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Old 01-12-2009, 05:13 PM   #15
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1961 16' Bambi
trinity , Texas
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Denali National Park Camping @ Savage River

There are three campgrounds at Denali NP for RVers. Reservations are highly recommended and there are still plenty available for next summer at this time. The NP is open May 15 - Sept 15 with limited facilities. We recommend Savage River because it is smaller and quieter, but it is also 12.8 mi into the Park Highway from the Park entrance and has no electric or water hookups. Be sure to pick up your camping permit at the Mercantile before you drive out to Savage R. Campground. Late Aug is fabulous due to fall folliage and fewer tourists. In order to see the most animals in Denali, be sure to take the day long bus tour at least to Eielson Visitor's Center. Amazing scenery! We pulled a 1967 Ambassador from Texas last summer thru Calgary, Edmonton, Watson Lake and up the Alaska Hwy in late April. Laird Hot Springs near Watson Lake is a recommended stop along the way (we did not have reservations but April is not crowded at Laird). The AlCan was better than we expected, but it is bumpy with frostheaves in some areas worse than others, and weather was a factor only one time. The trip took 12 days (4700 mi )from TX. Be sure to keep your dogs on a leash at all times. Fuel wasn't a problem along the way(except for expense) but we suggest as much travel in the US as possible before crossing into Canada to save on fuel. While on the AlCan be sure to know how far it is to the next gas station and fill up. Gas last summer in Alaska reached $5/gal. Hopefully it will be better this next summer, but it will definitely be higher than Texas' prices! Check out the Denali Highway. It is a fairly smooth dirt road, but safe for slower RV travel, very little tourist traffic, beautiful scenery including a glacier, and lots of birds. You can camp for free along that highway or pay a nominal fee for an RV campsite off the road. Many Alaska highways have pull-outs that will permit free overnight RV camping. We are going back this spring. If I can answer any questions, please feel free to call me at 936-661-3026.
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:46 PM   #16
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1971 18' Caravel
2004 25' International CCD
Bend , Oregon
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A couple adds to Gene's post -

We visited Skagway via the fast day ferry from Haines, a day seemed like the right amount of time in Skagway, our return ferry left after the last cruise ship, so it was nice to see how the town shuts down when the ship leaves.

Haines has one very clean RV park at the North end of town, one on the water that is a gravel lot and a nice state park Chilkoot State Parks near Haines on a lake to the NE of town. The river out of the lake is frequented by Grizzlies fishing (see picture) in the late summer, sounded like almost every night you could see the bears.

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Had to show off we made it to the Artic Circle, left the trailer in Fairbanks and did a two day trip to Atigun pass and back.

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Backing out of the ferries was not a problem for us, it is tight and not easy but worth it, as Gene mentioned the directions you receive may be less than useful, the guys directing do keep you from hitting anything.

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Loading onto the ferry.

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Inside the ferry. That's a 34 we are parking next to and both of use had to back out of the position but could go out forward once we made the 90 degree turn on the car deck.

Regarding the ferry reservations, we did not have reservations for any ferry and only had to wait for the next ferry one time. We were headed south in late August. The time we did have to wait we were in a long standby list but the next ferry was no problem. It's tough to make an Alaska trip with reservations, you never know when you find something that will be worth an extra day or two. There is almost always someone with a reservation who does not show.

Mike Martin
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Old 01-13-2009, 06:03 PM   #17
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More thoughts: When I was a kid and they opened the Alcan (the name used then) to the public, I remember reading about it and wanted to go. It took me 55 years to get there. It was a thrill to get to Dawson Creek, BC, and start our journey. There are two places in town that say they are the historic start of the Alaska Hwy—there are many strange things about "The Highway". I was kind of disappointed it was not still mud two feet deep, but I suppose I would not have gotten very far if it was.

You will find fuel and food and such all along the way. Before it was paved, people used to get large cages on the front of their vehicles to protect them from gravel, but that's not necessary any more. Distances are very long. The maps for NW Canada and Alaska have to get a lot of land in a small space, so distances are deceiving looking at the map. Get gas fairly frequently or carry extra gas with you. Fuel up before you enter Canada—prices there are substantially higher (same for alcohol and tobacco products which are also taxed highly). I think the longest distances between settlements are in southern Yukon where the Highway follows the Yukon/BC border for hundreds of miles.

You will learn to multiply quickly by .62. That's the number to convert kilometers to miles (100 kph = 62 mph). Older Canadians still think and talk in miles, but the younger generation has been brainwashed. Converting liters to gallons (I think it's 3.8 liters to the gallon) is a process that can be mastered to keep a record of miles per gallon, but always have a calculator handy. If it's 20˚ C, it's quite pleasant (68˚ F), but it'll often be in the teens in the northern Canada.

