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RE: Alaska RV trip loop routes/planning resources

"I sure as he!! wouldn't let it deter me from running to Mc Carthy or the Denali Hwy. The risk is that you're on your own for a tow or repairs if you break down on one of those roads. Of course one pays a premium to use someone else's equipment. It's a convenience for the user that comes at a cost. How much of AK do you want to see? and how much do you want to pay? For the OP, in good weather, the MCarthy Road and Denali highway are 100% passable, easily with most any RV and not risky (to me anyway)." GritDog raises some good points. Some things to consider: - Even if otherwise allowed, travel on the McCarthy Road or the Denali Highway may put recovery on your own nickel...read the fine print, but sometimes there's a towing exclusion for those areas as they are outside of the range of many Los Anchorage, Mat-Su, or Fbks based wreckers. Case-by-case thing, so can't say for sure. - I've "only" made one trip per year on the McCarthy Road the past 3 years ('16, '17, '18) and only one trip ('17) on the Denali highway recently. Surprisingly, no flats on any of those trips....but both roads (either due to sharp rocks or otherwise) can be tough on tires. Have a spare at least; ideally a plug / patch kit and a portable compressor. - Personal opinion only: FWIW, despite having driven per above, I don't like to drive the McCarthy Road...it's generally slow, the best scenery is at the end of the road, and McCarthy is (IMNSHO) becoming a destination point for outdoor hipsters...and, although it's still a 4-hour jaunt, I can fly to McCarthy pretty easily in the ol PA-12. - Also opinion; in anything except late fall drizzle and fog (i.e. rainy, foggy, 35 degrees) the Denali Highway is the most scenic drive in Alaska. My preference is to drive East from Cantwell to Paxson since the Paxson to Los Anchorage leg is more scenic than the Los Anchorage - Cantwell leg, although not by much. - Barring early or late season travel (i.e. before the road dries out in the spring or while it is getting snow but not enough to plow), both Denali and the McCarthy road are good roads. Denali shuts down in the winter and McCarthy is "shut down" only during transition periods....although I'm not sure what Alaska's recent budget gyrations will do to road maintenance efforts on the McCarthy Road. All that being said, were I renting a car, just for myself, I'd be somewhat reluctant to drive to McCarthy...particularly since there are quite a few other options (fly-in, bus lines, etc) that take one from Chitina to McCarthy. There are very limited alternatives for seeing the Denali Highway other than driving oneself...so I'd be a bit quicker to "break the rules" if need be to drive the Denali.
PA12DRVR 09/30/19 10:40am RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Alaska RV trip loop routes/planning resources

"Inholding": It's actually land titled (in the case of my in-laws going back far enough, patented) in the name of an individual, i.e. "Tom Jones, holder of fee simple interest of 95 acres more or less per lot 12 plat 48-1295 in the Chitina Recording District, etc"....this land is in turn surrounded by park land. Wrangell St. Elias NP has several inholdings including the "towns" of McCarthy and Kennecott....although these are connected via (IIRC) a State-of-Alaska owned road, the McCarthy Road. Canadafan raises a very valid point: Most rental companies (cars or RV's) will have use restrictions. The restrictions are the usual as mentioned (no unnumbered roads, etc) plus (in Alaska), although it's been 20 years since I rented a vehicle up here, they usually call out specific restrictions: the Chitina - McCarthy road is usually restricted and I believe the Haul Road (even though numbered as Alaska 11 IIRC) is also restricted.
PA12DRVR 09/27/19 10:08am RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Alaska RV trip loop routes/planning resources

