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AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip

Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Taylor

When we last left our three trash cans and their associated cheap cars, we’d just crossed the Denali Highway onto the Parks Highway, saw the aforementioned mountain, and were about to head into Anchorage. So close to the end we could taste it!

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Unfortunately on the way to dinner that night, things did not go well for the most reliable among us.

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Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Taylor

Yup. Taylor got a check engine light.

The trouble code was P0340 for Camshaft Position Sensor A.

We made a valiant attempt at clearing codes, giggling wires, and hitting things with hammers, but to no avail. As it seems to be running pretty much the same, we decided whiskey was the fix and set about it.

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Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Taylor

Day 14 - Trapper Creek to Seward - Thursday, September 12th, 2019

Oh man oh man. The finish line is in sight.

Lets get a move on!

We did our usual fluids check, the second to last of the trip, and pulled out of our strange AirBnB, not the last of the trip, and pointed the cars south.

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Contrary to the general direction we’re going and the proclaimed end point of the trip, we were not stopping in Anchorage tonight. In fact, we were going to sail right through it and on to Lowell Point near Seward, Alaska, as our “official” “finishing point” for the trip.

Why?

Well in previous trips we’ve noted that the trip sort of unofficially ends at when we reach a milestone. For all of us in 2015 the finish was Hurricane Ridge, even though we had several more days of trip and a ferry ride into Seattle after that. For the 2017 trip I felt we’d pretty much peaked when we reached the rim of the Grand Canyon, even if we’d set up the “official” finish to be Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, several days later.

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But I digress.

A short, utterly boring, and surprisingly un-pretty drive later, we’d reached Anchorage and decided to turn off at an internet cafe. We figured we might not have internet access in Seward and we had some business to attend to.

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Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Evan

We had to sell some cars.

I was determined to make this Volvo the first cheap car challenge car I actually sold, so I’d already taken all of my selling photos and wrote my ad text before I even shipped it to Washington. Within minutes my Volvo was plastered all over Craigslist and Facebook at a somewhat cheeky $2,500, $500 more than I paid for it. But hey, it is an AWD, rust free wagon in a place where that still means something.

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Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Evan

For sale is my 1998 Volvo V70 XC Cross Country, later called the XC70. This vehicle has heated seats, traction control, full time AWD, automatic climate control, and working AC. Interior is in great shape, with the driver’s seat showing some wear but the rest presenting well. The cargo capacity is truly a sight to behold.

This car lived most of its life in Oklahoma, and only made its way to Alaska in the last couple of weeks. As a result, while the body has small dings and scrapes from 20+ years of use, it has no rust. Transmission shifts smooth and gas mileage is excellent. Drives fine on regular gas and premium is not required by the manufacturer.

The car runs and drives great, having been well taken care of my myself and the long-time previous owner. The head gasket and timing belt were both recently replaced, as were the spring seats, rear shocks, and turbo oil return seal.

There are a couple problems, of course. The car has an intermittent oil leak from an unknown source. Also the cruise control currently doesn’t work, nor does the parking brake. A few other small things need doing, but overall this is a very solid car. Just drove it on a 2,500 mile road trip through Canada.

Comes with a full size spare in addition to the factory donut, as well as a few other odds and ends.

Car is available for viewing in Anchorage starting around 5PM on Friday through about noon on Sunday. After that I have to fly out and don’t know when I’ll be back. I’d love to sell it before I leave, so no reasonable offer will be refused.

No holds. No trades. Cash only.

The other two took somewhat longer to list their vehicles.

George went for a similarly optimistic $2,400 for the Tracker.

Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Evan

For sale is my 2003 Chevrolet Tracker, aka a Suzuki Grand Vitara. This rust free Oklahoma car just completed a 3000+ mile road trip to get here with no problems. Starts, runs and drives great. Transmission shifts smoothly and the cruise control, heat, and AC work great.

Recent brake service (all new pads, calipers, rotors, and drums), differential service, and new tires. Has a small oil leak which can be stinky, but it only loses about half a quart every 3000 miles, so no need to top up between oil changes. One power window switch needs to be replaced ($20 on Amazon).

Needs to be sold this weekend. Accepting any reasonable offers. First come first served. No holds. No trades. Cash only, please.

Clean Carfax available on request.

Taylor a more realistic $1,500 for the Celica. Similarly he went for brevity on his listing.

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Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Taylor

Selling off my Celica after taking it on an epic roadtrip from Texas. Runs and drives well, lots of life left in this car. Strong heater and A/C, top and upholstery in good condition, new front C/V axles, good tires, rust-free. Interior needs some love, leaks some oil, could use an alignment.

Cash only, no trades; motivated seller with clean title in hand. Available to show starting Friday 9/13 at 6pm.

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What had started as an overcast day quickly turned into a very rainy one as we headed south to Seward. The road was twisty and changed elevation frequently. Under different circumstances, it would have been quite fun. Under these, it was not.

I was worried all the uphill work meant my Volvo would lose more vital fluids.

Taylor was worried about having some fun, but not so much fun that he ended up over a cliff.

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George, in his RWD SUV on $40 tires, was worried about keeping it on the road. Apparently he lost control several times. I don’t recall him mentioning this until afterwards, so maybe he was hoping for an insurance write off.

Speaking of which, up until this point the Tracker had been doing pretty OK. Started when asked, didn’t use that much oil, and performed just fine. However, as we’d been nearing Anchorage, the Tracker’s heath was in a nose dive.

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What started as a small oil leak from the recently replaced oil pan gasket had started to become a more worrying torrent. He went from 1/2 a quart every 3000 miles to a quart every 300. Further investigation also revealed new leaks around both valve cover gaskets.

