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 > Helpful Ideas for Alaskan Travels

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2gypsies

Enjoying the West!

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Posted: 07/12/14 11:24pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A good time to cross the U.S. border is toward the end of May. Before that, ice will still be on the lakes and some businesses will still be closed.


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mabynack

Panama City

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Posted: 10/29/14 08:32am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for posting this. I've dreamed of RVing to Alaska for years. It was my Dad's dream, but he died of cancer before he ever got the chance to take the trip. I'm saving up and getting my Fifth Wheel and truck in shape for the trip in about four years when I retire. Your post is exactly the kind of information I was looking for.

My plan is to drive from Florida to Mt Rushmore. Stop by Yellowstone on my way to Glacier National Park. And then take a leisurely drive up to Alaska, stopping to see the sights as I go. I've seen lots of posts from people who say how beautiful the drive is, but they don't give many details about the route they take and exactly what to see and do.

Thanks again for posting this.

* This post was edited 10/29/14 10:16am by mabynack *

flybob63

port st lucie fl

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Posted: 10/29/14 12:15pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We just did our first AK trip. Pulled a 26 ft fifth wheel from Florida. A few thing to think about
1. Have a trusted friend with a key watch your house while you are away. They can come by a couple times a month to give you peace of mind.
2. Leave your info with the local police. That way they have contact info for you and your emergency contact and will probably have volunteers check the house once in a while. We did that. The dept I retired from had that service too.
3. You mentioned vehicle length and height issues. We often one-night in Wal-Mart parking lots when between point A and point B. Wal-Mart in Shreveport Louisiana has a low entrance and a sign saying 12 feet. We pulled in 1/2 asleep, saw the sign and thought "It's Wal-Mart, we have to fit. Nope....Hit the AC unit. No issues at all the rest of the way.
4. Maintenance. I think you said you were rebuilding or fixing up a fifth wheel. Make sure to have the equalizer on the leaf springs checked by a pro. It needs to be checked every 15-20K miles and will cause undue stress on the leafs and tire wear if it is not. I kept wearing tires on the outside and could not figure why. Finally three of the leaf springs snapped. We were not even close to overloaded. An expensive repair that could have been avoided. Wheel bearings. We bought our fifth wheel used in 2009. Been on a couple major trips but it had sat for two years prior to this trip. Had not the wheel bearings inspected and professionally packed since before the last trip. I always just use the Ultra-Lube system and keep them full by checking every 1000 miles or so. We burnt out a bearing and an axle very shortly after having the leaf springs fixed. Thank God this was in Dallas Texas and not on the AlCan. Get them checked and you might consider having them inspected while you are in Ak too.

4. An old adage up there; don't let it get below 1/2 and carry a 5 gallon spare can of fuel with you. Those words of wisdom served me well. I drove a diesel truck and there was a place in the yukon where, because of station closures and remoteness we had 180 miles between available fuel.
5. By a copy of The Milepost when you get up there. It's dubbed The Bible of North Country Travel for a good reason. It's updated yearly with border information, road information, tourist information, gas stations, restaurants, scenic drives and etc. Well worth the $32 we paid at a visitor's center for it.
6. Locals. Locals are a great source of info up there. I asked people about road conditions on particular highways when deciding when and where to go. They were very helpful, in particular the State Troopers.
7. Free things to do. There is a plethora of free things to do for value conscious travelers like my wife and I. Hiking in DeNali was awesome as was the walk up to Worthington Glacier. Believe that was in either Seward or Valdez. If you go past the end of the maintained trail you are on your own but many, including us, kept right on going and walked right up to the glacier. Touching a glacier and drinking water from a melting glacier was quite an experience for a Florida boy and his wife from Thailand.
8. Pullouts. Pullouts all along the AlCan and many of the highways up there provide nice, free places to stay for a night between points a and b. They are remote and you will more than likely be on your own. I choose to carry a 12 gauge in the rv. You can research Canadian Border website and download the rules and paperwork for declaring the gun. Expect to be searched so don't hide anything.
9. Fishing. Spend the money to either deep sea or salmon fish. Fishing is the best I've ever seen. Caught my limit of Halibut and had fish for the rest of the trip. Fresh fish on a grill. Didn't have a freshwater license but salmon were running so thick I couldn't help myself. I waded in and picked two of them up right by the tail!!! Threw them right back of course. New version of catch and release?
10. Reservations. We do not like to make reservations because we like to float as we choose. That said; there are a couple places you at least need to consider making reservations. These are the national parks of the American West and the tourist areas of Alaska. We wanted to stay a few days in Yellowstone but it was all booked up and we wound up with only one night. In the tourist areas of Alaska if you arrive the same time as the cruise ships and RV Caravans you're gonna be S.O.L. We had that befall us in Skagway and we could not get a place to sleep except in an overflow with no hook-ups and we were unable to book a single one of the many things to do because the caravan and ships had everything all sewn up.
11. Have fun-enjoy this trip of a lifetime. Do not be in a hurry. Many of the "highways" in Alaska are very optimistically named. In many places you cannot plan on traveling X number of miles in a day. A highway can be twisty and windy with 25 MPH speed limits for a good distance, could be under construction. You just never know. Just give yourself plenty of travel time and you'll be just fine.
12.... ENJOY!!!! Hope this helped.

