Alex, I fully understand your mosquito comments. We lived in rural Alaska for 25 + years and my wife claims she doesn't need any insect repellent if she stays close to me. LOL I am a bug magnet for some reason. We have taken our TC on our last four round trips to Alaska. Hope to get back north this summer for round trip number 14 by RV. A few more by car/truck and a half dozen by small aircraft, following and landing on the Alaska Hwy as needed. LOL
We are currently towing a 2004 Jeep Unlimited, with 82,000 miles on it, behind our truck camper, when needed. About every other summer we tow it out to Western Colorado to run the Jeep trails so put about 5,000 miles per round trip on it. This one is the 14th Jeep I have owned but the first Unlimited (long wheelbase model) that I have towed. The longer wheel base seems to not have any problems with the steering wheels not wanting to straighten out after a turn. Some of the previous CJs and other models we towed did at time have some issues. I tended to use a bungy cord from the bottom of the steering wheel to the fastened seat belt to solve that problem if it occurred.
Real important to make sure the Jeep front end is tight. Before my next 3 month trip to Colorado I will have my mechanic check the tie rods, ball joints, steering stabilizer, front shocks etc. Loose parts up front will sure show up when towing it seem to me. Most trips after running the Jeep trails all summer, I have to replace all 4 tires, due to rock damage, etc.
Lot of good info in Bill's posts and others, above. I do the same as Jim Shoe with the key. I think my extra key cost me about $.75 at my local hardware store to have cut. For braking, I use a Ready Brake set up which used no electricity to operate, as it is a surge type brake between the tow and towed. For tail lights I bought a set of boat traier tail lights and used double sided 3M tape to attach them to the rear bumper, then ran the flat 4 wire bundle to the front bumper of the Jeep, going underneath it. Then I use a 4 ft. four wire extension to plug it into the 7 pin on the back of the tow vehicle, my truck in my case. The original Jeep lights are not used in any way when towing. The LED boat trailer lights only work when the tow vehicle is running, when the truck brake lights come on, then the ones on the back of the Jeep do as well, turn and running lights the same. The LED lights use so little electricity I didn't have to make any changes in the truck to handle the extra needed for the towed.
Now I keep my rear seat in place, as with the unlimited, there is an extra 16 inches of wheelbase, and most of that room is in front of the rear seat. (great for hauling my 2 preteen age grandsons at times. I use the Jeep as my daily driver when not towing it somewhere.
On edit: I have both a hard and a soft top for my Jeep. I tend to leave the key in the ignition with the hard top much more than the soft top. As most Jeep owners know, locking a soft top is just something to do. Have locked my keys in my Jeep here in Florida with the soft top on it and it is just a matter of unzipping the driver's side rear window and reach in to unlock the door. LOL Little or no security in a soft top rig.
We too like to stay at Fun and Sun Campground, located on the east side of Sarasota. It is one of the largest campgrounds in Florida, very well run, very popular with snowbirds, clean, everything works as we expect and many activities if a person wishes to get involved. Everything from swimming, two + pools, lawn games, computer club, and the best equipped wood working shop I have every seen at a campground, Powermatic tools, etc.
My MIL lives in Sarasota and this campground makes it easy to drive into town to see her
I read the other day, that for the last ten years there are more Chevy trucks still on the road, than any other brand. Most all of the Ford, Dodge, Toyota and Nissan trucks made it safely to where they were going. LOL
Watch any consignment sale contract. I sold a Class A through a dealer consignment and it turned out to be less than satisfactory for me. The dealer was turning down offers I would have accepted, if I had been notified of the offer. Make sure you are involved in setting the asking price, I wasn't. Put everything in writing, I didn't. Also specify how long the dealer has to pay you or your bank if it sells.
Check the web site for PPLmotorhomes.com in Houston Texas. They are the largest consignment dealer in the US. Their home page gives lots of information on the process they use. They seem to have a good reputation with both buyers and sellers. They sell something like 2,000 RVs a year on consignment. The information they provide would be well worth reading IMHO.
