I suspect that all state agencies are gong to take a cut in their budgets, including the AMHS, ferry system. I doubt the cuts will be even across the board, as special interest groups still wield power in Alaska. The Alaska Constitution requires a balanced budget, so the revenues the state gets is what they have to spend.
The new governor made campaign promises to add some expansion to some programs, such as expanding Medicare in state. If he is able to push this through, where will the money come from?
Some other programs will have to be cut even deeper.
I believe the article mentioned above said the AMHS is currently looking at a budget reduction of approximately $11 million that could bleed into about $25 million in the end. The ferry system is a state subsidized operation and has never turned a profit, now was it ever expected to be profitable.
It was put in for SE residents to have low cost transportation throughout SE Alaska.
I believe I paid Alaska Income tax and School tax from the first summer I worked in Nome, 1962 till about 1974. Not sure of the ending date of the income tax but early 70s sometimes. Because so many seasonal jobs exist in Alaska, it was always difficult for the state to know who was working there or not.
A large number of folks have always lived out of state, worked for an out of state company, and commuted to work in Alaska. Usually these companies had contracts with the federal government so the state never knew they were working in Alaska. Hard to get those people on the tax lists, even when the state had an income tax. The fishing fleet is much the same but many of the cannery employees are foreign citizens, brought over just to work the summer and the go back home. Approximately 95% of all the Alaska canneries are now foreign owned and operated.
Very few Alaska residents are employed in the Alaska tourists industries. The cruise ships are a good example, they are owned and headquartered out of state, all fuel, food, etc., are purchased in their headquartered state, usually Washington. The hotels they own, the employees of those hotels , bus drivers, etc are seldom Alaska year around residents. Many of the tour bus drivers and guides may have been in Alaska less time than you have driving your RV.
Unless new revenue sources develop, such as a new oil field or two, a natural gas pipeline south to the Lower 48, within just a few short years, Alaska is going to be in a world of hurt.
The bottom line is that revenues for the State of Alaska continue to fall. Since the oil started flowing from the North Slope to Valdez, in the early 70s, the government of Alaska has been spending money like a bunch of drunken sailors. The money is running out and hard decisions have to be made, school funds look like they will be cut back along with all other divisions.
There have been a couple of bills introduced to start taxing Alaska residents, with an income tax and an excise tax. I can almost hear the screams over that idea. LOL I haven't spent much time with the full budget as it is floating around the halls in Juneau but it appears they are planning to dip into the reserve funds, not a good long range plan in my opinion. Interest earned on the reserve funds is a large part of the revenues the State earns each year, so to spend off some of the reserves doesn't seem smart to me, but they didn't ask me. LOL
There have been several new expenditures proposed by the administration that will add new costs.
Alaska tends to be a bit strange politically.. Most all revenues come from the rural areas of the state, fishing, timber, oil and mining, but the majority of Alaska residents live in the Anchorage Bowl area, so the political power resides in the Anchorage Bowl. Sort of a reverse Robin Hood arrangement So are the political powers in Anchorage going to be too worried about the SE tourist businesses, you can guess the answer about that, I bet. Most of the tourist businesses are not Alaska owned, including the cruise ships.
Like it or not, there is no other currency in the world that has such wide spread circulation as does the U.S. Dollar. At any given time there are more U.S. Dollars being used outside the U.S., than inside the U.S. Just as English has become, somewhat the de facto language of the world, the U.S. Dollar has become the de facto world currency. Reportedly there are over $40 billion U.S. Dollars in use in Russia. In 53 years of traveling in Canada, by RV, car or personal aircraft, I have never had a Canadian business tell me they wouldn't accept US dollars, of course the exchange rate was not favorable to me.
Try spending Canadian currency here in Florida where we have over 650,000 Canadian snowbirds with us during most of the winter, and you will most likely be refused. Thy spending some Mexican pesos or French francs if you want to get some strange looks. LOL
Why are we like that in the U.S.? No idea but it is the way it is. Many/most of our banks don't seem to know how to deal with foreign currency at the teller windows.
But with that said, I like to use the currency of the country where I am physically present, for the most part. The exchange rate is better normally. Several of my Mexican friends keep their savings and retirement funds in U.S. Dollar accounts, either in Mexican banks or in U.S. Banks. One of my Mexican friends, an architect, told me that he used US dollar accounts, because he liked to feel when he went to bed at night, he was going to have the same amount of money when he woke up the next morning.
