On March 7, 1944, Lloyd and Bert left Dawson Creek for the long haul north, carrying a 2800 pound load. The weather in March is unpredictable, so Bert dressed in woolen underwear, a cotton shirt, wool pants, wool socks, leather boots, a wool sweater and cap and a pair of woolen mitts. He also took along an extra wool jacket, an eiderdown sleeping bag, some matches, his shaving kit and a bit of cash for meals and other possible expenses.
Just before they reached the Control Station at the edge of Dawson Creek, they pulled into the Army Filling Station. Here their papers and permits were all carefully checked before they filled up with all the free gas they could carry. These Control Stations and Filling Stations, all virtually identical, were spaced about every 100 miles up the highway and at each of them vehicles had to check in and have their documents inspected. Gas and oil were provided free of charge to legitimate travellers. The highway itself was well maintained and a 35 mph speed limit was strictly enforced which helped keep the roadway in good condition when it was dry. According to Bert, experienced drivers like Lloyd would keep the speedometer needle sitting right around the 35 mph mark all day and all night, up hills or down hills, and around any curve the road threw at them. Lloyd remembers this a bit differently and just laughs when asked about it!
They stopped for lunch at the Army Camp at Blueberry. Truckers and civilians lined up behind the troops in the 200 seat Mess Hall. The hungry men, carrying their plates, passed by a line of seven soldiers waiting to load the dishes with generous servings of food: meat, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad, noodles, tinned peaches and a cup of coffee. The meal cost Bert and Lloyd 28 cents each. They stopped for supper at a civilian camp about 200 miles north of Fort St John, paying 50 cents each for a meal served “threshing crew” style at tables with silent waiters refilling bowls and platters as the hungry men quickly emptied them.
Light drizzle and freezing rain followed by heavy, wet snow made the driving very tricky north of the Liard Hot Springs until chains were put on. Lloyd and Bert made it through without mishap, but other trucks were not so lucky, spending hours in the ditch waiting for help.
In the afternoon of March 9 they reached Whitehorse where they had to turn in their “Dawson Creek to Whitehorse” permits and get a set for the “Whitehorse to Fairbanks” part of the trip, including passports for entry into Alaska. By Saturday morning they were in Fairbanks, their load delivered and ready to head home again – a fairly typical trip for the drivers who moved the equipment and materials up and down the Alaska Highway during the war years. Bert brought his boys shiny new American silver dollars as souvenirs of his trip north.