Life on the Road Looking back on our trip. by Nancy Hardeman
    In 2001, we lead a group of five cars from Texas to Alaska and back.  I
was nervous the entire way and didn't enjoy the trip as much as the others
because I was always afraid.  Would we break down?  (Yes, we did.)  Would
others break down? (Yes, they did.)  Would everyone, including our girls
who were in a different vehicle, be safe?  (They were.)  Would the others be
happy with the motels I selected?  (No problem.)  I worried the entire trip
and, as a result, waited five years before I would take another cross-country trip in the Model T.
Driving it Home

    Since then, I have learned that Model T's will break down but they can be fixed, often on the roadside.  I've learned you can get home from anywhere with a AAA card and a Mastercard.  I've learned that a Model T will go up nearly any mountain pass if you are patient enough.   I've learned that, while Model T's are more fragile than modern cars, people are more likely to watch out for you and slow down.  I've learned that traveling alone gives you the freedom to stop at any time for any reason without interfering with anyone else's schedule.  And if you aren't ready to go until 9:00am, you aren't holding up anyone but yourself.

   Deciding to go:  As soon as we decided to buy the car from our friend Bruce Campbell in Anchorage, we started planning for our trip.  We have made cross-country trips in a Model T before but this would be our first time to be entirely by ourselves.  Ben did most of the early planning, spending a
lot of his time deciding what changes to make to the car to make it safer and more powerful (he is discussing that in his summary).  He is a meticulous
list-maker and he started compiling lists of accessories he wanted to install and parts he might need.  Ultimately, he sent 10 boxes to Alaska and Bruce kept stacking them up in his garage.  We also sent a box of coats, lap robes, and warmer clothes that we thought we might need for the first few weeks. (Ha!)

    Together we talked about possible routes for our journey home.  Of course, there aren't too many roads in Alaska so the biggest choice was whether to drive from Denali National Park (which we both wanted to see) up to Fairbanks and catch the Al-Can Highway south or take the Denali Highway instead.  Bruce had told Ben that the Denali Highway was the "most beautiful road in Alaska"  but it was two days of gravel.  Of course, we chose the Denali Highway!  If you have been
reading this journal, you know that Ben ALWAYS takes the gravel road!  But we didn't try to plan every road and every
town along the way.  We had a general idea of the way we wanted to go but frequently changed it as we went.

   Planning:  Honestly, I didn't do as much planning as Ben.  Mostly, I was getting ready to be gone for two months.  We own apartments which I manage; I was preparing to retire from my job; and I had to teach my daughter, Tricia Barron, what she needed to know to keep my life running while I was gone.  We designed a logo (Drive It Home) and had jackets and shirts made. Ben set up a website so that we would be able to easily download our pictures and texts each night for those who might have an interest in reading about our trip.  (Not as easily as we had hoped but better than starting from scratch each day.)
Car on bridge.jpg
Montana Majestic Mountain T Tour

  Since we were planning to take a cruise on the way up, we needed clothes for
the ship that we wouldn't need in Alaska.  We would also need clothes for the
drive home after leaving Denver as we knew it would be hot.  So, basically, I was packing for three different vacations.  We sent a box of dressy clothes back home from Anchorage after the cruise and a box of things we hadn't worn home from Glacier National Park with Tommy and Patsy Supak.  (I still needed my warm clothes until the last two days!)  We had to pack things for Marian Rose as she would be coming up with Ernie and Ginger Wentrcek to Glacier (they brought her things with her).  I'm not as organized as Ben so I had way too many clothes that he had to lug in and out of our motels every single day.
On The Road Again
Yellowstone then Home

   Things to Know:   If you have never driven your vintage car much further than the Dairy Queen, I wouldn't recommend starting with a 6,000 mile trip across two countries in a car you didn't build yourself and have never seen.  But, you can plan a two-day trip or a long weekend.  With a short successful trip under your belt, try one a little longer.  Get out your map and looks for country roads that go through or to a scenic area.  Pack lightly - you won't need dressy clothes for this kind of trip and, honestly, you don't have room.  Do NOT go on the Interstate unless there is absolutely no other choice and get off as soon as possible.
    Always reserve a motel for your first night and don't overestimate how far you can get on that first day.  Except for our first week in Alaska where there are so few choices, the Glacier national tour in Whitefish, and the Yellowstone/Tetons trip, we usually made reservations no more than one day ahead.  We occasionally drove into a town without reservations but it adds unnecessary stress to the end of the day.  If you go to Alaska, buy a copy of Mileposts because it identifies every lodge, inn, motel, gas station and bathroom on the road.  But it doesn't include the motels in big cities so take your laptop computer or AAA guide.  And get an international long-distance phone card from your home provider as cell phones often don’t work.
    Plan on it costing more than you think it should.  We averaged around $200 per day for motel, food, and gas.  There are cheaper motels but not necessarily ones you want to stay in.  Food in Alaska and Canada is very expensive and we often split meals, saving both money and calories.  It would cost less to drive a RV (except for gas) but you are separating yourself
from much of the beauty you are traveling to see.  And many of the most beautiful places prohibit or discourage RV's.  
    Speaking of beautiful places, an open Model T is an ideal way to see the mountains.  We were driving slowly enough to see everything.  We were unique enough that people didn't get impatient or angry if caught behind us for a while.  And, even though I've always been frightened in the mountains, I found that I was much more comfortable in a Model T than I am in a modern car.
    Sixty days without a radio:  People who heard about our trip were astonished that we would travel for two months without a radio or DVD player.  "What will you talk about?" they asked.  We talked to each other (when we could; it is noisy in an open Model T).  We actually didn't watch TV or read a paper more than a few times during the trip.  We didn't plan on that; it just happened that way.  It was a good time for us to share the days without all the interruptions of our daily lives and we really enjoyed just being together.  We saw some incredible things, met some interesting people, talked with countless strangers who wished us well.  We had our pictures taken by people from all over the world who will look at the photo and remember the pleasure and surprise they felt in seeing us (ok, not us, the car).  

    Thank you for reading about our adventure.  We especially enjoyed hearing from those of you who read our story.  We are honored that you were interested in what we did on our summer vacation and would share your thoughts with us.  Hopefully, we will cross paths with each other somewhere along the way.  And we will both be driving our T's.

Best wishes,

Nancy Hardeman
Runs great...
  ....Drive it home.
Runs great...
      ....Drive it home.
Getting to Anchorage
   Contact Us      About Ben & Nancy
Looking back by Nancy: Life on the road.
Looking back by Ben: The car and driving.
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