Traveled so many times I Can't Remember How Many
by Becky Cowen-Cornelius
My family's first trip on the Alcan was in 1961-62. I was 8-9.
Mom, dad, brother (5 years older), and me.
We were moving to Alaska!
My dad had been up to Alaska when he was in the Air Force and thought Alaska would be a great place to raise us kids. Every couple years we would drive out on the Alcan to visit family in Virginia, Texas and Louisiana.
We never flew out of Alaska as a family. We always drove the Alcan.
I guess it was cheaper for the 4 of us to drive out rather than fly out. I never gave it much thought. As a kid it was just another adventure.
We traveled in a old Nash Rambler station wagon, or a Chevy suburban and I always had the very back to myself. I loved it.
My dad always joked that I was watching where we have been as I always faced the back window.
On one of our trips, we actually ran into a forest fire. I remember fire on both sides of the road. My dad just kept on going. I thought we were surely going to be engulfed by flames but dad said we would be okay and dad was always right.
One year, we actually got 3 flat tires at one time. My dad had to walk a ways to the nearest gas station and thank God there was one reasonably close by, I haven't a clue what we would of done if there wasn't one.
But other driver's on the Alcan highway were always very helpful to others. It was different back then.
At this particular time once my dad got to the gas station you can imagine his surprise when he met up with close friends of our family that happen to be at the same gas station dealing with 4 flat tires. Long road, small world.
On the Alcan there many small signs that read 3 killed here 1961, or 2 killed here 1963, etc etc. Seeing these signs was very sobering. They were eventually taken down, but they were there quite a few times when we made the journey.
The road use to be very narrow with severe cliffs and straight drop offs where the bottom was nowhere to be seen.
The constant dust was awful. We tried to keep it out of the vehicle using many methods, but it always made it in. My mom, who suffered from asthma, had a tough time.
There was not one time I ever remember not getting a broken windshield on any of our journeys. It was just the price one paid before that road was paved.
Last time I drove out, I believe was in 1999-2000. There were 3 of us and a cat, dog and hamster. We all wrote daily in a journal that we kept. We had a great trip, stopping at many places along the way. No horror stories of incidents on the road what-so-ever. The road was in great shape and it was smooth sailing.
I would travel it again.
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