Stereo cranking and munchies flying, we were finally making good time running south to the border when we approached a couple sad-looking vehicles at the road's edge. A trailer-towing Dodge Ram was sitting on its driver's-side rear axle, with the tire nowhere to be seen. Three generations of Williams family were moving from New Hampshire to Alaska when sheared wheel studs sent a drive wheel soaring into the nearby forest. Because Kiwi said he hadn't yet done his traditional mitzvah for the day, we pulled over to aid the troubled family. We had recently passed a garage and general store, so we offered to bring the appliance-laden trailer and patriarch to civilization and hopefully a tow truck. Without a drop-hitch, it proved difficult to lift the trailer tongue high enough to connect to the tall H2's ball hitch, but with a little roadside Rube Goldberg-caliber ingenuity, we were soon connected and ready to evaluate the H2's towing ability. Engaging the Tow/Haul transmission mode, we edged onto the narrow two-lane highway, barely noticing the overstuffed trailer's weight.
A grease-smeared fellow performing some late-evening wrenching at the town's garage directed us to a grungy bar across the street to inquire about tow truck services. We found a small clique of native Alaskans sipping brew and trying their best to be unhelpful, essentially inviting us to call someone else who could give a mukluk. We were eventually able to secure a tow truck via a phone call to the highway patrol. Asked later what he thought of the H2, full-time Yankee and part-time Capt. Obvious, Richard Williams said, "It looks real good for towing."
Sliding ever further behind schedule, we powered down the twisting, well-graded dirt road, racing ever closer to the Canadian border. Forgetting the hive-mind of the voracious mosquitoes, we spent half an hour at the border of Yukon Territory shooting nature photography and vehicle action video. With a fresh collection of itchy bumps deforming our faces and hands, we scratched and cursed the last few minutes to the Alaskan/Canadian border. Being after midnight, the checkpoint was like a deserted drive-thru after hours; sadly, without the tacos. We had a nice conversation with Debbie, the lightly accented customs officer on duty, and then moved on without fuss.
Needing to fuel up, we pulled into the first village with lights. Saddling up to an above-ground tank at Buckshot Betty's, we filled the 32-gallon tank and scraped the insect carnage from the rock-chipped windshield. It was clear from talking with the employees that we had entered another country, as their accent was sharp and their dialogue laced with radically more "yahs" and "ehs" than nouns. Typical speech patterns would flank any statement with colorful "yah" and "eh" syllables, leaving conversation to be almost Pig Latinish.
Energized by caffeine and screeching heavy metal music, we put the hammer down and drove deep into the Canadian night. It became a challenge to remain alert as we desperately sought lodging, with each tiny hamlet (more like Spamlet) already shut down and tucked in for the night. We eventually saw signage around 4 a.m. for a bona fide motel with full services. Rolling in as the dawn light began to rise above an adjacent lake, we found the rustic Burwash Landing Resort to be eerily silent. With no one around and no signs advising on late-night check-ins, we debated just grabbing a key. We repeatedly rang the desk-mounted doorbell and heard no sound or reaction. So we knocked on the office door, which eventually stirred the manager, a bed-headed native Alaskan we called Eskimumu, for her much wrinkled, but dashing tent-like attire.
Settled in to the quite serviceable room, we quickly fell asleep with thoughts of where we would find our next Mexican food fix filling our heads.