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Author Topic: ALASKA ADVENTURE  (Read 1162 times)
Sparky
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« on: August 20, 2013, 09:53:05 am »

   I'm starting my plans for a trip to Alaska in 2014 or 2015,  We went in 2012 and was a trip of a lifetime.  If your interested we did a blog
for our trip in 2012       http://andysbigtrip.blogspot.com/     I have a lot of tips, suggestions for making your first trip to Alaska.

On our first trip it was a wonderful experience but this time I want to be able to take our time and smell the roses.  Were planning  a trip of about the same length of time 5to7 weeks. Traveling from Houston cost about 7/8 days of just getting in and out of the states.  We have not decided rather to go in the Spring or leave in late summer like we did on the first trip.   I want to fish more this trip and leaving late summer  causes you to miss some of the fishing. (especially the Salmon running)... We will go back to Denali. Spent two days on the first trip. This time plan on staying 4/5 days. The park closes for camping in mid Sept.   A lot of the RV parks start to close mid Sept and some of them even closed due to freezing weather in Sept. 

   A second area we want to stay for a period  is the Kenai peninsula ,, this is the Homer, Seward area,,, all kinds of fishing and wonderful rivers.

  Third area we will stay at is Jasper NP in Canada, Banff,,, wonderful area and beautiful to drive through. 

   On our trip most of the rv parks were not crowded, this made it especially nice when using the facilities.  Anyhow just wanted to put this information on the forum.  In addition I'm working on a trip in the south of about two weeks which I will post later... If your planning a trip to Alaska start now,,, it's a big trip and does take a lot of planning.  Feel free to email and ask questions after you look at the blog. Will be glad to help
David Sparks
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PS>  We were in a roadtrek  on the trip in 2012,,, this time will take the PC and be able to have some more room and enjoy ourselves.
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NHWanderlust
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2013, 04:09:00 pm »

Based on your last trip is it worth it to tow a car behind or just drive the PC?
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Sparky
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2013, 06:49:53 pm »

To be honest I don't remember anyone towing a car.  Every place you go is set up to handle Rv's.   We took some different roads other than the Alaska Highway,,, for instance the road to Chicken Ak,,, top of the world highway was 115 miles, 90 miles of gravel, washboard,, had to drive very slow, but worth it, also scary haha...  would hate to be towing a car behind on that road,,,  we traveled on one other road  around Prince Rupert  that was gravel,,,, I had planned on taking another road that was gravel but was advised that it was rutted.... there was some repair work going on and remember we went late in the summer.... read that after the spring thaw they do lots more roadwork,,,,, we could drive full speed 90% of the time,,, most bad spots on the road were marked or you could see them coming  especially frost heaves,,, do not know how well they would be marked early in the summer  bottom line roads were no problem a lot better than I expected.

I'm sure you saw my post on my bicycles,,,   would have loved to have them in  Anchorage and  some of the parks,,, note we drove a Roadtrek on that trip,, I know our 2350 is a little bigger, but think it would be about the same....  wanted ride the ferries but did not.... expensive 

We traveled along with a caravan for a couple of days,,, mostly all A's,,,,  they all had protective wrap around the front of the Rv's... I guess since they were following each other close needed it,,, especially on road to Chicken,  you will get dirty,,,, some kind of black dirt, ash,,,, I would wash the bugs off each night,,,, sprayed washed a couple of times,,,, kept wipes to keep the windows clean mainly for picture taking...
sorry so long
sparky
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RheaNL
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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2017, 02:11:15 pm »

Sparky (and anyone else reading this),
Did you do the 2014or 2015 Alaska trip again?  Read your 2012 blog and it has a lot of good information. Also read everything currently posted on the forum.

We are planning a trip from Colorado starting in late July/early August and could use any and all input from forum members.
Has anyone out there taken the ferry with their RV? We are seriously considering and sounds like we must book soon because they start filling up in February/March for the summer through September. It will be expensive, but sounds like a magical adventure as well as a break from some of the driving.  Because I, the dear wife princess, wants a cabin (you cannot sleep in the RV) price will go up even more. We are too old (70 and 81) to hang out on the decks or try and fight for space in the lounge.

Thanks in advance for all the advice.

