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Old 05-02-2010, 08:57 PM   #1
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Road Trips 2010

Last year I wrote of our trips short and long and started early: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f42/...ips-47817.html

Earlier this year I started a thread asking who was going to Alaska: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f290...ska-61581.html

I haven't really been spending a lot of time thinking about traveling or doing any work on the Safari until today. Since we returned from our last trip, the house has been the focus. Our first floor half bath/laundry room needed work. It had exposed pipes and I built my first soffits to hide them and put in new light fixtures. That was a difficult project that took too long (they all take too long). Then on to the kitchen—new cabinets, counter tops, floor. Big project but it went pretty fast. We have also been doing all sorts of smaller things that have been ignored for years. Updating the deck is next, then maybe spraying the logs with preservatives and putting some railings in for the front steps.

The reason—we want to put the house on the market and move to Santa Fe. It's time for a change.

But today we did some work on the trailer. These were small things, but important. A cabinet door roller catch to hold the bathroom door open. I installed one side on the lower end of a partition and the other on the bottom of the door. This is the partition along side the pull out pantry and now the thing doesn't pull out as far, but it's ok. Anything it better than propping things against the bathroom door because it won't stay open. Thanks to Chief (Ron) who had the idea, though he installed one differently and in a better place.

We found a simple clear plastic magazine rack at the Container Store and screwed it to the side of the cabinet I installed on the gaucho last year. More places for maps, magazines and crap.

I bought some large rubber washers to put under the water pump. Installation was difficult because of the location of the pump. One washer disappeared while I was doing this, but I had some grommets. So there are now three washers and one grommet between the pump and the floor where the screws are. We tried the pump and it seemed a lot quieter. We'll see how it runs when there's water in the system.

I mounted a thing with magnets to hold knives above the stove top and one the partition on the other side of the pantry slide out. When we met Evan and Jane (eheffa) in Utah several weeks ago, they had done that. Barb had the same knife holder—she had bought it decades ago and once she saw one in a Safari, she wanted hers mounted too.

Tried the furnace and it still works. I'll have to check other systems soon and start maintenance. I did check tire tread and they are all wearing about the same. The spare will be rotated with the most worn tire once I get the tires elevated to adjust brakes.

Somehow we'll get this done and finish house projects, have a visit from the in-laws, go to meetings, see my knee doctor, and plan the trip—after all we have all of three weeks. Three weeks? This is nuts! It's like this every year—stressed out and crazed trying to get it all done. And somehow, we pull it off.

Getting ready for an 8 week trip to NW Canada and Alaska shouldn't take much time (delusion sets in and helps get us through this).

Gene
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Old 05-02-2010, 09:40 PM   #2
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This is a trip that we plan to make as soon as we get all of our working years behind us. I'm looking forward to watching your adventure and taking notes...
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Old 05-02-2010, 10:17 PM   #3
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Gene,

Glad to hear that you have been working your way through Barb's list.....you can't fool us, we know she is the driving force!

I hope that you document the trip to Alaska as well as last year's adventure.....we might even be brave enough to try that in a year, or so.

Last week I started the serious Spring stuff on the Safari....rotated tires, repacked the wheel bearings (they really didn't look like they needed it), and installed metal valve stems for the tire pressure monitoring system. We're headed to Arkansas in a week for some last minute stuff before the warranty expires in June.

We depart on our Great American Road Trip 2010 in June.....this time it will be the Northeast....all the way to Prince Edward Island, and back through VT, Niagra Falls, and PA. And, YES, I do have all the reservations made! This time we are traveling with one other Airstream couple, and I hope to document it with pics and video.

Hello to Barb. BTW, I finished off the Mexican beer...... it was pretty good.....think I might have to start drinking it more often.

Ron
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Old 05-03-2010, 07:07 AM   #4
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Aaah, yes------work on one's land home. We spent 3 full weeks on little projects when we returned from our winter trip.

