The article I read about Eagle, which had stated river ice along the surrounding Front Street and nearby areas that damaged 9 homes, as flood waters extended and covered Old Eagle Village Road...the 2009 disaster was also quoted as a 200 year event for what had happened.
Quite the similar event as the Yukon River at Dawson had gone out the day before, as a downstream from Eagle ice jam developed real late in the season (Mid May).
It sure has been a cold spring along here, as the Tanana River in Nenana usually goes out before the Yukon River at Dawson, but the tripod on the Tanana is still barely holding up and very close to going out at anytime.
Friday and early Saturday weather here was dismal as snow stuck to the ground for about 14 hours, however an interesting article of what the latest western storm had brought to Denali Park :
Very late winter for Denali National Park
I figured diesel would be cheaper at the Hub in Glennallen, but it was 50 cents higher than the last place I filled up in Cananda
That place has always had higher fuel prices during my times passing thru there...the few times I commuted the long way to Anchorage I topped off there as well as The Hub was cheaper priced versus Paxson.
I last time I purchased fuel there in 1995 thinking I better fuel up here so I would'nt have to pay Valdez prices, however finding out later Valdez sold fuel much cheaper than The Hub...
The following year a friend that formally resided in Glennallen told me the prices in Gakona Junction nearby were significantly cheaper, and I confirmed that as it was anywhere between 12c to 25c per US Gallon cheaper....even gas at Kenny Lake was cheaper than The Hub when I compared prices along the way.
I too asked the bulk plant manager in Fairbanks why certain locations in Alaska had such a price range variation, as over 15 years ago I was told the North Pole refinery supplied fuel for the entire Alaska Interior, Fairbanks thru Healy on the Parks Hwy, Delta Jct thru Dot Lake on the Alaska Hwy, the entire Richardson Hwy route Fairbanks to Valdez...
The Kenai Tesoro refinery back in the day as I was told supplied fuel for all of the Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage, Southcentral Alaska, Parks Hwy thru Cantwell, the entire Glenn Hwy route and Tok Cutoff, Tok thru Border City on the Alaska Hwy.
Which this would make sense comparing the higher fuel prices in Glennallen, Tok, Border City and Cantwell if their fuel is trucked in from Kenai.
I have no idea if a certain refinery supplies Chicken with fuel or if they were subjected to a supplier route, however I have seen single fuel tanker Alaska Petroleum trucks (based in North Pole) hauling fuel to Eagle on the Taylor Hwy.
I asked about Southeast Alaska communities and was told they get their supply from Washington State via barged in back in the day.
This topic got started when I asked why 100 octane low lead AVGAS was 50 cents per US Gallon higher practically overnight when I was purchasing, as the bulk plant manager told me at the time the Martinez California refinery was the only 100 octane AVGAS supplier for all of Alaska as the serious catastrophe event happened that shut down supply, as they were now recieving AVGAS supplies from one of the Texas refineries instead until the Martinez California plant is restored....no Alaska refineries produce AVGAS at all which I found mindboggling compared to all the small aircraft that are around throughout Alaska.
Since the revised state royalty oil tax kicked in which the oil companies directly passed the increases to the refineries for their delivery of crude, the refineries have passed those increases to us consumers which is why Alaska fuel prices have increased around 25 percent or so compared to the US national average price.
This in turn had made various changes as pointed out on how delivery of processed fuel is delivered now in Alaska, to what extent I have no idea but have heard North Pole Refinery now supplies fuel to Anchorage however I have not confirmed if it is the case.
From what I understand - Northern BC and Yukon Canada gets their fuel supply trucked in from Alberta as one of their refineries had a shutdown for an extended period last year which impacted immediate increases in pricing at Whitehorse which was reported here on RV.Net.... I also talked to a couple of fuel haulers from Alberta for 40 minutes in Liard Hot Springs last September that were both pulling doubles, as they admired my old truck (and stated they spotted me before in the past), as their main assigned route is hauling fuel to Dawson City.
Two years ago while I was at White River in the Yukon, a fuel truck had blared the horn as he waived passing by while we were all gathering around the campfire, as the owner knew the trucker while mentioning he was independent and supplying various places either getting fuel supply from Washington State or Haines...to the extent of the routes I do not know as it was unclear to me how or who or what or where these fuel deliveries were taking place but I could guess some group is saving or making more bucks by making the trouble to deliver the fuel this way.
Just some information for those of you that usually fuel (diesel) up at Border City to get cheaper fuel than in Tok. This is no longer the case
This was never the case for me the three times I purchased (non diesel) fuel there heading eastbound direction via Alaska Highway by topping off before crossing into Canada)...
My immediate voucher records showing May 1989 :
Fairbanks 1.069 US gal
Delta Jct. 1.199 -
Tok 1.399 -
Border City* 1.529* -
Whitehorse .530 Litre (1.832 @$1.0950 after USD-US Gal conversion)
Footnotes May 1989 :
- .530 Litre = 2.006 CAD per US Gal prior to USD conversion (+47.7c)
- Border City fuel comparison + 13.0c US Gal more than Tok
- Border City fuel comparison - 30.3c US Gal less than Whitehorse after USD conversion
My immediate voucher records showing September 2009 :
Fairbanks 3.299 US gal
Salcha 3.329 -
Delta Jct. 3.519 -
Tok 3.489 (surprise - first time cheaper price vs Delta Jct)
Border City* 3.759* -
Whitehorse 1.039 Litre (3.746 @$1.0497 after USD-US Gal conversion)
Footnotes September 2009 :
- 1.039 Litre = 3.932 CAD per US Gal prior to USD conversion (+17.3c)
- Border City fuel comparison + 27.0c US Gal more than Tok
- Border City fuel comparison + 1.3c US Gal more than Whitehorse after USD conversion.
** I was surprised to see Whitehorse fuel price at par, but actually cheaper vs Border City fuel after USD conversion.
My immediate voucher records showing September 2011 :
Fairbanks 3.849 US gal
Salcha 3.899 -
Delta Jct. 4.089 (passing thru - I stopped buying fuel here since Sep 2009)
Tok 3.999 (debit card only - cheapest price at 2 locations)
Border City* 4.249*(cash price - 10c per US Gal cheaper vs card use)
Whitehorse 1.249 Litre (4.855 @$0.9748 after USD-US Gal conversion)
(1.249 was also cash price, debit or credit was at 1.279 Litre rate)
Footnotes September 2011 :
- 1.249 Litre = 4.727 CAD per US Gal prior to USD conversion (+47.8c)
- Border City fuel comparison + 25.0c US Gal more than Tok
- Border City fuel comparison - 60.6c US Gal less than Whitehorse after USD conversion.
