Kentucky to Alaska by Model A

Mike and Judy Akers are experienced Model A travelers.

[Editor's Note: Model A enthusiasts Mike and Judy Akers and Tammy and Danny Godbey have departed from their homes in Kentucky on their journey to Alaska in their Ford Model A's. The following article, which was published in Old Cars Weekly magazine prior to their departure, explains their journey. At the end of the article are excerpts from blog postings they've made along the way since departing on June 2.]

Mike and Judy Akers are planning for the adventure of a lifetime this summer: they’re headed to Alaska in a 1930 Ford Model A Tudor, starting from their home in northern Kentucky. Based on the route they plan to take, they expect to log between 12,000 and 13,000 miles. “We plan to leave June 2 and we’ve allowed ourself 2 1/2 months,” Mike said.

“We’ve traveled quite a bit in the eastern part of the country,” the retired engineer added, “but, at the most, about a week at time. I’ve been wanting to go to Alaska for a long time. I finally decided if I was ever going to do it, I’d better do it now. This is something I’ve been saving the money to do. It’s time to do it.”

Deciding on a Model A for the tour was a natural for Mike. “I’ve been working on Model A’s off and on since the 1970s,” he said. “I’ve completely restored eight and have three that I drive.”

Most of the restorations were done for other people, but he personally owns the three he drives: the Tudor, plus a 1929 roadster pickup and a 1929 coupe.

The Akers will be taking to the road in a vehicle that was “a basket case” when it was purchased. “I got it in ‘95,” Mike said, “and it took three years to restore it.”

He’ll go prepared for the long trip. To help with the hauling is a wooden camper Akers completed last June.

The couple has mapped out their journey well in advance. “We plan to stop at Yellowstone, Glacier and other places along the way,” Mike said. “We’ll go up into Canada to Dawson Creek and hit the Alaskan highway. We plan on spending some time in Denali … and hopefully go up to the Arctic Circle.”

On the return they plan to follow the coastline through Washington and Oregon and into California to visit family there. They expect the entire trip to take them into mid to late August.

The Akers will not be alone. They will be accompanied by Tammy and Danny Godbey, also from Kentucky, who will be driving a 1930 standard coupe.

Both couples are pulling their supplies in retro campers
they designed and built based on a 1930’s Model A station wagon.

As a veteran Model A owner, and a member of the Model A Restorer’s Club, Akers knows to go prepared for emergencies. In addition to some spare parts and tools, they’ll go equipped with a directory of Model A clubs along their route, knowing they’ll get a helping hand if needed.

“I hope we don’t have any hardships,” he said, while conceding, “I’d say [this trip] is one of the ultimate challenges.”

At least Akers has experience on is side. He’s been driving and fixing Model A’s for many years. “My first old car was a Model A, back in the 1950s, an old truck,” he explained. “It’s long gone, but I sure wish I had it.”

The first Model A he restored was for a cousin. “When he was in Vietnam, his dad [Mike’s uncle] bought an old Model A to restore. That was in the early 1970s. That was the first one [I restored], then I did one for myself.”

After 32 years as a manufacturing engineer for IBM, Akers retired and took up Model A restoration as a hobby. “For the last 12 to 14 years I’ve been working on Model A’s,” he said.

Judy enjoys the hobby as well. “She loves to drive it. Anytime we start the Model A, she’s ready to go anywhere,” he said.

In fact, if the trip to Alaska goes well, she already has more travel plans. “She’s talking about something in the northeastern part of the country,” Mike said.

You can follow the Akers as they make their journey. They will blog online as they travel at http://www.ckmarc.com/alaskatrip.

Excerpts of blog postings by the Akers and Godbeys:

June 2, 2010 [Departure]
Today was a very good day.  We had lots of sunshine until about 2:30 and then it poured the rain.  The campers got tested for leaking and both of them withstood the test.  We will all sleep dry tonight. ….While driving through the rain Michael’s car stalled, it seems the very last part we put in the car would be the first part we would need.  A  fuse block broke.  After going through everything in the back seat to find his rain jacket he was out in a flash and done in 8 minutes …. We have driven 263 miles of our trip with 11,750 to go.  Our campsite tonight is in KY Dam Village Resort Park campground and life is good.

June 3
Today started at 7:30 a.m. and we drove 335 miles to Bennet Springs State Park, Lebanon, Mo. …. We have seen some beautiful country and crossed the mighty muddy Mississippi River. We have driven through the Ozark Razorback Mt.s and along roadsides filled with beautiful wildflowers. We saw our first armidillo roadkill better know locally as ‘possum on a half shell…

June 4
We passed many road stands where Amish kids were selling summer fruit. We bought strawberries to have for dessert tonight and Tammy melted chocolate for dipping. Are we roughing it or not? We have been warned that our campsite may be invaded by wild turkeys, but we will fit in just fine!

June 6
We woke up to a beautiful sun rise on top of a mountain overlooking a lake. The weather was a very cool 65 degrees. We set out on a scenic drive through the Sandhills of Nebraska which was a constant breathtaking view of rolling green pastures and old farm houses. The highway looked like a long snake in front of us that you could see going on forever and ever. …. We were thrilled to have our first sighting of prong horned antelope and snow capped mountains in the distance. Our chosen campground tonight is a Model A enthusiast’s dream complete with vintage gas pumps and retro teardrop campers on site.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MODEL A’s:
1. Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1805-1942
2. Ford: 1928-1931 Standard Statistics Download

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