Alaska - 2012

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Alaska - 2012

Postby Anu » Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:31 pm

We (my 15 year old and I) are planning a trip from Northern Virginia to visit family in California and then drive north to Alaska and back home in 7 - 8 weeks. I would be the only driver (used to that) having done several trips over 7k miles in my SUV. However, this would be my first cross country trip in the RT.

My daughter turns 16 in August and I want this trip to be a memorable experience for her.

Any tips, anyone?
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Re: Alaska - 2012

Postby teachergal » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:46 pm

Hey, I'm in Northern VA too!!!! I live in Woodbridge (near-ish to IKEA)!

Alaska is AMAZING! I went with my parents a few years ago and it was my 1st experience with my own RV! My parents have a 36' class A and when we went to AK I rented a small 22' class C and loved it!

One thing my parents recommended after their trip - they drove their coach from Williamsburg VA to AK and back and all told it took about 5 months - but they stopped to do stuff a lot - they suggested NOT driving the ALCAN but going up the Cassair Hwy and then cutting across to Chicken to get to Denali. That would make sense if you are already in CA b/c I believe the Cassair is further West than the start of the ALCAN.

What I want to do is go up the Inside Passage on the ferries and then camp in the towns - you have to time it right through so you are on the boat during the day since you can't sleep in your van while you are on the ferry. I'm not willing pay for sleeping accommodations when I have an RV!
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Re: Alaska - 2012

Postby Anu » Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:04 pm

We are actually planning to travel via Cassiar and drive back via the Alcan, take a couple days to visit friends in Idaho (they live close to one of the Yellowstone entrances) and back home.

One of my slightly crazy plans is to do the Dalton highway all the way to Deadhorse and dip my feet in the Artic. I would probably not do it in my RT but rent a SUV for that leg of the journey. I was told and read that the road is really bad in places and the clearance on the RT is low, so wondering.

I hear you about not paying for accommodation while you have the van but for the sake of sanity and for some undisturbed sleeping (where my 15 year old is not moving around so much) I might get a room every few days or so.
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Re: Alaska - 2012

Postby Mike » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:41 pm

You're probably already aware of this info, but just in case...
http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/popular-topics/ ... /hwy37.htm
There's probably info out there about your return route choice (the Alaska Highway?) too.

Also, there was some discussion about trips to Alaska on here a while back, and some discussions
about the pros/cons and risk versus reward stuff associated with such a voyage. The second one
started as a discussion about safety options while traveling but does mention Alaskan treks.
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=2037&p=9986&hilit=skagway#p9986
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2053

I guess some of the highlights were the roads can be dangerous and flying gravel and rocks are
a problem for radiators, windshields, and headlights. Carrying an extra spare (2 in total) tire might
be useful as tires can also be victims of the roads. Spare rad hoses and belts and some basic tools
to DIY some basic repairs might be a good idea.
Food and drink may be scarce in some areas, so it's recommended to stock up at every opportunity,
or carry as much of both as possible.
Wildlife can be problematic.
We had thought we'd like to try it too, but after reading up on the experiences of others, and
weighing the pros and cons, we decided we may fly in and rent a Bradley APC to do it at some
time in the future, if we're really bored. :D

I don't know if this is what you were after, so I hope it helps.
I do believe any trip to Alaska is sure to be memorable, no matter how you approach it. :wink:
It's not a sprint(er) (unless you make it one), it's (hopefully) a marathon.
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Re: Alaska - 2012

Postby Anu » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:03 am

Mike wrote:You're probably already aware of this info, but just in case...
http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/popular-topics/ ... /hwy37.htm
There's probably info out there about your return route choice (the Alaska Highway?) too.


Thanks Mike. I am not someone that plans to the nth detail. I have a rough plan of where we want to go and things to do.
So it kind of is go with the flow in so far as travel and activities




Mike wrote:Also, there was some discussion about trips to Alaska on here a while back, and some discussions
about the pros/cons and risk versus reward stuff associated with such a voyage. The second one
started as a discussion about safety options while traveling but does mention Alaskan treks.
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=2037&p=9986&hilit=skagway#p9986
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2053


I did read both the topics, However this trip to Alaska by road has been something I have been thinking about for a very long time.
With regards to safety, I do not plan to cut any corners. We are after all 2 women that will be traveling alone plus dog (how could I have forgotten her :) - she is a good guard dog).

Did get an additional second spare tire and plan to order other spares. Should check if I can add the second spare tire to the side of the existing spare somehow. Might not be able to open the rear door and might be too permanent.

Plan to order EZ lift for the existing spare tire. Have roadside assistance from both Good Sam and my insurance provider.

