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Alaska 2014


Al F

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In the past there has been a topic labled "Alaska nnnn" started so those going to Alaska had a place to post, discuss and report their plans and experiences related to their Alaska, so I thought I would start this one for 2014. We had hopes of going this year, but some medical and other issues have caused us to delay yet another year.

 

Here are links to the last couple of years Alaska topics:

2013

2012

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We were stationed in Fairbanks for 2 years courtesy of the U.S. army in 2009. The most amazing adventure! Took the Alaskan Maritime ferry from Bellingham, WA. Saw a lot of RVs heading up to that great state.

 

We would love to RV there but wonder if we should just get up to AK then rent an RV there rather than take our new fiver. We've traveled the Alcan and know from experience that challenging road trip.

 

Any thoughts?

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The last time we went to Alaska, we towed our fifth wheel with an MDT without any problems.

 

The Alaska Highway is a good two-lane road...better, in some cases, than many two-lane roads you'll find in the Lower 48! I certainly would not consider it a "challenging road trip" -- not any more than traveling any other two-lane road in the back country.You will always run into frost heaves (which are usually clearly marked) and road construction. As long as you go slow enough for the conditions, you'll not have a problem. Yes, you WILL get your rig dirty, but there are lots of places where you can give it a bath along the road.

 

While you can certainly fly up to Alaska and rent an RV, which many people with time constraints do, you'll miss the whole "going to Alaska" experience by not traveling the Alaska Highway!

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We were stationed in Fairbanks for 2 years courtesy of the U.S. army in 2009. The most amazing adventure! Took the Alaskan Maritime ferry from Bellingham, WA. Saw a lot of RVs heading up to that great state.

 

We would love to RV there but wonder if we should just get up to AK then rent an RV there rather than take our new fiver. We've traveled the Alcan and know from experience that challenging road trip.

 

Any thoughts?

I would have to agree with the drive through British Columbia and Yukon being an important part of the experience. BC is stunningly beautiful! And as long as you proceed in accordance with road conditions, it's not a problem. However, we did see a LOT of rental units of varying sizes. Most seemed to belong to Great Alaskan Holidays.

 

Donna

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I agree, the drive adds so much more to the journey. The wildlife, the scenery, even the frost heaves are all part of the adventure. We've done it twice, and are planning on going back in 2015. The place will definately get in your blood. Most of the people I've talked with who have been to Alaska said they'll be going back. Let me add that if you're a fisherman, get there for the salmon runs, it's a real hoot.

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We agree. Made the trip in 2012 Crossed the border @ Sumas June 4th went up the Alcan through BC & the Yukon to Dawson City. Took the Free Black Ball ferry across the Yukon River to the Top of the World Hwy through the town on Chicken, & down to Tok into AK. Traveled around AK. & then returned to the lower 48 via the Cassiar crossing back @ Sumas on the 24th of Aug. We took it slow & Enjoyed the scenery. The Frost Heaves were well marked. Well worth the drive. We even took our toad up to the Artic Circle in a day trip. I wouldn't take our MH on that rd. but a smaller RV or Camper van could. We plan to go again.

 

Have a Great Trip.

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We went in 2013--trip of a lifetime. 2 things we used-both have been mentioned before but the Milepost is a must have--we used it daily and saw many things we would have missed without it. The other is Alaska Tripsaver--2 for 1 coupon book. We saved around $500 with it.

We went into Alaska and then down to Valdez 1st--seems that we went backwards from most people but we also missed the worst of the mosquitos that other people complained about early in the year in Fairbanks and Denali.

We read several blogs and trip journals about other peoples trips and recommendations before we went and kind of planned an itinerary--that went away as soon as we hit Canada. Decided to just go where wanted and stay until we had seen everything that interested us in that area.

4 1/2 months and 11,500 miles from central CA and back.

If anyones interested our trip journal web page is www.mytripjournal.com/thekruses . The Alaska trip starts on page 8, entry # 52 and ends on page 11, entry #80.

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We had planned our Retirement Victory Tour to Alaska in 2013, but MIL medical problems made us push this out to 2014! (LOL!, I had a metal sign made for the signposts, and planned to hit this park on our anniversary on 6/10 and surprise the DW... Instead she got it with a nice glass of wine here in San Diego... The LOL!, is the sign has 2013 on it as the date!)

 

I'm following the tread over on RV.Net too.

 

We already have a 'pop-up' must be back end date of last week of August for this year - our daughter has picked 9/20 to get married. Since the reception will be at our now Vacation Home in San Diego, we've lots to do to prep - plus some fun nights out for the gals too.

