Wasn't aware that Alaska "closed down" even though I lived in rural Alaska for 25+ years. Most of the tourist attractions close and most tourists are gone, but the rest of the state keeps percolating right along in spite of the weather. LOL :)
The first sticking snow of winter, usually arrives in the Nenana area, 65 miles SW of Fairbanks on or about Oct 5. It will still be nice in the Alaska Banana Belt around Anchorage and the lower Mat Su valley, but you have to drive back through the Alaska and Canadian interiors to get back out. This is where you will start hitting the cold at night from about mid September on. We used to park our RV just after the Labor Day Weekend the first week in September. Then it was time to get ready for fall moose and black bear hunting, time to change the aircraft from wheels to skis and make sure the wood yard is full of dry split firewood.
I wouldn't plan to stay much beyond the middle of September, unless I didn't mind driving on snow or having below freezing temps at night. People that drive vehicles in the Interior in the winter time, have to do a lot of special winterizing to their cars so they will start and move. Trackrig grew up in that area of the state so is well versed on the matter. Even though he claims Anchorage, he went to high school in Nenana and moved south later.
At my age now, 71, I have no desire remaining to deal with the rigors of winter time in the Alaska Interior, let the younger folks fight that dragon. It can be a beautiful place in the winter, but like a cobra, no matter how beautiful it is, it is still waiting for a person to make one wrong "oops".
I would tend to use about 30 ft as a length between taking a toad and not. As mentioned there are very few places you can't take a mid size Class C and park it at the tourist attractions or most other places. But that is a real personal preference.
I notice that most Florida State and Miami football fans still do blame the U of Florida scientists for the love bugs, true or not. LOL :)
Will have to give some of the ideas a try, the Adolphs, Bug Eraser, Bug Melt, Bug Off as I have tried the dryer sheets and they don't work for me. I have tried them new and ended up with a slimy mess on top of the bugs, that are still there. Then I have tried used dryer sheets and alone they don't work either for me. Believe I will order some of the Bug Eraser sheets today and give them a try.
My real gripe is that often when I get into them on the roads, it will be several days before I can get them off and keep them off. We often head out to the mountain west for part of the summer, just at the end of the May love bug hatching. So I have to find some place to clean them off on the way, as soon as I get far enough north to not have them present.
Nothing seems to eat love bugs, must have a terrible taste that even a bird doesn't like them. I like to think that everything in nature has a purpose, but I have yet to figure out the purpose for love bugs. Even mosquitos provide a major food source for many birds and bats, but love bugs? LOL :P
A nice place, many campgrounds, Pride, Stonebridge, Hillbilly, Trails end, Whispering Waters and a few more. MV is one of the older tourist areas in the area. Many/most of the campgrounds are older, so the sites can be a bit tight for some of the larger motorhomes of today.
We enjoy the weather in the MV area in the summer time. Close to the Smoky Mtn. National Park. Close to Waynesville, nearby for any and all shopping a person might need to do. All your major car dealerships are there in Waynesville, big box stores, etc.
Not sure what sort of advice you are seeking? A day's trip up to the Cataloochee Valley is superb IMHO. It is inside the boundaries of the NP, but closer to MV. Lots of wildlife, elk, etc and many restored building from past times of folks living and farming the area.
In the past we have stayed at the Prime CG, Stonebridge CG, Whispering Waters CG and would go back to any of them. Trails End looked real nice as well as we drove out to check it out the last time we were in the MV area. We have also stayed at the Winngray CG but won't stay there again, unless there has been a recent change in management. (last stay there was in 2010)
Will be looking forward to seeing your photos and reading the accompanying narrative as they are always enjoyable. Your bike trip in six weeks, sounds like a real blast. Perfect country and time for such a ride. I am very envious.
During the love bug season of May and September, I try to wrap clear Road Wrap on the front of our 5th wheel. Then when we get home I can pull the wrap off and put it and the bugs in the trash. On the truck it is a matter of scrubbing them off with Spray 9 cleaner, the best product I have found. We got in to some of the love bugs the last week of April on our way back from Disney in Orlando. I wasn't expecting them that early so got to scrub both the trailer and the truck.
