Alaska Or Rust Trip Research Archives

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Day 1: Alaska Or Rust Has Begun!

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

Day 2: July 22, Patterson Arrives in Pasco –>

UPDATE: The following series of posts details the Alaska Or Rust crew’s adventures (view crew and jeeps here), starting with our separate trips to Dawson Creek, BC, Canada, the official start of the Alaska Or Rust adventure (see overview and why we did the trip here).

There were 11 jeeps and 25 people that headed to the starting line. Our goal was for everyone to meet in Dawson Creek on July 27th, 2017. 


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.

Meanwhile, Bill Reiss is about ready to leave Pennsylvania in his updated former Dually Trencher CJ-5 and custom trailer.:

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

Merlin and Britt will be leaving soon in their WWII Willys MB, now that his tow rig has a new tranny (these things have to come at the worst time!), along with Joe and Emily in their CJ-3B.

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.

Day 2 – July 22, Patterson Arrives in Pasco –>

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Day 2: Patterson Arrives in Pasco

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

<– Day 1: July 21, Alaska Or Rust Has Begun | Day 3: July 23,  Alaska Updates  –>

UPDATE: To clarify this post, I’d been spending several weeks getting Patterson ready for the trip. Like everyone else, I had to deal with last minute issues, like my front hubs getting too warm. Here’s my efforts to pull our 1956 DJ-3A from Seattle to Pasco, Washington, where we would officially start our leg of the trip with Brazilians Hugo and Fernando Vidal.

Original Post July 22, 2017: Well, folks, we are one step closer to Alaska; I successfully pulled Patterson over to Pasco yesterday. 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 into 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 on Interstate 90, then 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!

The hubs were still feeling hot by the time I reached Indian John Hill east of Cle Elum. So, I readjusted them again. About that time, a 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 one stubborn hub to give. The second hub (passenger side) was more difficult and, after breaking an 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!

<– Day 1: July 21, Alaska Or Rust Has Begun | Day 3: July 23,  Alaska Updates  –>

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Day 3: July 23, Alaska Updates

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip

<– Day 2: Patterson Arrives in Pasco | Day 4: July 24th, Surviving the Border –>

Ann, myself, Hugo and Fernando 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 so I can publish updates. 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 who randomly stopped by the house. They were very excited to sign Patterson.
    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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Day 4: July 24th, Surviving the Border

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 3: July 23, Alaska Updates | Day 5: July 25, From Earthly Mountains to the Plains of Vulcan –>


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!

<– Day 3: July 23, Alaska Updates | Day 5: July 25, From Earthly Mountains to the Plains of Vulcan –>

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Day 5: July 25, From Earthly Mountains to the Plains of Vulcan

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 4: July 24th, Surviving the Border  | Day 6: July 26, Almost to Dawson Creek –>


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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Day 6: July 26, Almost to Dawson Creek

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 5: July 25, From Earthly Mountains to the Plains of Vulcan | Day 7: July 27, The Lonely Road Home –>


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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Day 7: July 27, The Lonely Road Home

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 6: July 26, Almost to Dawson Creek | Day 8: July 28, Travelers Arrive –>


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 Cowboy 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 Cowboy!



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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Day 8: July 28, Travelers Arrive

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 7: July 27, The Lonely Road Home | Day 9: July 29, At Dawson Creek –>

On the 28th, Hugo, Fernando, Ann and I had a day without driving, a nice reprieve from our road trip thus far. But, we kept busy cleaning vehicles and organizing for the trip’s start.

As of midnight the 28th, we still awaited the arrival of Merlin & Britt and Andreas Gruson, Marcello, and Dario. However, everyone else arrived during the day, exhausted. So, we had a small celebration and got to know everyone. Since it is Ann’s an my 5th wedding anniversary, I’ll keep this brief.

We can’t wait to start! Only 1300 miles before we reach Fairbanks!


