We were aware of some issues with our car, the Coquí, and were planning to take him to a mechanic in Anchorage, the next stop after Wrangell St. Elias. We had taken the Coquí in to see two different Subaru dealers in two different states prior to crossing the border into Canada. This was prompted by some noises that the car started to make, which got progressively worse. But the mechanics were not able to definitively diagnose the problem, although they and we suspected that it was related to the clutch or transmission bearings.
Now leaving Valdez, we hooked up the Coquí and left for Chitina, the town that we planned to camp in while visiting Wrangell St. Elias National Park. It was cloudy and rainy but was still another beautiful drive, through waterfalls, mountains and wetlands.
We arrived at a BLM campground just past the Copper River and unhooked the Coquí. The campground was really full of mostly locals who were there to fish, as this area is very popular for fishing. There was one site available that could fit Island Girl, and it was a bit tricky to get her into the spot.
One of the guys staying there began to help guide Hector into the site, while I parked the car out of the way and got out. Once Island Girl was in, I returned to the Coquí but was unable to shift into any gear. Oh, oh.
The next day, we had planned to drive 60 miles on a gravel road to the Kennecott Mines. So we were quite fortunate that the car broke down in the campground and not on the remote gravel road.
Alaska Day driving day 2 recap:
Road Name: Richardson Highway
Road Type: 2-lane
Road Conditions: First fifty miles out of Valdez were excellent, afterwards there were a lot of rough patches and some frost heaves
Road Name: Edgerton Highway
Road Type: 2-lane
Road Conditions: More patches and frost heaves
Miles Today: 124
Driving Time: 2:30
Total Miles in Alaska: 476
Total Miles since entering Canada: 2470
Friday night we heard what sounded like a shot but thought it was far away. The next morning we found out that a guy in the campground had gotten drunk and started firing shots. The police ultimately took him away. And a grizzly bear that had been visiting the campground had returned. Maybe not the best place to stay at this point in time.
But we stayed put for a day while we figured out a plan. Hector found a Subaru specialist and was able to make an appointment for Monday. Unfortunately, they said they would not get to our car right away.
While there, he spoke with a ranger at the national park visitor center that told him that there were really good mechanics nearby in Copper Center. But when Hector called he found out that they would not be open until Tuesday, and we didn’t want to wait.
The ranger highly recommended the van tour to the Kennecot Mine. And Hector had his heart set on seeing the mine. So he called the reservation office and found they had space on Sunday. But since the bus tour took a total of ten hours, we were worried about Angel. When they said they could take Angel, that was the clincher.
And that is what we did. Stay tuned.