"we spent 3 days between the Chitna River, Klutina and Copper river and never made it all the way up to the Kennicot mine," My in-laws have been in the McCarthy Kennicott area since the '50's and now have an inholding in WSENP. This enabled me to get up to that area many years ago and walk through Kennicott and the mine before it was a NP and certainly before it reached the current level of development. It was really something to see things back then that were, other than a layer of dust and some inevitable pilfering, just like folks walked away in 1938. The mine is an interesting tour now but it's fairly sanitized, cleaned-up, and just not the same as it was in the '70s. Summer of '18, I got too busy chasing reds myself and didn't pay attention to my drift, got pushed into the sandbar, and almost spent more time on the river than was planned. Fortunately, we were able to swing the stern out to a deep channel and jet off without sucking up all the sand and gravel in the world...
PA12DRVR 09/24/19 11:23am RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Our home has hardwood floors. We don't have pets, so can't help there but we a) always take off shoes..... b) use a hard surface vacuum very regularly c) only very infrequently use a cleaner. We've had equally good luck with, surprise, Bona, and Murphy's Oil Soap...or at least the hardwood floor cleaner that carries that brand name. Not sure it's really "oil soap" As other posters noted, we tend to sort of overlook dust but a quick swipe with the vacuum and about every 6 weeks with the cleaner seems to take care of most dirt and grime.
PA12DRVR 09/24/19 11:11am Around the Campfire
RE: Alaska RV trip loop routes/planning resources

A few more thoughts: - Most places on the road system are going to be pretty popular with tourists during summer; - I think the OP mentioned in a post that they had access to the standard marine life (whales, seals, etc) at home. If so, while one can see moose caribou and bears at the strangest places and almost anywhere, perhaps the trip should focus on places other than the Kenai Peninsula, i.e. Denali, etc. for hooved mammals. - Bears: While confessing that I don't get the fascination with bears, it seems to be a top attraction to Alaska: My strongest suggestion is to decide if bear viewing is a high priority and, if so, plan that as the keystone to your trip...that means timing of seeing bears dictates when you make the trip. Late July to August seems to be the high point for bear viewing flights...and that's the best way to see bears. One can take a drive into Denali NP and possibly see a bear on the road. More likely is "See that dark brown spot halfway up the valley? That's a bear." - Katmai / Brooks Falls etc are the best combination of accessibility and likely change of seeing bears or lots of bears. Not the cheapest place to go. - Fishing: lots of freshwater options; generally later in the summer is better for salmon (conversely, less active for other species). If you end up based in the Los Anchorage / Kenai Peninsula area, lots of options for river fishing for red and silver salmon...and it may vary depending on the trip / location, but it can be done with an 8-year old. Drift and powerboat (on different sections) fishing the Kenai river is popular; bank fishing for salmon is available in Seward; lots of options in the North-of-Anchorage Mat-Su area. - In the interior (i.e. Fairbanks, Denali) probably easier for a family trip that chases grayling / trout / dolly varden...but salmon are available as well, just a bit more hit-and-miss on the timing etc. - As mentioned by a previous poster, staying in the variety of public service cabins can be a great way to go...takes a fair amount of early selection and planning. - If one wants to really avoid the crowds, get a good tent, a good stout rental car, and tent camp one's way around the state, doing the VBRO or something when in town. Tent camping on the road system can be the entry into 1 - 2 day side trips on the hiking trails which can be enjoyable for a wide range of ages if the mental interest is there to explore and tent out.
PA12DRVR 09/23/19 02:55pm RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Alaska RV trip loop routes/planning resources