A guy at the campground at Disney thought I was pullin his leg when I told him he needed to wash his rig before the bugs damaged his paint. Not sure I was ever able to convince him I was serious. He was an out of state person.
I think that the key here is that the OP has said he has lost confidence in his truck. Will he ever trust it again, hard to say but not real likely. We faced the same general dilemma last spring with our 2002 Dodge Cummins with 144,000 miles on it. Not any real problems but overall it needed about $10,000 to be spent on it to keep. i.e. new paint, new interior, tranny rebuild, add an exhaust brake, etc. or trade it. So we traded it for the current Chevy. Wanted to find another Dodge but couldn't find a one ton DRW diesel crew cab that was pimped out like I wanted one. So the Chevy dealer got the sale.
I have a rule of thumb that when a vehicle needs repairs in the amount that it is worth for a trade in, it is time to sell or trade. My Dodge needed $10K in work and was worth about $10K.
The people with the 6.0 Ford that go through a full bullet proofing job, at about $4,500 seem to be very satisfied with the results. There is nothing basically wrong with the 6.0, other than Ford messed up on the EGR cooler, the sand in the block casting, needing a coolant filter, and replacing the head bolts. If I owned a 6.0 that I liked, except for the original built in problems, I would probably go for the $4,500 engine improvement. Getting those items replaced with after market would more than likely give the OP several hundred thousand miles of service with his truck. None of us have any guarantees that our truck won't break down today or tomorrow.
I think that Dawson Creek used to be the big staging area for travelers, before heading up the Alaska Highway. People would stop and camp for a few days in Dawson Creek, while they built the elaborate front end protection devices to keep off the rocks, (which most generally did more damage than they prevented), to cover the bottom of the fuel tank with carpet or some other protective product, install headlight covers, buy an extra tire to two, stock up on food and get ready to risk life and limb on the world famous Alcan Highway.
But all that changed with the paving of the Alaska Highway in the late 1980s. There were sections paved before that but the different sections were connected about then. I had already made 9 round trips over the Alaska Hwy before it was paved and had learned early on, that the key to not damaging the vehicle was up to the driver. Speed or lack thereof was the key to not damaging a vehicle, and it still is to this day.
I wish they had kept the old unpaved dirt and gravel highway running the 1,523 miles to Fairbanks and would have required first and second timers, to use it instead of the nice paved road, just to give the newbees a real taste of what a rough road was all about. Reading some of the comments from some about how rough the current highway is, just makes me grin and I am sure it does others that drove the highway prior to it being paved.
Staying in Dawson Creek is not something I have done in 30 or 40 years that I can remember. There are several campgrounds there, but our timing doesn't work out to stop there for the night generally. On our 2009 trip we stayed in Hinton on the way north, (great KOA just west of town) and we stayed at the municipal campground in Grande Cache on the way back south. Another real nice place to stay, in the woods, nice showers, lots of room between sites, firewood delivered to our site by the host's son (he had just gotten his driver's license and was looking for excuses to drive the family pickup, LOL)
Just north of Dawson Creek a ways, we have stayed at the Rotary RV Park and at the Charlie Lake PP a few times. So we usually end up staying either north or south of DC. Dawson Creek is a nice town, all services a person could want, but getting a tad busy with all the related traffic from all the natural gas development in the area and north of there.
Most of the campgrounds in the area, I would not consider to be "destination" campgrounds, but are "passing through" ones. A night or two is more than likely the norm for most RVers. Several of the caravans "muster up" at one of the campgrounds but not sure which ones the different caravans use. A reservation would probably be handy if a person wanted to stay at one of those and not affiliated with a caravan that already has reservations for their clients.
Also if you would, tell us where you went and what did you do. Tell us about the fish you caught and we will believe you, if you agree to believe us the next time we talk about the fish we caught. LOL :) Photos are really good as then we can all live vicariously through them.
Just got a note from a friend in Nenana that the ice has gone out on the Nenana River, as of yesterday, Friday. So in about a week or so the Tanana River should go out in front of Nenana. Spring is on the way for sure.