Good to know you will be on the road again this year and regaling us with witty tales and observations (and pictures!) of your trip.

Maggie
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Old 05-03-2010, 10:05 AM   #5
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Ron,

I make more lists than Barb does. We give each other lots of projects too. It's never slow around here. Adding to yesterday's accomplishments were 4 new hooks—those expensive Command hooks. There'll never be enough hooks for Barb and I can't understand what's wrong with clothes on the gaucho. What else is it for?

Richard and Maggie, thanks for your compliments.

We've been to Alaska twice and look forward to doing this trip differently—with the Safari. The last 2 trips were 6 weeks each and that's a long time away from home. Every once in a while we get homesick, bit get it over it quickly, and when we are close to coming back, we want to travel more. We're just never satisfied.

We've been to many of the well known places, but have so far missed McCarthy and the old Kennicott mine, Chena Hot Springs, Circle, actually seeing Denali and Sitka. There's more we've missed, of course, but those places are on the list as places not to miss. I've been trying to figure out whether the hassles involved in going to Cordova are worth it. And then there's Dutch Harbor—maybe we can sign on to a crab boat. The ferry goes to Dutch, and takes several days of almost inevitable sea sickness. I know I will not talk Barb into that.

I should be looking up things rather than writing because the only planning has been in my head. We've seen Ron's books he creates for each trip. He started on this year's road trip last Fall. Seems a bit extreme to me, but he doesn't appear to hurt himself as long as he keeps drinking the Dos X's. I thought I overplanned and am trying to let go of some of that, but I'm starting to feel unprepared.

Ron and Jenn live close to the Gulf and may be seeing oil on the beaches soon. When we stopped to see them last fall we camped at a state park nearby. The beach was just about as white as any you'll see and it makes me angry and sad to think that those beaches may soon be fouled. I think the oil has to go somewhere, so some coastline is going to get wrecked whether it's La. or Fla. or in between. That oil, even when "cleaned up", persists below the first inches of sand or marsh for many years. Sorry to close on a bummer.

Gene
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
Last year I wrote of our trips short and long and started early: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f42/...ips-47817.html

Earlier this year I started a thread asking who was going to Alaska: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f290...ska-61581.html
[deleted]

The reason—we want to put the house on the market and move to Santa Fe. It's time for a change.
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Getting ready for an 8 week trip to NW Canada and Alaska shouldn't take much time (delusion sets in and helps get us through this).

Gene
Gene,
Suffering from altitude sickness? Snow blindness? Seems you have a nice little piece of paradise in Colorado.
Jealous of the 8 week trip to Alaska and back. Someday.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:41 PM   #7
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Michelle, we love to travel and we love to be home. It may be a psychosis, but we like it. We have a habit of buying houses that need some work, do the work (increasing value greatly), move on. The house we have is great and the views are magnificant. With 27 acres we have total privacy and lots of storage in outbuildings, but there's a whole world to be in. We are retired and could live anywhere, but Barb wants to be within a day's drive of her parents who are very healthy but in their mid-80s'. That means somewhere within 300-400 miles of Pueblo, Colorado. We've done Denver; Barb has done Ft. Collins (college). We've done the rural thing, but need more cultural stimulation, more good restaurants, better food stores, more like minded people. The Oklahoma panhandle is within a day's drive, but Santa Fe is more appealing. We could fulltime, but we do like a stationary home.

Santa Fe is a couple of hundred feet higher than where we are though it has less snow. Altitude sickness will not be a problem. It has better access to winter trailer traveling without worrying about blizzards as much, and so we may be able to Airstream more often as winter isn't as long. Prices are way down in SF, but they are here too, so we'll have to see what we can pull off. This is going to be tricky and requires careful timing. Putting your house on the market and then leaving for 8 weeks may seem crazy, but we are doing it anyway; our realtor says we'll work it out if there's an offer. We also have a 10 acre adjoining lot for sale.

