Day 44 – July 19, 2001 – The group in Wiseman (Ben, Jennifer, Ginger, Cindy, and Ross) got an early start towards Fairbanks. The day went quickly and fairly uneventfully, compared with the trip up. The road gradually improved as they got closer to the city and the last 35-40 miles were actually paved. After a brief stop at a roadside cutout, Ross started out ahead of Jennifer. Cindy quickly radioed him that a truck was coming fast but he didn’t hear that message. What he did here was about 5 seconds later when Cindy shouted over the radio, “the pick-up has turned over!”. Imagine his relief when he could get turned around and saw that it was a modern pick-up, not Jennifer and Cindy. The truck had been flying down the road (it was a rental – no one would drive their own car that fast), swerved when she saw the Model T’s to swing out and pass them, and lost control in the gravel. The young woman driving was stunned but not seriously injured although the truck appeared to be totaled. Our group stayed with her until a trucker gave her a lift to the DOT station. Once again, they were all grateful (and I was when they told me the story) that it was not our pick-up in that heap. We don’t have seatbelts or crash bars in these antique cars and our girls might not have been as fortunate.
There were very few stops, not really even much of a stop to eat. Ross’s father, Bruce Lilleker, had read these reports for weeks and couldn’t stand it anymore. He was on his way to Fairbanks and was arriving at 9:00 pm. When Nancy and Steve arrived at the airport to pick him up, the Model T’s were lined up at the curb. They had stopped by the motel and, not finding us there, had driven on over to meet Bruce. The flight from London had stopped over in Amsterdam, flown over the North Pole to Seattle, and back up to Fairbanks. He had spent 28 hours flying and it was still Thursday! Ross was delighted to have his father here and, before they even got out of the airport, had described the breakdown in detail and analyzed the possible problems.
All together again, we had a raucous dinner at Denny’s (“the most northern Denny’s in the world”). Steve Markowski and Cindy Hudgens were flying out during the night back to Texas and Tennessee so we spent two hours talking about all the things we had done while they were there, trying to catch Bruce Lilleker up on what he had missed and to help them remember everything they had done. They hated to leave and we hated to see them leave.
After all the eating and the talking, there was the sleeping. We had driven to the top of the world and back and we were all exhausted.