It is my experience if you need to buy prescription drugs in Canada, you will need a licensed Canadian physician to sign the script. On my trips to Alaska, I fill them before I go and if I stay long enough in Alaska, will have them filled there as I use Walgreens for the most part. On a couple of trips, while in Canada I have needed some prescription meds, I have stopped at one of the walk in clinics, such as in the Edmonton Mall and have seen a Canadian doctor. Then it is a matter of walking next door to fill the script. The only problem I have ever had was the clinic, figuring out how to charge me since I don't have a provincial medical card and number. LOL
The last time, they decided that $35 by check was fine and I was off to get my meds.
One of my physicians here in Florida is a Canadian citizen and is licensed to practice medicine, here, as well as in Canada where he was educated and became a physician. He will write me script to take with me, if I ask for it.
But for the most part, I get three month fills before going and that will last most trips. My current prime care physician will also give me extra script on paper to take with, in case I need to get a refill on the trip somewhere. Since I don't take anything too unusual, mainly blood pressure pills, it doesn't give her any reason for concern. She is also willing to double the size of the pill, then I cut it in half, effectively giving me a 6 month supply. In the long run it costs my insurance company less as the larger dosages are usually just a few dollars more than the lower doses.
Even if I had a data USB that would work in Canada, $20 for 100mb is too expensive for me. For example, yesterday here at the house , on a fiber optic line, I downloaded a couple of digital copies of Money Magazine which I subscribe to. One copy was 60mb of data and the other was 151mb. For a total of 211mb . This would have cost me about $50usd to have downloaded it in Canada on the US plan. 100 mb is not very much data.
I make sure I turn off data roaming and automatic data push on my smart phone while in Canada. If not the phone will still , in the background, be checking for texts, emails, program updates, etc over the cellular side of your phone. We use AT&T for a phone carrier, so it will jump on any Rogers Communication it can find in Canada as they are the roaming partner of our carrier and visa versa in he US.
We just wait till we have wifi service somewhere and use that for free or pay for the service. I have never had to go over two days without wifi, if I am moving in Canada. Most communities, small or bigger will have wifi available somewhere in town.
It would pleasure me greatly, if some of you or all of you headed north soon, would check the list of gas stations listed on the sticky at the top and let me know of any changes I need to make to it. Thanks and have a good journey as it will be another month or so before we head out of Florida.
Dawson Town is one of those places, that to me, it would be worth making a round trip out of Whitehorse, just to spend some time, even if the ferry wasn't working. The Top Of the World road is a great experience, but the history of the north country is what Dawson is all about, the gold rush days, the rugged men and women that made the trek to look for the yellow gold.
I can't think of anywhere else in the north, that offers what Dawson does in the way of a living history lesson. There is good camping, a paddle boat to tour, shops to visit, Gerties Saloon, the dredges, and so many photo opps available. While we don't go to Dawson every trip, we have been there half a dozen times, I would guess and have never been disapointed in our decision to go there. If you can drive the Top of the World (the Sixty Mile Road, as it is called locally, by some) that is just a bonus to this side trip.
Make sure you stay in control of the process. We sold a Class A through a dealer here in Florida, that turned into somewhat of a nightmare. We signed a consignment agreement where we stated the price we wanted to receive and the dealer then set the asking price. Turned out we had a very greedy dealer, that wanted to make a killing on the sale. It ended up on his lot for most of a year, then we finally had to cut our price to get it sold. Then I had to threaten legal action to get the dealer to pay off our bank loan on the RV after it was sold. I felt the dealer should have received a $3,000 to $5,000 profit for his work on selling it, but he felt he should get more like $15,000 to $20,000. Found out later he had received several offers where he would have made about $5,000 but he turned them down without contacting me.
Just remember, the paperwork you sign will have been drawn up by the dealer's attorney and it is slanted toward the dealer. Get a copy of the agreement ahead of time, if possible, and spend some time reading and understanding what it contains before you sign. We ended up making payments and carrying insurance for almost a year because of our greedy dealer. But I have to accept the blame for not completely understanding the paperwork I signed. :(
Not sure I would give the dealer a "power of attorney" again either or just wait till it sells and go in to sign the transfer paperwork myself. It should have worked fine, but didn't. I understand many people have excellent experiences dealing with a consignment dealer such as PPL in Houston.