Some at-best-quasi-organized thoughts: - I've taken visitors on both the 26 Glacier Cruise out of Whittier and the Kenai Fjords tour out of Seward. Can almost guarantee no seasickness on the 26 Glacier Cruise (fully heave compensated catamaran) and it's unlikely on the Kenai Fjords trip (big vessel, displacement hull, etc). - I've taken visitors and myself on numerous saltwater fishing trips on both charter vessels and my own: My guess is that with the right medications (either OTC stuff or prescription stuff) one can entirely avoid true "chumming" seasickness..but if one is prone to being seasick, certain trips might not be enjoyable even so....but that's the nature of the beast....gotta go where the fishies are. - Seward, Whittier, and Homer (possibly Kenai and Cooper Landing) get pretty unpleasantly full of either visitors or summer Alaskans during the ...summer. There were two instances this summer when (at Seward) I could not have launched my boat if I did not have a seasonal rental place to take the truck and trailer back to....all the public and street parking were full. - If I was to visit Seward, Homer, or Valdez for several days during tourist season, I'd plan a long way ahead and do an AirBnB, VBRO, etc for a house...and avoid the hassle of RV'ng there; not sure how that logistically works out if one's brought an RV up from the L48. - Can't really speak for anywhere except Seward (may be the case elsewhere, but I've not looked in to it) but there are quite a few options of parking an RV outside of "town"; i.e. paid places that range from a spot of ground to electrical only to water and electric (not many "full hookups") .... but even "outside of town" these tend to fill up pretty fast. - One should go to great lengths to avoid Seward in or around the 4th of July or during the Silver Salmon derby <<< don't ask me how I know that one. - Can't help you with the activities that satisfy the whole family...my wife and I tend to end up doing stuff the adult children enjoy and the grandkids tolerate or vice-versa. - For the places that any tourist will visit, Alaska is not a remote, untamed wilderness. That being said, one must be prepared to "rough it" to one degree or the other. Roughing it might mean that one only drinks King Street (a local brewery) beer on a sightseeing cruise (one Texan loudly complained that the boat didn't stock St. Arnolds...:E) or it might mean being prepared to deal with rain and fog...or cooler temperatures..or getting up early to catch the boat or bus...or having to have more than just Nike's for footgear..or, or, or. - In most spots that one will visit as a tourist, the bugs aren't as bad as legend has it. Nothing that a little bug dope or breeze won't cure. Off the beaten path is an entirely different story and lives up to every bit of the legend....Alaska law requires that private pilots carry mosquito headnets as part of their summer survival gear; once you're out away from civilization during summer, that requirement makes a lot of sense.
PA12DRVR 09/23/19 12:02pm RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Alaska RV trip loop routes/planning resources

I couldn't make a better post than what TeeJay did above as far as routes, etc. A few things to add (all personal opinion); - IMNSHO, Seward and Homer are great destinations in and of themselves: The rest of the Kenai Peninsula locations are good "meanwhile" places if you're going fishing, etc.....and for that reason, my preference would be to prioritize Fairbanks/Valdez/McCarthy over the Kenai Peninsula if you're short on time .....unless you're going to the KP for fishing. - Granted I live here, but other than a jumping off place and for a small bit of scenery, I can't see where Anchorage competes for RV / Visting days. - Recommend the 26 Glacier Cruise out of Whittier: Have now taken or sent about 10 sets of visitors on it and no one has been disappointed. It's a big touristy thing with 250 of your closest friends, but the scenery is good ...even if in the rain. - Nothing wrong with roadside / bankside /creekside fishing: That being said, I'd suggest a saltwater boat trip out of Seward / Valdez / Whittier / Homer (wherever you end up) for fishing as well - Can't offer this (obviously opinion) enough: The summer of 2019 was an aberration: plan for rain and be prepared to do "stuff" in the rain. If one decides not to do "stuff" in the rain, it really limits the experiences available in Alaska... regardless of route one travels.
PA12DRVR 09/18/19 10:33am RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: How do you really judge TV adequacy anymore?

"I can fly from here to Omaha in a Cessna or a 737. Both are rated to haul me there. The Cessna will not do it just as good even though it will do it just fine." Made the Omaha - Spokane trip in Cessna 180 back in the day. Enjoyable in many ways, but for repeat-ability, I preferred the same trip in the 737 / DeHavilland combo that the airline offered. Similarly, while pulling my boat is within the calculated capacities of my new-ish Toyota...its just a better experience in my old-ish 2500HD; even though the capacities calculate out to be closer than I'd have thought.
PA12DRVR 09/13/19 03:55pm Tow Vehicles
RE: Fairbanks-June or August/Sept

FWIW...and always depends on the specific year/week/day/hour....While "Fall" is clearly approaching by late August / Early September in Squarebanks, assuming it's decent weather otherwise, that time of year tends to be warm-ish days and cool nights. Not too hot during the day (nothing like Los Anchorage or most of Alaska this summer) and cool enough at night to enjoy a jacket, fire, and hot toddy.
PA12DRVR 09/11/19 08:53pm RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Chena Hot Springs

