View From Top of the World Highway
Finally Rescued (No Thanks to Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance)
I awoke to gorgeous blue skies with huge brilliant cumulus clouds this morning. What a day! Actually, what a day to do Top of the World photography, not waste my time trying to get Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance to help me with my flat tire, here, out in the middle of nowhere.
But, once again I headed up to the Border Station, and resumed my post on their phone.
My first call was to check back in with Galen, to see if he had found me some help and to let him know I had not found any in Chicken. Naturally, there was no way that GSRA could connect me to Galen, just could not be done. So, once again, I start all over with Amanda. This time I tell them to please contact Williards in Tok, since I had been told yesterday that they are the people to talk to. Amanda says that she has located some notes on my calls from yesterday, says they still haven’t found anyone to agree to make the service call. Says she will contact Williards and asks me for my call back number. Once again, I describe my phone situation. She seems to understand and tells me to call back in fifteen minutes and she should have something by then.
I make the call fifteen minutes later and get, drumroll please, Moses. Moses can’t possibly connect me to Amanda and has quite an attitude when I explain how frustrating this is getting for me. Says this is my problem, they HAVE to have a call back number. I give up and tell him I will call again and hope I get Amanda by chance.
Fifteen minutes late I call and get yet another woman who cheerfully tells me she will attempt to connect me to Amanda. Amanda then answers but I’m guessing this might not be the same Amanda who was previously trying to help me. Referring to her notes on me, I am told by this Amanda that I CANCELLED my service call yesterday at 3:30 PM. Obviously, this comes as a bit of a surprise to me as that is when I told Galen ( remember him, about six different operators ago ) to please continue looking for help and I would call him back today. As this Amanda’s attitude continued going hostile, I figured I may as well just give up.
In one last act of desperation I called again and got Heather. After starting again with her, I finally asked to please speak with a supervisor as I was beginning to realize I had reached my wit’s end.
A supervisor came on the line, no name given, told me they have done everything humanly possible to get someone to respond to my situation but NO ONE within a one hundred and fifty mile radius would agree to do so and she suggested that I call 911. Call 911…. this is an emergency! I told her I just couldn’t do that, that 911 was for a severe life threatening emergency, not just a case of a pathetically incompetent roadside assistance company not being able to do their job for which they have already accepted payment.
If You Want Something Done, You Just Have to Do It Yourself!
Ten minutes after getting off the line with Good Sam Roadside Assistance, I got the number for Willard’s in Tok from the helpful woman manning the Border Station. I called and arranged for a service call in all of about three minutes, said they would be there in about three hours! The woman at Willards mentioned that she had been contacted by Good Sams Roadside Assistance, actually wasted over an hour on hold with them, and had been awaiting a confirmation call from them, a call that never came, she said. And GSRA told me how NO ONE within a hundred and fifty miles had agreed to come out here, in other words, they just flat lied to me!
A $1700 Tire Change
About four hours later an elderly man in a beat all to Hell F-250 pickup arrived on scene. I assumed from our later conversations that this was Williard, who told me he was seventy-eight years old, about as old as the truck looked but still not as old as the compresssor that was mounted on what was left of the bed of the ancient F-150. He got right down to business, slowly, needless to say. I did get a bit of a kick out of talking with this true Alaskan, and although certainly not the quickest tire change ever performed, he did seem to know exacty what he was doing. So, two hours later, and $1748 poorer, I was once agin ready to hit the road.
View From Top of the World Highway
Another wonderful Top of the World images from just short of the Border Station.
As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.
I made it through customs without incident, just asked a few routine questions about the dogs and food, guns, and alcohol, then simply showed him my passport and was waved through into Canada.
Canadian Side of the Border and More Caribou!
Not two miles past the Border Station, I saw a small band of caribou bulls grazing towards the road. Fortuitously, there just happened to be a large pulloff just at that spot, so I hopped ot, ran back to the Prius for my tripod and set up my camera with the long lens…
and got some nice shots…
…before they finally crossed the road and headed downhill.
So nice to be back on the road!
Down to Dawson City
Down to Dawson City
I decided to try and make it about half the way down the Top of the World Highway tonight before using a roadside pulloff for my overnight boondocking campsite and found a pleasant spot around KMM 65. After reading all the warnings about this highway, I was pleasantly surprised to find it a very well maintained, wide gravel road, absolutely no reason to dread travelling it whatsoever.
Not five minutes after setting up I saw the unmistakeable profile of Island Girl’s tow vehicle approaching me ( Brenda and Hector carry two kayaks atop their car ). They had stopped where I was stranded back on the Boundary Spur Road yesterday when they saw my rig as they passed by on their way to Dawson City. Not knowing that I had made it back on the road ( no phone or internet up here ) they were heading back up the Top of the World Highway on a 70 mile, one way no less, rescue trip with their small 150 PSI compressor and some slime in case my flat were just the result of a slow leak, which, it turns out, it most probably was ( a defective valve extender was the cause of my problem )! It is very comforting to realize just how nice some of the folks you meet along the way can be! Thanks again guys!
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