Cliffs: 7,600 miles, 6 states, 3 provinces, and 2 countries visited.
I’ll post mostly Legend-related pics here but I have over 500 of just about everything from the trip.
EDIT: VIDS posted after all the pics. See me off-roading the Legend! Haha
The long version of the story, if you have some time to read it:
The distance my dad and I traveled from Salt Lake City to Fairbanks and back (NOT including my trip to Salt Lake from Phoenix which adds 1,400 total) was over 6,200 miles. That’s the equivalent of driving from San Francisco to Boston, and back, with a couple hundred miles to spare. If we take into account my drive from Phoenix (since it really was part of the trip), that’s 7,600 (trip miles) divided by 24,901 (circumference of the globe) = .305. So I traveled 30% of the circumference of the world in this single trip. Ha!
The highest latitude we achieved was the 65th parallel, in Fairbanks. Just for reference, the 45th parallel runs through Oregon. We were so far in the far north that it was staying light outside for most of the night. Sunset in Fairbanks was well after 11 p.m. I had a hard time sleeping in our motel because of the light that was still streaming through the window at that hour.
The trip was incredible. I kept a daily journal outlining where we went and what we saw – the pictures do absolutely no justice to the landscape we witnessed. I will share just a fraction of the photos we took.
In 9 days, we traveled up through Idaho, Montana, Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, Alaska, and then back through YT, BC, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah. The red line is our route to Alaska; the green route is the way we came back. We tried to backtrack as little as possible.
The Alaska Highway is a ~ 1,400 mile stretch of road between Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and Delta Junction, Alaska. It was engineered and constructed by the army in 1942 to provide an overland route to Alaska. The original road was crudely punched through the wilderness; subsequent construction has improved conditions by a lot.
I had my Legend’s oil changed at the Honda/Toyota/Suzuki/Hyundai dealer in Fairbanks, Alaska (talk about an all-in-one!).
My dad took over 150 pictures of the wildlife alone. In one stretch of road, the Cassiar Highway 37 in British Columbia, Canada, we spotted eight bears in about a 400-mile segment. At each sighting, my dad would yell STOP STOP and I’d have to slam on the brakes so we could go back and get a picture. In addition to the bears, we saw more than our fair share of moose, deer, elk, caribou, coyotes, sheep, buffalo, you name it. My dad was in heaven. I was also thrilled to see so much wildlife, as long as it wasn’t running out in front of the car! We did manage to run into a couple of suicidal birds who flew right into my grille!
We drove through everything imaginable. At the “official” start of the highway in B.C., it was snowing huge flakes but not a whole lot was sticking to the road. Every time a semi passed going the other direction we’d be sprayed with a cloud of nasty water being stirred up from the road. We had precipitation every day, but not all day. Most days were largely blue skied and beautiful, but we would run into cloudbursts and storms inevitably sometime during the day.
Roads to the start of the Alcan were normal highways. The Alaska Highway itself varied a lot in its state of repair/disrepair. There was an 80-mile section around Kluane Lake in the Yukon Territory where the road was like driving on a constant roller-coaster. Every winter, the expansion and contraction of ice in the ground causes huge “frost heaves” in the pavement, and come springtime that means very rough roads. Most of the bad spots were marked with orange cones and flags, but usually by the time you saw the cone it was too late to slow down. You just have to hold on for dear life. My suspension took a ton of abuse throughout the highway; there were times when I felt like we were going to launch the car into the air. Another fun obstacle was dodging potholes the size of manhole covers. We luckily didn’t hit any of those head-on.
We got into three different construction zones where we had to stop and wait for a pilot car to come guide us through. Those sections were short (5-10 miles) and usually gravel but it was well-graded. The return trip, via Highway 37, required us to be off-road for a total of about 35 miles, winding in and around some magnificent snow-capped peaks, tons of animals, and waterfalls from the spring runoff that were right alongside the road! Luckily traffic was at a minimum so we didn’t have to follow any big trucks or motorhomes that were bound to fling rocks.
A lot of the highway had no center markings, so it was hard to tell when you could safely pass.
Beyond those issues, I would say that roughly 60-65% of the highway is decent road; just like any good highway.
HOW DID THE CAR FARE?
Battle wounds on the car are few, but they are there. I have a nice fresh windshield chip that looks like it’s going to spread, more rock chips on the bumper, a good sized chip/dent on the front left fender from some flying debris, and four garbage tires.
Just prior to leaving from Salt Lake, I had my inner tie rod ends replaced along with a full alignment. About 3,300 miles into the trip, we were stopped for the night in Watson Lake, Yukon Territory. I had parked with the tire turned to one side, and noticed immediately that the inner edge of the tire was completely worn out. The Acura dealer in Salt Lake must have really messed up my alignment because the tire was near-new when I installed it there. Here we were in the Yukon Territory, thousands of miles from home and at least a hundred miles away from the nearest tire repair shop. We had to put the bad tire on the back, rotate one from the back to the front (even though the directional tread was going the wrong way) and drive the rest of the way with it like that – another 2,800 miles. By the time we got to Salt Lake, the tread on that bad tire was showing cord and I wouldn’t trust it another mile.
I learned that my car hates Canadian gas. We kept getting an intermittent check engine light in the far north but it would only come on after about 2-3 hours of driving. I was positive it was that stupid EGR acting up again. I have fought the EGR system for the last 100,000 miles – replacing just about every component in the system. Gas in the Yukon was usually pumped from old fashioned stores that only offered two types of fuel – diesel and unleaded. Consequently, I ran “unknown octane” gas in my car for the first time ever. It was probably some 85 junk. I put some gas treatment in with it but we still got a check engine light. Low and behold, the first fill-up we did at Chevron in Washington when we got back in the states (91 with Techron) and the light never illuminated the rest of the trip. Weird. I hit 222,222.2 miles outside Haines Junction, Yukon Territory on the return trip.
Finally, I felt like Canadian speed limits were slowing us down too much. The maximum speed of any road we traveled was 110 kilometers per hour, which is only about 68 mph. (I am now an expert at reading those tiny km/h numbers on the speedometer!). Thankfully, we saw zero cops the entire length of the Alaska Highway and were able to scoot along at 75 or better where the roads were good enough to.
One thing I will add to the car before I make another trip that long: an iPod with about ten times the song capacity. I swear, we must’ve played my 1,000 songs at least ten times over!
Largely nonexistent except in the bigger cities like Calgary and Seattle. On a number of stretches in northern Alberta and British Columbia, it was just us and an occasional logging truck or semi. We had to pass a few RVs but the major touring season is just barely getting underway. There were stretches of road where we didn’t see another vehicle for 50 miles or more. The summer RVers are just starting to head up north, but we beat most of them. Did we see any other G2 Legends on the whole trip? A handful of sedans, yes. Zero coupes. Some people near Calgary, Alberta were gawking at my car as they passed me on the highway as if it was a spaceship. You’d think they had never seen a Legend coupe before. Or maybe I just don’t know how to drive in Canada! Haha.
Pics are in completely random order.
Finally at the border.
Haines Junction, Yukon Territory – almost there!
Sheep Mountain, Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory.
More from Kluane
This is in Grande Prairie, where we first started seeing signs with Alaska as a destination! How exciting.
Entering the Yukon Territory.
Yukon license plate on a van.