While the Tracker used to leave a relativly clean driveway under it, now it left worrying pools.

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George was, understandably, quite distressed. He needed to unload this thing that now had considerable leaks that were going to be expensive to fix. Oil and valve cover gaskets sound simple, but on the DOHC v6 crammed into the front of this thing they were major work.

With George’s mood visibly darkening, we continued our charge south. We eventually made it to our AirBnB, had some dinner, and then settled in to make further efforts to sell our companions.

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Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Evan

Day 15 - Seward to Anchorage - Friday, September 13th, 2019

Holy crap.

We’d made it.

Almost.

After packing up our cars for (hopefully) the last time, we set off on the road to Lowell Point. It turned out to be quite primitive.

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But the rewards were worth it.

Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Evan
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Internally screaming.
Internally screaming.
Photo: Evan
Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Evan
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Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Taylor
Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Evan
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Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Taylor

Ok. Now we’d made it.

Time to push the cars into the sea.

Or I guess we could try and sell them.

We once again pointed them north in search of the final AirBnB, but made a brief stop off to see another big chunk of ice. Apparently, this one is called “Exit Glacier” in Kenai Fjords National Park.

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We parked in the rather full parking lot then took the hiking trail to the overlook.

We don’t have a ton of pictures from this hike for whatever reason, but it was lovely.

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Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Evan
Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Taylor
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This kills the road trip.
This kills the road trip.
Photo: Taylor

Then we, and I know I keep saying this, got back on the road to the actual finish line.

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What followed was a truly strange sequence of events. Seriously, if you want this to end on a happy note skip to the next section.

Selling the cars

I initially had a ton of interest in the Volvo, but gradually my prospective buyers dropped out until only one remained.

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Taylor initially had almost no interest in the Toyota, but gradually got more and more takers as time drug on.

George got nothing and was devastated. The car had kicked him in Oklahoma, kicked him in Washington, and was kicking him again in Alaska. We did what we could to keep his spirits up, but weren’t having much success.

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Anyway, as we drove to Anchorage I made arrangements with my sole prospective buyer to meet after she got off work to look at the Volvo.

Taylor was lining up prospective buyers in 30 minute time slots like some sort of asshole.

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George’s mood continued to darken.

We we reached Anchorage, we checked into the AirBnB, quickly unloaded our cars, and then hit the car washes so our cars would be pretty for their prospective new owners.

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While I was unloading, I got a really strange phone call. It was from this guy called Mark and he was asking about my Celica.

Wait what?

Apparently this dude was casting a wide net and was looking at both my car and Taylor’s as prospectives and somehow got our numbers mixed up. I told him to come on down and see both at the same time as they were in the same place, also we had a Tracker I bet he could get on the cheap! He said he’d seen the tracker, but didn’t want an automatic.

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Ok well come out here anyway, you boob.

My prospective buyer showed up right as I was removing my aftermarket TPMS. She was driving some manner of Audi wagon, so at least I knew she knew what she liked. I asked why she was interested in the car, like you do, and apparently she and her husband just prefer buying cheap cars and maintaining them rather than pay the insane prices for new cars.

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Woman after my own heart.

Her husband took the car for a test drive and was back suspiciously quickly.

Oh.

Apparently he thought it was perfect and they bought it on the spot.

HOLY SHIT I SOLD A CAR!!!

Drying my tears
Drying my tears
Photo: Taylor
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As we were counting out the cash, a strange man on a bike appears.

Its Mark!

He and Taylor go over the car with a fine toothed comb, apparently Mark has had some bad automotive luck over the last couple years. Actually just bad luck in general.

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Mark seemed like a guy who could use a win.

Not sure the Celica was the car to give it to him but...

Long story short he and Taylor eventually agree on a price for the Celica. I did try and tempt him with the Tracker, but apparently open top life was calling.

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Flush with cash
Flush with cash
Photo: Taylor

Unfortunately, as mentioned, Mark had a bike. The bike did not fit in the Celica. With it raining there were no top down shenanigans to be had and he didn’t have any of the tools to remove the wheels and stash it in the trunk.

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Distressingly, Mark left the bike and would come back for it later, something Taylor was not a fan of. (He did, eventually, come back and grab it.)

So that left the Tracker.

After dinner that night we redoubled our efforts to sell it and did, eventually, get a bite.

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A couple were looking for a first car for her daughter. We were willing to deal. It was a match made in heaven.

They showed up to the AirBnB and George went out to show them the car. As they were doing their inspections, they went to start it and...

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...nothing.

OH SHIT.

I run out of the house, gym short and no shoes and all,to go help.

I know all sellers say this but: THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE!

George is... holding it together, just, but we cannot get this car started. The prospective buyers tell us to call them if we get it started and begin to leave. As they’re backing out, in desperation I floor it, turn the key, and am rewarded with a starting engine.

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Against all odds they pull back into the driveway and continue looking over the car!

Goodbye forever. Don’t come back you monstrous piece of shit.
Goodbye forever. Don’t come back you monstrous piece of shit.
Photo: Taylor
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We start and stop it several times to prove that it usually starts just fine, and they generally like it but they want their mechanic to look over it.

Long story short, these people ended up dragging out a cheap car purchase more than I would a car that costs 10x as much. I think, all in, George spent at least four hours with them, but eventually, and finally, they agreed on a price, and took the car.

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For the first time ever, all three of us had sold our cars.

This kills the road trip.

Illustration for article titled AlCan Adventure Part 5: This kills the road trip
Photo: Taylor
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Thank you very much for reading.

See you in 2021.

Note: All photos are special to us. All the good ones were probably taken by Taylor. Please do not reuse without permission.

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