Since the last half dozen years on both sides of the border, in the west that I am more familiar with, more and more of the campgrounds are being run by concessionaires. Most seem to do a good job, or at least aa good as the government agency that was running the campground. But the price to stay there has often doubled or tripled from what I remember paying in the past. One of the PP's campgrounds up in the Williams Lake country, jumped from something like $14cnd to around $35cnd a night.
Now this got me to conjuring on the subject, as they say down here in the swamp. is whether or not the government agency that was running the campground is still getting the money in their budget to operate the CG? If so and I suspect they are, they now have money to spend on other projects. The agency gets their regular budget amount to operate the campground, plus the fee paid to them by the concessionaire and the per cut of revenues collected by the concessionaire. This would turn a popular campground into a real cash cow for the government agency, with lots of dollars coming in and the concessionaire paying all the outgoing costs. So the taxpayers or that jurisdiction, that use the campground, end up paying twice. or more.
Would be fun to check on the operating budgets of some of the agencies to see if they get to keep the operating money when they turn a campground over to a private concern?
Guess it is one of the prices we pay for not having a state income tax. But I don't understand why, on tag renewals, it is a couple of dollars cheaper if I go into the tag office than if I do the renewal by mail. I would think it would be the other way around. I have my Jeep Wrangler on a 2 year renewal but our others are on the one year schedule.
Strange things happen in the swamp country. Read the other day that Florida is back up to approx 1,000 new people a day moving to the state. Back to prerecession days. Article said Florida is now Un-officially the third most populous state, following California and Texas. Should become official with the 2020 census. Plus on any given day, there are over a million non residents in the state, snow birds and tourists.
Craziest place I have ever lived. Anything really weird happens on the news and a good chance it occurred here in Florida. LOL
Difference in tagging dates as well. Light trucks are tagged for one year, based on the birth month of the first listed owner. Heavy pickups, such as one tons are tagged on a calendar year, Jan to Dec, or prorated the remained of the first year.
my 3500 Chevy costs me about $150 a year to tag but is not considered to be commercial.
Yes, Clear AFS is still operational, just south of Anderson. Not sure why it is, but it is. It is being run more and more by civilians working for DoD or contractors that work for the Air Force. Many of the small Air Force Stations through out the state have been closed and abandoned, due to satellites being able to do the job cheaper and as well, Clear just keeps ending up in the budget cycle every time. Roughly 300 personnel there, half military as an estimate. Giant radar domes scanning the sky of Alaska for aircraft. The Alaska Airmans Manual warns not to get within one half mile of the domes as they may damage your aircraft radios. My radios were the least of my concerns so I stay a long ways out when flying in that area.
Bill, forum member Trackrig, grew up in Anderson, as his father worked at Clear AFS. We have a mutual friend that just signed a two year extension of his contract to work there as an electrician.
Shipping out of Texas doesn't make sense? Doesn't have too,as we are talking about a government operation, and a military one at that. LOL
When dealing with the AMHS, the ferry system, remember it is operated by the state of Alaska, as subsidized transportation for the residents of SE Alaska. Hence, walk on passenger tickets are reasonable, freight cost are not too bad, but put a large RV on the system and you will pay for it. However it is about the only way to see parts of SE Alaska, as the ferry ships tend to be able to go in closer to shore than the deeper draft cruise ships. I have been on the ferry system about 4 times as I think back, two of those with our truck camper, the others as a walk on passenger. It isn't a trip that I would want to do every time, but for a once or twice experience, it is great. Yes it is costly, but so is a trip to northern Canada and Alaska.
Any amount of time spent in Alaska is better than not going, IMHO. For the shorter trips, it takes a bit more pre-thinking, etc. about what you want to see and do while in the north country. There are so many ways to do a trip to the north, it becomes very individualized. Have your time planned but stay flexible as changes will happen to you.
Two weeks in state, will get you a good taste of what is available to see and do. I wrote a short bit a couple of years back on renting an RV and using it for a couple of weeks in Alaska. Would work just as well if you drove up. http://www.pajbcooper.com/two_weeks_in_alaska.htm
Take a good honest look at yourself and traveling companions. Are you in good health, full of spit and vinegar, or do you tire out easily after a few hours of driving? The shorter the time you have for the trip, then less time you are going to have to hug your pillow and admire the ceiling of your bedroom.
I figure ten, 10, driving days from south Florida to Fairbanks or about 500 miles a day average, more in the lower 48 and less in Canada and Alaska.