The RT is in very good shape, never the less plan to get it completely checked by our service guy. Our mechanic has also promised to show me how to do some basic DIYs and have my daughter record the demo :)
We will have 2 cell phones between the two of us, plan to get an additional prepaid cell phone with coverage in Canada. Borrowing my friend's satellite phone for those places with no cell coverage in case of an emergency :) and use my common sense. Do not plan to go to isolated areas or boondock. And of course check in with family everyday.

I did read about gravel and rocks destroying the radiator etc - plan to get some kind of grille guard put in.


Mike wrote:I don't know if this is what you were after, so I hope it helps.


Definitely very helpful. Thanks much.
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Re: Alaska - 2012

Postby Mike » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:04 am

No problem. Ad hoc is how I do just about everything, except longer trips.
A pre-departure vehicle checkup is a great idea.
The options for vehicle service are supposed to be pretty limited up there, so any DIY
options you might choose, may serve you well. Having spare parts is probably the greatest
plus, as it might take days/weeks to get even basic parts for a specific type of vehicle, even
if there are mechanical repair shops available.
Do you have a GPS standalone unit or some other navigation solution? It might be a good idea.
Also, check with your Emergency Road Service provider about rescue and repairs along your planned
route. They may be able to give you a better idea about what sort of challenges you may face in along
the way.

Good luck, wish I was going along. :)
It's not a sprint(er) (unless you make it one), it's (hopefully) a marathon.
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Re: Alaska - 2012

Postby Anu » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:38 am

Mike wrote:No problem. Ad hoc is how I do just about everything, except longer trips.
A pre-departure vehicle checkup is a great idea.
The options for vehicle service are supposed to be pretty limited up there, so any DIY
options you might choose, may serve you well. Having spare parts is probably the greatest
plus, as it might take days/weeks to get even basic parts for a specific type of vehicle, even
if there are mechanical repair shops available.
Do you have a GPS standalone unit or some other navigation solution? It might be a good idea.
Also, check with your Emergency Road Service provider about rescue and repairs along your planned
route. They may be able to give you a better idea about what sort of challenges you may face in along
the way.

Good luck, wish I was going along. :)


I do have a garmin nuvi LMT which I purchased after refusing to pay the 2-3 hundreds it takes to get the maps updated every year for built in navigation on my SUV.

That is a great suggestion. I will check with the emergency service provider. A friend that has done the Alaska trip twice before suggested also keeping the local GOOD Sam chapter members contact info handy.

You could always join us in your RT. We should probably plan our own B van caravan trips. :)
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Re: Alaska - 2012

Postby Mike » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:59 pm

Thanks for the caravan offer, but I currently have too many irons in various fires to make a trip of
that magnitude. In fact, we may be selling the RT and replacing it with a larger travel trailer.
We've enjoyed our (almost) 4 years of touring in the class B, but we're exploring a new destination
type of extended stay traveling/camping, now that we've pretty much figured out where we like to
go and what doesn't work for us.

Back when I was researching a possible Alaska trip, I also looked into GM/Chevrolet dealer and
service/repair locations along the routes, in the event that a major chassis problem were to occur.
As I recall, there weren't too many.
You might want to investigate that as well. You always hope you won't need to know that stuff, but
I used to be a Cub Scout in a past life, so "being prepared" makes sense to me.

One last item that might be useful, is the Garmin GPS POI file for Roadtrek Dealer and Service
locations in North America. I created it last year with the help of one of the service expert guys at Roadtrek (Peter L.) who provided a current list of their authorized dealers and service centers.
It also has a BMP icon file, and an MP3 audible alert, all of which are Garmin compatible.
Here's a link to one of the threads that has links to the files for downloads....
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1778&p=8352&hilit=poi#p8352

IIRC there is at least one Roadtrek dealer in Alaska.
It's not a sprint(er) (unless you make it one), it's (hopefully) a marathon.
RV - 2002 Roadtrek 190 Popular (Chevy)
TV - 2009 F150 XLT SuperCrew / Toad - 2003 Chevy Cavalier
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Re: Alaska - 2012

Postby AZ ADVenturist » Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:57 pm

We are Planning- (Hoping) our B.C./Yukon/ S.E.Alaska trip in the '02 R/T C190V in August & September.
I understand the mosquitos are far less vicious later in the Summer & traffic - especially other tourists will be some lighter after school starts. We (wife & self - no kids, no pets) will leave Arizona on or about August 6th. Probably cross California (Mojave Desrt) as quickly as possible into the Sierras. Then up Calif & Oregon Coast. Will be in Seattle about 15th for a family wedding. Leave Seattle 19th or 20th according to the Activities Director. We'll cross into B.C. at Sumas/Abbotsford. Then straight North on HWY 1 & 97 to Prince George. From there - West/NorthWest on HWY 16 to Kitwanga Junction & HWY 37 (the Stewart/Cassiar HWY). A section of 37 from Iskut to Deese Lake (83 KM) is unpaved! After that will be Yukon & the Alaska HWY near Watson Lake. We'll spend some time in Whitehorse & go to Skagway for the White Pass train ride. Might cross over on ferry to Haines. Maybe drive up to Haines Junction & back to Whitehorse. Then head back Southward. Either the Alaska HWY or the Cassiar if we enjoyed it the first time & depending on the mood & time left to get back to Seattle by Sept. 22nd or so.
Hope to see some of You Class 'B' travelers on the Road!
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Re: Alaska - 2012