I remember how laid back Border City was in the past when they first opened, as they operated 24 hours year round in the past...
Evidently when I stopped there in 1991, 1994, (and 1998 returning from Dawson and Skagway in my camper rig) for a stretch or snack break, I did not purchase fuel as I carried enough spare fuel to stop between airports where they sold AVGAS in which my one vehicle needed 100 octane fuel.
In 2009 when I stopped at Border City to purchase fuel the one thing noted was it seemed to be a change of ownership indeed, I had that eerie feeling the way the clerk was acting like he just made a call to the troopers tipping them off as if I were a suspicious person of interest or something, relaying my plate and make of my rig it seemed like...maybe I fit the description of someone they were looking for, who knows in those parts.
The reason I think this is because I walked in the place as he hung up the phone quick after talking soft (with his back turned knowing I just entered the building), and stating I was going to purchase some fuel (prepay) as he asked me if I were going to pay with credit...I asked does it make a difference how payment is rendered as long as it is in form of US Dollars (thinking his answer would be credit only or certain card issers weren't accepted, etc.) as he stated credit transactions are currently down at this time, as I replied I was paying with cash anyways.....so I prepay $30.00 and go back to the pump as gee it doesn't work, so I inform the clerk and he says try again, the pump doesn't do anything again and another try it now, so the pump finally works...lord and behold here comes two Alaska State Troopers showing up by coincidence as they talk with the clerk inside, so now I was thinking a stall tactic was initiated by delaying to turn on the gas pump in order to keep me around for a bit, along with why the clerk did not disclose immediately that credit transactions were down rather than asking if I was going to pay by credit, however the troopers never bothered me as I am sure they checked my plate and status for priors and such while I was there.
I mentioned that story to a friend of mine that resides near Tanacross, as he told me he didn't have very nice things to say about the general area.
In September 2011 I purchased gas there with no issues, no twilight zone moments occured for me this time.
It is always nice to have updates on current prices and comparisons to past and present times of various places for fuel purchases :
Border City prices vs Tok fuel prices for fuel (confirmed timeframes):
May 1989 +.13c
Sep 2009 +.27c
Sep 2011 +.25c
May 2013 +.32c <----- wow, thanks for the update !
Driving to Denali National Park is about the same distance one way (250 miles) as if you were to driving to Homer (220 miles) from Anchorage...
I would highly recommend Homer over Denali National Park as Homer is the most majestic place on the Kenai Peninsula in my opinion, you can't go wrong driving anywhere else on the Kenai Peninsula for that matter either in a rental car for a sightseeing getaway.
Girdwood, Portage-Whittier, Hope, and Seward are very easy one day driving round trips back to Anchorage while stopping to see other sites in between without getting tired (or not getting too tired), however to really enjoy Homer I would find some overnight lodging just so you remain refreshed to enjoy more of the return driving trip back to Anchorage while enjoying a few more extra stops along the way compared to a day trip to Homer and back in one day.
Although you can see Homer and drive back to Anchorage in one full day as I had done the first time in 1990 at a young age of 24, I was sure real tired when I made it back to my destination in Anchorage.
Whittier is one of the few places along the entire road system in Alaska I have not been to, before the access road put in place Whittier was only accessed by rail, however the drive there and a boat tour thru the surrounding channels is recommended by many.
As far as traffic is concerned, the busiest snarled corridors during the weekdays tend to be :
-Rush hour mornings to Anchorage (inbound) and early evenings leaving Anchorage (outbound) on the Glenn Highway could involve as bad as gridlock when a traffic accident or wildlife encounter happens....there are so many kamakaze drivers in a hurry to get to work between Wasilla and Anchorage in the morning that in my opinion from 530am to 900am timeframe is the most dangerous commute on that highway in the one direction.
-Tudor Road between 200pm thru 600pm.
-Old Seward Hwy. between 400pm and 700pm along Tudor Rd, International Bl, and Dimond Bl surrounding intersections.
-Lake Otis Pkwy between Northern Lights Bl and Dowling Rd during rush hour morning and evening can get snarled at times too, however the worst intersection as far as traffic movement is concerned is the Lake Otis Pkwy and Tudor Rd intersection, as I learned a long time ago not to go near this intersection on a weekday until after 900pm if commuting thru there, or spend some time waiting 15 to 30 minutes to pass thru between 600am thru 800pm.
-Downtown traffic isn't all that bad as it seems to flow ok most of the time during peak traffic.
If (but highly recommending 'when') planning for a drive to or towards the Kenai Peninsula on the Seward Highway, Friday afternoons seems to be the busiest time for traffic when leaving Anchorage in that direction while more kamakazes appear on that day of the week on the Seward Hwy more than any other time.
With all the many recommended places mentioned by everyone within Anchorage and the outskirts, you will not be able to see them all in 4 days anyway.
Trackrig posted the many links well worth mentioning and seeing, as well as Loggenrock and Joe both mentioning the Alaska Native Cultural Center and Hatcher Pass-Independence Mine State Park outside the Palmer area which I also highly recommend, if you do plan on heading to Hatcher Pass you might as well stop at the Musk Ox Farm that is somewhat nearby which I visited in the mid 1980's.
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is near the Portage-Whittier turnoff as I took my Mom there once, in Seward the Sealife Center and Exit Glacier are the main attractions, as I only been to Exit Glacier but havent seen the Sealife Center, as they have fjord tours in Seward as well.
Surprised no one mentioned driving to Flattop Mountain (Chugach State Park along east side of Anchorage) having a great birds eye view of Cook Inlet, the Anchorage Bowl, Fire Island, with a distant Mt. McKinley (Denali) on a clear day.
Perhaps if you end up in the immediate area, a quick visit at the Alaska Railroad headquarters at Ship Creek (where the A street bridge-Port of Anchorage-Government Hill and Downtown all tend to meet), while watching people catch salmon (or perhaps fishing for them) and taking a stroll along the coastal trail which is worth an hour or so to check out, quite an easy access and not a real congested area either.....Alaska Railroad has a gift shop as well as the Alaska Ulu factory within a few hundred footsteps, and if timed right there would be a flea market going on nearby as well.