It is about 48 to 50 driving time from Bellingham to Fairbanks, so how you split that up is up to you. You can do five, 5, ten hour driving days to get the fifty hours in or you can take ten days at 5 hours a day. I try to be rolling down the road by 7 AM each day, at the latest. Remember it is light the farther north you go. Everyone gets the same 24 hours a day, decide how you plan to spend yours.
So guessing you are of a good enough health to drive 10 hours a day, figure about a week to get to Alaska and the same to return. Then do the tourist circle for a couple of weeks and with a month, you can have a grand trip. Some of the first or second timers will try to convince you if you can't spend all summer like they did, then don't waste you time going. I totally disagree with them.
They will tell you you can't see everything in a couple of weeks and that is true but you can't see everything if you stay all summer either. Alaska and northern Canada are both huge. I spent 25+ years trying to see it all and never did, but I did wear out 5 airplanes, numerous river boats and RVs trying.
The Alaska Railroad operates a rail barge out of Seattle to Whittier Alaska. The barge deck has rails fastened to it and train cars are loaded on and taken for the trip. They stack containers above the rail deck using gantry cranes. Huge barges. Canadian National Railroad operates a rail barge out of Prince Rupert on what they call the Aqua Rail. They round trip it to Whittier as well. I have shipped vehicles on the Railroad barge south out of Whittier before and found it to be the cheapest way to move heavy freight. No passengers allowed on the trip that I am aware of. Just google "Alasaka Railroad barges' and lots of info on it.
The first trip for most of us, was just a tease, as there are many of us on the forum that are addicted to northern travel. Others were at such an advanced age and poor health, that the one trip is all they will ever make.
I still remember the first driving trip I made north, as a 20 year old. It was the last week of my sophomore year, 1962, of college, my parents were expecting me to work on the family ranch that summer, but I had saved my money that previous winter working, and decided, I think I will drive to Alaska. I have been thankful ever since that I did.
A bit more verbiage I wrote a couple of years back. Must have gotten a good sale price on pixels.
A few years back I read an article by some northern professor talking about the accuracy of GPS units in the north. The article was well above my pay grade, but he did mention, that in Alaska, almost all roads/highways are built in the bottom of valleys, hence no high passes like the lower 48, so for planned accuracy, your GPS unit has to be receiving the signals from 3 different satellites by direct line of site. In some of the valleys, at different times of day, you may not be getting 3 good signals for the expected 10 meter accuracy. Now this is not a problem when flying or boating as you are not in a valley. He also mentioned that reflected signals off the mountain slopes, beside your road can confuse your GPS unit, as they are arriving later than they should. However with all that verbiage, I think poor mapping in the GPS units is mainly to blame, for any location errors we run into.
Plus the accuracy of the units go up with the usage planned. Most vehicle GPS units are in the under $200 range, move into the marine series and the price jumps to closer to $1,000 and get into the aircraft Garmin Gps/etc/etc untis and the sky is the limit, easily into the $20,000 range per unit.
GPS are handy for a lot of things. Looking for the turn off to a previously visited fishing spot, to identifying where photos are take with lat-Lon settings. I have both a permanent setup GPS in my truck and a portable one I can play with in the RV at night. Plus I carry a small portable GPS in my pocket when fishing. The Alaska fishing regs are the most complicated of any place I have fished in North America. Plus after wandering along a stream all day, when time to head back to the RV, a GPS can often show you a shorter route back, not always but sometimes.
Sometimes the signals or the mapping get messed up. I had one GPS, on a trip years back that showed Valdez on the wrong side of the bay. But overal they are another good tool to have with you. While GPS coverage is claimed to be even around the world, in practice I haven't found that to be true.
GA, the driving time from Fairbanks to Bellingham is roughly 48 hours. I really enjoy the Cassiar for the scenery, more laid back but is slower than the Alaska Hwy, since the Cassiar is more twisty and up and down. Over the years the Alaska Hwy has been straightened, widened, relocated in places and overal shortened about 40 miles in length.
Prince Rupert is a good visit for us. It is a beautiful drive from Kitwanga Junction over to PR. We spent 4 days there our last visit and could have enjoyed a couple more. We were not aware PR is such a major shipping port, especially for ocean going bulk freighters. A great multicultural population, lots of good eating places, museums and the restored fish cannery, many beautiful buildings, etc to view and photograph. Nice campground there in town.