My CPAP machine, a Respironics run off both 120 volt and 12 volt. The machine has a converter built in that reduces the voltage to 12 volts. At home I plug it into the wall 120V but in either of my RVs I use a 12 V plug in an plug this directly into the side of my CPAP machine. I also have a 12V jump start setup, bought from Sears that has a 12 V outlet on it. I keep this setup charged and have used it a couple of times for tent camping or just as a backup if the furnace runs down my house battery. The jump start will run my CPAP for three nights before needing to be recharged. I often will recharge the battery in the jump start, by starting my truck engine, connecting the jump start cables to the truck battery and switch the jump start unit to the on/start position. I have twin 135 amp alternators on my truck so it doesn't take long to recharge the jump start battery. Probably not the best for longevity of the jump start battery but I have been doing this for several years now and it still works. LOL
CPAPs not using heat or humidity, seem to use very little power to run all night.
John, the only reason I can think of, for ahead of time buying of tickets is if you plan to use Fast Passes or to make reservations. Hours tend to be about the same daily for individual parks. However if a person(s) is staying on property, then they have what are called "magic hours" which will allow you to enter or stay later at the park designated for the magic hours. Not anything I tend to use but family members will from time to time.
Buying tickets ahead of time can't hurt anything if you know the date(s) your group will be there. We tend to book reservations at the Fort campground over a year out. Currently my Disney app shows I have 3 reservations booked, middle of March and then for Halloween and Christmas of 2016 all for a week to ten days, each time. Halloween and Christmas party tickets I will buy hen they are available, probably April of this year. Dining and Fast Passes, my wife and daughters will do the month ahead of our arrival dates. For those reservations I just get to carry the credit cards for them. LOL
EPCOT hours today, Feb 1, are from 9 AM to 9 PM
The MK is open till 11PM
Animal Kingdom closes at 5PM
Hollywood closes at 8 PM, if I remember correctly what I just read.
All open at 9 AM today but do check as they can/do vary on different days.
John, my family uses the fast passes more than I do at EPCOT. Sometimes they will sign me up for some. A typical day for me at EPCOT is to arrive mid morning, perhaps about 9 to 10 AM, with the "Ball" just inside the gates, it will be the first ride I do, 15 to 20 minutes usually, then walk on back toward the lake and off toward the right to Living with the Land. There I will ride the boat tour through the greenhouses, then up to the Figment ride, probably has some other real name.
By this time it is lunch time, so I tend to prefer the Mexican building, great food, friendly people working there, have lunch and often do the short boat ride inside. My wife and daughters often go to the cafe at France. If my grandsons are withe me, ages 11 and 12, we will head over to the Test Track, sometimes I ride, other times I find a comfortable bench and wait for them, spending my time people watching. From there I like the Ellen Energy ride.
If we are still there at dinner time, we will have made reservations at the restaurant in Japan and soon the light show over/on the lake takes place. Most trips we will do Soarin, Finding Nemo, having free Coke products from around the world, etc. Just never had a problem keeping busy and I often like to ride the ball a second time as I am leaving the park.
Check out time at the Fort is at 11:00 AM so when we pull out of there, we often go over to EPCOT to park in the RV area and spend the afternoon there. If we are staying off property, such as at Tropical Palms Campgrounds, a nice place, we will normally drive to EPCOT and park, as it is only about a 10 minute drive from the campground. Even if we aren't going to EPCOT, we will park there and hop on the monorail or bus system to get to the park of our choice for the day.
What having a fast pass does is allow you to have "cuts" on the line at rides. Not all rides have them but they give you a window of time that they can be used and they do help, those that have the FPs, but not those waiting in line. LOL The lines for the different rides will have a time sign as to how long they are estimating the wait will be and there will be two signed lines, one regular and for for Fast Passes only. If the regular line at Soarin is say one hour, having a FP will cut your time in line to probably half or less of that time waiting.
on Edit: The one fee gets you into the park of your choice and all the rides, etc inside. Disney is doing away with most paper/plastic tickets and going to what they call a "Magic Band" which you wear on your wrist like a watch. It is your "ticket" to everything, a key to your hotel room if you are staying on property, your fast passes, etc. It is being used to track me to know when to take my photo on a ride and then automatically put the photo on my app, Mydisneyexperience. With WDWs computer system being so sophisticated, there is no telling what all they are really doing with the info the bands are collecting. LOL
One of the best sources of information about WDW is the free app, my disney experience or for your computer, add a .com after the name. It has lots of good current information as it is run by WDW, everything from wait times, special events, closures, park hours, dining, etc. I just took a look at the app I have on my tablet and see that Soarin is closed for a remodel, won't be open till summer of 2016.
