Larry Evans: Cruisin' the Alaska Highway

larry-evans-headshot

My wife Joanie and I purchased a new vehicle last summer. It’s a 2019 Terrain Denali. It’s very nice but it’s taken some time getting used to. Never in my wildest imagination would I have believed I would be driving in such a vehicle.

article continues below

Suffice to say it has all of the features available today and you would really have to go that extra mile to have an accident that’s your fault with all the built in warning signals. When I first sat in it I could not find the gear shift. The salesman proudly pointed out the buttons on the console with lettering PRND, aha it was a push button!

A few years ago, I was going through old newspapers and came across an ad that brought back a flood of memories. It was from 1958 and the ad was for the model and year of the first car I ever owned: A 1958 Dodge Desoto. My Dad bought it used for me from from Northern Motors Ltd. for $150, and it was nine years old when I acquired it. Cars in those days were built to last and as long as you were a block or two from a gas station you had no problem.

In the summer of 1967, I was working at Mile 143 on the Alaska Highway pumping gas when my parents drove the car up to me. I hadn’t seen it yet and they thought I could drive it back to Fort St. John when I could.

I drove it back on my first weekend off. It was a very big car, the roads were narrow and all gravel (no pavement) south to Mile 83. Whenever there was oncoming traffic, I crowded the shoulder as much as possible and broke into a cold sweat. I stopped for coffee at Wonowon, again at Mile 73, and again at the Mile 54 truck stop to calm my nerves. I drove into Fort St. John and surprisingly enough this trip back to Mile 143 was a breeze. Once you had driven on the Alaska Highway in those days, you could drive anywhere.

My Dad jokingly said you could live in the car because of its size. This was true for my friends and I spent a couple of nights in it smoking cigarettes and discussing everything under the stars. We also took it hunting and would make it to Wonowon before we had to fill up again. It had a 383 engine in it and you could watch the fuel gauge go down as you drove.

We always carried four jerry cans of gas to get us back to Wonowon. On our hunting trips we always removed the trunk lid in the event we actually shot a moose or deer. We never shot anything but also had fun coming and going, which is a story for another day. It was a cool car.

By the way, did I mention it was a push button?

Larry Evans is a former fire chief, city councillor, and lifelong historian living in Fort St. John. 

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

Comments

NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Alaska Highway News welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus
Sign Up for our Newsletter!

Popular News

Lowest Gas Prices in Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Fort St John, Tumbler Ridge
British Columbia Gas Prices provided by GasBuddy.com

Community Event Calendar


Find out what's happening in your community and submit your own local events.