“What was that?” The explosion was loud enough to hear over the rumbling of frost heaves and potholes under our wheels. We only had a second to process what we had just heard, when the piercing alarm of our tire pressure monitoring system alerted us to trouble. Big trouble.
In less than five minutes our Alaska-bound journey went from a peaceful morning driving through the Yukon wilderness to one of the worst roadside emergencies we’ve experienced during 11 years of full-time RVing. It was so bad that the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) was the only thing that saved our rig and possibly our lives. The unit allowed Jim to pull over fast enough to see that it wasn’t just a blown tire that had stopped us in our tracks, but other damage so extensive that it rendered our Arctic Fox fifth wheel un-towable for the first time ever.
People warned us ahead of time about the perils of the Alaska Highway. So we listened. For several months before departing, we invested in the necessary preparations for safe passage. From new 10-ply Maxxis trailer tires to thorough servicing on all the mechanics that would get us from California to Fairbanks and back, we thought we covered it all. But there was one critical inspection that we overlooked. During our many years of full-timing, nobody had ever mentioned the importance of having our leaf springs and suspension components inspected on a bi-annual basis. As the saying goes, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” and our failure to obtain this information landed us in one of the worst spots on the Alcan to get stuck.
We had a flat tire, but the damage went way beyond. One leaf spring set was broken, and two shock absorber mounts had sheared off. As the final insult, our hydraulic brake line had been severed. Our home sat precariously lopsided and immobile as the rain trickled down and mosquitoes moved in to greet us.
Brake fluid leaked out onto the gravel surface while we tried to keep calm and figure out what to do. Stuck in an area without cell service for 35 miles in either direction, we attempted to get online with our RV satellite internet system, but the topography of driving above 60-degrees on the planet makes getting online tricky. With too many trees on the low horizon interfering with our connectivity, we unhitched the truck and RV, and drove twenty minutes to call for help.
“Thank you for calling Coach-Net. Are you in a safe area?”
I let out a sigh of relief hearing those words on the other end of the line. When you’ve just escaped a frightening incident, there is nothing more reassuring than hearing another person inquire about your safety. But this wasn’t just a stranger, this was Mary, a Coach-Net agent who was ready to help. We threw her for a loop when we described our location, but that didn’t stop her from doing everything within her power to reassure us that Coach-Net would come to the rescue.
Little did Mary know the challenge ahead of her. We were almost five hours from any kind of real city, and it was Friday morning on Canada Day weekend, which meant lots of places would be closed until Tuesday. But within minutes she put a plan in place to dispatch the oversized tow truck necessary to get us to a shop. She also pinpointed the most reputable place in Whitehorse for RV suspension work. Mary even got approval from the shop owner to allow us to stay overnight on the property until they re-opened after the long weekend.
Bad roads in the Yukon make for slow driving, so we weren’t surprised that the towing company couldn’t reach us until the next day. When they did, we were off the highway and back to civilization within hours. Situated alongside the welding and springs shop, we caught our breath and celebrated with gratitude for all that Mary and Coach-Net did to help us through one of the worst times in our road-tripping life.
People often ask us for advice about full-time RVing, and the most valuable tip we can share is this: get a Coach-Net roadside assistance plan, and Hazard Protect for tires. No other providers match this level of service and expertise. Thank you to everyone at Coach-Net for saving the day, and getting us back on the road with peace of mind.
About the Author:
Rene Agredano, a Coach-Net member since 2015, is a self-employed full-time RVer who enjoys writing, jewelry design and animal advocacy. Her adventures with a three-legged dog and husband Jim are chronicled at LiveWorkDream.com