While EPCOT is spread out, I never thought of the walking as a problem, and I will turn 74 next month plus I am high mileage as well. LOL. Anyone with mobility problems can rent an electric scooter to use in the park. We tend to spend about 35 to 40 nights a year camping at Fort Wilderness plus go up for day trips on occasions. We have Florida residents annual passes, so we are only out our fuel cost to get to Orlando from here in Stuart, FL. On the day trips. If I only go to one park, it is usually either the Magic Kingdom or EPCOT. Might go to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom once or twice a year at most.
On our last visit, this past Christmas, for a week at the Fort, I only went over to the park, Magic Kingdom, once. Had lunch , a great hot dog, at Casey's, road the train around the park, road the monorail around the different circuits, caught the boat back to the campground and that was the only time I went to a park that week. Our adult daughters and our grandsons were up early and off to the parks till late at night. We all have different parks as our favorite, but they seem to have lots of things to do for all age groups, etc.
RV parking is available at EPCOT. Parking charge is by the day and getting close to $20 for RVs. Disney is the best I have ever seen at parking large numbers of cars quickly. Once you buy your park admission tickets, you can make fast pass selections online. Google, disney world.com, and read on, anything a person wants to know about WDW seems to be available online.
You won't have any problems staying busy for a day at EPCOT.
I use a private mail service here in town, as well as my home address for receiving mail. When we are going to be gone for several months, I put in a temporary mail forwarding with the USPS to send all my mail to my PMB address. They are a very service oriented business and will sort my first class from my junk mail. I pay most of my bills over the Internet, using my phone hot spot to connect.
Every couple of weeks, I will call my mail service and see what/ how much is there. They are also a UPS and Fed Ex agent so easy for them to repackage my mail and send it to me when we are going to be stopped for a few days. I keep a positive balance of cash in my PMB account for the costs for them to forward my mail, etc to me. Been using this business for about ten years and it works well for us.
The downside is that last time I did a temporary forwarding with the post office, they notified many of my senders of my "new" address, so mail I normally have come to my home address started being sent to my PMB address, . I keep the PMB address year around and swing by to check my box there about weekly, as that is where my magazines go, etc. other con is recently we decided to do a refinance of our home mortgage, and the loan company wanted to know why we had two mailing addresses on our credit reports. Just took a letter to explain it to them and they were fine with the information. Not sure why it was a concern to them but it was.
One thing we may all need to keep an eye this summer, regarding campgrounds in the Interior of the state, is the major military project to upgrade the radar units at Clear Air Force Station. Clear is located between Healy an Nenana, next door to Anderson on the Parks highway.
The military has allocated $1 billion ( yes that's a B) for the project, five years to completion and a work force of 2,500. If most of the workers were to bring their families, it could be a total of up to 10,000 new residents scattered between Cantwell and Fairbanks. I understand they are currently building a 500 person (how's that for being politically correct) LOL work camp at the base. Clear is considered by the military to be a remote base, so there is no family housing on base. But I would suppect that with it being such a long multi year project, that many of the civilian workers will bring their families with them.
Trackrig, who is currently back home in Anchorage, may have more and better information than I have available. His father worked at Clear AFS many years ago and Anderson was where he grew up. Bill (Trackrig) and I have several mutual friends in the area, some currently working as civilians at Clear. I know he was recently motor homing with some in Las Vagas so may have more info.
Not sure when the major labor force will show up, but it could cause crowded or full campgrounds, perhaps starting this summer or the next one.
Since the scale for measuring earthquakes is a lot like that used for hurricanes, in that like sound measures, it is logrhymic. (Not sure if that is the right word or not) but anyway the Good Friday earthquake of 1964 was 630 times more powerful than the recent one in Homer at 6.7 to 7.1 on the Scale. The good Friday quake was rated at 9.2.