As I agree with Joe that Earthquake Park used to be a nicer place (even upon my era), for whatever reasons it is not the nicer park it used to be due to youth nature leaving trash and not cleaning up after their bonfire parties at times, however just west of Earthquake Park (which is the west end of Northern Lights Bl) is a nice spot with parking access called Point Woronzof (north end of the Int'l Airport) where both Cook Inlet and Knik Arm start that is worth the view to visit, while viewing Mt. Susitna across the inlet.....Postmark Dr is a great shortcut thru the airport to get to or leaving these two areas mentioned with quicker access to midtown or South Anchorage, as you bypass the heavier traffic on Northern Lights Bl during the peak hours in the West Anchorage area.
Every other city park in Anchorage (and there are many of them) are real nice and well maintained, even the handful of dog parks are well maintained.
Since grub was mentioned, there are many places that are the bomb and some average and not so average....
My favorite place for pizza is Moose's Tooth bar none, Mafia Mikes was good too but I don't think they are around anymore.
Although Joe mentioned the popular Arctic Roadrunner, I never eaten there but I did eat at the Peanut Farm across the street during Fur Rondy 2004 with a great atmosphere....my favorite places in Anchorage for a great burger was this irish pub restaurant inside the Dimond Mall but can't remember the name, Red Robin produces great burgers too, I don't know if Koot's still serve a lunch menu these days but the world famous Chilkoot Charlies bar sure served a great burger with fixins that really filled your stomach at a great price for under $5 during lunch hours as I was more than impressed.
Oriental restaurants seem like the slight majority in Anchorage as my favorite two places in this catagory are the Chinese Kitchen (a real hole in the wall place) and Twin Dragon, but there are so many great oriental places to eat as far as Anchorage is concerned.
As me being more of a chinese food toad and a mexican food toad when dining out, my favorite Anchorage places for mexican food is any Gallo's owned joint (which includes Taco King and Burrito House locations), and La Mex is my other favorite as well...Out of all my times in Anchorage dining at mexican food places, the only one mexican restaurant I visited that was not owned by Gallos or La Mex I ended up with a case of food poisoning.
Lots of fine dining in Anchorage although I never had the desire to spend big bucks with all the other great places to eat at, the Hilton and Captain Cook do come to mind with a great view while dining, I imagine the Marriott and maybe the Sharaton will have some form of upper level restaurant, as Anchorage has Benihana and those fine dining types as well.
Cant comment on any seafood places as I cannot fathom it.
Now that Mr. Whitekeys was mentioned, I got the chance to meet him briefly a while back as he is friends with a couple friends of mine who were raised a half mile from my residence, the one friend was also an entertainer in Anchorage now residing in the Seattle area, who used to also appear on the former local music cable channel catch 22 in Anchorage.
I finally seen Mr. Whitekeys' great show at the old Fly By Night Club at another time, the show was real fun and entertaining and is based on comedy, musical, and skits of current and past people upon events non other than : Alaska !
I also really liked the segment when people fill out cards describing their celebrity encounters.
Mr. Whitekeys also has a book published called Alaska Bizarre that I purchased which tells some wild true stories that took place in Alaska, famous politicians and celebrities pertaining to Alaska, with a little insight of certain skits explaining why it's presented on his show, and other unbelievable Alaska bizarre stuff in between.
This year his show will reappear from June 17 thru August 21 only three times per week as it is been a limited returning event the past couple years, after officially calling it quits over a 25 year span back in 2006 or so.
If arriving in mid June or later, I would also highly recommend the Whale Fat Follies show.
I driven 58 round trips to Anchorage and back (14 of those trips were'nt leasure trips as transporting my Mom on health issues) as I still feel I havent been in Anchorage long enough (my last visit in 2007), despite the typical problems Joe has mentioned about Anchorage (as I feel the exact same way towards Fairbanks), Anchorage is still one great city in my opinion but over 99 percent of crime that happens in Alaska the typical tourist never sees it.
I have always wanted to live in the Anchorage area since day 1 I stepped foot on Alaska soil, however it would be a major step backwards for me if I were to ever do so.
Wherever the OP chooses to see and do while in Anchorage and vicinity, you can't really go wrong on deciding what.
Last few days were sunny and nice in the interior, daytime temps were in the mid 50's F (which feels like 75 F in the sun).
However my local area nighttime temperatures are still below freezing but hovering in the mid 20's F, way better than the low teens that were still hangin around despite the 18 hours + of sun exposure at the time.
On Wednesday the treasurer of the Ice Classic informed me that the Nenana River had standing water, as Joe pointed out on the current news that the Nenana River had just gone out yesterday.
On Thursday one of the regular collegues that I talk to on occasion is a Denali Nat'l Park staff member, had informed me that there is still three feet of standing snow at some of the campsites as they still can't see any of the drain pipes, and also mentioned people that have those early reservations starting on May 20 might be in for some bad news should there be a standing lake by the time they arrive at some campsite locations, the maintenance staff have been working practically non stop with the preparations because of the very late spring arrival.
The ground snow in my local area is down to merely patches now but no mosquitos (might see them as early as today), I have seen a few horseflies though.....Generally I usually will spot mosquitos by mid April on average.
All the snow that was in the median (between the four lane divided) of the Richardson Highway is now completely gone as of this past mid week, lakes and ponds are showing dark spots and rotting ice too, however they should have been almost completely thawed out by this time of year.
Between 1100pm to 330am it is one quarter of daylight as of right now in my local area, upon one more week it will not get dark in the Fairbanks area for the following 11 weeks.
Alaska bound travellers should be ok along the roadways as all the other smaller sloughs and creeks are flowing well with no significant ice jams to report.
Happy travels to all.
As noted, the far north is best defined as 'extreme' variations in terms of weather related incidents that occur at any given time of year, so you really have to be as flexible as possible when travelling abroad as the past few years have indicated :
June 2012 - Alaska Highway washed out at km 1103 (mile 689) in the Yukon Territory due to : heavy rain and snowmelt.
Here is a few pictures of the continuing reconstruction phase in September 2012 :
Throughout the spring, summer, and fall of 2011, British Columbia had all kinds of washouts and road closures due to heavy rains...as I had to reroute and change my travelling projected schedule that placed me two days behind off the bat, somehow I made it back to work on time however I had to push it with some extended distance travel included night driving which I didn't care for, but as they say be thankful there is at least a road path in these parts of the far north as roads here deal in adversity due to permafrost, weather and terrain factors, lots of reconstruction and maintenance in between.