Marty, Rob, Ron, Don arriving at Dawson Creek


Bill arrived at Dawson Creek


Cowboy, Russ, Jim and David (seated) arrived at Dawson Creek.


Hugo meeting Jim.


Fernando and Hugo saving David’s butt cuz he hasn’t had time to look at his carb.


A well deserved beer after fixing David’s carb.


Most of the group, exhausted form their days of travel.

<– Day 7: July 27, The Lonely Road Home | Day 9: July 29, At Dawson Creek –>

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Day 9: July 29, At Dawson Creek

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 8: July 28, Travelers Arrive | Day 10: July 30th, Cruising the Alaska Highway –>


Most everyone arrive on Friday afternoon, but a few hearty souls rolled in after midnight. On Saturday it was awesome to wake up and see all the jeeps around the motel. There wasn’t one of us who wasn’t giddy at the sight of the jeeps. We spent much of Saturday swapping stories. Much of the action was out front of the motel. That in turn caused locals to drop by, say hello and share their own jeeps stories.

Four of those that stopped by were a nice group of local police. They were very enthusiastic about the trip, so much so, that we had them sign jeeps and pose for photos.



We had Hugo pose with the officers.


They also shared some patches, cut off of their outfits.2017-07-29-dawsoncreek-police3 2017-07-29-dawsoncreek-police4

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Day 10: July 30th, Cruising the Alaska Highway

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 9: July 29, At Dawson Creek | Day 11: July 31st, Bison, Bears, and (no) Breakdowns –>


A great group shot out front of Todd & Diana Penney’s business Dalex Auto Services. We really appreciate their hospitality! Todd is seen to the far left.

After months of planning, yesterday we finally got our chance to drive the Alaska Highway! Our stop for the evening would be in Fort Nelson, BC.


Yesterday morning was filled by a sense of excitement for the trip to begin. It was the first day of our five day trek to Alaska. We’d planned to leave at 8am, so hustle and bustle was prevalent early.

I drove to the gas station right after waking. Having never filled up Patterson’s custom stainless steel tank, I had no idea how much it would take. But, after having to run into the store to pay for gas several times because I’d misjudged how much would fit into the tank, I returned to the hotel and staged the DJ, ready to lead the group north. Spoiler alert … up to this point, Patterson had started dependably for the past month.


All prepared to lead the caravan.


Emily and Joe ready to tackle the Alaska Highway

Naturally, when the big moment came and we were ready to take a quick tour of the local roundabout where Ann was positioned to do a Facebook Live event, I turned the key and …. Patterson wouldn’t start. Joe, quickly recognizing that I was having a problem, gave me a quick push. Heck, compression starting was old hat to me and I guess it wouldn’t be an old jeep if you didn’t have to compression start it every so often.

Now that I was rolling and, once Merlin also was pushed started (Mortimer and Patterson were in a groove), we drove a short distance, rounded the roundabout and waved at Ann as she streamed us live for everyone to see! Except, there was another slight hiccup. Facebook wasn’t full cooperating, so our FB live was a bust. No matter, we had fun with our little parade.

Our first stop for the day was at the Kiskatinaw wooden bridge, a part of the original (or early) Alaska Highway.


We stopped just short of the bridge so Ann could ready her camera and Luis, Andreas’ son, could prep his drone. We agreed to wait a few minutes (no cell service) before dramatically entering the bridge.


Staged and ready for the bridge.

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Day 11: July 31st, Bison, Bears, and (no) Breakdowns

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 10: July 30th, Cruising the Alaska Highway | Day 12: Aug 1, Feliz Aniversario Hugo Vidal –>


Happy 84th Birthday today Hugo! (Aug 1)

Today we drove from Fort Nelson to Watson Lake, a distrance of 326 miles. Partly overcast as we left the city, we could see some dark clouds ahead that lingered over the pass we were approaching.


We drove from Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

We were only a few minutes outside of Fort Nelson when we spotted photographer Monicque Jacobs, who took pictures at Dalex Auto Service’s event on Sunday evening. That’s when Ann shouted, “Oh crap!”