Time in Anchorage, it has something for every taste or lack thereof. From 5 star restaurants to sleazy clubs and bars.
So a person has to decide what they want to see and experience. Anchorage is not a favorite place of mine, in that it has little "Alaskan" included. It is basically, a smaller version of Seattle. Just another big town, IMHO. In the rest of the state, the thoughts tend to be that the best thing about Anchorage, is that it is only a 30 minute flight from there to Alaska. :) At one time, prior to the pipeline influx of people and the large military build ups, it was very Alaskan, but that all changed. Now it has all the typical big city problems, crime, gangs, traffic, etc.
Now with that build up for Anchorage, LOL, what to do and see. The Alaska Native Cultural Center is well worth half a day. It is located in the east part of town. Since my wife and I are both pilots, we enjoy grabbing some fast food, perhaps an Arctic Roadrunner burger and going out to Lake Hood and watching the float planes land and take off. In a few hours drive of Anchorage, there is the Portage Glacier area, the town of Hope, or go north to the Palmer-Wasilla area, then a half day up to Hatcher Pass and the Independence Mine State Park. The mine is well preserved, many buildings, a great historical stop. The Matanuska Glacier is just up the road east of Palmer if you like to see lots of ice.
I would take a day and drive to Whittier to take a boat trip, the train from Anchorage to Whittier is reported to be an excellent trip as well. May have to drive to catch the tour boat in time. If a person is in to bird watching, Potter's Marsh, just south of town is excellent. If a person likes to fish, they may wish to check into some of the guided trips in the Mat Su valley for a day, if the salmon are running. You wound see some beautiful scenery whether you caught fish or not.
The Whale Fat Follies should be a great show. I have never seen it but Mr. Whitekeys ran a club/dive/joint, (the Fly by Night Club, in Spenard for many years. He also writes for the Alaska Magazine and is multi talented, is an accomplished pianist as per his stage name. Anything he is associated with in the entertainment area will be first class. Spenard is the section of Anchorage out by the International airport and at one time was the "red light" district of Anchorage, in all forms of entertainment. A great place to have fun, for adults, from what I have been told. :P
Earthquake Park used to be a fun hiking trail but the last time I was by there Mother Nature had removed much of the signs of damage caused by the Good Friday earthquake of 1964. Trees had grown back, etc.
Remember when you are in Anchorage, be street wise, don't leave valuables visible in your vehicle when parked, unless you want to share the stuff. It is no more dangerous than any other big city, but it is not a tourist attraction or a theme park. I used to have to spend way too much time in Anchorage with my job, and survived with no problems. Some of the finest places to eat you will find anywhere. Especially Asian restaurants, due to the highly multicultural population. Not long ago I read that Japan Airlines was doing 58 complete crew changes in Anchorage on their long flights. They have so many personnel in Anchorage that they operate a school for the children of their employees, in Japanese.
As April posted, that is roughly $250usd per gigabyte. Last summer while on vacation, my wife and I ran through 6 gigabytes of data one month. In Canada, on the above plan, that would have costs us about $1,500, no thanks.
I have tried the dryer sheets and they don't work for me, not on love bugs. Regular bugs they are rough enough to help. The sheets I have tried new and used, the new ones just leave a slimy mess on the finish but don't remove the love bugs.
Someone on the forum, a couple of years back , mentioned a product called Spray 9, which I buy at my local Ace Hardware. Spray it on the bugs, let it soak for a couple of minutes, then go over them with a soft brush, spray in between all this. Then I take a dish washing sponge that is covered with the soft plastic mesh and go over it again. Then rinse and I may have to go back and get a few stubborn ones again with thw sponge.
We got into some of the love bugs, last week on our return from Orlando, to here in Stuart. Not a real swarm but enough to take a couple of hours to get it cleaned off. Other than the spray 9, I haven't found anything else that will work on the love bugs. I left some of the love bugs on our last camper too long and when I finally washed them off, I had silver specks on the front end of the camper where the aluminum from underneath was showing through as the love bug residue had removed the paint where they had dried.
An hour's worth of love bugs while driving on the Florida Turnpike
Close up of them