The notables of road closures I remember in 2011 were :
Trans Canada 1 near Hope
Hart Highway between Pine Pass and Chetwynd
Cassiar Highway in two places
The Hart Highway washout zone I planned to drive thru there at night as I sure did not want to deal with the crazy daytime traffic with the mass delays as it was 24 hour pilot car escort thru the stretch...
From what I seen at night it was a miracle they even made some sort of path thru that terrain with the aftermath, and seemed pretty spooky by the dark settings, although it was the first time on the Hart Highway for me in 20 years.
I couldn't believe the portion from Prince George to MacKenzie Junction was still the same after 20 years other than the added newer signs surrounding the MacKenzie Junction.
The 2011 Cassiar Highway washouts sure put a damper on my projected travel as it was closed throughout September, as it happened while I was on the road starting my RV travels as all the roads were fine when I checked prior to departure, until Sue mentioned to me the Cassiar Highway had just washed out in two places when I stopped by to visit to my surprise...she could tell you how dissappointed I was about having to potentially deal with the southbound commuting in a hurry to leave Alaska before winter hits traffic, along with the increased commercial equipment gas well hauling traffic, and any increased traffic rerouted that would normally take the Cassiar Highway....Had my windshield destroyed due to a gravel truck on the Alaska Highway in a hurry not covering their load upon my return northbound.
In July 2010, I drove the Taylor Highway enroute to Dawson 10 days before the major washouts occured due to the late June heavy rains, as it was the worst condition I seen the Taylor Highway and Boundary Spur Road in my 5 prior travels at the time (the Top of the World portion was OK).
My friend in Dawson City drove to Fairbanks in April 2010 as the Top of the World route and Taylor Highway route was opened early which was a surprise as he stopped by to see me so early in the year, lack of snowfall versus the normal amount which led to the early opening.
Since the 2009 Eagle devestating disaster was mentioned, that was caused by two factors :
Ice Jams and hotter than normal temperatures right after.
April 2009 seemed like a normal spring breakup period at first with the daytime highs of 40's to 50's F, as portions of the Yukon River decided to break up and flow some chunks of ice until it stopped at portions of the river where it created ice jams downstream and upstream from Eagle, as the town of Eagle got hit with an influx of water and got flooded out in which any ice jams will cause major flooding in the perspective areas as it diverts water out of the river.
The water receeded after a couple days as the residents that got flood damage were still cleaning up and recovering, as early May comes around as the Yukon River along Dawson City area breaks up and the ice is flowing downstream on a warmer than average day, as the ice flow stops at the ice jam that is still holding upstream from Eagle.
All of a sudden the temperature hits a well above normal 70+ F in the area for early May as the residents of Eagle thought the one flooding event they dealt with was all over, until they got awoken overnight with the upstream ice jam that gave away and flattened all the structures in it's path, destroyed the livelihoods of many residents...they reported 40 feet high walls of ice that rolled thru the village, something that has never been witnessed in Eagle before.
That is the reason why the village of Eagle are taking precautions due to the late spring breakup that was mentioned, knowing more likely the ice jams will occur and face the potential flooding, however I am sure they are praying not to have anymore ice jams and hot temperatures after the ice goes out in Dawson.
In 1991-1992 winter throughout the Alaska Interior it was record snowfall recorded over 12 feet, as the Tanana River ice in Nenana did not flow until May 14 because of the excess snow insulating the ice.
The Top of the World Highway finally opened in Late May 1992 that season as I driven the week that it opened on that route for the first time enroute to Dawson...the water level on the Yukon River was still higher than normal but flowing very fast at the same time as you could feel the power while crossing on the ferry :
Another extreme comparison record snowfall of late season melt shown on the Taylor Highway at Mosquito Fork in May 1992 (top picture), water flowing fast at 50 mph near the height of the bridge :
Mosquito Fork at it's normal state in July 1998 (same highway bridge shown) :
Another comparison to a late snowmelt in May 1995 at the location on mile 5 Dalton Highway, where this channeled valley that normally forms a stream of water all of a sudden became a lake, as only semis could cross the road as no light truck or passenger vehicles had dared to attempt to cross including me (low boy semi trailer shown as water surface was at the trailer's belly)....the water was flowing over the road edge at 25 mph as my Yukon River trip was postponed.
The '24 inch' culvert pipe that was in place under the road for drainage ended up being replaced with three culvert pipes that totaled '24 feet' combined for drainage.
More than likely to my guess the projected late breakup of the Yukon River will determine a late opening of the Top of the World Highway along with the recent snowfalls, as the Taylor Highway to Eagle route was opened earlier prior to the recent snowfalls that occured in the past 10 day period.
Then again in the far north, you just never know whats next.
I only seen the Tanana River ice and the Salcha River ice go out before, but would love to witness watching the Yukon or MacKenzie River ice go out someday which is a site to see, as there are a couple of Yukon River ice clips at Dawson posted on YouTube.
The whole month of April in the Fairbanks area had not seen an official temperature of +50 F, in fact- it was warmer on March 30 vs every other day to date...seems like the northern hemisphere is on a reverse polarity trend going from January, February, March, October, October again as maybe this area will finally see a week of April and a week of May before June arrives.
This spring season has not produced any spring normal temperatures for this area, although the 3rd week of April thru today had seen mostly daytime above freezing temperatures however there is still a lot of snow on the ground for Fairbanks and the thawing process has been real slow, although all the plowed unpaved roads and paved roads have been totally clear of snow and ice throughout the month of April.
Fairbanks weather forecast is calling for intermittent snowfall for the next 3 days with nighttime temperatures to remain below freezing...
Central, Fort Yukon and Circle areas just north of Fairbanks are expecting 6 to 8 inches of snow today as well.
Yesterday on Friday morning May 03 :
Yesterday evening at 900pm Friday May 03 as surface thawing is finally kicking in as I almost got permanately stuck in my 2WD truck trying to cut thru my driveway, but the winter siped tires that I still have installed saved me from stuckville (which normally they get swapped out with the summer tires by mid April) :
75 percent of this chunk of snow that fell off the roof should be melted away on average at this time of year, snow fell off the roof on April 24 (April 08 is average timeframe)
The last time I remember this significant amount of ground snow here in early May was during the record snowfall season of the 1992 winter.
