Nostalgia

Discussion in 'Alaska' started by Alcan Rider, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    There may have been one around Northway too, but I know there was one around Duffy's Tavern at Slana that year. That was also the year they started the "new" (now very badly frost-heaved for much of its length) highway that stays on the west side of the Little Tok River. Right after he graduated from East High in the spring of that year, I drove my younger brother up to Tok so he could hitch a ride Outside. He joined the Marines in the fall and went on to serve a couple of tours in ' Nam.

    Come to think of it, maybe that was the year that they also had a fire around Tetlin village.
    #21
  2. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    Musta been "brand new!" '67 was the year those came out! Your dad musta been one cool dude.

    Driving one of those down the Alcan in '67 seems crazier than adventure touring on a Superbike today!
    #22
  3. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    cool.... ya.... fresh divorce :rofl

    we were headin to dads new digs in Juneau

    Jack - prolly right, its possible that Northway was just the nearest sign I associated with. Why Nway and not Tok I don't know. It was a big enough fire that it would be remembered by those in the area. Every time in that area I think about it.... this year I going to look closer for evidence.
    #23
  4. dapman

    dapman Graphics Guru

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    First trip down was in '67 also... Dad was fresh outta the Army, discharged from Wainright. He has been here since '48. We headed down in a '65 Plymouth Sport Fury hauling a homebuilt trailer so he could attend A&P School at Northrup in LA. Came upon a truck hauling a dual axel open deck race car trailer with toolbox/tire rack on front. Trailer was down to 2 of the 4 tires, so the owner had unloaded the car and his wife was limping the haul rig to the nearest service station, while he drove his custom Mustang in front of her to avoid rock chips in the glass. He was heading to the races at Sebring. Oh the stories of that road...:wink:
    #24
  5. Kul Mom

    Kul Mom aka sKul Marm Supporter

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    Here is a picture of my grandfather taken in 1917.

    [​IMG]

    Isn't he handsome?

    And no, I don't have the bike.

    -KM
    #25
  6. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    '67 was a busy year, apparently, and your trailer story reminded me of one too. Had saved up vacation time and took two weeks unpaid so I had six weeks off. Left Anchorage the 28th of September and ferried down to Prince Rupert, with the usual stops in Juneau and Ketchikan to visit friends and family along the way. Covered quite a bit of the U.S., from Albuquerque clear back to Kittery, Maine, then headed north the first week of November. Somewhere north of Fort Nelson I came on a chained-up Chevy station wagon hitched to a U-Haul trailer sitting about a third of the way up a hill. There were divots in the snowpack showing the driver had spun holes trying to get the combination up the steep incline. A lady was sitting in the front seat, so I stopped to see if assistance was needed. She related that her husband had hitched a ride to the next roadhouse to see if there was a tow truck that could come to their aid.

    Having confidence in my pickup's ability to get the trailer to the top, I threw a set of chains on the back end of the Ford, blocked the trailer's tires, and had her move the wagon so I could hook on. Took it up the hill and proceeded south, meeting the wrecker and the wagon's owner coming back north. The family had been living in Fairbanks, on the north side of the Chena where it flooded that fall and filled many houses. They were headed outside for the winter, with all they had been able to salvage, to be ready for a springtime return to start repairing flood damage.

    That was another snowy trip, as it started coming down hard around Teslin, and by the time I got to Whitehorse Two Mile Hill was almost impassable. But the snow ended halfway between Whitehorse and Haines Jct, and the road was dry the rest of the way to Tok.

    One other incident on that trip that sticks in my mind, and it also involves a trailer: Due to a heavy snowstorm as I drove from the Badlands to Rapid City, and the uneducated driving of many of those sharing the highway with me, I elected to overnight at Belle Fourche, SD. The next morning was much better, but as US212 gets up into Montana, it has to pass over one relatively high ridge, the only place that had snow that day. An eastbound semi had slid off, blocking the highway, and traffic piled up, waiting for its extraction. During the wait, the driver of a Cadillac a few cars ahead of me, with assistance from other, obviously more knowledgeable drivers parked nearby, applied a set of tire chains to the car, as it was towing a U-Haul trailer and would need them to get to the top of the ridge.

    When traffic began to move again, I found my tires were unable to gain traction, so I waited a few minutes for a DOT snowplow to come up the hill, then let my pickup roll back onto the freshly-plowed surface to get moving in the right direction. This had given the Cadillac, as well as most of the other traffic, the opportunity to get well ahead of me.

    Due to the fact the '57 Ford 1/2 ton now sported radial tires all the way around (very rare in '67), a heavily modified suspension, and a hopped up 394 Olds engine, my cruising speed was more than adequate to soon catch up with, and pass, the traffic that had been above me on the hill. However, the Cadillac was one of the last that I caught up with. The driver, obviously in a hurry to get to a distant destination, was hustling that U-Haul along at every bit of 70 mph. The lady driver was also oblivious to the need to have removed the chains from her tires, as the few crosslinks that remained were doing their level best to completely destroy the inner fenders on the car as they lit up a wide swath of the highway with the fireworks display of sparks.
    #26
  7. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    Hey - you should know - you introduced us. Something you've been trying to forget ever since, right? :lol3
    #27
  8. Solarmoose

    Solarmoose electric Supporter

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    Jack, thanks for the pictures and stories!