Prior to purchasing the Weather Radio app, we were relying on a stand alone NOAA radio. We got caught in a couple of anxiety building storms in the north Texas/Western Oklahoma-Kansas and eastern Colorado areas. The NOAA radio would go off in the middle of the night and would start giving the alerts by county. A few nights we had failed to look up and write down the surrounding county names. So until my wife or I could grab the road atlas and locate the counties being mentioned, we had no good idea of how much danger we were in at that location.
I also have several other weather apps on my iPhone, including aviation weather, as my wife and I are both pilots. Weather Bug is probably the most used for general use, then The Weather Channel, and for long term predictions, I like Jeff Masters, meteorologist and developer of The Weather Underground app. I grew up on a ranch in southern Oklahoma, in Tornado Alley and have a very healthy respect for the storms that can develope in the mid west of the US.
Weather Radio started out under a different name, IMAP Radio or something close to that. On one of the past updates, I noticed the name had changed, to better reflect what the app deals with which is weather. I have had people tell me the app is too expensive, but if you spend time in the mid west, in the spring and summer, I feel that spending $5 to improve our safety is a good deal.
Weather Radio has severed us well. I like the way it uses the GPS of the phone to know where we are at that time. Have found it very handy to have in Tornado alley for our summer trips to the mountain west.
It has numerous filter settings for the type of weather you wish to be warned about. Plus it allows the user to turn off the location function, which saves battery power, when you don't need it to locate your rig as you can also set different towns/cities for it to give you warnings as available.
As Jim mentioned, Sun N' Fun is our first choice of a campground in that area. It has to be one of the largest private campgrounds in Florida. Very popular with the winter snowbirds. It does seen to have everything, including the best equipped wood working shop I have ever seen at a campground, both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, computer club room, and I believe all known outdoor activities. The place is very well run as well.
My mother in law lives in Sarasota at an independent living center so we take our RV, to stay in while visiting her. The location, just east of the Interstate is perfect for us.
A real lack of competition is also a problem with fuel costs in the bush, that an the EPA type rules on storage of same. For a dozen years that we lived in the remote villages of Alaska, most of our fuel came in 55 gal sealed drums. I would buy about 1,500 gal of aviation gasoline and the same of regular gasoline for sno goes and spring boating. It was easy to tie up $20,000 in buying the fuel for the winter time use. All the fuel had to come in by river or coastal barges to be close to affordable to some. Jobs are very difficult to come by in the bush so most people are forced to buy it at the local store by the 5 gal can, packed two cans to a case.
All this fuel I bought in the fall, was a cash transaction, no credit cards back then. Even when I was flying my plane around the state, to stop and refuel was a cash matter. If I took a long trip, say from the Galena area 300 miles west of Fairbanks, where I lived for a number of years, to fly to the coast to Nome or Kotzebue and maybe on north to Shiefmaref or Point Hope, I had to carry as much as $3,000 in cash with me to buy aviation gas. Not only was it a lot of money, cash its self was not easy to come by. It just got recirculated in the villages till it looked and felt like a lump of green. LOL The store keeper in the village of Koyukuk, where I lived for awhile, would give me a check on her store account to cash if I was going into Fairbanks or Anchorage. Other than using registered mail, it was the only way. So it wasn't unusually, if I had been to Fairbanks, to have $10,000 to $20,000 in cash in my airplane on the return trip to the village.
The cost of freight will often double the cost of items in the bush, be it fuel, milk, bread, canned goods, etc. So while the overal population of the State of Alaska isn't changing much, the urban areas are getting larger at the expense of bush Alaska. The villages are drying up, slowly as the younger generation move to town to find work and better living conditions.
At the time the Alaska oil boom was taking place, the 70s, there was talk in Juneau of building a railroad extension from the Fairbanks area to the Nome area, with a service road along side. There was great opposition from many of the Alaska Native residents of the area where the route would have passed through. However, having a railroad for cheaper transportation, would have helped stabalized costs in this part of rural Alaska. Plus can you imagine how much fun it would be to be able to drive your RV all the way to the beaches of Nome. I suspect some of the resident now might have a different opinion of how much harm the railroad would have caused and the benefits of the same.
After the pipeline was finished, there were bumper stickers, in Alaska, that said, "God, give us one more economic boom and we promise this time, not to spend it like a bunch of drunken sailors."
Take a look at the Craigslists in Alaska and think about whether or not you could supply any of the items for a better price. Keep in mind most of the listings will be from residents, folks that already have some place to store items, a local contact address/phone number etc. if you are not familiar with Anchorage, think of it as a smaller version of Seattle. What type items would you take to Seattle to barter?