“What’s the matter,” I asked.

“I was supposed to let Monicque know when were leaving the city.”

Monicque, this is our apology to you! Fortunately, she’s a professional and was ready for our exit.


A slight drizzle started, then turned to full rain as we climbed up the pass. The speed dropped and road tightened into a snaking mountian road, climbing until we were surrounded by mist.

2017-07-31-mystWhen we summited, we took a break. Those that had Pacific Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association hoodie-sweatshirts lined up for a photo in the rain.


PNW4WDA Hoodie wearers. It was a cold day on the summit.

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Day 12: Aug 1, Feliz Aniversario Hugo Vidal

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 11: July 31st, Bison, Bears, and (no) Breakdowns | Day 13: Aug 2, Perma-Grins Despite Melting Permafrost –>


Alaska Or Rust jeeps parked in front of Watson Lake’s Sign Forest. The sign forest was a pleasant surprise.

Yesterday the group split, with the Eilers and Vidals leaving Watson Lake early for a special event. Eventually, we met up again in Whitehorse.


The group split for most of Tuesday. Ann and I and Fernando and Hugo took off earlier than the others for a special birthday event for Hugo. Before we left, we stopped at Watson Lake’s sign forest, which I thought was just a few hundred signs. In fact, one count places the number of signs at 75,000!! It truly is a forest of signs. It’s so big, that the convoy crew told me they spent almost an hour there. Here is a mix of photos from there.

2017-08-01-marty-signforest4 2017-08-01-brittany-jeeps5 2017-08-01-brittany-jeeps6

Ann took this Facebook Live video as we were driving away from the Sign Forest (before everyone else arrived). You can see just how large it is:

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

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– 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. Continue reading

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Day 14: Aug 3, Reaching Alaska

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 13: Aug 2, Perma-Grins Despite Melting Permafrost | Day 15: Aug 4, You Want to do WHAT? –>


The mosquitoes are REALLY big up here.

On Thursday August 3rd we crossed into Canada, bound for Fairbanks.


Some of the team decided to go camp, while others stayed at the Beavercreek Motel and RV Park. It’s rustic. It was the FCA videographer’s last day with us, so he got some last minute coverage, including a long sequence that had us driving away into the distance while a drone followed us.

I was also interviewed to give my thoughts on the trip and Hugo.


Here’s a partial video from the morning:

Following the filming, we left for the border and to hunt down the campers. The early morning sunrise was very pretty, making for a good photo. The roads were the roughest we’d seen. Melting permafrost portions of the road pretty rough. Various sections were under construction.


A welcome sign gave us our first glimpse of the US. First the campers went past the sign, then the remainder did.


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Day 15: Aug 4, You Want to do WHAT?

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 14: Aug 3, Reaching Alaska | Day 16: Aug 5, Parting Ways –>

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.


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:


On the way north.


Sixty miles to go.


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


Marty at the Yukon River crossing.

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Day 16: Aug 5, Parting Ways

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 15: Aug 4, You Want to do WHAT? | Day 17: Aug 6, Alaska Paul’s M-38 –>


Jay signed the jeep at Denali National Park.

On Saturday, Ann and I, the Vidals, and their friends, began our trek south. Our objective was Anchorage.


Our drive from Fairbanks to Wasilla, Alaska.

Saying goodbye to the Alaska Or Rust adventure, Ann and I, along with Fernando, Hugo, LuisCarlos and Giselda, began our trek home. Our first stop was to obtain some smoked salmon from a local seafood processor Fernando found: Interior Alaska Fish Processors. They had a wide selection of smoked salmon separated by salmon type and spices. Best of all, they had lots of free samples!


It was hard not to buy a variety, but we used some control and only walked out with two different kinds of smoked salmon.

Our next stop was for gas just south of Fairbanks. I suspect the moose and bear have been featured in lots of photos.