When we talked about where to go this year Barb wanted to go to Hawaii and I wanted to go to Newfoundland and Labrador. The Hawaii Causeway is not yet finished, so taking the Airstream wasn't an option. We compromised on Alaska. Hawaii will come eventually—it'll be our 50th state—but we don't fly (why be treated so badly and pay for it?) and cruises seem weird to me.

Just started doing some research on how to get to Sitka—this is not easy and I e-mailed the C of C there. Also starting checking on the Kennecott copper mine—it was abandoned quickly in 1938 and little has changed since. Personal items were left behind, plates were still on the tables. I just e-mailed the Chitina C of C about RV facilities or parking there. Chitina (pron.: Chitna) is a small town at the end of the paved road. Nice little town and we were there in 2002. I bought a fire dep't T-shirt and Barb got a neck pillow, both still in use.

Gene
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Old 05-04-2010, 12:47 PM   #8
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Today's questions: I started doing a little research and route planning yesterday between work on deck updating and weight training exercise (have to tone up for the trip). I see there are several federal campgrounds at Denali. Some seem quite far inside the park and it appears you register at the entrance visitor center (some take reservations and some do not). Any experiences with this? How hard is it to get a space when you don't know until days or a week before what you're doing? I would like to get as hard into the park as possible and since almost all of the road is closed to private vehicles, being able to use a CG inside has its advantages. The park runs a bus system and I suppose you can board the bus at any CG. Last I read they were school busses and uncomfortable.

Second question: I think I know there is a campground on the Dalton Hwy (Haul Road) north of Coldspot. I don't mean the one 5 miles north, but way north on the other side of the Brooks Range. I believe it is a BLM CG. When we looked for it in 2002 we couldn't find it. Has anyone been there and what was it like? I understand the highway is mostly paved to Coldspot now, but how is it north? We found less pavement in 2002, but generally it was well maintained. If it were wet, mud was a problem, not so much on the road, but a lot welded itself under the truck and was very hard to wash off.

Gene
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Old 05-04-2010, 01:34 PM   #9
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Denali Visit O8

Visited Denali in a rental RV in 2008. Stayed at Grizzly Bear RV park outside the entrance. Not fancy but okay with electric and water only. As I recall if you stay in the park you have to stay put for three days. We took the all day bus ride into the park which was well worth the money. Saw too many bears to want to do any hiking or backpacking (those days are gone anyway). We enjoyed our visit and hope to return someday soon! I look forward to your travel notes!!!
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Old 05-04-2010, 01:44 PM   #10
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The school buses are not uncomfortable at all. Be sure to sit on the left side going into the park! The all day trip to the end of the road does not stop for hikers. The others do.

If you are lucky the clouds will part and you will see Mount McKinley!
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Old 05-04-2010, 01:52 PM   #11
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Oh boy - another Odyssey to follow.

I'm looking forward to this proxy adventure with you Gene.

We've only been back a little over a week & I'm hankering to pack up & go again. Too bad one has to work for a living. Maybe I should try & find a sponsor...?

Have fun planning & packing. Half the fun is in the anticipation I think.

-evan
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Old 05-08-2010, 10:35 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
Michelle, we love to travel and we love to be home. It may be a psychosis, but we like it. We have a habit of buying houses that need some work, do the work (increasing value greatly), move on. The house we have is great and the views are magnificant. With 27 acres we have total privacy and lots of storage in outbuildings, but there's a whole world to be in. [deleted]
We've done the rural thing, but need more cultural stimulation, more good restaurants, better food stores, more like minded people. The Oklahoma panhandle is within a day's drive, but Santa Fe is more appealing. We could fulltime, but we do like a stationary home.

Santa Fe is a couple of hundred feet higher than where we are though it has less snow. Altitude sickness will not be a problem. It has better access to winter trailer traveling without worrying about blizzards as much, and so we may be able to Airstream more often as winter isn't as long. Prices are way down in SF, but they are here too, so we'll have to see what we can pull off. This is going to be tricky and requires careful timing. Putting your house on the market and then leaving for 8 weeks may seem crazy, but we are doing it anyway; our realtor says we'll work it out if there's an offer. We also have a 10 acre adjoining lot for sale.

