In late July, 1982, my ex and I loaded a U-Haul truck with everything we owned and started a journey to return back to Alaska. It would be a very long journey with all our belongings packed in that truck. Two adults and two children on the bench seat of that U-Haul was going to make it a long trip (have you seen how large and cumbersome the gearshift is on those old trucks?)
The first order of business if you plan to drive the Alaska Canada highway (lovingly known as the AlCan) is buy a copy of a publication called The Milepost. It is packed with hints and tips, maps, photos, roadways, precautions, warnings, and suggestions to consider before embarking on the journey. In 1982, much of the highway was still gravel (or dirt) and could be precarious. Stops with facilities were (and are) quite far from each other. Accommodations were often rustic so preparation and planning is a must.
We drove from Maine on to Virginia to see my parents before we returned to Alaska. After a few precious days with family, we drove toward Montana where we would cross the border into Canada.
It was in the early morning hours we pulled into a gas station in Sweetgrass, Montana. The kids were asleep as the sun wasn’t quite up yet. I sat in the cab of the truck as my ex filled the tank with gas before we would head to the border. Suddenly a pickup truck pulled up and out jumped two people with nylons pulled down over their faces.
To say I was alarmed is an understatement – I was in full in panic mode. Every penny we had was in my purse. I locked the doors and slowly started pulling cash out and tucking in all over the cab of the truck. I knew we were going to be robbed and I was trying so find a way to keep my kids safe and still have some money for emergencies.
What started as pure panic quickly turned into anger as it became clear these two people were ‘friends’ of whomever was working and they were pulling a prank on him. Not funny. These days it would be a certain way to end up dead. I was relieved but still shaken.
With the truck gassed up and money back in place we headed on to the border.
Part 2 tomorrow