ATM machines are just as plentiful in southern Canada, where 90% of the citizens live, as in the populated areas of the US. All Canadian banks will have one, most large supermarkets, malls, etc it is not a problem finding one. I will just keep an eye out at the first town/city I come to after crossing the border, park, go to the machine and withdraw the funds I need in Canadian currency. Have never noticed any big difference in the fees charged. Give your debit card company a call before the trip to see if they have any agreements with any of the Canadians to give you a lower rate on fees.
This is a coverage map of Rogers cell services. A traveler has to decide if it works for them or not. Keep in mind that no cell company has full coverage in northern Canada, meaning 100 miles north of the US/Canada border and beyond. No population base.
Just like here in the US, there is no one best company for all parts of the country. If there was, that would be the company everyone would use, same applies in Canada, I am sure.
Roy, not sure which system your Australian cell phone works with, be it CDMA or GSM or some other, but if it has a changeable SIMM chip, www.fido.ca has numerous plans available which give you a set amount of data, unlimited texting and a Canadian phone number for about $50 cdn a month.
They have SIMM chips for many countries around the world. The last I read, Fido, was owned by Rogers Communications, AT&T 's roaming partner in Canada and the U.S. respectively. The few times I have used my cell phone (AT&T) in Canada, I have found Rogers, in western Canada to be very satisfactory. Every bit as good as AT&T is in the mountain west of the US.
While campground WiFi may not be available everywhere, most/all communities will have it available for free. A number of years back the Canadian Government put Wifi into every community from tiny on up. It is usually found in one of the town buildings be it the library, town hall, etc. normally works well in the parking lot outside. I can't remember ever going over two days without having Internet access.
Other places, such as schools, churches hotels/motels and other semi public facilities, tend to leave their WiFi running over their wireless routers 24 hours a day. If they don't want me and others using their connection in the evening they should shut it down when they go home. LOL
There is a fiber optic cable running along side the Alaska Hwy for most of the distance in Canada. But I understand the cost to businesses along the highway is somewhat pricy and most roadhouses only use it for their credit card machines, etc.
If I really needed a phone in Canada, I would just buy a prepaid burner at one of the outlets in Canada. We just turn our US phones off while in Canada and use the free WiFi available.
I have only been broken into one time and the person took a rock and broke the window in the door and reached inside to unlock the door. I am still surprised that so many RV builders put windows in the entry door. My thief only took a fire extinguisher, go figure. But it was just a matter of having the broken window replaced and no damage to the door or frame.
I have made 13 round trips to/from Alaska by RVs and about half those rigs had a generator built in. But in Canada or Alaska, I don't ever remember starting any of them. If I boondock, for a couple of nights and run down the house batteries, by driving the next day, my RV engine alternator will have the batteries recharged by noon that day. If your house batteries don't charge off your engine, consider getting a larger cable run between the two.
You generally won't need AC nor lights in the evening, plus even if it gets hot during the day, come evening, just open your windows and turn on your Fantastic Fan or equivalent. Your rig will be cooled off in no time.
On our last 4 round trips to/from Alaska, we had a generator only on one of them since we changed rigs and the current one has a built in, that we seldom use anywhere. If uou have one, a generator, and room for it to go along, then take it, but i sure wouldn't go buy one just for a trip to Alaska or or take up valuable space that could be used for fishing gear.LOL
No real need to make reservations very far ahead, perhaps a doy or so at places like Whitehorse or Skagway. There is always some place to park for the night if you aren't too particular, be it a creek side pull off or a big box store such as Wal Mart in Whitehorse. If you go through Dawson, it can be handy to call ahead from Whitehorse to reserve a spot, especially is some event is taking place there. They were having a music festival our last trip to Dawson in 2011 and we had trouble finding a site with hookups.
There was a book out called the Alaska Highway Angler, that is really quite good. Yes you need a license for each state, province or territory but I never thought any of the were trying to gouge me. I often had an Alaska license from living there, the got aYT, BC and Alberta ones. Then depending on where in the lower 48 I would buy the needed states.
In my RV I carry a pair of fishing rigs, a cheap fly rod/reel and a spinning rod/reel. They just lay in the back for instant access whenever we stop by any fishy looking water. My good rods/reels travel in metal rod cases, put away. I keep a small plastic box of lures to throw with the spinning rig in the back seat also. Many times just walking a quarter mile away from the road will put you on some fish, dollies, trout, pike, grayling, white fish, etc. like the OP said, catching is nice but but just being out there is also.