As far as not cashing in my 401k again, it became too cold this year to do so (last year it was too warm)...my 401k is located in Nenana where the tripod stands on the Tanana River that has a $300,000 plus jackpot.
It will be two years in a row I did not hit the same day of when the ice goes out in Nenana, this year I covered April 27 thru May 06 on my 10 tickets I purchase every year (1 day per guess).
All I know is the ice has not gone out any later than a 379 day interval in the past 30 years, as May 07 will represent day 380.
Take it from all of us, we understand completely as pretty much most every RV dot Net member has had to deal with relatives or friends leaning hard to borrow money over some form of financial, irresponsible, or troubled hardships.
What blows my mind is they do it to themselves at least 98 percent of the time, but yet every situation they see it as wasn't their doing or their fault.
What gets me too is the freeloaders and munipulators that don't get their way making unjustified excuses of why the situation is what it is, as they have that "you owe me" or "you need to help me" attitude.....I don't have no candy for these types of people - I always had steady crappy jobs since 1978 when I was 13 as I am 47 now, as I get tired of hearing all the no money havin' drama of oh I can't get a job cuz I'm 45 and nobody will hire me, someone offers them a job and it's oh I don't have a car, or I don't have a license when they end up with a car, or it's I don't have a ride anymore or my ride didn't show up when they had a job for a week, or oh I can't afford a $25 taxi even though they would make like $50 or more in a day but yet holding a bottle of booze in one hand while holding a cigarette or a joint in their mouth.
I found out on my own just how money with friends and relatives do not mix :
Stepbrother retired from the military after 23 years and was set on coming home to Alaska in 2009 which was the long time goal and plan, of course the wife had to stop by in Colorado to see her family first which is fine and all, as all of a sudden all that moving expense money was exhausted in a hurry (as the wife controls the finances) so when he found out there was now not enough money in the bank account he literally snapped - he took out the remaining $800 that was left out of some 5 figure amount he still expected to be there, then later on told his wife you going with me or not....she declined as she planned to take a flight as soon as the next retirement check was posted as she didn't really think he was actually attempting to make the trip or even get far enough to cross into Canada for that matter....
The two sons, one daughter, and the daughter in law with two month old grandchild decided to go with Dad, so Alaska bound they go....
At the time I didn't know the real situation other than "they're on their way home" as I heard they just left Colorado and had to cross into Canada before the June 1 mandate of required passports kickin in for the land port of calls....
Two days later I get a visit at work from one of the in-laws on a urgent situation, told me everyone is doing great as they are still on the road as I guessed if they were in Calgary or Edmonton of sorts as I was told the gang is in Fort Nelson as I was like huh-
They are like making way too fast of time so I bet the rig is broke down, I was told not nearly that bad but he called collect saying he was at a payphone near the only supermarket in town, so I said oh the IGA store as you must have found the Western Union booth - I can't believe he ran out of money as I thought it was actually kinda funny.
I told him to jot these numbers down as it was one of my Canadian calling cards with the 800 number to dial and call me back on the payphone so he don't get killed on cell roaming charges and kill me on the collect call, then tells me the real situation as he thought he could squeeze by making it home on $800, but he only has $100 left with an eighth of a tank of gas as they were all crammed in the truck getting by without any lodging....yet still had another 1200 miles of travel.
My reaction was, hey man you're coming home as you been waiting for this moment for a long time - I got your back always - he asked if it was OK to borrow $500 as I said no way, I am going to wire you $1000 on the condition to take your time which means '4 DAYS' of travel, and you must stop at lodging places to spend the night for everyone and let everyone eat some hot cooked meals for god sake.
So within a month, I was paid back in full which everyone told me I wasn't going to be stiffed compared to others, as it became a surprise to me to hear that as my stepbrother is not known for being a deadbeat at all - it's just that he has no appearent control over his money, never sees it.
Two years later his wife decides she had to leave to see her family (for good) as he pleaded with everyone he knew to loan him $1000 so he could pay for her and the daughter a one way plane ticket...then he asked me to loan him the money, as I stood my ground at first and told him no because this isn't a emergency situation compared to you were coming home while totally stranded the last time....he started justifying about well this $10,000 loan my wife made at the bank wasn't paid in time with the monthly installment that was missed as my next month's check will cover the balance to pay it off in full, because one of my kid's is facing eviction and the other kid tore up the transmission in the one rig as my wife used that money for those emergencies, etc.
The following day he asked me again and I had a long talk with him about how I was not in the lending business, especially over somebody else controlling your finances as there is nothing in it for me but a losing proposition if I were to loan you that kind of money...he tries to tell me once he makes this last payment to pay off this loan he will get approved for a $20,000 loan from the bank as I stopped him from talking and told him I doubt any bank will loan you anymore money, it just don't work that way.
He told me the wife is creating kaos over everybody and he had to get her out of there as his next check couldn't wait another 20 days so for the sake of the family, I told him that I would write a contract loan as he could pay me back in full within a two month period....
He wanted a four month period as he could only guarantee $250 a month in four installments as I let him know I don't care for those terms, so I approved it as I made provisions of any outstanding balance overdue will be a 10 % penalty with a 5 % interest compounded daily and he said show me where to sign....
First installment was paid on time, second installment was $50 short, third installment was paid on time but still $50 outstanding balance, then the final installment he calls me and says I am in the states and I cannot pay you this month so go ahead and just do the interest and penalty thing and I will pay you off in full next month....
I told him my feelings is pretty hurt and reminded him that he signed a promissary note to abide by, as I did not go out of my way to loan you money in this situation just to wait longer than the agreed four installments due so I can get interest and penalty compensation, I really do not want to lose a close bond and friendship over a broken promise which is why money with friends and family do not mix...he did apoligize for it though.
Five days after the full balance due date, the daughter in law hands me the remaining balance, plus an additional $30 for the extra trouble of the agreed provisions of the contract, as I waived it and given it back and said the principal balance is good enough for me.
I tell other people that ask me to help them out for the week that I am out of the lending business because of getting stiffed in the past and leave it at that, and refer people to seek a pawn shop, bank or one of them quick cash places as they are in the lending business as they loan people money.
Just a footnote, I heard that Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prohibits all women from operating any vehicle to be driven on roads and highways.
