By Scott Grundy, Cat Herder Jr.
The story begins in 2008. Lynn & I are also members of the Antique Auto Mushers of Alaska (AAMA) in Anchorage. The AAMA is composed of many folks who are really eager to drive their vehicles on extensive road trips. They had just completed a tour to Yellowknife, NWT,Canada and announced their next trip was up the Dempster Highway to Inuvik, NWT, Canada via Whitehorse and return over the Top of the World & Taylor Highways to Tok, AK. I was really intrigued, so “we” purchased a 1955 Plymouth 4-door and I spent a couple of months changing fluids and fussing with her (Edith) in hopes she would make the nearly 2,300-mile round trip – hopefully without difficulty. Other than a flat tire, she did really well. Because the experience was so terrific, I became determined to get our club involved in such fun. Accordingly, I asked many questions of the AAMA leader Bruce Campbell (aka, Cat Herder). He’s a real character and became my mentor – hence my “Junior” handle.
In 2009 I proposed our first tour, but we needed a fun name for our group. Our club’s unofficial “Poet Laureate,” Ed McLaughlin, called me one evening and informed me he was talking with a chap from Australia who advised there was an Aussie group called “The Adventure Before Dementia Tours.” We all loved it, so our group was named! But I caution you – It’s only properly pronounced with an Aussie accent!
VLNAACF Adventure Before Dementia Tour Events
2009 Whitehorse – Skagway – Haines 1360 miles
2010 Valdez – Cordova – Whittier – Hatcher Pass 804 miles
2012 Cantwell – Seward – Majestic Valley 1053 miles
2013 Dawson City – Eagle 882 miles
2014 Homer – Seldovia 1200 miles
2016 Beaver Creek – Haines – Skagway – Whitehorse 1287 miles
2017 Wiseman – Galbraith Lake – Manley Hot Springs 592 miles
2018 Kodiak 1300 miles
2019 Whitehorse – Dawson City – Tok 1573 miles
2023 Dawson City – Eagle 882 miles
2024 Talkeetna – Eagle River – Sutton 770 miles
What happened during the missing years you ask? In 2011 we interfaced with the AAMA on a really special joint tour to Kennicott – McCarthy to participate in the National Park Service’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Copper River & NW Railway that once joined Cordova to Kennicott. The AAMA arranged road access to the communities over a private bridge. Bill Chace created a beautiful large patch for all participants, that is the best patch I have ever seen!
I canceled the proposed 2015 tour to Hope and Soldotna as it initially attracted little interest. But in retrospect I shouldn’t have as Will & Theresa Chase joined the Grundys to spend a really fun weekend with the AAMA celebrating the annual Wagon Trail Festival in Hope. We had a great time! Had I not canceled, I suspect a few more cats would have joined this festive weekend.
Covid canceled our tours in 2020 and 2021. My busy schedule in 2022 was followed in 2023 by my hesitance and laziness to organize these fun tours. Then, in spite of me and to my delight, the 2023 ABDT evolved as a result of the insistence of Ed McLaughlin who had to drive his newly acquired Citroen 2CV at age 97 on a long trip – my hat is off to Rick Larrick who organized the 2023 tour. I attended last year’s event and had so much fun, I’m eager to get us rollin’ again! I love driving an old car on road trips!! I guess I love all the thumbs-up attention from the public and the camaraderie developed with fellow club members.
We also made a few trips into Denali National Park with our southern AAMA club friends. Not ABDT’s, but fabulous excursions. The last occurred by special invitation by the National Park Service on Sept.19, 2019 – the day after the public lottery winners drove the roadway. We had the road all to ourselves and many of us drove to its end in Kantishna.
Please consider joining us on the 2024 tour in late July on all paved roadways. It promises to be a relaxed and fun-filled excursion! See the 2024 ABDT route listed above and contact me and join the unherdable cats and earn your coveted and fabulous 2024 ABDT half patch!