It’s hard to believe it’s been almost one year since Andy and I competed in the 2020 winter Alcan 5000 Rally. Who would have thought an old 1991 Japanese Domestic Market right-hand-drive diesel Pajero would be competing in temps that reached -40, much less finish strong in a rally that lasted 10 days and over 5,120 miles?
We had a lot of time to think during our grand excursion on Mother Nature’s frozen tundra. Along with buddy cars #38 and #40 (#38 Jeep JK with Judy/JR Russell and #40 with Lexus GX470 Garrett and Kristen Arendt), our Pajero created a trio named “Team Back of the Bus.”
It was through this experience and our radio comms where we laughed a lot, talked a ton, and shared stories as we rallied our way through two states, one province, and two territories of frozen ground.
It was here I decided to record random thoughts that were blurted out from our vehicles as we drove thousands of miles to the finish line. I bring to you a collection of opinions that form, “You know you’re on the Alcan when …”
Thanks to Garrett Arendt and JR Russell for chiming in. Hope you enjoy!
You Know You’re On the Alcan When …
1. Eating one meal a day is optimistic.
2. Driving 160 miles means you’re close to getting somewhere.
3. 4° F is warm.
4. The only vehicles on the road other than semis are white Ford Super Duty trucks or road graters (or other Alcan 5000 Rally competitors).
5. You see “watch for specific animal” signs and you see every animal the signs say (except for bears).
6. A 450-mile drive day is considered short.
7. You get gas at every single stop; we had stops that had no power, were closed for no reason, or more.
8. You see “snow machine crossing” signs in all cities.
9. A 617-mile day that would normally take nine hours, takes us almost 13 in our “slow-but-steady” Pajero.
10. You cross the Yukon border, take photos of the old sign, and pull a fellow Alcan 5000 Rally competitor out of the ditch on the highway—all within 10 minutes of each other.
11. The road goes on forever and never ends. (JR)
12. One spare tire just doesn’t seem like enough. (Garrett)
13. A river crossing sign says closed but it’s not and it doesn’t slow you down a bit.
14. You never pass gas! (JR)
15. You’re on a first-name basis with the gas station fuel guy in Inuvik, NT Canada!
16. It’s -15°F outside and you think it’s warmed up quite a bit (major heatwave from -39°F).
17. Brown is the new black. (Referring to road color)
18. You look over and see a frozen body of water zooming by you at the same eye level as you are.
19. A 12 hour drive day is a short day. (JR)
20. After 12 hours of driving and the sun never gets about 15 ° off the ground. (Garrett)
21. You’re driving 75mph and you’re the slow one. (JR)
22. You don’t see an Amazon Prime van delivering goods. (Garrett)
23. Halfway to “almost there” equals 200 more miles.
24. You don’t remember the last time you switched from 4WD to 2WD.
25. You bring along your own porta-potty when ice fishing.
26. Snow- and ice-covered roads are more common than dry pavement.
27. You spend more time driving in the center often road than in your own lane.
29. You get back onto roads that have painted stripes on them and it feels weird.
30. Fuel stops that HAVE fuel still may not.
31. You measure “almost there” in hours, not minutes.
32. On your only day off you decide to drive 500 more miles to conquer another Alcan 5000 Rally “extreme challenge.”
33. The groomed ice is nicer than the pavement you’re driving on.
34. You know what “Coldfoot” and “sour toe” mean.
35. Wearing one layer of pants feels weird.
36. : You bitch slap a ptarmigan [bird] with your front grille. (Rod Sorenson)
37. A doggie bone equals a moose leg.
38. Driving normally without resetting odometers, giving odometer checks, and lack of constant radio communications feels weird.
39. When the last bit of pre-Covid normalcy was rallying the Arctic wonderland with a right-hand-drive diesel Pajero in the dead of winter!