If I ever had a invitation from any of the Saud family members, I would sure love to visit...however attempting to RV in a desolate desert area with hot temperatures and numerous checkpoints in a foreign country isn't my idea of vacationing, especially when it comes to the religious police as they arent a group to reckon with - they have such tremendous power and will interprit how they see things to enforce.
Although I had taken both routes, being a Los Angeles-Coachella Valley-Orange County Southern California Native and all, I can assure that you still have to go thru the Yukon if driving directly to Alaska....
The California route actually ends at Oregon as you drive thru there, then Washington, then entering Canada into British Columbia which is also known as Canada's California.
Any route you choose to Alaska is always an adventure for a first timer.
Looks like the United States Government wants to implicate even more ways of generating revenue, since it appears they get the idea from many countries that do impose an entry fee and or departure fee that I have read in the past on the US State Department website.
US citizens living abroad in foreign countries have been on the increase of renouncing their US citizenship status with the recent US foreign tax laws imposed to require reporting all forms of income of their foreign origin spouses that have nothing to do with the United States whatsoever, as many European banks have also declined US Citizens from opening accounts due to the recent full disclosure US law imposed on all foreign bank accounts, as many foreign banks do not care to comply to.
I figure if this proposed measure border crossing fee does not pass, there will be a substantial increase in US passport fees that are issued or reissued in the future.
I feel as a citizen of your country of origin (or documented), you should not be subject to pay any exit or re-entry fee to the country that is considered home since you pay taxes in that particular country.
As far as visiting a foreign country travelling in an RV like Canada, I could at least live with paying a small entry fee if it is imposed...but to pay in order to re-enter your home country of citizenship after a vacation or visit seems pretty ludicris to me.
Sue covered all bases on this topic, as keeping a clean camp and not violating the typical safe practices will ensure bears not bothering any camper at least 99.9 percent of the time....I lived in the far north for 30 years and never once have I encountered a bear in all my travels and camping adventures in Alaska and Canada.
Last September I made a mistake of buying a small portion of roast beef (2 servings) as I opened the pack for one lunch serving before heading back on the road (Fort Nelson to Watson Lake stretch), leaving the ziplock pack of the other serving outside by placing it in the LP gas cylinder compartment (as my refrigerator never worked anyhow) since the daytime temperatures were barely late 30's to low 40's that day by keeping the last portion of that roast beef cold as I am driving.
My plan was to have that serving for dinner and bring it in the camper once I made my stop for the night, but forgot about it and decided to sleep instead of having dinner....boy I sure was lucky as soon as I woke up realizing I had a camper shell still intact remembering I left that packet in the LP compartment overnight, as I broke the golden rule of leaving food outside like that which bothered me, I vowed not to ever do that again as I know the potential dangers of what could have happened.
As for those who have not driven in Canada... every rest stop, campground, etc. will have those wildlife proof locked lid design of sanitation disposal units to place your trash in.
Aside on safe practices for boondocking or campground sites, the most common dangers more than anything in my opinion are being involved in wildlife traffic fatalities in areas with bison (BC), elk (YT), moose (AK), bear (BC and YT), caribou (BC), sheep (BC), which are the common six types of wildlife encounters as far as the Alaska Highway route goes, so please for those that are always in a hurry and are used to driving fast on interstate highways, slow down a bit and enjoy the scenery while safely arriving to your destination.
Here is a sign at the entrance of Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park that also shows bear safety :
That scene is all too typical in Alaska as well, which translates to "driving too fast under prudent conditions"...
Since those nice "Spring in the Yukon" pictures were posted, I like to post a couple pictures of "Fall in the Yukon" that I happen to see the aftermath :
September 2011 - mile 1052 Alaska Highway between Destruction Bay and Burwash Landing :
September 2011 - mile 690 Alaska Highway three miles west of Rancheria Lodge :
This is the only type of "Spring in Alaska" picture I have on file....
March 2005 - mile 220 Parks Highway ten miles north of Cantwell :
The Fairbanks area and central Alaska Interior was supposed to get the late weather pattern that Whitehorse got hit with, however the northernly wind from another front kept this area under sunny skies but chilly keeping the temps hovering around 0 C or 33 F thru the week until yesterday, the Taylor Highway route was just recently opened (Tetlin Jct. to Eagle) until the same weatherfront Whitehorse had also hit the Eagle area as the American Summit got blasted with snow and a lot of snowdrift which made the road impassible.
Yesterday's update from Alaska DOT had reopened the American Summit portion to single lane.
Temperatures for daytime highs are finally in the 40's F in the Fairbanks area which is a little late than average, as there is a lot of snow on the ground in this area still, which on average at this time of the year at least half the amount should have melted away....
It is a late spring in Interior Alaska as well as many residents living along nearby rivers, sloughs and streams are preparing for ice jams to develop later on as flooding will occur due to a late breakup.
Although you might see some of the rest stops with signs stating "no overnight parking" or "8 hours maximum stay" all along the Alaska and Cassiar Highways, you will see the practice is different with semis and other RV's overnighting in these spots as well (count me guilty)...
There are more than enough places to boondock rather than choosing some gravel pit.
I have boondocked along the King and Matanuska Rivers near Sutton once in 1997...
Along the Klondike Highway I also boondocked at Gravel Lake in 2008, at Willow Creek in 1998, Braeburn Lodge in 2012 (although I paid the owner $10 anyway because of the hospitality I recieved back in 1998).
Yukon Gov't Campgrounds along the Klondike Highway I stayed in Moose Creek Campground along the Stewart River in 1998 (thinking it was $8 then, maybe $10), Lake Laberge Campground in 2010 ($12)...
Since my first trip thru Canada in 1985 I can't recall ever paying for a parking or camping spot anywhere along the Alaska Highway other than White River, and thats because I have known this owner since 1986 and stop by any chance I get and gladly pitch in helping the cost of running his generator 24-7, which he tells me costs about $6000 per month to provide power.
Along Interior Alaska, boondocking is so widespread with many places to choose from take your pick, however once you are in the Anchorage, Southcentral, Kenai Peninsula and the heart of Valdez areas....free boondocking spots in the outskirts can get a little harder to find, although most Walmart and Fred Meyer locations within town areas usually allow overnighters.
My recommendation is taking the RV, no room reservations to worry about with adequate shelter while on your own pace...
