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1999 ML 430
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394 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Memo to File: Don't try to pack up and move a house you've lived in for 25 years all by yourself!

2nd Memo to File: Don't try to drive a 34', heavily loaded U-Haul from Haines, Alaska to Haines Junction, Yukon Territory in heavy, wet snow without chains! Even if you're a grizzled veteran of 40 years in Alaska and have even driven the Dalton Highway in winter, you ain't making that almost four thousand feet elevation in fifty miles or so without chains. It was a rookie mistake and I shouldn't have made it because I'm not a rookie. Had to leave the truck half off the road, hitchhiked with two Canadian teachers, one real cute, down the mountain, through the Border, that all the more interesting because my Passport was on the dash of the truck up on the hill, down to Haines, find some chains, and then find a way back up the mountain and get the chains on in the dark, cold, and snow. Call the cab, yes, that is singular, but he could only take me to the Border. But, if I could wait a couple of hours he had a friend who worked at the US Border station who could take me the whole way. At this point I was relying totally on the kindness of strangers. Guy showed up as promised, he was a minister and a really nice guy; took me all the way, sixty miles or so, helped us chain up, and followed us back down the pass to Haines. There really are still a lot of very nice people in the World; offered him money but he wouldn't take it, so I gave him $200 and told him to give it to his church. The weather was too bad and we were too tired an lazy to take the chains off when we got to clear pavement so we tried to stay under thirty MPH, but still beat up the chains pretty well. Snow had ended by morning; took the chains off, bought some spare links and a hammer, and struck out for the AlCan and Anchorage. Made it uneventfully thereafter though it was slow, slippery, and incredibly rough in places; some of my stuff will never be the same. Anyway, that is a LONG thousand miles in any season, but it is REALLY LONG in winter!

So, now I'm in Anchorage and have finally gotten a chance to drive the ML 430. It isn't really winter here yet but there've been plenty of slick mornings and some snow; great snow vehicle! I think I want an engine block heater for it so it can stay warm outside. It stays overnight at home in a heated garage, but I want to be able to reliably start it in subzero temps, so I think an engine block heater is the next purchase. If anybody has one, I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Anyway, it was an adventure, and now I need to change my profile since I now live in Anchorage though my boat is still in Juneau at least until Spring. Anybody want a good deal on a REALLY well equipped and maintained Bayliner 30 Motoryacht?
 

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05 ML500 SE
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1,482 Posts
crazy story - glad u made it in 1 piece.
 

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Registered
1999 ML 430
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394 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
If you mean the two Canadians,

they were cool. People in this part of the world will stop and help usually. In Alaska you have a legal duty to attempt to render aid if you can do so without endangering yourself. Don't know if it is the law in Canada but the spirit applies. It's 160 miles or so, IIRC, from Haines, AK to Haines Junction, YT and once you get past the border stations there is NOTHING, no services, no shelter, no cellphone service. In fact even my kid's ATT cellphone wouldn't work in Canada at all even though it works in Mexico. My GCI, an Alaska cellphone company, wouldn't work beyond Haines, AK until I got a few miles from Tok, AK, so the whole distance along the AlCan, we were completely out of touch. My wife and my kid's fiancee last heard from us when we left Haines early in the morning to try the Pass again and didn't hear from us again until late that evening when we got to Beaver Creek, YT and found a payphone to check in.

While the AlCan is now more or less paved it is much more desolate than it was when I first drove it in '74, when it was still all dirt. Back then there were lodges and gas stations at least every 30 or 40 miles, but with much improved container shipping to Alaska, there is much less truck traffic on the AlCan than there was back then, so most of the lodges and gas stations/garages have been abandoned and much of what remains is only open from May through September. There are some long desolate stretches.
 
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