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Day 17: Aug 6, Alaska Paul’s M-38

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 16: Aug 7, Parting Ways | Day 18: Aug 7, Long Drives –>


Paul sitting in his stainless M-38

On Sunday we drove from Wasilla, to Anchorage, then to Palmer for the night.


We spent most of our time Sunday in Anchorage area being entertained by Paul and his Goddess (and their parrot, Samson). Paul and I have been exchanging emails since November 2009 (I had to look it up). You can see the Paul’s very first post here. Upon seeing the photos associated with that post, one reader commented at the time, “Paul, I’m going to show this post to my wife so she can see that there is someone out there MORE INSANE THAN ME when it comes to Jeeps.” That first post gives some great examples of Paul’s artistry.

I never thought I’d actually get a chance to see this jeep, but seeing it has always been on my bucket list. It took Alaska Or Rust to finally get me to Alaska and gave me my chance to see this amazing jeep and meet the man behind it, and meet the Goddess behind the man, and meet the bird behind the couple.

When we arrived at noon, Paul came bounding out of the house. He’s a tall, lanky fellow with eyes that twinkle. Deborah soon followed with her ever-present smile. There’s a happy-go-lucky feeling about Paul and Deborah’s home, perhaps best captured in the oversize lawn chairs that make a person feel like a kid again.


After relaxing in the huge chair, Paul was eager to share his jeep with me and I was equally eager to see it.


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Day 18: Aug 7, Long Drives

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 17: Aug 6, Alaska Paul’s M-38 | Day 19: Aug 8, Naps & Teslin Refugees –>

On Monday August 7th we left Palmer for Whitehorse, a twelve hour drive.


The first part of the drive on Monday to Tok could have been a spectacular one, if not for the fog and clouds. The mountains were tall and the muddy rivers wide. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate, one of the few times on our trip it didn’t go our way.

What I can report is that when the weather turn beautiful, the roads, AK-1N and Yukon-1E, between Palmer and Tok turned worse. Most of the trip was a fast 65mph, while other portions were undulating hops that reminded us of a roller coaster. Some shifts were obvious, but a few took us by surprise and at least one felt like it launched Patterson into the air. We both felt that parts of AK-1N and Yukon-1E were the worst paved roads we’d encountered (though I’m sure there are plenty worse in other parts of Alaska).

This photo was taking going up the pass out of Palmer. We soon ran into fog (or the clouds themselves).


Eventually the clouds lifted and the sky turned blue.


It always felt like we were headed for mountains, but never actually got to them.


When we finally arrived in Whitehorse around 10pm, waiting for us were Marty, Don, Rob and Diana (Diana had flown into Anchorage to accompany him home). The four of them had just completed the “top of the world” road to Dawson City, which they enjoyed immensely. The only exception to that was when Rob lost brakes because his entire brake booster fell off due to sheered bolts. Thanks to some quick engineering by Rob and Don, the foursome was soon back on the road. Later on, he got some holes in his radiator. He turned to Q-bond which fixed the holes instantly. We all plan on getting some of it.

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Day 19: Aug 8, Naps & Teslin Refugees

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 18: Aug 7, Long Drives | Day 20: Aug 9, Whitehorse to Lake Deese (On our own) –>

On Tuesday August 8th, the last remaining Alaska Or Rust folks decided to gather for breakfast at Tim Hortons in Whitehorse, Yukon, before everyone left for home (Except Ann and I … we planned to stay one more day).


Left to right: Merlin, Brittany, Diana, Don, Marty, Rob, David, Ann.

After breakfast, Ann and I returned to our room at the Town & Mountain hotel. Even though I slept well Monday night, I went back to sleep for two hours (and that was after drinking some espresso), woke up, then slept an additional hour! I am finally feeling like I’m feeling more normal.

With two successive naps out of the way, we decided to walk around Whitehorse and visit the MacBride Museum of Yukon History. We spotted this neat statue on the way.


