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Author Topic: Alaska  (Read 4407 times)
Brian Diehl
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« on: February 23, 2009, 11:40:19 AM »

I'm considering heading to Alaska next summer.  I would need to do it during the kids summer break from school.  I originally wanted to head up in May and return by around the end of June.  Based upon what Craig has told me I was planning on an 8 week adventure.  I don't yet know if I could get that much time away from work, but assuming I could I would do 8 weeks.  I've got a pretty good budget of set aside money to do what we want.  So, given I need to do this during the prime summer travel months, when would you go?

If you could pick between the two, which would you pick and why?

June & July 
    or
July & August

Keep in mind I would prefer to spend more time "boondocking" than in campgrounds.

Thanks for your thoughts and ideas!

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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2009, 11:57:48 AM »

Brian, this months edition of Highways, (March) has some neat articles on Alaska, very good reading.  That is the Good Sam magazine.
For MAK...not near as good as this one...but good!LOL
Jack
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2009, 12:03:49 PM »

The onslaught of Good-Samers seems to start mid May, well in Fairbanks anyway.  It's all drop-dead beautiful as soon as the last vestiges of brown snow have melted which is usually done by by May.  However, there is never a guarantee.

Careful going up there to visit, I did and it took 28 years to get back to the lower 48.  LoL

 
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2009, 12:13:24 PM »

Brian, never been there in Jul and Aug but May is not a good time you fight the mud and slush and they have mosquitoes in some areas than can take out a F16 with one shot.It is a beautiful place to vist but not high on my list for a return vist.I would go for the July and Aug dates if I were you and be out of there by the middle of Aug            good luck
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2009, 12:57:14 PM »

Brian, never been there in Jul and Aug but May is not a good time you fight the mud and slush and they have mosquitoes in some areas than can take out a F16 with one shot.It is a beautiful place to vist but not high on my list for a return vist.I would go for the July and Aug dates if I were you and be out of there by the middle of Aug            good luck

Man, I cracked up on that one Clifford. They must be bigger than the ones in Florida huh!

Brian, I think I would heed Cliffords advice! You don't want to mess with those skeeters if they're that big. Roll Eyes

~Paul~
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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2009, 01:04:08 PM »

I guess it all depends on the year.  I was there in mid May on Princess land tour and cruise.  Landed in Fairbanks in mid May to 98 degree weather.  No mosquitos yet, or any throughout the trip.  I heard they come out later in the season.  My choice would be the earlier dates.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2009, 01:09:16 PM »

Ya'll little woosies aint seen no skeeters till you been to Hunting Island State Park, South Carloina in July!

Did you know the state bird in SC is a skeeter?

Brian, sorry to hyjack the thread...I had to tell the little girls bout real skeeters!

And Clifford, I laughed pretty good on that too!  Take out an F-16.  (Course the ones in SC could take out the ships the F-16's fly off of!LOL
Jack
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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2009, 01:11:08 PM »

The ones in the White Mountains Rec Area somebody forgot to inform those babies it was the wrong time of the year  
good luck
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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2009, 01:48:18 PM »

All jokes aside Brian it is a nice place to see the wildlife is worth the visit,I went in May because people told me that was the best time of year to go.Jun,Jul,Aug and Sept are the rainy months in Fairbanks and the temp is in the 60's on average for May.Where TomC got the 98 degrees I don't know 1991 broke the record for heat but it wasn't no 98 degrees I think it was around 90.Have a safe trip and good luck
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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2009, 03:14:19 PM »

I've lived in Anchorage for nearly 14 years.  The June-July timeframe would seem best for our area.  There will be more sunshine, less rain.  June is usually open weather-wise.  July weather begins to turn a bit wetter in my opinion.  If you are partial to world-class fishing, the early run of King Salmon which occurs in late May-June ought to figure heavily in anyone's decision.
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« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2009, 04:15:41 PM »

Ive been there several times, all by private aircraft, in 91 spent a month flying the state, only bad skeeters Ive found were in Dawson when we were camped out side of town at the airport. The one area that most people find troubling is the looooonnngg days dureing the summer, you tend to loose track of time but your body doesnt so after about three long days your systems just shut down for an extended period and your wasted, but its neat to be fishing at 11;00pm with daylite still available.>>>Dan
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« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2009, 07:17:18 PM »

I remember one summer while visiting Minnesota that we all were admiring a flock of pelicans, or so we thought. Turned out to be gnats according to the locals, eh!!!  Wink
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« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2009, 07:39:09 PM »