I throw small Mepps, gold spoons, Pixies, Dardevils, red and white mainly, and catch a few fish here an there. LOL
I have also talked to some very knowledgeable Fred Meyer staff at the Soldotna store in the sporting goods dept. The hardware store on the west side of the highway just north of the Kenai River bridge can't be beat.
Murray, I remember at one time you were working on the cruise ships as a docent or some other job title, that involves you speaking to, BSing, the passengers. Are you still working for the cruise lines?
For us it depends on if we're planning to go to Dawson Town or not. Suspect we have been there six or more times by RV. If we have a time frame as to when we need to be in Alaska by, we often will bypass Dawson on the way up. Whitehorse and Dawson are two northern towns we dearly love to visit. I can made it to Fairbanks from Whitehorse via the Alaska Hwy in three days drive. If we go through Dawson to get to Fairbanks, I might as well figure on a week or more.
Only possible difference might be crossing the Yukon River at Dawson on the ferry. Most of the caravans seem to go from Dawson across, sometimes causing a multi hour wait in line to board. Coming into Dawson from Alaska there is seldom any waiting that I have ever seen. The Customs station on the border is not 24 hrs so check their open times as that might effect your travel schedule.
Shouldn't be any unusual problems with a rig your size, just drive at a speed appropriate to road conditions . In rainy weather watch for soft shoulders as you would with any gravel road, some travelers like to stay in Dawson or Tok or thereabouts for a day or two to let the road dry out a bit. I have done it both ways.
A beautiful trip, great scenery, etc
We don't go to Dawson every trip north, alternating Dawson, Skagway and Atlin, and sometimes a visit to Haines, keeps each of them special and like seeing then again for the first time. Dawson is a living history book of the gold rush era of the Klondike. The great Canadian poet, Robert Service, did much of his writing here while working at the bank. I have his complete works downloaded on my tablet, so enjoy going up by his cabin , reading some of his works, letting him take me back to the days of the gold stampede.
Check to see if the RV builder put any major items under the bottom bunk. We have had a couple of bunk rigs, one we looked at one time we liked, turned out to have the main electrical panel built in to the side of the bunk, a deal killer on that one. Lifted the bottom mattress and plywood and there were wires going everywhere .
Our current fifth wheel, by Rockwood, has a slide out bunk room where the bottom bunk is a thick mattress that sits on the floor and the top bunk is hinged to the back on the outside wall. It tilts up to about 45 degrees and locks in place. We bought it with the idea of some day putting a desk in there for an office, if and when out two young grandsons tire of camping with us. LOL
It would be interesting to know where the, gloves vs no gloves grew up and their ages. I would guess the, yes gloves group are mainly city born and raised, whereas the no gloves group probably born and raised in the rural areas of the country. I grew up on a cow/calf ranch in southern Oklahoma, where we raised most of our feed and hay. At the end of a work day on the ranch, if I wasn't half covered with some sort of animal feces, I probably hadn't done much that day. I have been in many milking stalls and I don't remember ever seeing a pair of gloves. We always drank raw milk at home with no problems but mom did strain through a cheese cloth. LOL
Some jobs just are dirty, there is no way to stay clean all the time. The 15 years I put in as a cardiac medic in the back of ambulances was one and the 5 years I was a deputy coroner in Colorado. Sure OSHA requires the wearing of gloves, but I don't remember ever having a pair last through a bad car accident. By the time the passengers were extricated and IV lines started on the living, the gloves were in shreds.
Recently my primary care physician and I were talking and she told me she believed if all her parents of young children would get rid of all the Clorox wipes and other such products, their kids wouldn't get half as sick. She would also like to see their use banned in schools, soap and water cleaning only.
Bear spray is available at any of the leading Canadian or Alaska sporting goods shops. The size seems to be the issue, has too be a size too large to be easily concealed. It also needs a bear photo on the can and labeled as bear spray. Most are approx the size of a Coke can. Places that sell bear spray will most often have the belt holsters to carry it where you can access it. You don't want it in your backpack or in your fishing tackle bag or box. All reports that I have read claim the bear spray is the best protection against bears that get too close but leave the area after using it as the residual smell remaining seems to attract bears.