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Gene
Gene,
I am so temped to ask how much. I looked on Google Earth and you are certainly rural. However, I am firmly rooted in the Northern Rockies.
Santa Fe is a beautiful place. Much more to do than the Oklahoma panhandle.
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Old 05-08-2010, 01:00 PM   #13
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Michelle, you are also in a nice part of the world. Although I have only passed through Missoula, I have heard good things about it.

We are making progress on reconditioning the deck and need to get this finished this weekend. Planning and researching the trip is also going forward as we find out about places we haven't been to. It seems to take one or two days to get from Skagway to Sitka—boats or planes or boat and plane or plane and boat. It might be possible with two planes in one day. I'm not partial to planes and boats are great as you can see lots of the waterways in SE Alaska. If it takes 2 days, there's two overnights in Juneau—boat schedules are tricky. That's positive because we like Juneau and we know a cool place to stay overnight downtown. Then there's how expensive this gets—the trailer stays in Skagway spending money at a CG, travel is probably close to $500 and two nights in Juneau, 2 (maybe) in Sitka, plus maybe a rental car and/or bus or taxis from ferry terminals or airports. Also meals out and lodging in Sitka. We could take the truck on the state ferry, but that costs more than rentals, cabs, etc. We could take the trailer, but that gets even more expensive. There's also the White Pass RR excursion to White Pass or further—also very expensive as it's kind of a captive market. So this idea keeps looking more and more costly and time consuming. It could take a week after getting to Skagway just to make our way to Sitka, stay a couple of nights, and return.

So we're copping out. We'll go to Skagway on the trip north and do the RR trip and go to Dyea—ghost town and now historic park at the beginning of the Chilkoot Pass trail. This was the famous trail to the Klondike featuring the Golden Stairs. It was featured on Alaska license plates several years back. I'd like to see it in person, but it's a very long hike to it, maybe 30+ miles.

There's a public primitive CG in Dyea—$6/night, but it's about 9 miles from Skagway, RR station and ferries. There are private CG's in Skagway, one right at the RR station and ferries and another a little way from downtown.

We'll decide on Sitka on the way back. We can go to Haines, a town in a spectacular setting. We'll be a little closer to Juneau and Sitka and can figure out the time and money thing. We both really want to get to Sitka so something may make sense by then.

We've settled on bringing the trailer to the Marion Creek CG just north of Coldfoot on the Dalton Hwy. We stayed there in 2002 with a tent. Very nice BLM CG and it even has a host. There's a CG with some sort of hookups at the truck stop at Coldfoot, but that's not necessary for a few days. We can rest up and then drive up (leaving trailer at the CG) the Dalton through the Brooks Range and as far up the North Slope as we can, investigating. It is a spectacular place between seeing the enormous Brooks Range and the gently sloping North Slope tundra. The pipeline detracts from the scenery, but without it, there would be no road. When the oil runs out, there will be a lot less reason for the state to maintain this road. Last year the Dalton Hwy was featured on Ice Road Truckers, a kind of silly program, but fun for us since we've been there, though not in winter. We drove up to the North Slope in '02, but were so tired from driving like crazy people to get to Alaska we couldn't enjoy ourselves, but it was still memorable to be there despite the yawning.

We'll use Fairbanks as a place to stock up on provisions, maybe see a few sights, and drive to places. The university has a very good museum, but we've been there. Fairbanks is very spread out and simply the market town for a very large region. If you look at the population figures for the Borough, and then see the city, you'll ask where the people are. They are spread out over an area like a giant county—borough in Alaska means county in the lower 48. There's not much to interest us there, but it's centrally located.

Chena HS is also on the list. Not much of a CG it appears, but hot springs are always appealing. It's only about 60 miles from Fairbanks.