People that I know that live in the Anchorage Bowl area or the Kenai, don't appear to be any better prepared than they were in 1964. Here in this part of Florida, Stuart, we and all of our neighbors have done extensive hurricane preparation, from stock piling food, water and most as of us have standby generators and stored fuel to run the house for a week or ten days. But not so with friends and acquaintances that we have south central Alaska. I guess it is the old adage of what I can't see won't hurt me.
Back when we owned a river front lot on the Kenai River and had set up our 5th wheel semi permanently as a fish camp, one of the volcanoes decided to have a major eruption across Cook Inlet. We drove down a week or so after from Nenana where we lived, to check on the trailer. We found the volcanic ash was about 4 inches deep on the lot and trailer, roads were covered in a fine grey ash. This ash was highly abrasive and since the Kenai electric grid is powered by natural gas turbines, they had shut down the power grid to keep the turbines from sucking in the abrasive ash.
People in the area weren't set up to provide their own power and neither were the businesses such as super markets etc so they all closed .
When people live in a hurricane area, they seem to understand that at times, they will get hit and prepare for it. But many people that live in earthquake and/or volcanic zones don't seem to expect there will ever be another disaster for some reason. I was as bad as anyone else the 25+ years we lived in Alaska. The Nenana Valley was formed by an earthquake many long years ago, running from almost Healy to the north side of the Tanana River (Tan a naw) at Nenana (Née nan ah) rhymes with banana. LOL the only preparations we had was our normal pantry filled with groceries and the generator in our motorhome plus our wood stoves which heated our home. That and about 20 cords of split and stacked firewood out back by my shop. LOL
2 gypsies, I have been driving to Alaska for the last 54 years so I do have a bit of first hand experience. First trip in 1962 when I was 20 years old. Have since made 13 round trips by RV, half dozen or more by car or truck (didn't keep track of them) and another half dozen flying small aircraft from the lower 48 to Alaska, following the Alaska Hwy or the Cassiar Hwy or flying the trench which is just east of the Caaaiar, following a series of lakes and the old railroad bed that was abandoned prior to completion.
As I remember you made your first trip of two, to Alaska at a somewhat advanced age of you and your spouse. The second trip you made was the only driving trip you have done. Two trips was all your age and health would allow, it would appear, as you gave up RVing not too long after your driving trip to Alaska. Most travelers to Alaska do it when they are much younger than you and your spouse were and many on the forum that had originally planned to make the one trip, have gone back time and time again. A few are up to 4, 5, 6 or more trips and are planning to do more.
The OP stated this is a second trip for them to Alaska
No, I don't have family in Fairbanks, but at one time did have some living in Anchorage, poor souls. They traveled so little that they really believed all of Alaska looked like the Anchorage bowl or Kenai area. But a lot of Anchorage residents don't seem to get around the state much.
Fairbanks was our "bright lights" so to speak for many years even though I never lived there. It was where we shopped, had major work done on our airplanes, my wife and I both had our own aircraft, as we are both pilots, mini vacations over a long weekend, where we stored our RVs while we were living in the bush, we lived 13 years in Nenana, SW of Fairbanks an hour and a half. And close to another 13 years in other parts of the state. So besides accumulating over 3,000 hours of bush flying experience and have personally run a river boat from Fairbanks down to the mouth of the Yukon River at the Aphoone Mouth when it enters the ocean, a trip of about 1,500 + miles.
One winter I taught a couple of graduate classes for the U of A in Fairbanks, high vocabulary/ low interest types. LOL Alaska Government economics and School Law.
I have read that if a person drives all the paved roads in Alaska they will have seen about 5 % of the state, add in all the gravel roads and the total will go up to about 10% of the state seen. To see more than that you have to use boats and air travel. If a person just goes to Anchorage and down to the Kenai they will have seen maybe 2% of the state. Alaska is so huge it can be divided into about 5 or 6 different regions but most folks only see one or two of these regions. The cruise ships, bus tour, gets their guests to at least 3 of the regions in the time frame the OP is talking about and a rental RV can do the same but not if all they see is Anchorage, a small version of Seattle, and the Kenai.