    Here's one of mine.
    My folks came to Alaska (the first time) and drove the ALCAN in the spring of 1948 (or '49?) in a Dodge flatbed piled with their stuff and pulling a trailer to live in once they got here. It was quite an adventure for two Iowa farm kids. My father had served in WWII and they were married in 1947 after he got out of the Army. They told many great stories of traveling the ALCAN in the early days. Crossing rivers on the ice in deep overflow with the doors open ready to jump, giant mudballs caking the truck, being given toilet tissue for towels at a motel, and lots of flat tires and broken windshields.

    This picture of my parents on their first trip to Alaska was taken sometime after they had met another couple who were traveling in the jeep. The Dodge had broke an axle and owner of the jeep drove dad back down the highway quite a ways to find parts. They traveled the rest of the road together coming to Anchorage and remained friends.

    [​IMG]

    I traveled the ALCAN many times with them as a kid in the 50's and 60's but didn't drive it myself until 1973. Hit a moose going south in August and blew up an engine coming north in December. Hitched a ride to Beaver Creek with the postman and stayed at Ida's Motel. Ida found me a ride with another couple going to Anchorage the next day. Ida said she helped me out since I was an Alaskan kid down on his luck but made it very clear that if I had been a "dead-beat hitch-hiker" she wouldn't have given me the time of day. I went back to Mountain View Lodge, where the car got parked, (no longer open) to retrieve my dead '66 Pontiac (with Radial tires...) a week later.

    The highway was nearly all gravel then and we judged it to be pretty good compared to what it had been a decade or two before. Like Alcan Rider says, its a great road now. Back then if you didn't like the dust, then drive it in the winter, much nicer. I don't remember doing much planning for a trip outside or to come back home, we carried a spare tire or two, basic tools, a can of gas, and common sense. Stuff happened and you never drove by a stopped vehicle without asking if everything was OK.

    I'm glad I got to see and drive the ALCAN before it got "modernized." I can understand the intimidation factor it can have for new travelers but really its no big deal nowadays.

    David
    #28
  9. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    Ya early days on the Alcan standard equipment was jumper cables, tire chains, gas can & mebby a tow rope. Sleeping bags & bag of candy bars too. Fill the thermos when empty.

    I drove down in 73 in a '55 Studebaker with a 289 V8 & 3 speed OD (stock for the Commander). I had a spare generator, distributor, & starter on board too because we were going to tour the USA. Got just out of Whitehorse and the car quit cold. The rotor inside the distributor had come apart. Its 5:00 Friday eve. I root around & get the spare... shit, no rotor in it. So into the tool box. Got some of this new "Super Glue" crap to try.... dang, seems to work pretty good.... back into the tool box... I got a strip of brass,,, cool. I cut out a new finger and glued it in place. Put it back into the distributor & it fired right up like new. We made it into town and I don't remember if we got a new one there or not, but the ho-made stayed in all the way to Tennessee & was working when I pulled it. The original Superglue was some heinous stuff, not like what we got today.

    That Studi was a great car... it would light the tires, yet it got 25mpg on the hiway in overdrive. Eventually the body rusted away & it was scrapped out with the good parts living on.

    On the way back up my brother bought a '50 Bullet Nose Stude in Washington & drove it back up in formation with the Commander. He got it cheap because the engine was blown, but we found a Jeep engine to put in it (made by Stude... an exact fit). It was over 100 degrees in Pasco doing the swap. The Bullet was around Anch for many years... it got painted yellow last I saw of it. I've heard its still here somewhere.
    #29
  10. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    yup thats what I was in 1972 when I hitch hiked from Calgary to Fairbanks, it took a month to get there and I slept under a piece of plastic no tent. One night I stayed at the Abandonded Lantrine Inn across from Liard River hot springs, I rode up this year and looked for the Inn but it was not there after 39 years! Lots of memories of bear and moose checking out my plastic tarp camp, cooked all my meals on a Sevea 123 which I still have and used this year for my trip up the Dalton and Dempster.
    Catching rides was easy then when I left Mt. Mckinley it took only 5 days to arrive back home, one trucker took me 1000 miles all gravel and I remember him standing on the running boards steering the truck from the outside, he had a cabled throttle on the dash, that really impressed a young 19 year old
    #30
  11. akrider

    akrider mild adventurer

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    Remember when newspaper ads all stated "no alcan" as a selling point?
    How about "I drove the Alcan" bumper stickers?
    Or tire ads reading "alcan ready" for those heading out?
    #31
  12. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    That was important in those days. :nod

