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The North Road Part 1 VW 1964 Van

March 31, 2015

Photo on 2013-06-28 at 20.49Our teens were obviously out of control in the 80s. One stole real estate signs. Another played Dungeons & Dragons. The oldest got arrested by a police officer in the middle of the night for swimming in a private pool. He and a friend trespassed by walking atop the tallest building in Montana.

Therefore it seemed logical, reasonable, to drive to Alaska in our 1964 VW van. Hell, we had 2 credit cards and several cans of motor oil. Anything seemed better to me than for our children to get gunned down in a bad drug deal or fall off a building. Or swim in a private swimming pool.

I doubt if we spent more than 12 hours getting ready. The kids’ schools were out for the summer and I had time off from work–like 3 weeks–because I worked nights in the hospital pharmacy, so I only had to take off for one stint. Or else I had quit my job by that time. I really hated working nights.

Our daughter had a notebook to keep track of the roadkill she could see through the back window. The whole back of the van was one continuous bed with 2 spare tires on the roof, and boxes of supplies and tools under the bed.

The roadkill: she had two columns: G and DG with tick marks for tally. Whether the gophers were alive.

My sister lived in Anchorage with a couple of her kids who expected us in a week or so.

We added oil to the engine near Great Falls. Then perhaps 50 miles north of that. Then we needed more oil and I was almost out of oil. While someone else drove I calculated how many cases of oil we’d need to buy to keep us going to Alaska, an unknown distance, but a long way.

About midnight the oil light lit up and the engine made a desperate sound so I pulled over in the rain under an overpass 20 km from Edmonton. I checked the fan belt back there and it was loose. “Chunk chunk” obviously the main crankshaft bearing had failed. Any other VW owner of my era would have been able to diagnose the problem the same way, using the good book: John Muir’s, “How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive a manual of step-by-step procedures for the compleat idiot.”

Our oldest took his sleeping bag to the borrow pit and the rest of us crawled in the back of the van for some sleep.

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