* This post was edited 10/30/14 07:35am by flybob63 *

b2egypt

Michigan

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Posted: 10/30/14 05:57am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We did this trip summer 2013. One thing we did in preparation was hang a map on wall of Alaska and Canada. Then as we researched we could look at map and mark area's. Helped us plan, which is half the fun!


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mabynack

Panama City

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Posted: 11/03/14 12:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

b2egypt wrote:

We did this trip summer 2013. One thing we did in preparation was hang a map on wall of Alaska and Canada. Then as we researched we could look at map and mark area's. Helped us plan, which is half the fun!


This sounds like a great idea. I think I'm going to buy a corkboard so I can do the same. Planning the trip is half the fun.

trcgolf

western NY

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Posted: 11/19/14 04:09am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

For anyone who has done the great northern trip, did you stock up on the supplies like soaps, paper towels, garbage bags, etc. From home.? Or did you travel light buying on the way?


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flybob63

port st lucie fl

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Posted: 11/19/14 06:59am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We stocked up on many things like soap, detergent, paper towels, etc. Prices north of the lower 48 tend to be a little high so it's worth it as long as you don't go overboard considering weight and space.

Not sure which way you are coming but there are a couple of states with no, or very low sales tax. I believe they were Oregon and Montana, if memory serves.

sheltieRV

cal

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Posted: 11/20/14 04:28pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

trcgolf wrote:

For anyone who has done the great northern trip, did you stock up on the supplies like soaps, paper towels, garbage bags, etc. From home.? Or did you travel light buying on the way?


We packed a few hundred pounds of extra "stuff". However, there are several Wally Worlds, and Costco at Prince George, Grand Prairie, and Anchorage. When we do it again, we probably won't worry so much about packing tons of extra "stuff".

flybob63

port st lucie fl

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Posted: 11/20/14 04:34pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Once you start getting further north there is a fantastic chain of stores called Fred Meyers. They are like a Super Walmart on steroids except they are much cleaner, the stores have friendly personnel the actually ask you if you need help and the fresh food they serve is very good. They allow you to stay in their lots, as do Walmart's. Great stores and they are all over Canada and Alaska.

CA Traveler

The Western States

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Posted: 11/20/14 04:45pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

flybob63 wrote:

Once you start getting further north there is a fantastic chain of stores called Fred Meyers. They are like a Super Walmart on steroids except they are much cleaner, the stores have friendly personnel the actually ask you if you need help and the fresh food they serve is very good. They allow you to stay in their lots, as do Walmart's. Great stores and they are all over Canada and Alaska.
Part of Kroger. Get a card from any of the Kroger chains and you will get 10 cents/gallon discount for every $100 purchased up to 35 gallons.


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