If you want to see Southeast Alaska (via ferry vessel) perhaps a car rental and tenting could be the way to go in terms of saving a maybe a few bucks if money is a real issue and branch out perhaps forward beyond that via Skagway, Haines, or Whittier...but if there is a time your family would need a room it could be a luck of the draw when rooms are available depending the demand of the area....with so many visitors in the summer versus the handful of lodging available at the main areas and towns, rooms can go quick due to people arriving to Alaska via air transportation with package deals while taken by charter bus to other areas taking up those rooms.
I was waiting to check in at the Driftwood Lodge in Juneau when a group of seniors were at the front desk ahead of me requesting a couple of rooms, as the clerk asked for their reservation which they did not have one as the clerk says good luck finding a room in town as we are solidly booked thru September as many other places are as well...I walked up with my confirmation number and mentioned prepaid in full since February to the clerk as these seniors watched, and the clerk says that I was all set with the dog deposit, three beds, and a ground level room that was requested.
Made reservations for rooms in Skagway and Haines as well on the same trip, as it was a good thing because Skagway was booked solid however Haines had rooms available but I didn't want to take a chance arriving without reservations because I never visited Southeast Alaska before, as I sure had carefully planned the exact days of where I was going to be located in the Southeast Region with the reservations made, that part of the trip I could not reschedule or change on short notice.
All the places in Canada however I did not make any reservations as generally in the Yukon there are rooms available throughout in most cases so I wasn't too worried, although I lucked out in Atlin (planned for a long day trip) when there was a cancellation at a nice cabin which I did not hesitate to obtain for an overnight stay, or else it would have been back to Whitehorse for lodging.
Met this German executive with his family (wife and three children) in 1994 on their 4th consecutive summer leg trip while sailing on the ferry (Juneau to Haines route), as they spend four months out of the year living in tents while transporting themselves by bicycle all over the far north....they are very experienced campers with their bearproof containers they had and all their equipment including innertube patch kits and such, this whole family was really on the ball.
They also told me although it rains a lot in Germany they are used to the elements, however their 2nd summer in the far north they had to take a couple days break from tenting and found lodging because it rained everyday for three weeks, sometimes it rained real hard at long intervals where it took a toll on the family as they didn't make much ground....I'd say only two nights of lodging in three complete summer seasons is a great track record for a family that solely tents in the far north.
As far as being concerned for bears, as long as you keep a clean camp with a sealed food supply away from your tent quarters you should be fine as others have mentioned...bears tend to rather sneak if they have the nerve to and not stalk like some tend to portray, however not keeping a clean camp is potentially a bad thing waiting to happen.
The other bad encounters with bears primarily happen when people dont give them space (like the one person in Denali National Park attempting to get a close up picture of a bear that ended up killing that person which was a first in the park's history) or more commonly the element of surprise upon walking along a trail and all of a sudden there is a bear, perhaps with cubs as the bear feels to take evasive action...which happened on the coastal trail in Anchorage along with another encounter of a moose in the same type of incident, thats why making noise or wearing some form of bells is encouraged when hiking or camping outdoors in places where wildlife are located, along with keeping onhand other items like noise poppers or bear spray, etc.
There are also those rare mountain lions that have been reported seen in the Southeast Alaska regions and in Canada that do not get the notoriety, but I sure would hate to encounter one in the wild, along with any wolverine.
You would be amazed how many people in Alaska actually live in tents during the summer months in the woods where wildlife is all over that the tourists never see, yet a wildlife encounter is still quite rare.
In Alaska alone, there are primarily six different types of 'main' weather regions and is quite a large area as weather anywhere in the far north of Canada or Alaska can turn on a dime at any given time....some summers turn out great while other summers can be constantly wet no matter if it is in the coastal or interior regions.
Before I obtained my RV in 1996, I used to do the tent camping thing and slept in the backseat of the car overnight on travels, at least for me it could only endure so long until I had to have that hot shower and a real good refreshed rest at a lodging room in between.
In two months time you can see a variety of places in Canada and Alaska even at a slow pace by RV, with great shelter and real beds to lay on which an advantage during bad weather, with all your goods at your disposal in the 5er.
My personal opinion : it will be expensive no matter what route you take or what your transportation of choice is as noted, however if both Southeast Alaska and mainland Alaska could fit in the agenda, take the 5th wheel on the road and tour thru Canada upon routes of choice and tour around mainland Alaska, then perhaps base the 5er in Haines on the return portion of the route, take on the ferry and tent the family around while cruising within the inside passage to areas of choice (time and expense permitting)....perhaps compare the cost of a 13 mile sail across from Haines to Skagway on the ferry with the 5er and occupants while driving out of Skagway (my favorite Southeast Alaska town I been to twice) as it's all 14 miles uphill from there to the Canada Border, as you are already back on the road system.
This way you get to visit both Haines and Skagway which are very spectacular areas, but if you compare driving in and out of Haines and Skagway without using the ferry I would merely guess it would cost as much or more versus sailing across a 5er one way with occupants.
Best of luck on your budget and places you choose to visit, you have a variety of choices with the two month flexibility of time.
I just use a calculator to figure the conversion, just as easy as using any other device to convert...(total litres) divided by (3.785).
Upon my expenditures for Canada fuel purchases, the immediate question for my accuracy is how many Canadian Dollars did it take to purchase the fuel....in the converted form of US gallons.
Once I have that figure, then I obtain the Canadian Dollar's worth of the exchange rate that I was stuck with and convert into US Dollars, now knowing the exact price of fuel in US gallons in the form of US Dollars.
Here is one example that blew my mind :
In 2010 - my southbound trip purchasing fuel in Whitehorse was 1.099 per litre, my northbound return trip purchasing fuel in Whitehorse was also 1.099 per litre...
Total dispursement in both fuel tanks were only a .4 US Gallon difference, however I ended up paying $5.28 more for that difference, or $3.78 more for the same amount of fuel that was the exact same price....why ?
Because of the foreign exchange rate when I purchased some more Canadian Dollars, the exchange rate was lower versus the funds I had before thus paying more for everything sold in Canada no matter what I was purchasing even if it was the same price for goods.
One thing is pulling up to a fuel pump knowing you are going to pay .09 cents more for a US gallon of gas that is clearly posted, but another thing is pulling up to the same gas pump the second time when the purchase price has not changed... not knowing you actually paid .09 cents more for a US gallon of gas for that same identical Canadian priced fuel the first time until after the conversion of the Canadian Dollar (my foreign exchange), and once I found a significant hidden cost like that, it really sucks being stuck on the lower end.
