I believe I finally understand what that slogan means. I had always thought it was silly when I saw people with that written on their car windows in such modern times, but even in modern times, you can BUST on your way to Alaska.
Our slogan from when we left Watson Lake might have been Whitehorse or Bust! With flat leaf springs we could only hope to make it to the ‘big city’ or capital of the Yukon without any more springs flattening out. We first stopped at an RV repair place and the woman’s expression when she saw the one spring was: “It’s flat as a pancake, eh?” Eh? Yes. They couldn’t work with us so we called a tire place we used last year (Integra Tire) and they recommended “Tamarac Welding and Springs.” Note: I link places just in case you’re the one with the Alaska or Bust slogan and find yourself needing help.
It was difficult find this place as it was only a small quonset set back off the main road. They were very nice and told us we could park on their lot overnight and they would begin the job of replacing all four leaf springs in the morning. They were going to put 6-leaf springs on instead of the 5-leaf ones that just didn’t hold up. They had to fix U-bolts and nuts as well. What we have learned through this experience is multi-faceted. When you are looking for a trailer, fifth-wheel, whatever, the first thing to consider is the frame and the suspension. Dealers and manufacturers love that we look at floorplans and how nice the inside is, but if the rig can’t carry the weight of even an empty trailer, you will find yourself in the same mess that we did. And, we aren’t the only ones we are learning. Manufacturers also build rigs to the basic of all basic specifications. In other words, they build them CHEAP. The nuts they used on the U-bolts holding everything together are tiny – just like they staple things together inside the rig. Yes, they worry about weight, but a heavier bolt or a few more screws will not add that much more weight. The weight specifications are really ridiculous. We have a 42-foot fifth wheel with lots of storage space underneath and cabinets inside, yet the limitations are low when one considers what they will fill these areas with. So, shop and study before you buy. Do NOT ask dealers anything because they have no clue. I asked one dealer at an RV show about their 42-foot fifth wheel, a different manufacturer than ours, about the two axles and the possibility of the exterior cracking. He said ‘that is impossible.’ I walked away laughing because I knew he was either lying or was that ignorant of what driving these trailers on roads can actually do to the suspension, frames and even interiors.
So, May 7, 2019 we woke up early to be out of our trailer so they would work on our leaf springs. May 7 is also our anniversary – 35 years. We were married in a tiny church in a little place called Salina in Boulder County. We were surrounded by only a few friends and some family. I would never have dreamed on that day that I would ever celebrate my anniversary in the Yukon with a trailer parked in a parking lot.
We decided to be tourons in Whitehorse. We walked along the Yukon River, left rack cards for our son-in-law’s fishing company in the Visitor Center, had coffee at Java, a locals coffee shop, and ate lunch at the Burnt Toast Cafe. We returned to find our trailer finished and it was only 1:30 p.m. The owner talked with us a bit about the scale sheets we had and we learned even more about what went wrong with the leaf springs. Needless to say my husband is once again writing to the manufacturer because when we picked it up in Indiana, they neglected to tell us a lot.
With daylight lasting until about 10:30 p.m., we decided to hitch up and drive our regular 6-8 hours. The closer to the border of Alaska, the better. We were done BUSTING! The only bummer was that we really wanted to stop for coffee in Haines Junction at The Village Coffee Shop, but we had just had coffee. So, we pass through town knowing that it would be a long time until we could stop there again because of their ridiculous hours.
Haines Junction is one of the most beautiful places in the universe – in my opinion. The mountains are majestic and breath-taking. From Haines Junction the Alcan goes through Kulane National Park.
This year the riverbed was so dry that we encountered a dust storm. Yes, a dust storm like we had on the Nebraska plains. We saw some sheep on the hillside and continued on through Destruction Bay and Burwash Landing. We knew that we were soon coming upon a very cool RV park that we had stayed at last fall and were ready to stop for the night. BUT, like everything else, it was closed until May 15. So, we kept on driving until Beaver Creek about 20 miles from the Alaska Border. Two years ago we stayed at this same park, but because the pantry was so poorly made, I spent hours cleaning up the mess from broken shelves. This time we just relaxed and enjoyed the evening by curling up on our respective sofas and reading books. It sure is nice not to have leaf spring worries!
The next morning we crossed the border! Finally back in the U.S. We met a young woman at the border who took our photo though the sign is NOT the rustic last frontier-ish looking as it used to be. Blue and Yellow? She was heading north to Denali and Fairbanks. She had never heard of the Kenai and we told her she needed to go to Alaska’s playground. She took down lots of information and several days later we had a note at our trailer. She missed us on her way back from Homer!
Our goal for the day was Tok, Alaska. It was only a two-hour drive, but we wanted some time for a side trip to Chicken. We pulled into a wonderful RV Park – Tok Village – and were excited to learn that they not only had water flowing, but had opened their RV wash and we could wash the dirt and mud that had been accumulating since Fort Nelson.
After getting ourselves situated, we filled our truck with fuel and drove to our next adventure of Chicken, Alaska.
©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved. No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.