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Old 06-22-2008, 10:48 PM   #1
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Alaska caravan blog

We began our trip to Alaska today from Nashville, Tn. We meet up with the caravan in Prince George, BC on July 12. We started our blog and will attempt to keep it current during the trip for anyone interested. Our route is north through Il, Wi, Mn, ND, cross border into Saskatchewan, Alberta, BC and the caravan begins. 65 days later we are back in BC and head home.
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Airstream to Alaska
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Old 06-23-2008, 07:27 AM   #2
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Hey Gregg -- Good to see the blog! This will be fun to follow. How are you uploading? Wireless or a phone card?

Please post back at this thread periodically to point out arrivals and highlights on your blog.
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Old 06-23-2008, 06:14 PM   #3
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Verizon

Bob,
We have the Verizon card, which will work on the US part of the trip; will have to depend on Wifi at the various cg's on the Canadian part of the trip. We've had Verizon for over a year now and it works fine east of the Mississippi, haven't used it out west yet. We'll soon find out.
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Old 06-23-2008, 07:20 PM   #4
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Going to Alaska but not on the caravan

GreggH
We'll be right behind you! Leaving Oregon on July 14th and plan about a 7 week trip. We'll probably touch base with the caravan in a couple of stops. We tried to get on this caravan, but it was full + 16 people on the waiting list........so we decided to do our own trip. I have some friends who are on the caravan as well. We're taking our 22' Argosy for a shakedown trip before we send it to Africa in '09 on the Capetown to Cairo caravan. It will be interesting to see how many folks are on the road with the high fuel prices and all. We're taking the ferry from Haines to Prince Rupert on the way back. Should be interesting way to travel as well.

We also have a Verizon air card and will be sending pics over the net.

Have a safe trip and hope to catch up with you!
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Old 06-23-2008, 07:48 PM   #5
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Hope to see you up there

Jim & Cheryl,
Hope to see you up there. We signed up for the trip over 18 months ago, didn't realize that many people were on the waiting list. I only saw 5 replacement names from the original list. From reading other posts/blogs this year doesn't sound like the fuel has scared many away. Keep in touch so we can plan a meet...would love to hear about your plans for the oversea's adventure.
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Old 06-23-2008, 07:52 PM   #6
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Gregg and Cyndi, how cool is that! Thanks for sharing your adventures with the rest of us. Hoping all goes well with your wheel hub issue.
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Old 07-03-2008, 09:45 PM   #7
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Gregg, I'm jealous, I want to go too. Our last trip was in 2006 before we bought our Safari. Let us know how wifi works out along the way. More and more motels and hotels had it in 2006, but I have no idea about RV parks. In some ways Canada is better than the US in remote areas for broadband. Verizon is good in the US west, but cellphone service pretty much disappeared north of Edmonton. There are Canadian companies, but in 2006 our phone hardly worked in the north—no agreement with Verizon. Maybe it's better now. In 2002, it hardly worked in Alaska either except in Fairbanks and Anchorage and we didn't try in '06 in SE Alaska.

Jim and Cheryl, be prepared to back onto the Alaska State Ferry up the ramp or to drive on forward and back through the ferry either to get in or out. Very narrow lanes, giant RV busses, 18 wheelers, trailers with big boats. Their ferries are unlike a lot of car ferries where you go in one end and out the other, always going forward. All the Alaska ones we've been on are up a steep ramp into a side entrance and then a couple of guys giving directions that don't always agree and hand signals that are mysterious at times. They all seem to the caffeinated or worse. The trip on the ferry is great after parking your rig. Plenty of places to look at scenery and wildlife and the food is better than I expected. The ferry is the best way to see SE Alaska because you can stop at various towns and spend a few days. Juneau is very cosmopolitan, Petersburg is nice and prosperous (you can take good forest roads all over the island), Haines is a beautiful setting and Ketchikan is touristy, but see all the totem poles north and south of the town. In Juneau go see the famous Mendenhall glacier before it's gone—in 2006 it had melted 1/2 mile in the previous 2 years.

In 2006 was the rainiest summer in memory and we saw more rain in 10 days or so than we see in a decade in western Colorado.

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Old 07-03-2008, 10:18 PM   #8
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I hope you're enjoying my old home, Saskatoon. I actually was an Archaeology student and worked at the Wanuskewin Heritage Park before it became what you see today. I spent a summer excavating near the base of one of the buffalo jumps.
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Old 07-15-2008, 07:11 PM   #9
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Gregg, I see you are to Dawson Creek. I had thought about going to Alaska since I was 7 and the Alaska Hwy (then called the Alcan) was opened to the public. I think I read about it in Popular Mechanics. Then 55 years later I finally made. It was a thrill to see mile marker 0 and start up the highway. I'll keep following your blog and reliving that trip.

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Old 08-04-2008, 05:18 PM   #10
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You're at Delta Junction now according to your blog. Is the mannequin in the fur bikini still there?

I am wondering about flats as you mentioned in your blog. The road from Chicken to Eagle has a reputation for flats—is that where the flats occurred? Did the people have flats with 6, 8 or 10 ply tires?

