Orion's Photos: places - the_road - jun1999

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These pictures show my trip down the Alaska-Canada Highway in late June, 1999. Having recieved my undergraduate degrees from UAF, I'm headed down to IBM's T.J. Watson research lab in Hawthorne, New York for seven weeks, then on to Illinois for my master's. Dad and I left Glennallen on Friday, June 25 in my 1984 Oldsmobile, a fairly crappy car even then. 01-12 are Alaska photos; 13-47 are Canada. The remainder are Lower 48. In Canada, we camped outside Whitehorse Friday night at a gravel pit (Dad, as usual, slept outside until about 5 am, then we were back on the road). We got a run-down motel at Fort St. John Saturday night and slept until about 11 pm. We broke down at about 9 pm Sunday night about 30 km (it turns out) from Lloydminster, on the lone prarie. Outside of Edmonton, toward sunset, the car just slowly lost power until we could barely creak along at 40 mph, then 20, then we were totally stopped. Now Dad's a pro mechanic, and I'm at least capable of changing out bad parts, so this shouldn't have been a very big deal; but it really freaked me out. We were way way out there, and I had nearly everything I then owned stuffed into the car. The sheer uncertainty of "What the heck is wrong?", the prospect of needing a three-hour tow, the potential for days of delay for repairs, or even buying a new car and repacking everything slowly accumulated. I puked in the bushes, from sheer terror. I still get a nervous twinge when starting a long car trip. Luckily, I had dad along, so we worked methodically to check out the various possibilities. The Olds tends to run rich, and fouls its plugs, so the first thing we did was change the spark plugs, which had no effect. The engine would turn, but not fire. As it was getting dark, we napped for about five nervous hours until Monday morning. Dad checked the fuel filter and carbeurator (plenty of fuel), spark (good clean spark), compression (fine), and finally, the exhaust system. Once we broke loose the bolts in front of the catalytic converter, the engine roared to life. As a straight-pipe V6, it roared like a banshee (cars without mufflers are incredibly loud), but it ran, and well. We were on the road again by 6 AM. We were harrased by the North Dakota border patrol for about an hour Monday night. I suppose their logic: "Long-haired 20-year-old kid + packed car = drug runner" was fairly predictable. We got a motel in Bismark that evening. We made it to Dad's 140 acres in northern Wisconsin by Tuesday night and slept in a hotel again. I met Buck, who lives next to our land, and Dad and I wandered around on our land a bit. The land is on Wisconsin Highway F, a bit north and east of Rice Lake (about a hundred miles north and east of Minneapolis/St. Paul). We jetted down across Wisconsin (still roaring) Wednesday, and arrived at Dad's old hometown of East Troy, Wisconsin (between Madison and Milwaulkee) at around 9pm. [see places/wisconsin/east_troy]

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All images taken by Orion Lawlor and placed completely in the public domain.
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