the creation of Alaska Or Rust in the first place. He and Bill both talked me into it. Meanwhile Bob was our treasurer and handled other logistical issues. The trip will not be the same without them and both will be deeply missed. They are now back in the states, ready to return home.



Russ left his Jeepster at the motel to run and get Scott and Bob.

The day was full of other heroes, too. Russ and Tom drove to Dawson Creek with Charlene, becoming the first Alaska-Or-Rust team members to reach the beginning of the trek. Instead of staying, they parked Charlene at our motel, then roared southward, their truck towing an empty trailer meant for Scott. Russ felt that Scott and Bob deserved to be in Dawson and they’d drive all the way back to pick them and their wagon up if necessary.

As you can imagine, Russ was ecstatic when he learned that they’d gotten the wagon running again. But, he was soon heartbroken when they Scott told them to turn around, that he and Bob were finished. So, kudos to Russ and Tom!



From left to right, Merlin, Britt, Emily and Joe

When Scott and Bob broke down a few days ago, the four heroes above changed their course to pick up Rick so he could make it to Alaska. Together, the five of them had a good time in Glacier National Park on Thursday. When they left to cross the border, Rick ran into a technicality that didn’t allow him to cross. Left with few options, Merlin and Britt drove Rick down to Great Falls, Montana, so Rick can fly up to meet the group in Fairbanks when they arrive. Meanwhile, Merlin and Britt turned around and went back to Canada. It was a LONG day for them. At least they got some good pics.

2017-07-27-merlin-joe-glacier402 2017-07-27-merlin-joe-glacier40

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Tues July 25th: From Earthly Mountains to the Plains of Vulcan

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features



Alan and Sandi from Chilliwack signed the jeep today in Fernie, Canada. Alan was born in Fernie.

Today was supposed to be a short trip; instead, we travelled to Spock’s homeward, Vulcan. Who knew Patterson could take us into neighboring galaxies?? …. (See yesterday’s post here)


We started a beautiful morning in the ski town of Fernie. Our search for a bank led us to the downtown area, which had some wonderful little shops. At the Fernie Meat Market we found a 3rd generation butcher whose grandfather started the shop in 1926. Ann bought some pepperoni and some smoked garlic sausage (both non-beef and gluten free) that was amazing!


At another shop Ann found an interesting set of Moose-like horns that are a coat or towel hanger. Of course, she asked me to pose with them on my head. After the photo, I approached Fernando and Hugo in their jeep and they were laughing at me. It turns out that in certain parts of South America hold antlers to one’s head suggests a certain liberal approach to sexuality. They suggested that I never do that down there. Duly noted!!! (That wife of mine is always getting me in trouble!)


After Fernie, we started our trek east. The maps suggested that we would climb up and over Crows Nest pass. The climb was anticlimactic, as it didn’t seem too high, but it was still a pretty drive.




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Mon July 24th: Surviving the Border

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

Hugo and I in front of their jeep in Fernie, Canada, our place of rest for the evening.

The four of us (me, Ann, Hugo, and Fernando) had a beautiful drive from Pasco to Fernie, Canada today. (See yesterday’s trip update here)2017-07-24-pasco-fernie-map

Hugo and Fernando arrived promptly at 8:30am. Ann and I weren’t quite ready, but we were close. As we finished up, the father-son team applied the banner to Patterson. About 9:30am, we left, headed for Canada.


Ready to leave.

The trip went smoothly; Patterson’s front hubs stayed cool, which was a big relief. Neither Hugo nor Fernando had driven the route we’d planned, so they were quite surprised when we dropped onto the bridge that crosses Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced Ponderay) in northern Idaho. It’s a dramatic scene, with beautiful blue water surrounded by mountains. Team Pineapple loved it.


This picture doesn’t quite do the scene justice, but it does show how the bridge crosses the late into Sandpoint, Idaho.


