This week’s One Tank Trip takes a look back at the longest One Tank Trip I took in the more than 35 years we have traveled for the show.
There was also the mysterious disappearance of some recording tapes and an accident while editing the show that nearly left a photojournalist in tears.
Here is the story. Back in 1995 then-news director Phyllis Quail decided as a company promotion to have me lead a tour to Alaska, a sort-of super One Tank Trip by airplane. She assigned photojournalist Bill Wolf to accompany me, my wife, Bonnie and our son, Craig. We would lead a group of about 40 northern Ohioans on a two week tour that would include a flight to Anchorage, Alaska, then tour by bus across the Alaskan Highway into Yukon Territory and up to the edge of the Arctic Circle. It would wrap up with a five day cruise through the Alaskan Inland Passage back to Vancouver, B.C. The cruise was to be on The Crown Princess, known then as the “Love Boat” since it appeared in a popular TV Show about the boat.
It sounded like and turned out to be an incredible trip.
The folks who signed up for the journey were wonderful travelling companions. We got to experience so many things including a trip to Mount Denali on a beautiful clear day. We ate fresh Salmon cooked on the shore of an Alaskan River. We saw grizzly bears, eagles and moose up close in their natural environment. We walked on glaciers, spent an afternoon surrounded by a pod of whales while on our cruise home. As I said, it was the trip of a lifetime.
The plan was to do an hour-long video documentary on the trip for broadcast later that year and as soon as we got back to prepare a five-part series about the journey for the six PM news.
Technology in those pre-digital broadcasting days meant we were still shooting our trips and stories on video tape, the large professional cassettes. Bill had taken enough of the cassettes with him to record 22 hours of video.
When I got home it was my job to write and began sorting the tapes for the video editor to work on. Because of union contractual rules I could not use the equipment in the regular editing rooms and to just look at the tapes to log the contents I had to use an old recording machine that the technical department had placed in my office.
I had run about ten hours of the video through the machine when I decided to take a second look at one of the tapes I had already screened. Much to my horror I discovered the old video recorder, because of a defect, was destroying the video after it passed through the video port. All the video I had already looked at was gone. I was heart-broken and I still had to break the news to Bill Wolf who had worked so hard to shoot the video.
Using the remaining video we managed to put together both the five-part series and the hour-long documentary, but many high lights of the trip were missing.
Then the second strange thing happened. The week the series was to run, it seemed like each evening there was some important story that broke and many of the segments got “bumped” and were to be run later.
In the meantime before the hour-long show could air, the TV station was sold and the new owner decided that they did not want to do long documentaries.
I attempted to save the show for some possible use in the future and that is when I discovered that the original five part series and the hour-long show had been misplaced or lost during the transition of ownership of the station. All I could find was the last segment of the five part series that did make it on the air.
In this one short segment, called “Neil’s Northern Exposure” you will see bits and pieces of what I have always fondly said was my “Longest One Tank Trip.”
Now you know the story behind my longest trip.