When we reached the museum, we discovered there was a bunch of construction underway, so not everything could be seen. But the museum did have a great set of photos and explanations of the Alaska Highway construction (with lots of jeeps) and the Klondike and the effects of the stampede for gold.

Upstairs in the museum was an extensive look at Yukon’s wildlife:


Downstairs was a great ALCAN exhibit:



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Day 20: Aug 9, Whitehorse to Lake Deese (On our own)

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 19: Aug 8, Naps & Teslin Refugees | Day 21: Aug 10, Lake Deese to Prince George (Reunited and it feels so good) –>


Lake Deese about an hour south of Whitehorse

On Wednesday we jumped back on the road and left Whitehorse. We had a long drive in front of us. Because of the overnight delay Hugo and Fernando experienced in Teslin (only two hours south of Whitehorse), we figured we could catch up to them if we put in a long day, so we didn’t stop much.


We drove south an hour, then pulled over at Dougie and Bev’s place off of Lake Deese. We’d met them on our way north and they invited us to stop by on the way back. They invited us into their wonderfully eccentric shop, then home. Gold Nuggie Dougie is Doug’s  trademark and both are well known around Whitehorse, having owned three hotels at one point (including the one we stayed in). The wonderful couple shared all kinds of interesting stories about their place and Whitehorse and we had a great time with them. Unfortunately, we manage to lose most of our photos from their place!! Here are a few I managed to find. This unique structure is a working outhouse, just behind their shop.

2017-08-09-douggie-bev-outhouse1 2017-08-09-douggie-bev-outhouse2

The couple spend part of their time each year in the US and part in Canada. They’ve embraced both countries, flying a joint Canadian-American flag.2017-08-09-douggie-bev-3

Their backyard is an oasis. They used to have boats and cruise for days without running out of water ways. As I understand it, from Lake Deese a person can boat all the way to the Pacific Ocean. 2017-08-09-douggie-bev-4 2017-08-09-douggie-bev-5

After bid Doug and Bev goodbye and thanked them for their good will, we hadn’t traveled far before we passed a walker pushing a child stroller. This was the same guy we’d passed a week before. He is walking around the world (and making good progress it seems!).

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Day 21: Aug 10, Lake Deese to Prince George (Reunited and it feels so good)

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 20: Aug 9, Whitehorse to Lake Deese (On our own) | Day 22: Aug 11, Patterson Ends His Alaska Journey –>


The farther south we got, the smokier it got. Eventually, Ann had to wear her mask.

Back together with our traveling buddies, we and the Vidals had another long day of driving, almost entirely without cell service.


The early morning was beautiful. Ann shot this photo of some random lake. 2017-08-10-lake-along-road

A couple hours later we stopped at this rest stop. Signs all over the rest stop warned us to beware of bears. By this time we’d seen several bears along the road, so we took the signs seriously.2017-08-10-hugo-rest-stop

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Day 23: Aug 11, Patterson Ends His Alaska Journey

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

Patterson, put to bed.

We were a little slow getting going, but eventually we got back on the road.


This kindly Canadian waved us goodbye from Prince George.


Upon leaving Prince George, we headed south, straight for the fires; and, it showed.


We were driving south in hopes we could see the Frasier Valley (Hugo’s wish), but the relentless fires in BC drove us West at highway 24, a normally scenic backroad made a mess due to the traffic diversion coupled with road work. It made the short detour a very long one. When we finally reached the end of highway 24, we were greeted with a long, steep downhill drive that required I shift down to 2nd. Patterson was pushing us pretty good down that hill, the first time I’d felt that the entire trip.

At Hwy 5 we turned south toward Kamloops, then ran into stop and go traffic. We also picked up just enough cell reception to text. About then I received a text from Marty. We began texting back and forth about the fact that we were stuck in a traffic jam. It turns out we were only about fifteen minutes apart. Throughout this trip this group just found ways to run into each other.