I was at Chena most recently a year ago. Decided it was not the spot for the mini-corporate retreat I was planning BUT.. ...I wouldn't hesitate to go there for a visit. I know nothing other than the headlines about the recent death but would offer the following comments (obviously, based on a year's dated info, so things could be different) - The hot springs fill a variety of pools - The pools are either naturally occurring or man-made (i.e. swimming pool) - Other than the (1? or 2?) large-ish swimming pools, the water can get pretty hot in most areas...leading to some limit of how much time one wants to spend in the water, particularly if it's hot outside - Like much of Alaska's "tourist attractions", Chena Hot Springs Resort is not what one would find in Manhattan, Rodeo Drive, or uptown Chicago... a bit more rustic than what one would expect for a resort in those places...but it is a order of magnitude step up from some of the fleabag motels in an around Fairbanks and is better than most if not all of the chain motels and competes with the better hotels in Fairbanks; - I've gone to Chena several times just for dinner when I was staying in the Fairbanks area. - When I visit Chena, I have the drive and/or small plane flight back and forth to Los Anchorage to see scenery or Northern lights, so it's not worth it to me to take the scenery or aurora tours offered at Chena...but if the sky is clear, such tours may very well be worth the price to an infrequent visitor. All IMNSHO and FWIW.
PA12DRVR 09/10/19 06:51pm RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Fairbanks-June or August/Sept

Assume the OP will be flying into and staying in and around Squarebanks for the duration of the trip... ...if not, just something to keep in mind: While a mid- or later September trip could yield some snow on the roads (particularly North of Fbks), in a rental car, it won't be a big deal....even if taking a road trip to Delta or Los Anchorage. FWIW, Chena Hot Springs is a good location for Northern Lights and the later in the year one goes, the better the chance of seeing them.
PA12DRVR 09/10/19 06:36pm RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Fairbanks-June or August/Sept

All FWIW - I believe the scenery (even if foggy / rainy) in SC - Interior Alaska is best in the early - mid-Fall (i.e. mid-August - Mid September) - The bugs take a big hit at the end of August - The tourist stuff tends to shut down no later than mid-September...particularly Glitter Gulch outside of McKinley. - If it's clear, the Fairbanks area can be spectacular in the fall; even if rainy, it's OK. - The tourist crowds are mostly gone, making it easier to book space on the attractions / trips that are left open. - There will be no problem doing "tourist stuff" through the end of August and into at least early September...we have friends headed to stay at Denali for two nights early next week at the Princess (although to be fair, I believe it is the last two nights they are open for the season) - Hiking, fishing, etc will be much more enjoyable (IMNSHO) without bugs or crowds. If in September, fishing will have to focus on trout, dollies, etc as the Fairbanks runs of salmon will be strongest earlier in the year. I'd suggest August / September. As to what to do in Fairbanks - Flight seeing McKinley - Fountainhead Auto Museum - UAF Museum of the North - Santa Claus House in North Pole (people seem to like it...not for me, but tastes vary) - Take a tour to the Arctic Circle (or the shorter one to the Yukon) - Visit Chena Hot Springs - Possibly catch the swan or crane migration through Big Delta - Observe 2 Street at midnight or so....local flavor; not quite what it was 20 years ago, but interesting anyway. <<< This is mostly tongue-in-cheek as 2nd Avenue "2 street" in the vernacular used to be full of bars and their overindulging patrons.
PA12DRVR 09/10/19 09:48am RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Alaska cancels Prince Rupert, B.C., ferry service

Interesting spin in / on the article. AMHS (Alaska Marine Highway System, the ferry) is one of the higher profile areas for budget cuts; whether the Prince Rupert elimination was "generic" or due to the potential specific cost of funding either US or Canadian border agents, the cut was undoubtedly based on budget. Lots of other thoughts at least somewhat relevant to this issue but will try to stay within the guidelines and avoid "politics"
PA12DRVR 09/06/19 09:48am RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: F450 maneuverability question

FWIW, my 2013 F550 DRW with crew cab and 9' bed (can't recall the WB specifically) will turn tighter than my 2009 Chev 2500HD with crew cab and 6.75' bed. Also FWIW, I'd think an F350 w/diesel and the 6.75' bed would be a significant improvement in towing over the gas version....not sure what the premium is for an F450 or what the (likely) tighter turning radius is worth to you, but something to consider.
PA12DRVR 09/04/19 12:26pm Tow Vehicles
RE: what defines a 3/4 ton?