After Sandpoint, we wound our way towards the border. That’s when things got more interesting. Communicating via walkie-talkies, we all agreed that Hugo and Fernando (having non-American passports and ETAs) might have trouble getting through the border. If so, I assured them we’d wait.

2017-07-24-canadaBut no. They breezed through. Instead, it was me that border patrol was most interested in grilling. Perhaps it was my Canada shirt? I don’t know, but it went something like this:

Female Customs Official (FCO): Where are you from?
Me: Washington State.
FCO: Where are you going?
Me: We are going to Alaska.
FCO: Sir, what is in the box?
At that question, I turn my head to look back to see what box she was asking about …
FCO, again: Siirrrr, WHAT is in the box?
Me: I mumbled someting as I continue to wonder which box she means. (I was truly afraid something was moving in the box and it might get me!!
FCO: Sir, I cannot hear you when you are not looking at me … What is in the box?
Me: A box of t-shirts. We’d planned to give them away.
FCO: Are you planning to take them to Alaska and give them away?
Me: Well yeah, but also to Canadians along the way.
FCO: Are you holding some kind of event, sir?
Me (suspecting this wasn’t going well): Not really, it’s just a group of friends getting together to drive to Alaska.
FCO: So, your business is giving these away and holding an event?
Me: No, we don’t have a business, nor do we have an event. It’s just a group of friends trying to do something nice.

By this time, I’m pretty sure the FCO thought I was an idiot. Or, at least she made me feel like one. Finally she said:

FCO: Canada treats gifts like sales. You can not just give things away. You need to take these to Alaska and give them away there if you want to do that.
Me: Umm, okay. We were just trying to do something nice…
FCO (showing no break in formality and handing us back our passports): You can go now.

I can’t help but wonder how this goes for Santa. I mean, does customs point out that HE can’t give gifts to Canadian children?

As I puzzled over the answer to the Santa question, we began our drive northeast toward Fernie, Canada, where we’d booked rooms. It was a lovely drive through the mountains and along rivers.

We arrived around 7pm, then found some tasty dinner at a local Bistro. It was a great first day!


Fernie, Canada


Tomorrow we will see the Starship Enterprise!

Other Updates:

1 Joe, Emily, Merlin, and Britt reached Hillsboro, North Dakota, today. On the way they met a new friend:

2017-07-24-merlin-joe-3rdjeep1 2017-07-24-merlin-joe-3rdjeep2

Here they are all ready to hunker down for the evening:

2017-07-24-merlin-britt-joe-emily-camp 2017-07-24-merlin-britt-joe-emily-camp2

2. Scott, Bob and Rick reached Canada today. Scott’s looking determined!


3. Jim Fowler is slowly catching Scott:


4. Who knows where Bill was? I think he was busy taking pictures.


5. Marty’s jeep looks ready for the road:



6. Rob’s got a new custom lock box on the back. That news saddened me, because I’m very tempted by that ARB cooler.

2017-07-24-aluminum-lock-box1 2017-07-24-aluminum-lock-box2


That’s all for now!

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Sunday July 23: Alaska Updates

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip

We are starting our trip today. Below is our route to Dawson Creek. I don’t know what kind of connectivity we’ll have, but hopefully in the evening we’ll have some. I also don’t know how much time I’ll have to do updates, but I’ll do my best to keep them coming throughout the trip. Finally, my email responses may suffer some, so please be patient!


