Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Going To Alaska?

Going To Alaska?

Be prepared for this awesome journey.

Here are three daily log entries from our e-book “RVing Alaska


The Beginning of Our Alaska Trip –
July 25 - Wednesday - Seattle to Cache Creek

Brookside Campground - $28.00
Pull-thru, 30-amp, water, sewer, Wi-Fi ($)
301 miles - 7 hours

We are on an Alaska RV trip. We'll try to update you at least once a week about our adventures.

It has been a few years since we last drove north on I-5 from Portland, Oregon. So, we were sort of surprised when we encountered very heavy traffic all the way from Portland, through Seattle and into Everett, Washington. Especially around Seattle.

Our first day's journey (on a clear, sunny day) took us from the Seattle/Tacoma KOA to the Brookside Campground in Cache Creek, British Columbia. We left I-5 at Exit 256 and followed Highways 539, 546 and 9 to the border crossing at Sumas, WA.

There was only one car in line when we arrived at Canadian Customs at 1:00 pm. The courteous officer wrote down our license plate numbers and entered them into a computer. Then he asked for identification (we gave him our passports). A number of questions followed: "Where do you live, How long will you be in Canada? Are you carrying any firearms? How much tobacco and alcohol are aboard? Any commercial products? Gifts for Canadians? Surprisingly he did not ask about food products, nor did he enter our RV.

We continued north a short distance and turned east onto Trans-Canadian Highway 1. Highway 1 is a pleasure to drive. As it leaves Abbottsford it crosses relatively level farmland, moves into tree-covered hills, and then through mountainous terrain with many curves and a number of brief 6 and 7 percent grades. The route follows the Fraser and Thompson Rivers. This is a spectacular scenic drive. The Fraser Valley is better described as a canyon with vertical, tree-covered cliffs. Building the highway and two railroad tracks along this route is an engineering marvel. Traffic on the highway was extremely light.

We arrived at the 97-site Brookside Campground in Cache Creek at 4:00 pm. There were only a few vacant sites when we arrived. The campground owner said we would take the last big-rig site he had available. A level pull-through site with 30-amp electric, water and sewer hookup cost $28.00. WiFi was also available for an additional $2.00. There were a lot of rental RVs in the campground. Most, if not all, were occupied by Europeans. All the Americans we spoke with were heading south. There were mixed reports about the condition of the Cassiar Highway.


August 28 - Tuesday
Sunny - 68 degrees -

Tok to Haines Junction
Alaska Highway 1
290 miles - 8 hours

Kluane RV Park ($30.00)
Pull-thru, 30-amp, water, sewer, cable

After a breakfast that included sourdough pancakes and reindeer sausage we headed southeast from Tok on Alaska Highway 1. The 2-lane highway crosses rolling terrain with easy grades and curves. It is nicely paved for the 90 miles to the Canadian border. The next 90 miles or so, however, is frost-heave alley. This has got to be the roughest section of the Alaska Highway. There were times when our speed was reduced to 20 miles per hour and we never exceeded 40 miles per hour. Once we reached Destruction Bay on Kluane Lake the road surface calmed down. There was serious road construction going on at the south end of the lake but after that the road became real civilized. The good news was the scenery we enjoyed during the entire trip.

There is a fuel station on the highway just before you reach the Canadian border. Diesel and gasoline was priced at $3.19 per gallon. The same as in Tok. We topped off our fuel tank. A few miles later, in Canada, fuel was priced at $1.26 per liter ($4.77 per gallon)

The border crossing was no problem. A few questions, a look at our passports, and we were on our way.

John and Jodie kept us busy videotaping various sections of highway. They would drive a good distance ahead of us scouting out a good location, setting up their camera, and then filming us as we traveled over that particular piece of road. We want our DVD to show the variety of road surfaces one encounters in, and on the way to, Alaska. There are places where the RVer must deal with dust, mud, gravel and frost-heaves but the majority of the roads are nicely surfaced with easy grades and alignment.

Our campground for the evening was the Kluane RV Kampground in Haines Junction. It offers 30-amp electric, water, sewer, cable TV and free WiFi. The gravel campsites will accommodate large RVs.

The Aspens have turned gold and other fall colors are beginning to show. Last night the temperature in Tok dropped to 36 degrees. Another sure sign of fall is number of RVs heading south along the highway


The end of our Alaska trip.

September 6 - Thursday
Overcast, 65 degrees

Cache Creek to Everett, Washington
Highways 1, Exit 92, 9, 546, 539, I-5
268 miles - 6 hours

Lakeside RV Park - $35.00
50-amp, water, sewer, cable, no Wi-Fi
Dial-up modem in laundry room

There is a convenient, easy in-and-out Petro station located on the east side of Highway 97 just north of its intersection with Highway 1. We began our day by filling our fuel tank with $1.04 per liter ($3.94 per gallon) diesel and driving south on Trans-Canadian Highway Highway 1. This is a spectacular scenic drive. At first it crosses mountainous terrain with many curves and a number of brief 6 and 7 percent grades. The mountains give way to tree-covered hills and then to relatively level farmland. The route follows the Thompson and Fraser Rivers. Traffic, compared to what we had become accustomed to, was somewhat busy with more than a few big trucks towing tandem trailers.

Just outside the community of Abbottsford, highway signs advise motorists that Exit 92 to Highway 11 (Sumas Way) would lead to the U.S./Canada border crossing. Once there, we waited in line for a half-hour to cross into the United States. Some of the vehicles in front of us were searched, others checked by dogs, we lucked out. A friendly Customs Officer asked us a couple questions ... "Where do you live?" ... "What kind of things did you buy in Canada?" ..., gave us a friendly smile, said "Welcome home" and waved us through.

Traffic was heavy on Interstate 5. Cars zoomed, trucks tailgated, travel lanes appeared and disappeared. We were back in the "lower 48" where every lane is the fast lane.

It had taken four hours to get from Cache Creek to the border crossing and a half hour to cross the border. One and one-half hours later we pulled into the Lakeside RV Park in Everett, Washington ($35.00). Our paved, pull-thru site had 50-amp electric, water, sewer and cable TV (with 99 stations). Our satellite TV antenna had good reception and our cellular phone had a strong signal. Surprisingly, the RV park did not have WiFi but there was a dial-up modem in the laundry room.

Our Alaska trip began in Seattle, WA and ended in Everett, WA. It had taken 44 days. We drove 6,744 miles, purchased $3089.79 of fuel, and had a great adventure.

Note: Had we put our motorhome and car on the ferry from Haines, Alaska to Bellingham, Washington and taken a cabin for the journey, it would have cost $4,400.00 plus the cost of meals purchased on board. But we took the ferry from Haines to Skagway and then drove to Everett, Washington. It cost us $233.00 for the ferry, $769.00 for fuel, and $133.00 for campgrounds, or a total of $1,135.00. We left Haines the same day the ferry departed. We arrived in Washington two days after the ferry.

Read a detailed journal of our Alaskan journey in "RVing Alaska: Insights and Observations"

Read our article: Alaska! The Ultimate RV Adventure

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