Driving the Alaska Highway

big-rigsI probably missed an issue of National Geographic, but most of the people driving the Alaska Highway are driving the Alaska Highway. They are not going to Fairbanks to visit relatives or to Anchorage to start school. They are not wanting to fish or hunt or even go to a specific landmark, lake or glacier. They are not backpackers, kayakers, climbers or cyclists. They are driving.

All the talk is about 16 hours of straight driving, 500 klicks (kilometers) per day and “I drove straight through from Ft. Nelson.” “Do they have diesel or only gas?” There are vans, campers, occasional tent campers and cyclists. But mostly, it’s big rigs: coaches,big-rig-parking-lot trailers, 5th wheels, and RVs. Many pull cars, enclosed trailers or boats. Many are larger and longer than Greyhound buses and semi-rigs. They can’t be easily backed-up so they drive the main roads and “pull-throughs.” At an information office, one tourist interested in finding a restaurant asked for one with RV parking rather than Canadian, Western, or Chinese fare.

In the morning, the generators are going at 6 a.m. and the diesel engines are warming up by 7 a.m. By 8 am. the parade of vehicles has departed and the campground is empty. Around 5 p.m. they start pulling in and keep arriving until about 10 p.m.

It’s a stereotypical joke, but many of the coaches ARE driven by 80-year-old men. Maybe it’s a Great Generation thing conceived during World War II consturction times. Whatever, maybe if I make it to 80, I will be happy to drive a bus the thousands of miles.

The Yukon has lots of roads, so called highways. What it doesn’t have (except in the towns) are smaller, local roads. The wilderness is thick. You can follow animal trails through the brush. Sometimes, there is an ATV trail or a “deactivated” road, but mostly the land is inacessible. For travelers, this inevitably means sticking to the highway.

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2 Responses to Driving the Alaska Highway

  1. Kitt says:

    Interesting observations re: mega-size “recreational vehicles.” Guess you need a big enough rig to fit in your large screen TV. Yeah maybe when I hit that age I’ll be doing the same thing.

  2. Patrick says:

    Kit, we can honk at each other and make a caravan.

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