Thursday, May 31, 2007

Frost Heave The Snowman

The mountains stayed with us again from Destruction Bay to Alcan to Tok (pronounced as though it rhymes with “joke“). We have just barely scratched the surface but already Alaska feels like a most amazing place.

A word or two about the road conditions of the Great Alaska Highway! The last two travel days we have experienced the gravel stretches, the frost heaves, the pot holes, the cracks that everyone warns you about right before they swear that the trip will destroy your vehicle, rupture every one of your tires and just generally make life miserable. Yes, there are a few generally poor spots that you could say that about, but all things being equal, the entire length that we have traveled to get here was incredibly excellent. We did NOT, knock on wood, have a flat tire, nor did we see anyone along the way who did. We did NOT have the vehicle destroyed, nor did we speak with anyone along the way who did. And we can now report that if every highway in the US and in Canada was as good as this highway is, the world would be a better place - and I would have back the hub cap I lost on Rt. 10 in Texas and the 48 bucks it took to replace it! For the most part, to spell it out, the highway is excellent, and all rumor to the contrary is a conscious plot on the part of residents to protect the state from over-population as regards tourists, gold miners, and new residents. We used to play the same routine back in Maine, telling tourists that “You can’t get there from here.“ Could you get a flat tire on the Alaska Highway? Yes. The odds that you will are about the same as they are for getting one anywhere else. Actually, they are probably a bit slimmer because you have heard so much negativity about the conditions that you make the trip on new rubber to begin with…. One word about appropriate speeds: 40 mph on poorer sections, 20 miles an hour where frost heaves are marked (and they are all marked well) and 10 miles an hour on the “washboards”- those loose gravel areas that have formed “ripples” for lack of a better word. Failure to observe the 10 mph speed recommendation for “washboard areas” will result in both bladder failure and loosened fillings.

Getting back to Maine for a minute, my old pal Chuck Kruger, singer, songwriter, performer, and big league talent booking agent, touched my life through his music in ways I will never be able to adequately share with others. Basically, we share a love both for Maine and the Caribbean- we are both “tugged” between the two and have spent significant parts of our lives in both places. Which is why I was so delighted to make the acquaintance of Alaska singer, songwriter, performer, Dave Stancliff at the general store in Tok soon after arrival here. We got to talking- one thing led to another- and before he left with his sidekick and his milkshake he had gifted us with a couple of his Alaska music cd’s. We hustled them back to the coach and popped them in the stereo for a listen- good stuff! Now I am not a guy who ever intends to equate someone to Kruger- he’s tops with me, but there was an interesting “Alaska counterpart thing” going on with Stancliff, and you might enjoy checking out his website and listening to a few sample cuts you will find there. For sure he will not mind if you send for a cd or two- they are excellent. So what’cha think Chuck, a Maine to Alaska promotional tour someday?

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