A trip to Circle HS and Circle is still under discussion. Not the best road part of the way and the HS has been closed for years, though it appears at times you can get in. You can camp nearby, the scenery is supposed to be great. The town of Circle may not be worth it—we could leave the trailer near the HS and drive the 30 or so miles to Circle to say we've been there. I have to do some convincing to get this venture going.

We've been to Manley HS, another funky place NW of Fairbanks. An evening in the Roadhouse bar was facilitated by beer and the very talkative locals. The yodeling Inuit woman who claimed she was a princess was especially memorable. Then the Swiss tourists showed up and we asked them for watches and chocolate. They didn't know what to make of the crazy (and someone inebriated) Americans. It's another side trip on a gravel road and Barb wants to limit trips on gravel because of her attachment to the Safari. We'll see whether we renew our time in Manley HS.

Once we are done with that region, south to Denali NP. There are several CG's in the park and that seems to be the way to go for us. I'll have to start reading the NP website on that. Since most people never see the mountain because of the weather, I'm prepared for that.

I think Homer and Seward are both on the schedule and we'll find a way to get to McCarthy and Kennicott. You can camp in Chitina and walk to the airport I think. There you can take a light plane to McCarthy and they'll take you to the mine; it's a one day tour. You have to take a tour to get in the buildings and I think you get a meal in McCarthy. The flight gives you a good view of the massively large national park there. That sounds like a good option. Otherwise, drive to McCarthy, park, walk across 2 bridges, stay somewhere, get a tour to mine—cheaper, more time in funky Alaska town, but the plane sounds like a good diversion.

So the planning is happening after all the other work in done—from about 9 pm to midnight. There are some discussions: "You want to go where?" and other such thoughts intrude. We've been negotiating trips for many years and it all works out eventually, but for both of us to get everything we want can be a challenge.

Gene
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Old 05-14-2010, 12:08 PM   #14
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Planning daily miles and locations is pretty much done for the time being. Now we're spending some time on researching specific places. It looks like taking boat trips from Homer across the bay to a couple of towns is a good thing to do.

Some of the boats hang around Gull Island where I can see puffins. I can't believe these birds can really fly because they look so awkward, but they do, from one end of the globe to another. The coloring and design on them is unreal and looks like it was done by computer (could they be probes sent by space aliens?). When I tried to take photos of them in 2002, my trusty old Minolta 1970 SRT 101 (I think that was the model) failed to work, so I am going to take photos this time with the digital camera we subsequently bought. We may skip Seward if we can see puffins near Homer. Now I'm talking about going to Valdez and taking the ferry to Cordova and staying over there briefly, rent a car and go see the Childs glacier and Copper R. delta.

We're coming to grips with the fact that 8 weeks isn't enough to see what we haven't seen before or want to go back to. Sitka is still up in the air. It takes as much as 6 days to spend 2 there. In that 6 days we can see a lot elsewhere.

The house improvements are coming to a close and I did get a little done on the trailer 2 days ago. Replaced my first interior rivets and it was easy, but they were too big—I bought the wrong diameter. Since they are above the kitchen upper cabinets, they are not very noticeable. Yesterday I got the right size and Barb found another rivet popped next to the door.

The weather has been more like the Front Range with winter lingering into mid May mixed with pleasant spring weather. Last week we had a mudstorm—a very windy day bringing red dust from Utah followed by a little rain and snow leaving mud over most surfaces. My newly cleaned windows now dirty again. Our new decking muddy. The solar panel is now mud colored. Seems useless to wash and polish the truck or trailer. We have been getting these mudstorms for the last couple of years two or more times a year. It usually a cold front with high winds followed by a little precipitation. I've never seen anything like it. This weather makes it harder to get to tire rotating, brake adjusting and other exterior work. Allergies are fierce this year which means both of us are operating at less than 100% as well. I often hear, "I don't have allergies, but this year…".

We leave in 9 days.

Gene
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