    One (of many) lessons I learned on that first trip could have turned out much, much worse. Quite a bit of snow along the highway, and just after crossing the Nisutlin Bay Bridge at Teslin I saw a semi coming toward me, seemingly right down the center of the road. "No problem", I thought to myself, "The road is nice and wide here so I'll move over and give him some room". It still looked as though he was coming right at me, so I scooted over to give him more room... and the world erupted in a mountain of snow. Had to roll down the window to climb out. Thankfully, the driver stopped, hooked on, and pulled me out. He explained that the Canadians used a wing on their graders that cleared the snow down even with the roadway so you couldn't tell where the edge was - as I had discovered. :huh

    For the rest of that trip, I would often have oncoming truckers frantically flash their high beams at me as it looked to them as though I would sideswipe their trucks. No way was I going to get any farther over than I absolutely had to! :nono

    Still, when I delivered that little car to Bob Halcro at Avis car rental in Anchorage, he told me it was in the best shape of any car he'd had sent up by a drive-away company. :D
    #32
  13. legion

    legion Honking the Horn

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    Bob's kid sure gets his panties in a twist over political stuff. Sheeeesh. It's like he thinks that stuff matters. :lol3
    #33
  14. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    Recently, a memory from the past floated to the surface of my conciousness. Maybe some of the more senior members of the forum will recognize the names: David and Ricky Nelson. A buddy and I were having late night coffee in the Hof Brau on Fourth Avenue and recognized the two brothers sitting with their wives a couple of booths from us. IIRC they were in town for an appearance at a Shriner's Circus. Several of us from Fort Rich and Elmendorf had volunteered to accompany disabled kids to one of the events that was held in the parking lot of the Sports Arena (now Arctic Office Supply on Fireweed Lane - on the outskirts of town back then). The former radio/TV stars were putting on a special performance just for the kids.

    Another situation that involved that old Sports Arena (Beezer might remember this): A STOL plane (maybe a Pilatus Porter turbo?) had landed in the parking lot to be part of a static display during some summer event. APD notified the pilot that he would not be allowed to take off from the parking lot; that the plane would have to be dismantled and hauled to an airport in order to leave. But very early one Sunday morning about a week later the plane departed, demonstrating its STOL capability as it safely cleared the power lines along narrow, two-lane Northern Lights Blvd.

    One more concerning Northern Lights Blvd: There used to be a drive-in restaurant on NLB just across from where Sears is now located. They had a small broadcast studio above the restaurant from which one of the local DJ's did his broadcasts every evening. Very popular with the younger set.
    #34
  15. akrider

    akrider mild adventurer

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    Thanks for the rear view mirror Jack.

    The drive in was called the Bunn. Was it Ron Moore that was the disc jockey?

    And the old Fireweed Sports Center.....UAA started the hockey program playing there, chain link fencing for glass and all. How about the indoor motorcycle flat track races in there. Gotta remember Squeeks and even Brelsford racing there. You can forget my aborted attempt on a Bultaco Astro.

    Kep it comming Jack I'm feeling much older now.
    #35
  16. dapman

    dapman Graphics Guru

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    Yup, the Nelsons were in Alaska quite often back in the day, as Ozzie's (Ricky's Dad) brother lived in the valley and owned the Fireside Lounge just south of the Matanuska River bridge on the Old Glenn. He played the Fair on a couple occasions, and several of the smaller private shows like you mentioned. Don't ask me how I know this...:eek1 SHIT! I'm starting to feel like AKRider, I can't possibly be that old can I?:huh
    #36
  17. Kul Mom

    Kul Mom aka sKul Marm Supporter

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    [​IMG]

    This picture was taken by my father when we arrived in Anchorage. He had planned to meet us in Tok but he missed us. Hard to believe, no? Summer of '69. From the left - my brother John, sister Bonnie, sister Carol, me, Mom. Not shown are the dog, Chinook (Samyoed) and the cat, Piwacket (Siamese). My 2nd trip up the Alcan. I am trying to locate the picture Dad took of me on my 19th birthday at Toad River on my first trip.

    -KM
    #37
  18. Tom S

    Tom S Can I ride it? Supporter

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    On the outskirts of town? :D

    One of my Grandfathers & some other early Spenard people put up those
    tripod poles to string a telephone wire.

    See the big tree?

    [​IMG]

    ItÂ’s still way back there in this pic my Dad took.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    "Spenard, the Hub of the Universe!" This was mine for my first 12-13 years & a bit more.
    #38
  19. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    1st house... Mountain View about '51.
    [​IMG]

    Finger Lake about '54
    [​IMG]

    The 'ol man's bitchin new '53 Chrysler on Muldoon road.
    [​IMG]

    Me & my sister... west end of Northern Lights about '54... dad was thinking of buying the cabin.
    [​IMG]

    but bought this beauty instead in 55....
    [​IMG]

    my brother still lives there.
    #39
  20. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    Thought so, but was afraid I was confusing the name with a drive-in down in Ketchikan.

    That sounds about right. What were the names of the drive-in's owners? I can almost remember, but can't quite get it to the surface.

    Glad to help. :lol3
    #40