Bugs, after living in rural Alaska for 25+ years, for me, nothing beats high concentration DEET sprays or lotions. The brand isn't to important, just find one you can stand the smell of after a few days. Be careful around fishing gear or hunting gear as high DEET will damage stuff like lines, gun finishes, sunglasses etc. I tried a pair of the Thermacell devices and didn't care for them. Too expensive to operate and only worked in absolute calm air. I was sitting at a campground at Tetsa River Regional a few years back, the same year I bought the Thermacell units. I had it running on the table where I was, when I noticed a mosquito land on it to check it out.
Off also makes a similar device but is cheaper and heats using battery power instead of the fuel cells used by Thermacell. My SIL had one of the Off devices that same trip and liked it but she is not a bug magnet like I am. LOL both of these devices work by heating a replaceable chemically treated small mat causing it to give off repellent fumes. Every few hours you replace the mat and heating source.
For young kids we liked Off brand wet wipes. I usually have some Cutters, Ben's and when available Army surplus Jungle Juice. Bugs are dependent on location. Stay at the more urban campgrounds and seldom will you have a problem. We stayed at Rivers Edge in Fairbanks for a week last trip and I believe I saw two mosquitoes. I always carry a head net, cotton gloves, long sleeve shirts and duck tape sometimes to be able to sleep at night in a tent or leanto when in the bugs are thick.
The Colorado state DOT recently, within the last few weeks had Hwy 550 closed a few miles south of Ouray for two days. They were doing a vehicle and body recovery operation. They got the largest wrecker on the West Slope from Grand Junction and in combination with a large wheeled crane, were able to retrieve both car and deceased driver.
Exact cause of the accident has not been released, but self inflicted is a possibility. The years I worked for Ouray County as a road deputy for the Sheriff's Dept, and as a deputy Coroner, that road held a special fascination to some people not enjoying good mental health. You don't want to get in their way as you could go with them. I have a lot of respect for Hwy south of Ouray and how it often gives travelers only one "oops".
The OP has said he has no intention of trying to pull his trailer over, Hwy 550, Durango to Ouray, as he has seen it, sounds like a smart man to me.
While I agree with the basic post title, I would use the term, be very careful, instead of beware. Our all time favorite RV was a low milage class C bunk house model that was 8 or 10 years old when we purchased it. We were living in Alaska at the time and the RV was brought up from Arizona by a snow bird. He said he brought one up every summer to resale and recoup part of his travel costs.
In the first two years of us owning it, we put over $7,000 into the rig. Apparently the reason it was low mileage was that someone had lived in it in Arizona and it seldom was moved. every seal in it had to be replaced, transmission rebuilt, AC unit replaced, fridge replaced, dash AC compressor replaced and the engine assessories all replaced, all cushions, curtains replaced from sun damage and the engine heads replaced twice.
I am so thankful that the family loved that rig and we eventually got it over the 100K mileage figure. Think we ended up making 6 round trips to/from Alaska with it. The Generac 4 KW in it only had 21 hours on it when we purchased, I soon figured out why as I was never able to keep it running either, LOL. It was in a generator shop at least once or more every summer.
I just mark it down to a learning experience, being young and making a good salary eased the pain greatly. No telling how many hundreds of hours I spent working on it. Working on it almost became a hobby and I met some really nice people in repair shops between Alaska and Florida, where my wife's parents lived. LOL
You can still have reasonable weather in both the Anchorage bowl region, AKA, the Banana Belt, but to drive out, you have to go through the Interior of Alaska and Northern Canada. The years we lived in Nenana Alaska, we anticipate the first sticking snow of winter about October 5, a family members birthday is how I remember.
Wouldn't be unexpected to run into tempertures close to 0F at night in the Interior. But the good thing is you don't tend to get heavy snows in the Interior. Most of it is basically a northern desert due to the limited moisture received. But with the colder winter temperatures and the underlying permanent frost, the snow and rain received goes a long ways.
I would generally recommend leaving Alaska the third week of September for most visitors. While living in rural Alaska for 25+ years, that was about when we parked the summer toys, got the winter ones ready to go, put the skiis on the airplanes and waited for winter.
But if a person wants to stay longer,just make sure your RV is ready to handle and cold weather or snow storms you might hit. Just don't get in too big a hurry, if you need to spend a couple of days at a town or roadhouse waiting for the road crews to clear the roads, then do so.