 

As a result of this must be back date of last week of August, we're now going to head out in the third week of April. No one can predict the weather, but as most posts I've read say early May is usually better - opinions please on 'How early is too early?' to cross the Canadian border and start our way upwards? We suspect some places may not be open. But if no heavy snows remain, we sure don't mind more boondocking along the way.

 

Thoughts on fuel stations, roads marked for frost heaves yet, and other opinions - greatly appreciated.

 

Look for us along your way, and stop us and give us a handshake along the way:)! Coach has THE JRNY, Toad has 'ONDROAD' South Dakota Plates.

 

Best to all,

Smitty

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We are planning on going this year. Sure hope to meet up with other SKPs along the way. I talked to Dennis Hill at Q and he has a loosey goosey group leaving from Dawson near the end of May. We may bounce in and out of that group. No set schedule our plan at this time.

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Smitty, we lcrossed the Sumas, Washington entry on May 23 and had a leisurely trip through Canada, Yukon and plenty of time in Alaska. We returned and crossed the Montana border the end of August. You're planning to leave the end of April. I really think you could leave a couple weeks later and still have plenty of time for your trip to return to San Diego the end of August. Those two weeks that early will have you viewing frozen lakes , colder temps and possibly some campgrounds closed. I think you'd enjoy it a little more by leaving just a little later. Whatever you decide - have a great trip!

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We're also heading to Alaska this year, along with a lots of SKP's leaving after Escapade in Goshen.

We too, bought a 3500 truck and Lance 1161 truck camper for the trip and will leave the MH at home.

Looks to be a fun year on the road north! :)

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Smitty,

 

We crossed at Sumas on May 9th the year we went, and headed for Vancouver, which is a really cool city. Northbound on May 16th, crossed the border into Alaska on Memorial Day, May 28th. We had been advised that it was better to travel when there might be a little snow as opposed to later when it would be rain. For us it turned out to be a wise choice, as portions of the Alaska Highway in Yukon washed out in the June rains, stranding people. We did observe that plenty of places had yet to open for the season, or had yet to turn on the water, mostly in Yukon, understandable in the permafrost areas. We also followed the advice of traveling on the top of your fuel tank, which in a motorhome I suspect is easier than a truck hauling a fiver or trailer, and had no problems. We did what we wanted to do, saw what we wanted to see, and then returned to the lower 48, arriving in Portland in late July.

 

The Canadian DOT marks frost heaves well, especially in Yukon. There are small red-orange flags, roadside signs, and stuff. We really thought that they did a good job. Someone had suggested that the passenger watch the white lines on the side of the road for frost heave evidence, but often there is no white line!! So I just watched the center yellow lines, and when they looked like the painter was drunk, that indicated frost heave, easy to watch for. Also, watch the ecosystem. After a while the plants will tell you when you're in a frost heave prone area as well.

 

As for the other opinions you requested....... Yes, agree with the Milepost. We also got the Church's books. Keep the front windshield clean and the camera handy, I shot plenty through the windshield.

 

Donna

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Smitty,

Living in Alaska I drove in and out every month of the year with and without tow vehicles. Just keep an eye on the incoming weather reports an be sure to just fill your fuel at every opportunity close to the half full area. Every regular town has fuel and the milepost is a must have for knowing what is ahead for this. Canada keeps their roads clear with large road graders and its kind of like bumper bowling when you were a kid, just stay between the bumpers. In the spring the frost heaves begin to move around as the road bed begins to warm up so the red flags are not always in the right spots but a great help. Just drive to your comfortable speed and let others pass with their rigs. If the roads have been graveled please slow down or stop and pull toward the shoulder when ever you see a semi or crazy Alaskan coming your way to help prevent a stone in your windshield as they probably will not slow down. Canada is a great place for boondocking in pull outs and rest areas. In fifteen years I have never been asked to leave or harassed by anyone, even as a woman traveling alone. Maybe it was the big dog in the window watching them. Just don't try to sneek in a gun, worst idea ever. If its a must have mail it from a gun shop to a gun shop and pay the handling fees. Our first trip we arrived in Skagway May first and took the ferry across to Haines just for the fun of it. Using caution you will do just fine any date knowing the optional stuff will still be closed going in they will be open coming back out. When you see wildlife along the road go slowly and they will usually not spook but if they hear you stop you will only catch a butt shot photo. The buffalo near Lliard Hot Springs(a must stop even at -10° to soak)don't care if you stop, they will ignore you like a gnat. Have fun and safe travels.

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Just don't try to sneek in a gun, worst idea ever. If its a must have mail it from a gun shop to a gun shop and pay the handling fees.

 

Sneaking a firearm of any kind across the border is never a good idea.