We never have made it to Eagle, but know Chicken and the Top of the World Highway. The Highway is spectacular, especially the Canadian part. I think they paved the Canadian part several years ago, but it didn't last. On the Alaska part a pickup almost ran us off the road—it was a pickup warning people that a bus was following. The pickup was going so fast it was miles and miles ahead of the bus which I think was a Holland America cruise line tour bus. The bus was driven much more safely when it finally showed up.

Gregg, good to see all these familiar places. Keep up the good work.

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Old 08-04-2008, 05:27 PM   #11
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Oh dern, if I'dve known, I would have ditched hubby and joined y'all... just kidding. (shhh! Don't tell him...LOL!)

Seriously, have a wonderful, safe adventure! I'll add ya to my blogroll!
/Lois
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Old 08-04-2008, 10:28 PM   #12
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Tires

Gene,
The tires have been all along the trail. We've had 2 Marathon separations, several flats caused by stone or pot hole and several on tow vehicles as well. There was only one flat on the Taylor Highway leaving Chicken on a tow vehicle. Most were before Dawson City probably from the graveled repair areas.
We are now in Fairbanks for 5 nights; feels good to stay put for a while. How was the weather when you came up here? It's been cold and rainy for us for the most part. The locals say they have never had such a dismal summer before. Scenery still beautiful though and this has been a real adventure.
The road off TOTW Highway to Eagle was fine, only the TOTWH and Taylor Highway have been tough on the units. We were up to speeds of 45 mph on the way to Eagle where we could only do less then 30 mph on TOTWH. The tour buses go to Eagle also. They are preceded by a small truck with a sign "Tour Bus Following Me" sign. They are needed as part of the road to Eagle along the mountain sides are only one lane in spots with no guard rails.
On TOTWH we had an incident with an oncoming van towing a trailer. The guy was going too fast and got caught in a mud groove that brought him close to our side and our mirrors collided. Mine are meant to fold in and survived the incident. His were snap ons and ended in the middle of the road. No damage so we continued on. That was one of those rides where it was great to do once but now that we did it, not in a hurry to do it again, at least in bad weather. It was like 4 wheeling with the Airstream.
Glad you and others are reading the blog. Don't remember seeing the mannequin you mention in Delta Junction. Hope you continue to enjoy.
Gregg
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Old 08-05-2008, 09:41 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by GreggH View Post
How was the weather when you came up here? It's been cold and rainy for us for the most part. The locals say they have never had such a dismal summer before.
Since it's such a large area, it hard for me to say how the weather was in any one place. It often was in the high 50's and 60's. As we got further north or we were further from the ocean, there was less rain. When we were in SE Alaska in '06, it rained everyday until we reached Ketchikan (strange, that's the rainiest city in the US or North America or someplace). It poured day after day in Juneau and other cities. We're used to very dry weather and hot summers, so it was different and sometimes the rain made us crazy. Inland is nicer and we liked the cool temps.

Sounds like the road from Chicken east to the border has deteriorated substantially since '02. I guess the "Tour Bus Following Me" trucks drive better now than in '02. The Top of the World Hwy in Yukon Terr. is an amazingly beautiful road. Glad to hear they fixed the road from Chicken to Eagle—we almost went to Eagle in '06, but ran out of time after spending more time in Inuvik than we had planned. I was hoping your caravan would go to Inuvik on the Dempster Hwy. to see how Airstreams do on that road—we drove it in an SUV in '06 in the rain and it was super slick. Getting trailers with long overhangs onto the ferries can be a challenge—we saw an RV stuck on the ramp for about 20 minutes crossing a river in NW Canada.

It was good to get to Fairbanks, though we had one crazy time after another in motels there. It was a lot smaller than I had expected since they must count every moose in within 50 miles as part of the population. The museum at the university was well worth it. I can't wait to see where you go next—Manley Hot Springs, Chena, Dalton Hwy? Manley and the Dalton Hwy are probably more than a caravan wants to do.

Do the campgrounds have wifi fairly regularly? Barb's Verizon phone didn't work at all in Yukon, NWT and lots of Alaska, but things should be better now. We didn't have too much trouble getting wifi in '06 in motels, but finding anything (ethernet, even dial up was difficult) in '02 was difficult.

Gene
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Old 08-05-2008, 10:08 AM   #14
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Hi Gregg,

It's great to hear your trip is going well. We met you briefly at Laird Hot Springs on the path to the springs. I've enjoyed viewing your blog! We are in Wasilla today and leaving for Seward. We too are tired of all the rain and cloudy weather. One bright spot is the day we visited Denali NP. It was beautiful and got a full view of McKinley (a rare occurence I'm told).
Be sure to visit the Iditarod Center in Wasilla. There's a great 24 minute movie and museum of the different equipment that's been used over the years. Also you can get a ride on a tire sled pulled by sled dogs.
We've had no use of our Verizon Aircard and RV park wifi is slow and you get knocked off the internet often.
I started a thread on these forums "Argosy to Alaska" that has a link to our blog if you're interested.

Hope your trip continues to go well!
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