As Bill has mentioned, freight costs are high on large bulky items. I have known people to bring up items such as used aircraft to use/resale at some point in time, one guy I knew had a construction company in Alaska and needed a new dump truck. Freight was costly, rail/barge out of Washington to Alaska for the truck. He flew to Seattle, bought the truck and then filled the dump bed with new plywood, He put the truck on a freight sea going barge and flew back to Alaska. Then picked up the rig in Whittier, drove to Anchorage, sold the plywood to several local lumber yards and then drove the truck on to the Fairbanks area. He felt he made enough profit on selling the plywood, to pay the freight cost of shipping the truck to Alaska.
Collector type items, coins, stamps, whatever, might be barter items for someone that is knowledgable in that field. Or some item you could sell at a state fair booth.
Not sure whether it is considered a Territory or a Province, that being Florida, in the winter time. In the winter, we have the 7th largest population of Canadian citizens in North America, at just over 650,000 folks. What a great group of visitors they are also. Most of an age they don't have kids in public schools, very law abiding for the most part, financially well off, educated and informed folks, use very little in the way of social programs, perhaps increase the emergency medicine services a bit due to the age of most of the visitors from the north. Just all in all, if we as a state could pick our visitors, The Canadians would come in first in most all the locals vote.
Over the years, I suspect that GAH and ABC Rentals have gotten the best comments from forum members. Both are new RV dealerships as well as rental places. Most springs, both bring up new RVs to put in their rental fleets. They also sell off their used units after a couple of years locally, or ship the used ones back south to the lower 48 as the local market can't handle that many used RVs being for sale.
You will find a few bad reviews on any of the businesses. Somewhat like campground reviews. Or reviews of the condition of the northern highways. Just like beauty, all in the eye of the beholder. LOL I wouldn't dismiss some of the smaller rental companies, if after a through check of them, I felt they had the best rental plan to fit my needs. The two big companies, GAH and ABC, both make a lot of claims about how new their fleet is, usually two years old or less. But how many of us at home drive a RV that is two years old or less, I sure don't. Our 5th wheel is now 4 years old and our truck camper is 7 years old. One of them will go with us on our next driving trip to the north country.
One of the real nice things about cell phones, while traveling, is that they can become, one directional devices. Especially while we are in Canada, due to the roaming and LD charges, we incur while using our AT&T phones over their roaming partner company, Rogers communications. If I need to use the phone and feel it is worth the cost, I true it on, use it and then turn it off. Also keep all data roaming turned off, while out of the US and anything else on the phone that is using data/time, without checking with me first. Guess that is what makes it a smart phone. LOL
WiFi is just not that hard to find and use in the north country. Our daughters know we check emails every couple of days, and if they need a call, they send an email and we will find a pay phone, use a prepaid card and call them. The few remaining consulting clients I have, also understand to send me an email, if I don't get back to a text message in a couple of hours to them. I can't remember having to go over 48 hours between being able to find a good internet connection. The Canadian government is to be commended, for being a leader, in putting in the needed infrastructure, to allow even the smallest of communities to have good communications through the Internet.
A lot of it is just what we get used to having at our disposal. While I made 9 round trips over the Alaska Hwy by RV before I owned my first cell phone, I would sure miss not having one these days. think I would develop with drawl symptoms if my phone wasn't close. I find it is as good as hold a TV remote, at times. LOL
Like others have said, the cell phones and other electronic gadgets have sure changed our lives in the last decade. The other night I had been working in my home office and walked into the living room where my wife, oldest daughter and her two sons were watching a Christmas movie. All 4 of them were on their iPads, doing the multitasking bit. Tablets and TV, just struck me, that it is what my grandsons, 10 and 11, consider to be normal. They have never known anything else as most of us geezers have lived through. While I miss the verbal conversations, it is nothing that any of us are going to be able to change in our society, like it or not.
This is a copy of a post I put up back in 2010. With the fiber optic cable in place the installation of cell towers should go quickly. Only time will tell if it is economically feasible to do. Virtually all the villages in Alaska now have cell service, tied into the state owned TV satellite system that used be known as RATNet. Rural Alaska Tellivison network. It has created a lot of positive situations and some negative ones, especially in the areas of fish and game management. I just hope that soon, it will get reasonable in cost to use a US cell phone in Canada and visa versa for Canadians traveling in the US.