 

However, there ARE some firearms that you can take across the border into Canada with the proper permits. To find out which firearms are allowed, which are not, and to download the proper permits, go to:

 

http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/information/visit/index-eng.htm

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We had planned our Retirement Victory Tour to Alaska in 2013, but MIL medical problems made us push this out to 2014! (LOL!, I had a metal sign made for the signposts, and planned to hit this park on our anniversary on 6/10 and surprise the DW... Instead she got it with a nice glass of wine here in San Diego... The LOL!, is the sign has 2013 on it as the date!)

 

I'm following the tread over on RV.Net too.

 

We already have a 'pop-up' must be back end date of last week of August for this year - our daughter has picked 9/20 to get married. Since the reception will be at our now Vacation Home in San Diego, we've lots to do to prep - plus some fun nights out for the gals too.

 

As a result of this must be back date of last week of August, we're now going to head out in the third week of April. No one can predict the weather, but as most posts I've read say early May is usually better - opinions please on 'How early is too early?' to cross the Canadian border and start our way upwards? We suspect some places may not be open. But if no heavy snows remain, we sure don't mind more boondocking along the way.

 

Thoughts on fuel stations, roads marked for frost heaves yet, and other opinions - greatly appreciated.

 

Look for us along your way, and stop us and give us a handshake along the way:)! Coach has THE JRNY, Toad has 'ONDROAD' South Dakota Plates.

 

Best to all,

Smitty

Here is a link to a blog from a couple who crossed into Canada in April. It doesn't look like they hit any bad weather. Your guess is as good as mine to whether or not this normal or just that they had good luck.

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Thanks for the feedback on going a bit early. We'll figure out our 'when and where to cross the Canadian border' timing in the month of April. (Between now and April, perhaps the wedding date will move, as it has a few times already:)!).

 

So many variables, the largest being on how Mother Nature in regards to how late winter lasts. We're OK with having many of the RV parks closed down if we goo too early. As well as a little colder weather is fine at the start too.

 

I tried to explain to my wife that the major roads are usually open all year, and that perhaps an earlier departure will mean less road construction on the way North. Going slow where prudent, is certainly the way to go, and not a problem. Another reason for perhaps pulling up the departure date by a few weeks, is to allow a bit slower travels.

 

Having read many travel blogs (and thanks for the link on the April travelers), it is the scenery and wildlife that could be impacted on the way up.

 

While we have chains, heavy suckers:)!, I doubt I'll take them. If we have weather that includes road impacting snow, we'll just stay hunkered down for as long as it takes to clear out. I will take the chains for the CRV. I've never driven in snow/ice for any long periods, so have no desire to do so now:)!

 

Will keep checking this thread, contribute where I can. Look forward to meeting some of you along the northern travels!

 

Best to all,

Smitty

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We were stationed in Fairbanks for 2 years courtesy of the U.S. army in 2009. The most amazing adventure! Took the Alaskan Maritime ferry from Bellingham, WA. Saw a lot of RVs heading up to that great state.

 

We would love to RV there but wonder if we should just get up to AK then rent an RV there rather than take our new fiver. We've traveled the Alcan and know from experience that challenging road trip.

 

Any thoughts?

I would not completely rule out the idea of flying into Anchorage and renting an RV. We did that in 2005 and made 2,500 miles in a rented Class C. Did we see everything? No. Did we see a lot? We certainly did. During that trip we took a Denali flight seeing ride out of Talkeetna, a flight up to Barrow for the day and a ferry ride from Haines to Skagway. I think it depends on the time you have available. I have been to AK several times for work and occasionally my wife will accompany me so we add personal days to the trip for sightseeing. I have a cousin living in Eagle River (just north of Anchorage) and the welcome mat is always available for us. One thing I really want to do someday is be in Nome for the completion of the Iditarod and that’s doable with my AK business connections. Even though we now own a new Class A, I would still consider flying up and going the Class C rental route again.
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  • 2 weeks later...

We're wondering if there's a minimum time we should consider? We need to be in WA state mid-July, so we could go to AK before or after. Would 6 weeks be enough? I was thinking maybe just going to SE Alaska, maybe on the ferry or driving up to Haines and then get to Glacier Bay somehow. I want my husband to see Glacier Bay as I went there 20+ years ago and it was one of the best things I'd ever seen.

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blissing:

 

I would go when I had more time if at all possible. It is pretty expensive to rush up and rush back.

 

 

The other thing I would add for everyone is that we took a legal shotgun with us. If I did it again I would NOT take a weapon of any type. Too much hassle even legally.

 

Everyone else gets waved through and you get boarded and have all your paperwork, the shotgun(s), and ammo checked. It just isn't worth the hassle to me.

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