Postby Anu » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:22 am

Mike wrote:Thanks for the caravan offer, but I currently have too many irons in various fires to make a trip of
that magnitude. In fact, we may be selling the RT and replacing it with a larger travel trailer.
We've enjoyed our (almost) 4 years of touring in the class B, but we're exploring a new destination
type of extended stay traveling/camping, now that we've pretty much figured out where we like to
go and what doesn't work for us.

Back when I was researching a possible Alaska trip, I also looked into GM/Chevrolet dealer and
service/repair locations along the routes, in the event that a major chassis problem were to occur.
As I recall, there weren't too many.
You might want to investigate that as well. You always hope you won't need to know that stuff, but
I used to be a Cub Scout in a past life, so "being prepared" makes sense to me.

One last item that might be useful, is the Garmin GPS POI file for Roadtrek Dealer and Service
locations in North America. I created it last year with the help of one of the service expert guys at Roadtrek (Peter L.) who provided a current list of their authorized dealers and service centers.
It also has a BMP icon file, and an MP3 audible alert, all of which are Garmin compatible.
Here's a link to one of the threads that has links to the files for downloads....
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1778&p=8352&hilit=poi#p8352

IIRC there is at least one Roadtrek dealer in Alaska.


Was kidding with the caravan part .. my attempt at humor does not always translate well online and falls flat. I did read some of your forum posts about the trailer search and the cats that are yet to graduate med school. :) I have been a long time lurker here. Ever thought about a Tiger camper from Provan? http://www.tigervehicles.com/.

Thanks for all the tips. I will be sure to download the POIs' for RT service stations. That must have taken you a considerable amount of time to put together.
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Re: Alaska - 2012

Postby Anu » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:42 am

AZ ADVenturist wrote:We are Planning- (Hoping) our B.C./Yukon/ S.E.Alaska trip in the '02 R/T C190V in August & September.
I understand the mosquitos are far less vicious later in the Summer & traffic - especially other tourists will be some lighter after school starts.


I wish I could travel August and September and avoid the crowds. Unfortunately I have a 15 year old in high school which means sticking to the summer break. Add on is the Queen of the castle, our dog Madison. We had initially planned on having someone come home and take her for walks and feed her etc but 2 months in an empty house is a long time for a dog alone. We are planning to leave mid July after daughter's summer school and be back by September 1st week.

We (wife & self - no kids, no pets) will leave Arizona on or about August 6th. Probably cross California (Mojave Desrt) as quickly as possible into the Sierras. Then up Calif & Oregon Coast. Will be in Seattle about 15th for a family wedding. Leave Seattle 19th or 20th according to the Activities Director.


Activities Director! Good one that. My Activities Director is my 15 year old. I am more the "have a rough plan", be prepared but don't sweat it if we don't get there as planned, we will get there if not today in a day or two kind of person and she is plan every bit kind. So she is devouring milepost and the books on the Pacific Northwest and Alaska by Mike and Terri Church.


We'll cross into B.C. at Sumas/Abbotsford. Then straight North on HWY 1 & 97 to Prince George. From there - West/NorthWest on HWY 16 to Kitwanga Junction & HWY 37 (the Stewart/Cassiar HWY). A section of 37 from Iskut to Deese Lake (83 KM) is unpaved! After that will be Yukon & the Alaska HWY near Watson Lake. We'll spend some time in Whitehorse & go to Skagway for the White Pass train ride. Might cross over on ferry to Haines. Maybe drive up to Haines Junction & back to Whitehorse. Then head back Southward. Either the Alaska HWY or the Cassiar if we enjoyed it the first time & depending on the mood & time left to get back to Seattle by Sept. 22nd or so.
Hope to see some of You Class 'B' travelers on the Road!


Sounds like a good plan. Wishing you all the best. I am sure you are going to have a lot of fun.

We are planning to cross across from Montana, drive through Banff,Jasper etc, hit the Alaska hwy, Fairbanks, Prudhoe Bay, south to Denali, Anchorage, Kenai and through the Cassiar Hwy and Hwy 16 to Vancouver, Seattle and Sacramento where we celebrate my daughter's 16th with family before heading home east to the DC metro.
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