Canada has a lot of taxes. Even postage stamps have a tax on them. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) can be partially reclaimed depending how much you spend at any one location and on what. There's plenty of information about it in the Milepost and elsewhere. You can get the receipts stamped at the duty free stores at the border and they will give you some of the tax back, but they discount; you can get the whole amount by sending the forms into the Canadian gov't office listed on the form. On long trips, we get $50-80 back.

Also read up on what you can take across the border in either direction. Most is straight forward, some is not. You will be crossing the border several times and making declarations each time has some problems about time in Canada, what you bought and where to declare it. It is confusing and I've never gotten a straight answer. We tend to only buy stuff in Canada on our way back to only have to declare stuff once. Have all receipts ready and the total and be ready to show them if necessary; we've never had to, but being prepared makes it easy for you if you run into a grumpy customs guy. However on the US side, it was always the immigration guys you had to watch out for—they were always grumpy. Now the two agencies have been combined and you just don't know what you'll run into. Back in the'70's, crossing back into the US used to be awful for those of us with beards and long hair and foreign cars and such. Things seem to be different when the hair turns grey and the trucks are pretty new. We have had more hassles from the Canadians (not much really) than the US guys. This may be payback for our gov't treating Canadians as suspicious and requiring passports; our country seems to go out of its way at times to insult our closest friends. Make sure you know about passports.

Some things cannot be imported or can be bought in Alaska, but are illegal in Canada. These have to do with certain native items, feathers, things made of certain animals. It is confusing. The things that can't be transported across Canada can be mailed home. More to read up on and when in doubt, don't do it. Dogs need vaccination certificates for Canada; guns are verbotten except for rifles, but that may be a hassle too. Bear spray has some regulations I believe, best to check. Sometimes fruit can be a problem. I just say we have a pear, some peaches, bananas, etc., for personal consumption and they don't bother me.

Never lie about anything! If you are caught, you are in big trouble.

Bringing minors across the border can be a problem even though you have custody after a divorce. Check regs on that carefully. You will need documents.

Check whether your health insurance is effective in Canada. Our Medicare is not even though they call their health insurance system Medicare. Theoretically you need an international or a Canadian insurance card from your auto insurance company—probably is important if you have an accident. A lot of US agents never heard of it. US auto insurance should be valid in Canada.

Everything in northern Canada and Alaska will be more expensive, much more. I paid around $70 for an oil change in Whitehorse, Yukon. It was Mobil 1, but it's still a lot. I remember paying $2.50 a gallon for gas across the Yukon R. in Alaska in 2002 and thinking that was really expensive; times change.

I'll think of more. There's lots to learn. It's a different place. We love it.

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Old 01-13-2009, 08:50 PM   #18
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We travel both sides of the border a lot since we live just fifteen minutes north of it. We use the following to convert Kilometers into Miles per hour. Multiply the Kilometers per hour by six.
Thus a sign that says 100
100 KMH x 6 = 60 MPH

90 KMH x 6 = 54 MPH

50 KMH x 6 = 30 MPH

It isn't exact but it is very close and keeps you out of the ticket thing. An easy conversion, quick if you remember your multiplication, and for those of you with GPS it will do it for you, just tell it.

Come on up and do the trip through BC and use the ferries. You will be blown away at how beautiful, rugged, and natural much of BC and the north.

Barry & Donna
Life is short - so is the door on a '51 Flying Cloud (ouch)
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Old 01-26-2009, 11:15 AM   #19
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We are also planning an Alaska trip this summber, my wife, 2 dogs and a cat will be leaving our home in Florida on May 1, 2009 and we are going to take the I-10 to Cali and then up to Seattle for the western route. We are planning a leisure drive and hope to be back sometime in September.
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Old 01-26-2009, 02:41 PM   #20
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tr, I am jealous, 4+ months! The most western route means taking a ferry. There's a central route via the Cassier Hwy and a bit more eastern route via the Alaska Hwy. I guess there's a 4th route going north through Alberta to the Great Slave Lake and turning left there and working your way west and then south to the Alaska Hwy. To me part of a trip to Alaska is driving the entire Alaska Hwy because it's part of the mystique. Then the problem is every other route is wonderful too, including the ferry systems.

Just traveling up the Pacific coast can take a month or more. Getting into the north country before mid May could be pretty cold, but afterward is fine. By mid June you will discover the mosquito. The big ones are relatively mild compared to the little ones. They come and go. One hopes for windy days to blow them away, but that doesn't always work. By August come the no-see-ums, but we've always avoided them, but not traveling at that time. Mosquitoes aren't restricted to Alaska—we've "experienced" them in the middle of BC. Remember to open and close doors fast!. Tracking down the buggers so that they don't get you while sleeping takes a lot of time once they get inside. A lot of people use Deet, but we avoided it because it seems pretty toxic. Nothing else works very well, but the "natural" stuff works for a short time and we just kept using it over and over. It is not true the mosquitoes have a several foot wingspan, but if you add them all together, they probably weigh many, many tons.


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