Then, something strange happens. As fast as the storm brewed, it stops. The roar of rushing wind abates. It's. Dead. Calm. Now the buzz of the smart's tiny engine is the only sound ringing in my ears. In fact, it's music to my ears. We are free...

I'm driving a smart fortwo on the Dempster Highway because I can. Because it's there. Because I was born too late to be Captain Cook or Livingstone. Because driving the little smart fortwo around Manhattan might seem a challenge, but isn't. Nor, really, is driving a Land Rover or Land Cruiser to the Arctic. Drive a smart to the Arctic and then out onto the frozen Arctic Ocean on the road immortalized in "Ice Road Truckers"? Now that's an adventure.

Mercedes Canada agreed to ship the two pint-size smarts north from Vancouver only after they'd seen our adventure bona fides, which include 14 Paris-Dakar Rallies, six Camel Trophy events, and our safety plan. That plan involved carrying a satellite phone, emergency locator beacon, survival bags (shovels, stoves, and a sleeping bag), spare tires and fuel cans (gas stations are up to 250 miles apart in the Canadian wilderness). Other than being stacked with survival gear and fitted with Continental winter tires, the two smart fortwos are just like the ones you'd drive out of Roger Penske's showroom.

Base camp is Whitehorse, capital of the Yukon. Like a wagon master filling up for a Wild West adventure, I get provisions. Whitehorse is a man's town. No frou-frou labels here. Just shops selling kit that keeps you alive and food to keep you alive -- like beef jerky and chocolate. Not forgetting lots of water. Yukoners prepare for disaster every time they leave their houses. What we carry is no more nor less than most locals stash in their trunks to go visit friends.