Singing, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it stop”


Well, it happened again. I went cheechako again and had to call AAA to rescue me out of the snow.


My little Jeep Renegade lost all traction on High Grade Way. I threw on the red flashers as I waited for a tow.


A neighbor I hadn’t met before came down a snowy hill to try to help me. His name was Dalton. He had long hair and a red longbed truck that looked like it could plow a trail from Fairbanks to the Gates of the Arctic.


He examined the tires on my Renegade. “This isn’t the Lower 48,” he said. “You need winter tires for Alaska.”


I looked up and saw another young man come down the hill. He wore a blue ski jacket. He looked at my Indiana license plate. “You’re in Indiana now,” he said. “You need studded tires or maybe Bridgestone Blizzaks.”


They fiddled around for 10 minutes trying to help before pronouncing the task hopeless. “Good thing you’ve got Triple A,” Dalton said before he and his friend went up the hill to get warm.


“Maybe an Alaska State trooper might come by to help,” I said.


“This is Alaska,” Dalton said. “There probably hasn’t been a trooper on this road in 30 years.”


A Triple A lady called from Salt Lake City.  She said a tow was on the way from Fairbanks.  “It will be there in an hour,” she said. “Stay inside your car.”


“Ma’am, I said, I’ll bet it’s not so cold in Salt Lake tonight, but it’s -10 in Fairbanks, Alaska.”


She laughed but said she didn’t make the rules.


My cabin was only about 350 yards from where I imbedded the Renegade.  I left the engine running and trudged to the cabin. There I exchanged my now wet and soggy running shoes for boots.


I picked up a magazine and sat in front of the picture window.  I thought lovingly of two lonely cans of Alaska Amber in my fridge.  I even opened the fridge. “No,” I said to myself. “With your bad luck the first Alaska State trooper in 30 years would come by and think you’d been drinking when you buried the Jeep in a drift.”


So I put a bag of popcorn in the microwave instead.


Finally, I saw flashing lights, dropped the popcorn, and returned to the Jeep.


The tow truck’s driver’s name was Jason. He looked like one of those guys that drive Ford Tough F150s in commercials. “This is Alaska,” he said. “With those tires you’ll get no traction.”


Jason was a thoughtful guy.  You could see the gears move as he thought and thought.  Then he decided to whisk out the Jeep with a winch and 75-foot chain.


Forty minutes later, click by click, he hauled me out. I tipped him $7 bucks and would not let him return it.


The next day I went to American Tire & Auto on South Cushman. The man behind the counter was bearded Chuck McGraw. We’re old friends by now.  He repaired my flat in time for last week’s column.


“I’m ready to buy winter tires now,” I said.


“Good thing,” he said. “You’re in Alaska now.”


“So, I’ve been told.”


While Chuck’s crew put on tires, Chuck entertained me with his museum of glass jars with things he’s plucked out of flat tires. I saw seven-inch rocks, six-inch nails, and just about every kind of piece of garbage capable of killing a tire.  Chuck even knew the brands of the cars he plucked the shrapnel out of.


I’m sure Chuck and I bonded.  I’ll probably get an invitation to his kid’s graduation—if he has a kid.

The tires were soon ready. “Was good to see you,” Chuck said. “But with those Blizzaks, I may not see you again.”