God and Me On The
Alaska Highway

Today, the Alaska Highway is a modern thoroughfare, paved for its entire length with plenty of stops for amenities.

It wasn't always this way.

Early in my Air Force career I had occasion to drive the Alaska Highway (Alcan) a couple times.  Back in those days (1969, 1970, 1973, 1976) you drove a paved (more or less) highway to Dawson Creek, Yukon Territory, and then took on 1,500 miles of gravel highway - all the way to the Alaska border.  It wasn't a bad road, for being gravel, it was actually fairly easy to cruise at 65 mph or so in most places.

For all that, the one thing that was singularly lacking was any kind of civilization.  One could find a very small town about every 30-50 miles or so.  Most of them had a gas station.  Other than that, it was you, the road, and a lot of wilderness.

On one trip in particular we were driving a '67 Impala (very good car for the gravel - took it like a super highway) with a trailer on back.  In that trailer was everything we owned at the time - our whole lives were in that thing.  One morning we were going along just fine - hadn't seen anyone or anything in hours - when the trailer hitch king-bolt broke in half.  Instantly, the trailer was on the ground, dragging along by the safety chains.

I'd no sooner stopped and checked for damage when a car drove up and stopped too.  The man who got out of that car could have come from the 1849 Gold Rush - he had that look.  Taking one look at the broken trailer hitch, he had everything under control before I could even open my mouth.  We got the trailer to the side of the road where, he assuerd me, it would be just fine.  Then he tied the hitch together with some string and told us to follow him.  We drove nearly 20 miles to a town that was no bigger than my front yard.  There, however, was a garage and gas station with another old gentleman from the past who knew just what to do.  He didn't have a replacement bolt, he told me, but he DID have some bailing wire which would probably work almost as well.  He spent a half hour weaving the wire around and through the bolt holes of the hitch, and declared that it "should" work just fine.

He wouldn't take anything for the job he did, insisting that he hadn't done a thing.  In the meantime, the man who had helped us on the road had disappeared.  We went back to the trailer - sure enough, it was just fine, and we got it hooked back up to contrinue the trip.  Once we were back on the road I thought I'd head back to that little town in the middle of nowhere, just for safety's sake and to test the wire-weaving job.  We went well over 30 miles and couldn't find the town at all - it just didn't seem to be there, anywhere.
The Broken Hitch View from the Alaska Highway
I know they're not great pic's but the one of the hitch was taken just before we hooked the trailer back up to the car.

Pic on right is where we'd parked the trailer at the side of the road.

Anyway, that wire-weaving job DID last the entire trip back to the east coast.  As a matter of fact, when we sold the car years later, that wire was still working just fine - I never did replace that bolt.

Was this God watching over us?  I'm sure it was.  The man on the road, whom we never saw again, simply HAD to be one of his angels, sent to help.  The man in the garage had to be the same.  I certainly had no idea what I was going to do when that hitch broke, and I didn't have anything to do it with anyway.  Out of nowhere came two people that really "saved the day" for me, two people that I could never find again.

You ask if I believe in God?

I sure do!


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