Start of old post:
As mentioned above, cell service is very limited to non-existent along many miles of the Alaska Hwy. However the good news is that Northwestel, a Canadian communications company has in the last few years laid a fiber optic cable along side the Alaska Hwy for about 2,000km, running from the Yukon, to northeastern BC and on into Alberta. This allows for very good Internet service and WiFi in many places. Almost every town or village in Canada, regardless of size will have Internet services, normally found at the local library, town haul, school, etc. Just pulling up to the local library and most of the time you will find a WiFi hot spot, free to use.
So it shouldn't be too long before someone or the Canadian government puts up more cell towers along the Alaska Hwy and uses the fiber optic line for transmissions. Makes it possible for the small remote businesses, to have ATMs, credit card machines, credit card fuel pumps, etc. (the fiber cable was accidentally cut by a drilling contractor the other day and messed up the northern Internet services for users.
We tend to turn our cell phones off in Canada and use prepaid phone cards available at Sams, Cosco, Wal Mart, Target, Canadian Tire, etc. Still many more pay phones available in Canada than in the US.
We use the Intenet for communications with family and any business I need to take care of while traveling. Do my bill paying and other banking needs at certain places, Whitehorse, Valdez, and Fairbanks at systems that use a password. Works great and we have been doing it for years. Our daughters, grown ones now, know that I tend to check my emails every day or two if anything comes up.
Formerly of Colorado and Alaska
2011 Chevy 3500 DRW Dmax CC 4X4- Rockwood 8281 SS 5th Whl & 2008 Lance 845 TC
www.pajbcooper.com web site
Alaska-Colorado and other Trips posted
"Without challenge, adventure is impossible".
Here is some google info for Alaska and ATVs.
Basic message appears to be not on public roads.
I have seen some out on the Petersville Road and up by Eureka Lodge on the Glenn Hwy east of Palmer in the past. They were just not real popular when I was living in the rural areas of Alaska. Snow machines were very popular, and dog teams for winter travel. I owned one of the 3 wheeler Honda Big Reds for a couple of years before moving south to Colorado.
I really doubt most of the campgrounds are going to allow them to be riden in the CG, be it private, state or federal ones. If it is easy to take along, then take it but I wouldn't make much extra effort to have one with me in the north country unless there was some specific trail or area I wanted to explore more thoroughly. The 40 Mile and 60 mile mining areas being some that pop to mind. 40 in Alaska, up toward Eagle/Chicken and the 60 is in Canada on the road between Dawson Town and the border on the Top of the World Hwy.
Just keep in mind it can be a long walk back if you have any problems. Just like bush flying or 4 wheeling. We used to say the main different in getting stuck or breaking down, in a 2 wheel drive vehicle and a 4 wheel drive one, was with the 4 wheel drive one you had twice as far to walk back. LOL
If you or anyone takes an ORV with you, check with the locals, dealers, clubs, lodges, etc about the places they recommend you go. I used to average about 5,000 miles a year on snow machines, the ones with working odometers and seldom went too far out of town solo. With longer trips, there would usually be 4 or 5 machines and we always took one empty freight type sled with us. It was a rare trip that one of the rigs didn't return home, on the sled, as something had broken on it. LOL
Give some serious thoughts to why you are wanting to visit the north country. Once you have some rough ideas to that it is much easier to plan your trip. A lot of good advice in the above posts. Most of the sport fishing is on a calendar basis. The salmon run about the same time each summer. Baby wildlife are mainly in the spring for photography. Bugs are less in the late fall, as are the crowds of people.
After spending 25+ years in rural Alaska, fall would be my favorite time of the year. The crowds of summer time Kenai, just doesn't appeal to me any more for fishing. We now spend more time in Valdez than we ever did when living in Alaska. I think it is far enough from Anchorage, that you don't have the weekend mobs of people heading down to fill their freezers with fish.
But, anytime from breakup to freeze up can be great, and well worth while being in the north country of Canada or Alaska. Whatever and whenever you make the trip, just stay flexible with your time schedule. The fall rains, light though they be most of the time will hang around till it turns to snow in October, in the Interior of the state. Our last RV trip of the fall, was a family get together on the Denali Hwy, near the Paxson end around the Tangle Lakes. Cool clear mornings, some freezing temperatures, great grayling fishing, sitting around the campfire at night, few if any biteing bugs. The tundra vegetation was changing into it's fall colors. Just doesn't get much better for me, than fall time on the Denali Hwy. unless it is spring time lake trout fishing in Paxson Lake, just as the ice is starting to melt around the edges. I love Alaska in all the seasons, just small degrees of preference with the seasons. LOL