Let me tell you about Alaskan mosquitoes
The last time I was up there was in 75 and I was camping. I was getting ready to cook a steak and had it laying on the table right next to the fire when a big grizzly walks out of the brush. He looks at me and then he looks at my steak.  I said to him itís all yours big boy as I slowly backed up. Then I heard something off to my right the bear heard it also as I saw him turn his head and look. What happened next well itís the things that legends are made of.  At first I thought a squadron of choppers were coming in for a landing but I soon realized it was five of the biggest mosquitoís  I had ever seen coming in from down wind. My guess is they had picked up the scent of the blood from the steak.  The biggest one flies right in and lands right on the steak, the bear didnít take to kindly to that at all and gives a snort and moves toward the big mosquito and the steak. The bear takes a swat at the mosquito knocking the mosquito across the camp site. Well this only made the mosquito mad as he flew up high above the bear and dive bombed his butt. The next thing I knew all five mosquitos were on that bear like fleas on a hound. All that was left of that bear when they were done was the hide and bones.  And as they left the big one, now twice as big as he was before swooped down and grabbed my steak as he left camp.   So if you happen to be cooking donít pay any mind to the bears and donít swat at any mosquitoes. So my advice is carry pepper spay for the bears and a 357 magnum for the mosquitoes. Lets be safe out there.

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« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2009, 08:17:22 PM »

Dean...357 hell...looks like you would need a Howitzer! 
(The puny little skeeters up there still can't whup up on our SC skeetersLOL)
Jack
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« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2009, 08:30:59 PM »

Brian,

  I drove the Alcan in May of 1993 (Fairbanks to Walla Walla,Wa) when I got out of the Army.  Perfect time of year to drive it.  Roads are pretty smooth (all of the potholes are filled in with snow and packed down real nice) and the scenery is beautiful.  No mosquitos (and yes, this is a huge deal, trust me) this time of year either (unless we have an early break-up).  I would make sure you have plenty of diesel because no idea what the prices are now, but in '93 when diesel was like .99 /gal in the US (I can't remember but it was cheap), diesel in Canada was $1.25/liter, cigarettes were $6.99 pack and beer was cheap.

Don't do like I did and make the mistake of bringing a gun.  I almost ended up in prison over my Remington 742 Woodsmaster 30-06 semi-auto hunting rifle.  Had no idea the Kanucks consider that an assault rifle.  If the ASP hadn't warned me, I would probably still be in prison today.

If I had to choose the months you mentioned, I would most definitely take the July/August time frame for the weather and the roads should be clear by then.  You don't want to drive the Alcan DURING break-up under any circumstances.  Could be dicey and dangerous.

FWIW and HTH,

Doug
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« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2009, 11:36:46 PM »

Brian, just make sure you have a supply of nearly 100% DEET repellent. If, for some reason, you can't stand that, Avon's Skin So Soft will offer some protection.

Some mosquitos will find a way into your coach, so the repellent is needed if you get into them. They will surprise you, even after the warnings. You will be fairly well off if you are out in bright sunlight; if you need to be out near dusk, be sure to have your repellent on.

We went up in June year before last, and frost heave repairs were underway. At times, you will need to get on the binders to stop for the work areas.

You need to get a Milepost magazine because that will really help a lot. If you want ours, let me know. We were gone about 3 weeks, and did not need to go into a park. The milepost made this easy.

For what it's worth.

Tom Caffrey
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« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2009, 05:15:12 PM »

I'd recommend leaving around June 15, and planning on returning around Aug 15. The kids won't get out of school till early June, and will be heading back to school early Sept. Gives you good time on both ends to get things ready for trip and school, and you're there the best time of the year.

Plan on coming out some night and we'll go over the route and places to stop along the way. Get your Milepost. I can show you some awesome places we found to overnight along the way and discuss fuel stops and such.

I will probably be back home about the middle of next week.

craig
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« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2009, 09:12:41 PM »