Lots of updates on members:

  1. Hugo and Fernando finished up their Operation Pineapple stickers. They are great! We head off this morning bound for Fernie, BC, Canada. We’ve been adding signatures to Patterson, including a couple female LDS missionaries. They were very excited to sign it.
    2017-07-22-lds-signaturesHugo and Fernando at work:
    2017-07-23-hugo-fernando-stickers4 2017-07-23-hugo-fernando-stickers1
  2. Scott Gilbert, Bob Christy, and Rick Pacholski reached Barnesville, Minnesota, where they will stay at Chris McKay’s. Last report is the wagon is finally running dependably. Saturday night they spend the night at Joe DeYoung’s place in Madison, Wisconsin, where they wrenched the night away (a big shout out to him). The night before Scott was forced to stop at Harry & Jo Sheets of Midwest Willys in Indiana, where they also had to work all night. Another big shout out to them as well. It takes a village to power a wagon.
  3. Jim Fowler is about four hours behind Scott, motoring away in his CJ-2A. He lost his speedometer, but he’s got an app to keep track of his speed.
    2017-07-23-jim-fowlerJim’s Camping setup:

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Patterson Arrives in Pasco

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features • TAGS: .

It’s early Sat morning, so just this one update for now….. Oh, and I figured out what was causing the right front brake to grab. After rebuilding all the wheel cylinders, the passenger front was still grabbing. After some googling, I discovered that rubber brake lines with an interior tear can act like one way valves, allowing fluid to only go one direction. So, I replaced the brake line and, viola, it solved the problem.

Well, folks, we are one step closer to Alaska; I successfully pulled Patterson over to Pasco. Normally, the drive takes just over three hours. However, I took the scenic, slow route, with some stops along the way to adjust my front wheel bearings. Apparently, I tightened them too tight (I thought I had left some play, but I guess not enough). I suspected this when I finished installing them on Friday, which is why I made a decision to bring along my hub puller.

About 10 minutes out on my journey I pulled over and felt both front hubs. They didn’t feel hot. Then, I got stuck in stop-and-go traffic for about an hour heading eastbound on I90 (for those that know the area … from Tiger Mountain on Highway 18 all the way to the first big curve on I90 east of North Bend).


Traffic was awful!

I climbed the pass, pulled off at Snoqualmie, and felt the hubs. They were hot to the touch. So, I loosened the bolts, let them cool, and had some delicious BBQ at Webbs. We’ve eaten there twice and everything that we’ve tried — pulled pork, brisket, sausage, potatoes, coleslaw and corner bread — have been excellent and surprisingly affordable!

2017-07-21-snoqualmie-passThere are worse places to hangout and eat.


Everything was delicious!

They were still feeling hot by the time I reached Indian John Hill east of Cle Elum. So, I readjusted them again. About that time, father and his sons walked up and asked about the jeep, so I had them sign the right fender.

After Ellensburg, I took the Ellensburg-Selah Canyon Road (not sure what the name is offhand) and stopped to feel the hubs again. Loosening the bolt wasn’t working, so I retrieved my tools and worked on the driver’s hub.


Nice evening and view for working on the hubs. This passenger side hub was particularly difficult.

It wasn’t easy, but I finally got it to give. The second hub (passenger side) was more difficult and, after breaking and older torque wrench (it was already in bad shape) I decided to leave the nut a little loose AND try some rougher back roads. It took several hours at 30-40 mph, but finally the bearing was pushed out a little. After that, I was able to up my speed to 60 mph without any heat buildup.

I made it back to Pasco about midnight feeling victorious!


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Alaska Or Rust Has Begun!

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

After centuries of planning, or maybe it just feels that way, the first intrepid jeepers are on their way. Scott Gilbert, Rick Pacholski, and Bob Christy are leaving Cincinnati, Ohio, in Scott’s wagon, bound for Paris, Illinois (if I’m not mistaken).

Meanwhile, Bill Reiss is about ready to leave in his CJ-5:

bill-reiss-cj5-top2 bill-reiss-cj5-top1

Merlin will be leaving soon as well, now that his tow rig has a new tranny (these things have to come at the worst time!):

Hugo and Fernando Vidal are flying out late tonight and will be arriving in Portland early Saturday morning. They’ll be driving up to Seattle to pick up their Wrangler (thanks to Jeep’s parent company FCA) and then driving to meet us in Pasco. We plan to leave on the 24th. However, the western fires in British Columbia have led to change our route north slightly.

That’s all for now!