Since the four of them planned to stop in Abbotsford, we stuck with our plan to reach Renton as soon as we could. What we didn’t expect were the mountains between Kelowna and Abbotsford. There were multiple climbs and multiple drops, larger than any others we’d experience anywhere else in the trip (the exception being the steep drop earlier in the day at the end of highway 24 .. it was steep, but not as long). It was the first time I felt our Grand Cherokee struggle a little as we pulled Patterson. It was relief when we left those mountains behind!


It was also a relief when we arrived at the Sumas border and found a short line to cross into the US. We went through first. Fortunately, they didn’t ask where all our t-shirts went! Though our crossing was easy, the customs discovered that folks at the Alaska border hadn’t stamped Hugo’s passport, which meant they had to go inside and explain why. Inside, they asked when Hugo was flying out of the country. Fernando told them the correct date, but Hugo got confused and said a different date. This caused some confusion. Ann and I waited about twenty minutes before we saw their jeep approach us.


In Sumas, the Vidals removed their stickers and gave them to me.

After that, we began our two hour drive to Renton, arriving in the dark. The next morning, we put Patterson away, effectively ending his trip. He might have only driven a small portion of the highway, but it was a blast while we were doing it. It worked out better that way in the end, as I could drive while Ann took video and snapped pictures.


On Saturday morning we unpacked quickly, carefully washing Patterson in the process. The ol’ DJ-3A needed a gentle wash before being put away. We plan to preserve all the signatures with a clear coat. Continue reading

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Post Trip Items: Interview with Hugo Vidal

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Day 22: Aug 11, Patterson Ends His Alaska Journey | Post Trip Items: Alaska Or Rust Article in Dispatcher Magazine –>

Here’s the interview the CBC Yukon did with Hugo Vidal on August 1st in Whitehorse, Yukon, which was also the night of his 84th birthday. It recounts his trip through Whitehorse in 1955.

I was sitting with Hugo when he did the interview. Unfortunately, during parts of the interview, Around the 4:42 mark he asks “have I told you the little poem” well that was him turning to me (away from the microphone). I was thinking at the time, NO … keep talking to the interviewer!!

<– Day 22: Aug 11, Patterson Ends His Alaska Journey | Post Trip Items: Alaska Or Rust Article in Dispatcher Magazine –>

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Post Trip Items: Alaska Or Rust Article in Dispatcher Magazine

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features, Magazine

<– Post Trip Items: Interview with Hugo Vidal | Post Trip Items: German Documentary w/ Alaska Or Rust Folks –>

The Fall 2017 issue of Dispatcher Magazine arrived in my mailbox yesterday. Kevin and Bill put together a great article on the Alaska Trip.


<– Post Trip Items: Interview with Hugo Vidal | Post Trip Items: German Documentary w/ Alaska Or Rust Folks –>

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Post Trip Items: German Documentary w/ Alaska Or Rust Folks

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features

<– Post Trip Items: Alaska Or Rust Article inDispatcher Magazine –> | Post Trip Items: Alaska Or Rust!! 2107 …. The Book –>

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the link to the video is no longer valid. Previously, the video was hosted on this page:

Karl Teuschl, a documentary filmmaker from Germany, included a couple of our Alaska Or Rust folks in his newest film that was released yesterday in parts of Europe (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). It’s a beautiful documentary that covers the Alaska Highway and gives viewers a good sense of the road conditions, the scenery and the feel of driving the highway.

Two of the Alaska Or Rust jeeps appear at the 18:30 mark. The interview with Marty Tilford, Don Brown, Rob and Diane Stafford starts at the 19:38 mark. It ends at 20:30. Most of it is in German. Unfortunately, Ann and I headed south just before the point where we would have met up with Karl, so after six months of emails he and I didn’t get a chance to meet.


L to R: Diana Stafford, Rob Stafford, Don Brown, Marty Tilford


A good shot of the remoteness of the highway.


Nice inclusion of the eWillys sticker :-)

<– Post Trip Items: Alaska Or Rust Article in Dispatcher Magazine –> | Post Trip Items: Alaska Or Rust!! 2107 …. The Book –>