Brian try this route - Do two seperate legs - One going up through Prince George and 37 to Watson Lake (Big grizzly country) then at Mount Lorne head south to Skagway - take the one hour ferry ride to Haines (yeah it costs $$$$ but less than the cost of fuel backtracking and you get to see it ALL - you may only do it once) - a few miles north of Haines watch the Eagles feeding (in october/november there are thousands of them in a few mile stretch) As you head to Haines Junction don't blink or you'll miss the world's smallest desert - Then you head west on Alcan through Beaver Creek (BTW at this point it is important to inform you, not in any special order, that the Alcan and most highways have little travel and huge turnouts (some 200 feet wide and plenty of large cleared spots where snow/road equipment is stored in the winter) that you can pull off anytime - there are huge lakes with no one on them and abandon mines along the route begging you to stop, explore, picnic, or spend the night - All fuel stations in AK are required to provide FREE dump facilities (BTW keep your tanks topped off) - Bring your Sat sys., DVD, plenty of movies, video games, etc.) DId I say keep you fuel topped, there are some long stretches of road - Don't worry about your headlights - you won't be needing them - Do watch the road on your way out, frost heave can put some large fissures in the road that will probably be fixed by the time you head back - Do go through your bus with spay foam and fill in ALL the little cracks, between the Skeeters and dust (alum) you will be sorry if you don't - Stay away from marshy areas or standing water when camping - 98% of my time in AK I had no problem at all with Skeeters, but when you do encounter them they are plentifull and voracious) Back to the route - Head west on Alcan and stop @ Tok and have some sourdough pancakes - continue to Delta Junction heading west to Fairbanks - As others have said Milepost is invaluable - buy one and use it - you'll want to keep it for memories anyway - Fairbanks has many thing to do that you can figure (with milepost) to do for yourself, but I do suggest the 90 mile trip to Chena Hot Springs - they have a lodge, RV park, Hot spring and plenty of wildlife on the route (Even a Musk Ox farm) - also a lot of mushers train here - you now have a choice of making the 2 day trip to Prudhoe (DO NOT take your bus) I thought it was one of the highlights of the trip but may be too much for young children (do have one of the world's best Rueben sandwiches during your Stop in Coldfoot)  -  Now head west to Denali - as soon as you get to the park check-in and see if there are any cancellations at the primitive Teklanika campsite INSIDE DENALI (the park only allows one trip in and out minimum 3 day stay) if available take one as it cuts hours off the bus ride to and from the park interior - to be continued .....
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« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2009, 10:55:04 PM »

 Embarrassed  I'm breaking this up because I thought I had LOST the last post  Cry

..... If you can't get in there is another NP RV park at the entrance, some commercial sites and boondocking north of the park entrance - Continuing toward Anchorage you have a choice to go to east to on 8 to the town of Denali - or head south to Talkeetna - Talkeetna is the town the TV show "northern exposure" was based upon and the airport is the "road" in and out of the bush and the way the climbers get to Kahiltna glacier and base camp - quant and quirky filled with tourists, climbers, and bush people in transit - It is well worth the money to either take a pressurized plane to the top of Mckinley or as we chose non pressurized to 13k feet and landing on Kahiltna (if you've never landed/taken off on a glacier it's the !@#$% and I guarantee you will not meet too many that have) - From there head south  stop in Wasilla and meet the Palin's - then take the Glenn highway into Anchorage - let milepost be your guide on what to see there - by this time the weather on the Kenai should be getting better and you can check to see if the "salmon are running" - If they are, hurry to places like the Russian River where you'll be knee deep in them - Kenai has two backtracks, one to Homer and one to Seward so you will have time on the way back to see the rest of the sites if you hurry for the salmon run - there are many campsites along the Seward highway at Turnagain - they can be noisy as Seward highway has more traffic - a stop in Portage is good (inland icebergs) Whittier has a road to it now - Hope is a nice town - Just outside of Seward is the second most user freindly Glacier in AK, a short park and walk to the base of the Glacier - Seward has a great Aquarium, fishing on Resurrection bay, day boat trips, etc. - The Sterling highway will take you through great fishing (aforementioned Russian River) to Saldotna and the towns along Cook Inlet - Towns like Ninilchik and Clam Gulch offer King Salmon fishing off the docks or by beach launched boats - Homer Spit offers parking/camping along its 7 mile stretch - if you take the kids Halibut fishing on Cook or Katchemak they will wear themselves out hauling them in - keep your biggest, keep some for the trip and have the rest shrink wrapped, flash frozen and shipped home - DO NOT leave without having a beer/cocktail @ the Salty Dawg (BTW the bartender knows the best deal on charter boats) - On your way back to Anchorage you have a choice of going to Whittier and taking the ferry (very $$$$$$) to Valdez or the Glenn Highway - the ferry avoids some backtracking, you get to see oceanfront glaciers at a distance, ocean icebergs, and plenty of seals - On the Richardson Highway there are plenty of places to camp - Near Ptarmagin is the most accessible glacier in AK, right on the highway - the Town of McCarthy is a great side trip located within Wrangel St. Elias - don't ask them about the massacre as they are all related to the victims and as can be expected quite emotional - When you reach Gakona ask how the Tok Cutoff is - if bad DO NOT take it as it can be 100 miles of miserable rollercoaster at any speed - Just east of Tok at Tetlin Junction you have the choice of taking the Top Of the World Highway to towns like Chicken and the Spur to Eagle on the Yukon river - parts are paved parts are gravel, but H5-60's have been making the run for years - plenty of wildlife, abandoned dredges, and you really do feel like your On Top Of the World - the road takes you to the loneliest boarder crossing in North America (they don't even have utilities) and is only open 7 to 7 - this brings you the back way into Dawson across the Yukon on a ferry (beautiful campsite on the west side of the river) plenty of choices for you in Dawson and lots of history - don't forget to take the kids panning for gold at the free site southwest of town (the hardware store in town sells the "professional" pans) - On the way to Whitehorse on the Klondike highway you may choose to meander a bit down the Dempster highway, stay in Carmacks, sidetrip the Cambell highway or stop at the Hot Springs and RV park north of Whitehorse - By the time you get there the Salmon may have made up the Yukon to the fish ladder for viewing - It's a big town with plenty to do - When you head east home this time stay on the Alcan to Dawson Creek -