Nicki
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gandalf42
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« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2017, 03:55:01 pm »

My first thought is that late July/early August is a pretty late start. We have made the trip to Alaska twice, driving both ways, and would leave Colorado in early June and be heading home by mid-August. Perhaps taking the ferry saves you enough time to go as late as you say, but in general its good to give yourselves plenty of time as its a long trip so no reason to rush it.

Our experience with the ferry is limited: just between Haines and Skagway, and Skagway and Juneau. We always stayed on the back top deck which we enjoyed a lot for the comfort (lounge chairs you can stretch out on) and the great views. During those summer ferry trips the weather can be very pleasant but can also be very cold. Have pictures of us on one trip bundled up in winter coats, hats, gloves, and blankets..but still enjoying the trip. The deck has heaters they turn on when cold so you want to park yourself under one if possible. We didn't really like the lounge as it just felt to us being far less a participant in the trip.

Do you plan to take the ferry both ways?

..Mike
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2017, 04:53:56 pm »

Has anyone out there taken the ferry with their RV?
Nicki
Hi Nicki,

My brother and his wife did a 10 week Alaska RV trip and they did take the ferry often in the lower coastal and absolutely loved the ferry experience along with avoiding the piles of miles he'd have to drive to otherwise see the coastal.

He had one warning riding the ferries.  Depending on the high/low tide condition, the on/off ramps are often at steep angles.  He lost his waste pipe a couple times and bought a 2 lb. sledge hammer at first opportunity to bend back his skid plates.....more than twice.

I would consider installing those affordable Firestone suspension air bags and just before getting on a ferry, pump them up to maximize your PC's rear lift.  On your little 2100, that should lift it's rump a whole lot higher than it's natural rear sag position.  I would also consider rear skid wheels, making sure they hang just one inch lower than the next lowest obstacle.

Ron Dittmer
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Ron & Irene Dittmer, 2007 Model 2350 Without A Slideout
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2017, 08:43:36 pm »

Our friends who own a Lazy Daze and tow a Jeep took ferries up the coast from Prince Rupert to Haines, but they stopped at every Alaskan City along the way getting off the ferry and camping for a week at each location. They drove the Jeep around to see the sights. They highly recommend this mode of travel.
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2017, 09:57:47 pm »

I hear that Alaska ferry fares are expensive.  I believe they charge by the inch.  Towing a Jeep with tow bar could easily double the cost.  If such cost isn't much an issue for you, then go for it.  You could drive the PC & Jeep independently to wipe out the length added by the tow bar.

Nicki owns a 2100 according to her profile.  I assume they would not tow anything.

Consider bringing inside any kind of receiver-mounted storage rack or bicycles to keep the over-all length as short as possible.  That is what my brother did with his receiver-mounted storage rack.  He said doing so saved him good money.

I would think some internet research on the Alaska ferry system will provide cost.
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Ron & Irene Dittmer, 2007 Model 2350 Without A Slideout
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2017, 10:12:17 pm »

Thanks for all the information and suggestions.

We are driving up and taking the ferry back--probably from Whittier via Juneau to Billingham. Figure by that time we will be ready for a break from the driving. We are renting a cabin and will keep our own folding loungers with us so we can rotate around on the deck and if weather is bad, stay inside.

Seriously debated dates and know it turns cold early in Alaska.  Too many complications going earlier. Part of the reason we are leaving then is that Glenwood Springs is ripping out one of two bridges across the Colorado River and traffic will be horrible. We want to be gone for as much of it as possible.  Our target date to be on the ferry is September 1 to avoid any serious weather. We are trying to work in the PC Rally in Sisters, Oregon on our return.

Ron, Thanks for the tip about on/off ramp angle. Hadn't thought about that and all the books and web sites we have been studying don't mention it either. Because of tail sag on our 2100, we have already added air bags and skid wheels. Will look into what we need to do to have maximum inflation. With the short wheel base, this could be a problem, but I'm sure they load lots of vehicles with short wheel bases.

Nicki
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2017, 10:30:52 pm »

Thanks for all the information and suggestions.

Ron, Thanks for the tip about on/off ramp angle. Hadn't thought about that and all the books and web sites we have been studying don't mention it either. Because of tail sag on our 2100, we have already added air bags and skid wheels. Will look into what we need to do to have maximum inflation. With the short wheel base, this could be a problem, but I'm sure they load lots of vehicles with short wheel bases.

