Odyssey International: Masthead
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Lisa-and-Garry-Go-Round: North to Alaska in a Sprinter Van?

January 23rd, 2013


The drive is big. Every day involves between 600-700 km of driving. This could go smoothly and take only about 8-9 hours a day. Or Mother Nature could throw us a curve in the form of a blizzard, ice storm or other not-so-friendly reminder that winter doesn’t mess around. Then we would be driving into the later evening hours on some of the most remote roads on the continent.

Edmonton to Anchorage in five days. Nine Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Vans in a variety of configurations. They are all 3.0L V6 turbodiesel engines with 188 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque.

Travelling in convoy. A drive totalling 3,171 kilometres. It’s cold at the start point in Edmonton and dark. It’s a good thing we have a Sprinter van with cavernous cargo space. The coats and arctic winter clothing we have with us would alone fill up at least half of the back of the 170-inch wheelbase vehicle’s 600 cubic feet of space back there.

Over the next five days, we plan to see and photograph wildlife, spectacular scenery, weird truck loads as you only see in the north and, hopefully, those mystical northern lights.

Today is the warm-up, getting comfortable in our ride and familiar with our cabin. And getting to that all-important marker: Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, British Columbia.

It took the bombing of Pearl Harbour in Hawaii by the Japanese to final convince Americans and Canadians that the Alaska Highway, a road that would link the United States with the Far North, was necessary to protect Alaska from invasion by the Japanese.

A massive undertaking that was billed as the ‘biggest and hardest job since the building of the Panama Canal’, the highway was built in an astonishingly short time. In less than nine months, 16,000 soldiers and civilians built a 2275-kilometre stretch of road between Dawson Creek BC and Big Delta, Alaska. An existing highway provided that last 157 kilometres to Fairbanks, Alaska.

Tonight we overnight in Muncho Lake. Stay tuned for more...

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