Mawlers’ Big Adventure ’04:
Jeep (part 2) - The Final Conclusion

By the Numbers
  • Total Distance Driven:
         10305.1 km
         6403.29 miles
  • Total Gas Purchased:
         1205.065 litres
         318.328 gallons
         (from Dawson Creek, mile “0” on the Alaska Highway, back to Edmonton)

As you know, we were late getting to the rental counter, so they were getting ready to close when we arrived. We handed over the keys, told her it was not full of gas and she really asked almost no other questions.

I just could not take it though and felt compelled to tell them… "There is a crack in the windshield."

When the girl asked where it happened, I almost laughed out loud. We decided to tell her about the first one near Fort Nelson, BC. She wrote up an incident report for the crack.

Flush with this success, we volunteered that we had replaced a tire, but she really did not seem to care. We did not, however, venture any information about the state of the standard-issue jack.

Did you know that after about 3000 miles or 5000 kms of dirt roads, CD players get really dusty and start to skip? I think that, if you were to clean the CD player with compressed air, you might create a dust cloud visible for half the continent and responsible for lowered temperatures throughout Canada. I’m not sure I am ready for responsibility for an environmental catastrophe of that magnitude.

I hope they retired this Jeep.

Overall though, we would have to rate it pretty well. It was comfortable, got good gas mileage, held our stuff, and allowed us to go most places (all but one, really) that we wanted to go.

We heartily recommend renting for your next frozen north adventure. You really do not want to do that to your own car.

All that said, it is somewhat difficult to plan when you do not know exactly what you will be driving. Had we known more, we might have been able to prepare, but we did not know what kind of vehicle we would have. Then again, who am I kidding? We did not prepare anything as it was; what difference would it have made to know the kind of vehicle?

A classic example of vehicle-specific planning is that we had no idea how to pack it. It took several days to learn how things would fit best in the Jeep and then we constantly changed even that system. An hour or two of quality time with the Jeep would have been valuable, but again, we had no quality time with ourselves, let alone bonding with the Jeep.

In Whitehorse, it occurred to me that we needed a piece of wood in the back as either a shelf or a support across the back. With a 2x4 cut to size, we could have adequately balanced the bags on two levels. As it was, we were relying on the privacy screen that covers the luggage area. This is fine until you hit rough road and all the stuff bends the screen down. Then it ends up falling out when you open the tail gate.

Alternatively, we could have easily cut a whole shelf out of plywood. This would have made a reliable and excellent shelf for two-level storage in the very back. But would also have required stuff like plywood, a saber saw, a tape measure, a place to do this, the time, etc.

Ironically, we came to these ideas in Whitehorse, which is after Haines, where we spent a day with relatives who have a shop full of saws and tape measures and possibly a scrap 2x4 we could have used. Apparently, our ability to think clearly about the Jeep was out spending time with whatever thought process that should have reminded us to take pictures of my relatives.

Despite my liberal hand-wringing over the SUV, it was small enough to get pretty good gas mileage, as I said and, frankly, the 4x4 was worth it. We only used the actual 4x4 capability a few times, but it was very handy when we needed it. More important, though was the ground clearance, so don’t think you can drive all these places in an Audi sedan. The large boulders in the middle of the road will make short work of your oil pan, transmission, tail pipe, etc.

On the preparedness front, consider bringing (or buying) some rope and/or get a tow-chain, or something to pull yourself or your neighbor out of the ditch. We found at least one time that this would have been very useful and is just plain sensible.

A lot of people and books say that you need to travel with two spares and this is probably not a bad idea, but you can probably survive without it. We managed.

One word of warning: buy a better jack.

The previous installment:
Fort MacLeod to Edmonton

The next installment:
Harsh Reality - Edmonton to BWI

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All materials © 2004 Lea Ann Mawler & Stuart Mawler