I have only used canadian currency to purchase fuel out of all my 23 crossings within Canada, so that my fuel expenditures will stay accurate (which I can pull up every fuel purchase I have ever made since September 1, 1984 that I kept record of upon all my vehicles combined to today's current date).
Because I live in a US sovereigned jurisdiction where the rule of legal tender is the US Dollar, I am forced to calculate the Canadian Dollar and convert it's current US Dollar value of when I purchased the currency at hand, since 99 percent of the time I purchase fuel in US Dollars (my universal currency of legal tender) in which it's value or rate is not the question, but rather how many US Dollars is exhausted in order to make those fuel purchases.
Converting litres to gallons or vice versa is the easy part, however if you want to know the true price you actually paid for the fuel - you need to convert your purchase rate of that foreign currency that you are using into the currency you purchased with.
Some people just prefer to be satisfied on approximate figures, some dont bother at all, others like me prefer accuracy.
The price of fuel is what it is, as for me going out of the way to save a few bucks here and there sure adds up over time, thanks to dual tanks in my camper to help absorb the added costs of fuel when opportunity strikes in reference to region and distance factors of reaching safely upon the next fuel station....some of the higher priced places I might fill either the auxiliary tank only or the main fuel tank only to get me by for the next fuel stop knowing it is significantly cheaper there, which in turn lowers my litre-gallon price to a small degree, but will play a significant role in lowering my cents per mile figures even more.
At the lower priced regions I will surely fill both tanks at the same time.
Upon my returning trip I will dispurse my spare fuel at a fuel stop where the highest priced fuel is located, (most cases in Fort Nelson) where adding my 10 gallons of spare fuel purchased in Fairbanks can save me between .25 cents to .40 cents per US Gallon difference or .06 to .10 cents per litre difference, that is a significant difference for one purchase.
I been thru this drill enough times travelling in Canada to where I usually save anywhere between $12 to $40 on every trip I log, one time I saved $60 on one trip when Dawson Creek and Fort St. John had those competitive price wars back in 1991.
Then again, I ran into a few situations where returning to a region in Canada where a fuel price was less at one location only to return a year or years later that the price gap sure wasn't what it used to be in comparison, in which I knew the purchase prices in the past according to my fuel log voucher records.
The only services available are at Coldfoot, about the half way point, and at Deadhorse, the end of the road. Food, fuel, and lodging is available at both locations BUT reservations are required for lodging. Lodging fills fast. Make your reservations NOW. The oil field companies and their suppliers use up a lot of rooms.
An excellent place left out or forgot to have been mentioned is the Yukon River Camp at mile 56 (at the north end of the Yukon River Bridge upon the west side of the road), as they have fuel, food and a few rooms available as well.....I had stopped here a half dozen times and always ordered their arctic burger that is real great, reasonably priced too....my favorite place to stop along this route.
Hot Spot Cafe is four miles north of the Yukon River at mile 60 which is also a unique spot, food and sometimes lodging is available.
My experience in Coldfoot at the truck stop was the staff being onry and didnt want to cater to any patrons and took their sweet time to even acknowledge people, heard they were under new management so the services could only be better...As noted, the rooms at the Slate Creek Inn at Coldfoot do fill fast, thats because of the bus tours full of people that stay overnight.
I always recommend reservations for any rooms needed upon visiting anywhere in Alaska, as summer is a busy time of year.
I also highly recommend an RV is the best way to travel to Alaska as you dont need reservations over 95 percent of the time (other than a campground spot in Denali Nat'l Park or most places during 4th of July weekend if desired to put up with the crowds).
Do the truckers own the road up there? I traveled on a few log roads,(owned by large companies but open to public use) in Maine several years ago and the log haulers would be happier to see an RV or camper dead off the side of the road than share what they consider theirs.
Many truckers do feel that way on the Dalton, however most do have a slow down courtesy when it comes to crossing paths with you as far as potential rock, mud, snow throwing etc. where you might get glass, headlight, or grille damage....
In the past, you would have had to obtain a permit in order to proceed beyond mile 210 at Dietrich Camp and have a list of supplies onhand, but they uplifted that in the mid to late 1990's where they opened the entire stretch to the general public.
Should you stop your vehicle on the roadside in general, as long as you keep a clear wide path by pulling way over to the right as far as possible within a long flat straightaway where a semi passing thru has a clear visibility and safe room to pass around, most are cool with that...I only had one trucker pose a complaint with me as I had a photo opportunity when I stopped along a two mile flat straightaway with plenty of room to go around, with no oncoming traffic.
I would definately not recommend pulling over anywhere along the roadway along foothills or nearby curves where limited visibility can occur, use pullouts or paths to completely get off the road in those portions - they do haul pretty good to make time.
Depending on current road conditions due to bad weather, road construction, substantial rain, and your driving habits play a big part on how rough the road can potentially be....
It is a crapshoot on predicting if the road will not be rough in portions of the route due to the elements mentioned above, taking your time driving thru the less than smoother stretches is key, and each summer is different upon road conditions.
I havent driven the Haul Road since 2006, however in my opinion some portions were rough and babied my camper rig slow thru those stretches....still doable towing any travel trailer or a 5th wheel, some people feel comfortable doing so as others don't.
A light truck would be ideal for travel on the route with the least of worry.
Last two vacation trips for me in 2011 and 2012 I have travelled to the area, the unfortunate part was I could only go in September and only had three weeks total off work both times, at least it was like daytime July weather once I arrived in the Canadian Rocky region, nighttime lows were almost matched as cold as the far north for September along Lake Louise, Banff, Jasper and the higher elevations.
Havent been able to stay more than five days in one visit along the region, tried my best to obtain four weeks off which would have been real ideal to spend more time in the area.
The 2012 trip I hit Kamloops and Revelstoke and cut across the Kootenays before hitting all four parks starting at Radium Hot Springs...I lucked out and hit 11 consecutive cloudless and mainly blue sky days starting in Kamloops thru Watson Lake Yukon on the return trip before seeing cloud cover return.
Kamloops landscape is awesome and has a lot of history, I really liked visiting throughout there, as well as Revelstoke with it's railroad and town history too.
The places along the Kooteneys were also impressive with the many lakeshore driving and resort areas in between that exist.
Too many places and routes to choose from along the way to Parks Canada along the Canadian Rockies in my opinion.