Many of the fly and rent RVs group will make the tourist circle and get a taste of what Alaska has to offer and plan to come back later to see more of the state.
The Alaska Canada section of the forum is one place when people read the opinions of others, they need to ask themselves if the responder is qualified to have that opinion.
Another thing to do in Fairbanks to to take a mail plane trip out to some of the villages. Larry's Flying service was doing this on their daily mail run from Fairbanks to Fort Yukon and some of the villages outlying from there. There was a local tour being run by Richard Carrol in Fort Yukon, that a couple of the forum members have done and really enjoyed according to them.
Fairbanks is not a tourist type town. I often classify most visitors to Alaska as having a Disney mentality. The old, "we are here, entertain us, here is our credit card". Fairbanks is just a town where real people live and work and go about their daily lives. It has lots to do and lots of history but you will have to search it out for yourself. The river boat ride on the Chena River is fun and well done. The family that owns and runs it is an old Alaska family and not to cheesy at all, IMHO. A drive out to Chena Hot Springs is a good use of a day, go early and there often will be lots of wildlife along the road, stop at the musk ox farm, soak in the hot springs, good food there as well.
The oil pipeline has been of great importance to the state since the mid 70 and lots of good photo opps out around Fox, north side of Fairbanks. I enjoy prowling around the permafrost ice tunnel out by the university, built by the US Army and operated by the U of A. Don't know if you can get a key to the front door if you don't have connections through one of those organizations. I don't believe I will ever get the stink of that tunnel, out of my memory banks. LOL
Fairbanks is the land of the gold rush, the land that Jack London wrote about, land like that which the great Canadian poet, Robert Service wrote about in the Dawson City area of the Yukon. We only go to the Kenai to visit friends and to catch a few fish most trips as my wife nor I care for crowds of people, such as flood the Kenai much of the summer. Sometimes I think Anchorage must be empty of people for all of them being on the Kenai trying to fill their freezers for the winter.
Of all my favorite places in Alaska, Anchorage and the Kenai are just not part of that anymore. At one time prior to the oil pipeline days, we found both very enjoyable. At one point we owned a Kenai River property that had 150 foot of river frontage about 1 1/4 miles up stream from Soldotna. We bought it, with the idea of building a retirement home on it. But the big influx of people in the 70s and 80s changed our plans. LOL
But to each their own, I do believe. If the reasons a person is going to Alaska, is found on the Kenai or around Anchorage, then by all means go there.
There was a forum member on a few years back from St. Augustine, Florida, a retired judge as I remember. He and his wife blew a Cat engine in their DP while on a round trip tp Alaska. Some of the big parts in the engine decided they wanted to be little parts and live outside the engine instead of inside.
They got towed to the Cat dealer in Fairbanks, who found a new or factory re-manufactured engine in the Seattle area. Three to four weeks shipping time by rail barge to Fairbanks. So they rented a car, got a hotel room, toured around that area for a few days and then flew back to Florida to wait for their rig to be fixed. The dealer called them when it was ready and they flew back to Alaska and continued their trip. He posted that he was on the high side of $20,000 by the time it was fixed. They have since made a couple of more round trips back to Alaska, basically trouble free, according to him. Haven't seen them on the forum of late, but they are also boating people.
I am a big Keurig fan, mainly because it allows my wife and I to have the type of coffee or tea that we each prefer. She likes coffees toward the espresso taste and I don't care for that taste at all. With a Keurig we each have what we prefer.
Cost is all relative for each of us. My brother in law was giving me a hard time about the cost of my Keurig coffee when I pointed out to him that the previous night at dinner, I had watched him drink an $8 glass of wine in the restaurant. He had two glasses, which I pointed out was more than what I spent on a week's supply of Keurig coffee.
I recently bought a 2.0 Brewer and it has some problems in that some of my older supply of teas, don't have the ring around the outside of the K cup so won't work in the 2.0 machine. See YouTube, as mentioned above for a hack to solve that problem.