If I want to get groceries and a few bags of snowmelt plus some landscaping blocks, I use the Toyota Tundra If I want to tow the boat, or the 23' flatbed with ATV's or sno-gos, I use the (new, yay!) F250 (replacing the soon to be dearly departed Chev 2500HD) If I want to haul 3.5 yards of gravel, or tow the dozer around, I use the F550 One of those is a 1/2 ton, one's a 3/4 ton, and one's medium duty. Darned if I care about which is which, I just look at what I want to carry before I pick the truck....even if I sometimes mistakenly pull the boat with the Toyota.
PA12DRVR 08/29/19 12:21pm Tow Vehicles
RE: What;s Wrong With My RAM Truck????

If it always stops just short of Amarillo, maybe it just doesn't want to push that smelly air. :) ...although I guess the yards are actually East (???) of Amarillo.....
PA12DRVR 08/28/19 05:39pm Tow Vehicles
RE: Just back from two weeks in AK

"Safety glasses? It's that bad? Oh my. I'll have to check it out next time in the neighborhood. I'll bring some glasses. " Full disclosure, it's never happened to me, although admittedly, I've worked to avoid the Kenai / Russian areas for about the past 15 years. My friend was an ER Nurse in :) Slo-dotna and over the course of 4-5 years dealt directly or indirectly (i.e. saw them come in) with several (8-10 IIRC) in-the-face hook impalings. No eye incidents but could of been.....so the last few times I went, always had eye protection...usually sunglasses anyway, but clear if it was a crowded but overcast day. "That guy" down the bank with a full faceshield might have been a bit over the top though........
PA12DRVR 08/22/19 02:08pm RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Just back from two weeks in AK

When a particular watershed / river is - On or close to the road system; particularly if near Los Anchorage - Home to a strong seasonal run of a popular fish (i.e. either King, Red, or Silver salmon) - Near to infrastructure (i.e. motels, restaurants, guide services, etc) ...then there is the perfect mix for combat fishing. The Kenai (we won't look too closely at the King salmon situation) fits the bill perfectly as does the Russian River where it comes near the road system. The Kenai, particularly the upper part, is a great trout fishing location later in the year (up until a week or two before freezeup)....so I'll go there every so often for trout in September; it's just not enjoyable to fight for a spot on the bank for the dubious privilege of casting a line in an narrow 2'-wide slot and having to wear safety glasses while chasing salmon ...i.e. "combat fishing"
PA12DRVR 08/22/19 10:10am RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Just back from two weeks in AK

"How can you call it Slo-dotna, when it's got beer and fishing?" Well, in all honesty, the name was earned (appropriately IMNSHO) about 20 - 30 years ago when Kenai was the booming energy hub of Southern Cook Inlet and Soldotna was largely known as the place where you went straight to get to Homer or turned right to get to Kenai. Soldotna's claim to fame then was the small town life....i.e. "Slo-dotna". Soldotna had the advantage in the 80's and 90's of being a bit less crowded than Kenai during tourist season, although that was all relative. In recent years, Soldotna has become (again just IMNSHO) the more attractive place than Kenai but that could be changing as Kenai is undergoing a bit of a resurgence. I work pretty hard to avoid the combat fishing experience, but I'd estimate that (absent fires) the Cooper Landing area is #1, followed by the Soldotna area, followed by Kenai, although the recent dipnet madding throngs bid fair to vault Kenai to the #1 combat fishing spot. Soldotna's other claim to fame (going back 20-odd years, maybe more) was that Hobo Jim played there more often than Kenai. Soldotna was also the venue for a fairly significant (for Alaska) karate tournament for several years... Having been a visitor to the Kenai Peninsula since the mid-70's, I can't give up the nickname of Slo-dotna (or Squarebanks or the Meth-Su or....).
PA12DRVR 08/21/19 05:52pm RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Just back from two weeks in AK

We had visitors (based in Los Anchorage) who took a side trip to Homer. They got caught in the fire delay and spent two nights / 2.5 days in Soldotna. Even with the option to tour the lovely town of Kenai, after 2.5 days, I believe it lived up to it's nickname of Slo-dotna. :)
PA12DRVR 08/21/19 09:34am RVing in Canada and Alaska
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