31 August 2013

Trying to leave Alaska

After our trip to Lake Clark we started to head back to the lower 48 (states). Lindsay had rung the Fisheries and Wildlife office at Haines and found out there were six bears fishing in the river, so we were pretty excited. While going through Tok, Lindsay decided to weigh our trailer which came in at 11,000 lbs! The guy at the weigh-station noticed that our truck looked a bit lopsided and on closer look we realised that a suspension airbag had collapsed. The local RV repair place couldn’t help and we rang the place that had installed them – 3 time zones away. Yes they were under warranty but Utah was a little too far away right now and their nearest store was in Juneau – 438 miles and a ferry trip away; so not an option. It was 200 miles back to Fairbanks, 4+ hours in the wrong direction. I was a little worried that a sign on the highway said “no studded tires before 15 Sept” which meant that it could be snowing in two weeks! During the last couple of days I had noticed that the leaves have started to turn, so Fall (Autumn) was arriving, but it’s probably a very short season and they may just skip straight to winter up here. Of course this happened on a Friday, the tyre company reluctantly fitted us in on Saturday to have a look as it might have been just a hose fitting, but no such luck. Three months old and it has a hole in it. And of course there’s a public holiday on Monday so we had to wait until Wednesday to have the new one fitted.

A week later and we are going through Tok again and we ring the Haines Fisheries office and they say there are only a couple of bears around at night. So we decide it’s not worth a 300 mile detour.

The road from the Canadian border to the Canadian Customs still had 20km of roadworks, they are constantly fixing the roads up here, then there is bad permafrost all the way to Destruction Bay. We saw what happens if you drive too fast and loose control. The bumps and lumps in the bitumen are even more exaggerated if you are towing a trailer, and just as you think its safe to increase your speed, here comes another one. A car had become airborne and landed in a side ditch a fair way off the road and every panel of the car was bent. They were still trying to pull it out when we passed, and it was a sobering thought about how treacherous it can be out here. A lot of the camping areas have closed down as the season has ended but we knew a great spot well off the highway where we couldn’t be seen from the road. Being self-sufficient opens up a whole lot of free camping opportunities that we just didn’t have last year.

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