As I understand it, Keurig's patents on the K cup machines are expiring or have expired. Keurig is owned by Green Mountain Coffee, a Vermont based company. Just recently I read that the large German holding company that previously purchased Peets, Seattle's Best and Caribou coffee companies, had just agree to purchase Green Mountain Coffee including the Keurig brand. The 2.0 machines appears to me to be an attempt to force users to buy K cups only from Keurig or others they have licensed to sell K cups. If the OP can fine a Keurig Brewer, that doesn't have the 2.0 as part of the model number, I sure recommend getting that model, such as a K 45 machine, which Amazon and other suppliers still have in stock.
As John said, not too necessary to have reservations most of the time. During salmon runs on the Kenai, 4th of July in Seward, Denali NP campgrounds and if you have a specific place you want to be on a specific date. Seldom do we make reservations more than a week out, most of the time it is a day or so ahead of arrival. A few times over the years we have had to find a dry spot to camp but not too often.
There is a music festival that takes place in Dawson Town in the summer and reservations might be needed. When you get into the north country stop at the different visitors centers and pick up brochures of the different towns. They often will have the dates of festivals, etc that can fill the campgrounds. Ferry reservations tend to be needed on some of the runs but often a day or so ahead is plenty.
For tires on a trip to Alaska, if your current tires would be good enough to drive cross county across the Lower 48 or east to west across Canada, then they should be good for a trip to Alaska. Trailers tend to be harder on tires than vehicles. I find one spare tire for the tow vehicle and a mounted spare for the trailer, plus an unmournted trailer tire works for me. I much prefer radial tires all around and stay away from bias ply tires such as many ST tires tend to be, especially as OEM supplied on trailers.
I also carry a tire plug kit and a 12 volt air compressor, a Viair 400, with me on most trips anywhere we go. The only recent tire problems, 2009 trip, I have had was a rock punctured tire on the Top of the World road out of Dawson Town headed for the Alaska border with Yukon. Of course I had not taken my Air compressor on this trip. Also check the air pressure in your spare before leaving home, as I had not done. LOL
Prior tire problems would be a screw in a tire, noticed while getting fuel in Watson Lake and that station patched the puncture on the Class C we were driving.
Tires, like windshields, have been a bigger problem while we were living and now vacationing in Colorado than the years we lived in Alaska and our trips back and forth.
I find the northern roads and the history of same, to be interesting. The Richardson Hwy runs from Valdez to Fairbanks and pre-dates the Alaska Hwy by many years. It ran from Valdez, where the miners, etc. got off the ships and headed north to the gold fields of Eagle, Circle and Fairbanks, passing through Delta on the way. Now when you look at a map, since statehood and the Alaska highways were given numbers, you will note that the Richardson Hwy is Hwy 4 from Valdez to Delta, then changes to Hwy 2, same as the Alaska Hwy portion in Alaska. So at the time of statehood and the numbering of the highways, the part from Delta to Fairbanks was considered to be part of the Alaska Hwy and given the same number, Hwy 2.
So then not too many years back Delta decided they were the end of the Alaska Hwy and put up the sign, shown by sue above and claimed the Richardson was already there, at the time the Alaska Hwy/Alcan hwy, was finished, so to speak, in 1942. The Richardson or at least parts of it were known as the Eagle Trail in the early mining days as that was it's final destination.
There was an very good article in the recent Motorhome Magazine about the early roadhouses on the route north out of Valdez. Well worth a read if you haven't seen the article. Of course most of the old roadhouses are just piles of rubble these days but still fun to prowl around and take a few photos of the remains. Some are still functioning, others are in the same place with the same name but operating in a newer building.
This is a photo I took of the sign in Fairbanks in 1962, on my first driving trip. Don't know if sue has any of her dad's photos of the same marker. She would have only been 4 years old at the time this was taken. Ah to be so young. LOL The sign is reversed in this scanned image. I took it on a 35mm slide and when I copied it to digital .jpg it got flipped. Some day I need to go through my boxes of slides and see if I can find this one and re-scan it. With boxes of old slides, prints and over 30,000 images on my computer, it is not a task I relish. Also need to learn to use Photoshop, to improve the old colors. Sue assures me it is not difficult to learn to use, but it just hasn't become a priority to me, as is obvious. LOL