I had just crossed the border into Canada, having left the outpost of Chicken, Alaska, in the morning, with Dawson City ahead of me. I was on what’s called the Top of the World Highway, part of the most remote drive I had ever taken. And there was a VW Super Beetle passing me by.
The border crossing was a stressful one on my end. I was a shuttle driver for a friend of mine. He was flying out of Fairbanks with a bunch of his buddies to raft down the Firth, a remarkably old river that predates the Ice Age. The whole crew was going to be dumped out into the Beaufort Sea, then motor over to nearby Herschel Island. And from there a couple of planes would fly everyone and their gear to the far northern town of Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada.
I, meanwhile, was driving from Fairbanks to Inuvik, taking their truck and towing their empty trailer. When they flew in, their truck and trailer would be waiting for them.
It’s a simple plan, pretty much the same as any shuttle driver’s job, just one that meant driving something close to 900 miles over the course of a week, most of which was on the unpaved entirety of the Dawson Highway, alone, through bear country.
What worried me (other than the bears) was that I would be crossing an international border in a truck that’s not mine, explaining that I was in fact staying in Canada only a few days and planned on leaving my whole rig at an airport parking lot before flying out myself. The sky was charcoal that morning, heavy rain falling for the first time in my drive. I was sure I’d be questioned. I was sure I’d be searched. As it was, the border guard was more than familiar with the job of a shuttle driver, asked what river my buddy was rafting and let me go on my way.
As I made my way into Canada, the sky cleared, sun breaking through in rainbows over the gravel road, which wound along a ridge for hours. This is the far-out and beautiful Top of the World Highway, and I pulled out my camera to take a picture.
What came around the next way but a blue VW Bug, blue just like mine, with a roof rack just like mine.
This was a Super Beetle to my standard, and it carried a rack over the engine lid as well. I always wondered who the people were in that summer VW so loaded to the gills, where they were going and where they were coming from.
But it never occurred to me that I could just post my pictures here and see if you or anyone you know might know who these people were, driving the Top of the World in the summer of 2018.
If you know, do not hesitate to send us an email — we are tips at jalopnik dot com. I can’t imagine there’s not a story behind this trip.