Nicki
Cheers
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« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2017, 11:34:21 am »

Yes, we our PC is the 2100. No toad. Won't be taking the bikes.So nothing hanging off the rear. 

The ferry is expensive and presents some challenges. They do charge by vehicle size, but categories not inches. Some of the cost will be offset by savings on gas and rv parks. We calculate about 30-35%. If we weren't renting a cabin, the savings would be up to 50%. We have to turn off the propane which means we need to develop a plan for the fridge. We are renting a cabin so can bring a cooler to our room or maybe put ice in the regular fridge to keep it cool while turned off. Will surely purge anything perishable.

In spite of the price and challenges, we hear it is a spectacular trip--if the weather cooperates. Heard from a friend of a friend that did it and they were miserable because it was stormy the entire time andthat was in July!

Nicki
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Gail Staton
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« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2017, 01:41:21 pm »

Nicki,

Our AK trip in 2010 from the time we left MD mid June until returning home in late September was a total of 14,000 miles in those 3 months.

We were in our Class B LTV Sprinter not our present 2100.   We arrived in Tok on July 1 on a beautiful sunny day and the weather continued to be the same the entire time and no mosquitoes.

The only ferry we took was one way from Haines to Skagway.   The wait to board was longer than the actual ride.  A motorhome had a problem boarding which delayed the departure.   We were told this is a frequent occurrence.    At that port they asked the length of our motorhome (22') but did not actually measure it.   We don't like to be tied to schedules and had no problem booking the trip the day ahead.   We have no  experience with the other ferries to and from other ports since they were not of interest. 

The only campground  reservations we made were for Denali NP over July4.    We traveled with friends, 2 other couples, and had no trouble finding rv sites anywhere in AK.

It was definitely one of the most memorable trips we've taken.   If we were younger and it was closer we might think about doing it again.   One of the couples did go again and had just the opposite weather, cold and rainy.   That can certainly affect a trip but not something you can do much about.

I wish you a wonderful and safe trip.   Enjoy the planning.  It's fun too.

Gail

 
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« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2017, 04:16:45 pm »

We have traveled the ferry three times. Once in a tent pitched on the rear deck, once in an inside cabin, and once in an outside cabin with a window. The inside cabins have engine noise and vibration. The best and most expensive are the outside ones with balconies or Windows. Never had a problem getting aboard.  Watched the deck crew help rv and others board with blocks and large wheeled jacks. If you travel with pets, they have to remain in the rv.  They allowed visitation for walking pets on vehicle deck. A GREAT trip.
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« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2017, 05:49:28 pm »

Alaska state budget cuts have dramatically effected ferry service. Be sure to make any reservations well in advance. Ferry service has been cut on all routes and fares have increased. Consider making Haines or Skagway your northern terminus to avoid rough water crossings of the Gulf of Alaska to Whittier.
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« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2017, 04:13:12 pm »

Thanks, Sr. Member. Living in Alaska you would know and any other advise on the whole trip would be welcome as we build our itinerary. We just made our ferry reservation yesterday for August 28. A 5% cancel fee until 31 days out. We are departing from Whittier and taking the chance on the rough seas.  We will be in a cabin and requested mid-ship so we should be able to ride out any rough seas. Scheduling did not really allow for the extra time it would take to get to Haines, it didn't save that much money, and you don't get first choice on the best cabins. We spoke with a highly experienced and knowledgeable agent in Juneau who was able to answer all our questions and provide information that is not easily accessed on any web page. Anyone planning on booking any Alaska ferry, do not depend on the internet, call the reservation center. They are in Alaska, highly trained and speak great English! Go figure.

 The agent said many people just show up and get the shock that there is no room and the ferries are fully booked unless someone with the same size vehicle is a no-show. With the Whittier-Billingham ferry only running about every two weeks this time of year you don't wait around for the next one. Their choice is hang around and pray or head back to the open roads. That goes for the local ferries as well. 

Nicki

PS We also have no pet.  If you do this trip with a trip, as someone previously said, the pet must stay in the vehicle and their is an additional $50. You are given access to the vehicle to care/walk the pet, but that is it.  Also, you need health certificates and a shots history. Same for driving through Canada.
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