This route should get you to the right places at the right time without backtracking - I've only made a few suggestions as the best part of the trip will be the discoveries of your own along the way - there are many other side trips you can make by plane, but this route will take you to almost all the places you can reach by road - I guess you can see that I love this place - BTW - I took this trip for a summer (we also went to Inuvik) by myself with my boys age 11 and 15 and we had a great time - HTH
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« Reply #19 on: February 25, 2009, 07:07:15 AM »


 Only one minor point to mention. When using Deet..sun lotion diminishes the
 effectiveness of Deet. When we spent a week floating down from Denalli others
 in the group would spray on Deet then sun screen. By the end they looked like
 the had the measles. I was already dark enough not to require sun lotion and
 only was pimply around the ankles.

 Good luck

 Skip
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Brian Diehl
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« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2009, 07:11:19 PM »

Wow Niles!  You wrote a book!  Thank you so much.  I will be printing this off and putting it with the MilePost I'll be ordering sometime this weekend.  Craig, I will take you up on that offer.  Not sure exactly when at this point, but we will get together!  Thank you all for your thoughts.  Keep them coming!
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« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2009, 07:42:13 AM »

Camping World probably has the Milepost on the shelf.

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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #22 on: February 26, 2009, 08:39:14 AM »

We bought a copy of the Milepost last month at the local Barnes & Nobles.

We are also hoping to take a trip to Alaska this summer. We can only spend two weeks in Alaska, plus one week driving each way from Michigan. It will be a rushed trip, but better than not going at all.

Niles, the information in your posts is great. It will make planning the trip more productive. Thanks.
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« Reply #23 on: February 26, 2009, 09:20:03 AM »

For what it's worth, coming from someone who has spent the last 40 years in Alaska, and drives a 45ft MCI J4500, touring throughout the summer season, I would pick the latter dates, as a lot of the motorhomes have gone south. The weather is still pretty good during August and it's much easier to get around without all the other tourists, who drive. As for headlights, Canadian law requires them at all times on the "Alaska Highway". Many good suggestions about where to go and things to do and see. I would suggest a side trip through Dawson City, Yukon on your way up, but be very careful on the "Top Of The World Highway. It's very narrow, gravel, and can be treacherous if it's raining. If I can be of any more help, please let me know...Bill
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« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2009, 07:05:09 PM »

I thought of something else that you should consider. Hand guns are illegal in Canada and will be confiscated, if found and you will be asked at the border. Shotguns and rifles can be carried, but each one has to have a permit, issued by Canadian customs and each permit costs $25.00.
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« Reply #25 on: February 26, 2009, 07:19:14 PM »

I thought of something else that you should consider. Hand guns are illegal in Canada and will be confiscated, if found and you will be asked at the border. Shotguns and rifles can be carried, but each one has to have a permit, issued by Canadian customs and each permit costs $25.00.

Like I said earlier, semi-auto long guns were prohibited when I drove through in '93 and would land you in jail if you had them.
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« Reply #26 on: February 27, 2009, 07:32:50 PM »

Hi Gumpy,
Do you remember how far it is from your house to Anchorage? My neighbor wants to go and when I said it would be about 4000 miles by road he wouldn't believe me.
Thanks, Sam 4106
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« Reply #27 on: February 27, 2009, 07:43:45 PM »

Google maps says it is 3192 miles from my house in Maple Grove to Ankorage.  :-)  When are you going?  :-)
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« Reply #28 on: February 28, 2009, 07:09:24 AM »

Hi Gumpy,
Do you remember how far it is from your house to Anchorage? My neighbor wants to go and when I said it would be about 4000 miles by road he wouldn't believe me.
Thanks, Sam 4106

We didn't take a direct route, but it was close to 4000. We crossed ND and MT, and went up through Radiant Hot Springs, backtracked a bit to Banff, and up to Jasper, and then more backtracking to Edmonton, before starting up towards AK. That probab added several hundred miles as opposed to a direct route.

We then went down the Kenai to Homer, up to Fairbanks, and up the pipeline haul road to where it crosses the Yukon and back, over the Top of the World, and then came down the western route through Prince George and into Spokane and back home alone I-94. Total mileage was something like 9400 miles according to the bus odometer. Didn't have a GPS at the time.

So, it's probably somewhere between Brian's 3200 and 4000 if you take the most direct route.

craig

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« Reply #29 on: February 28, 2009, 08:28:04 AM »

Hi Brian and Gumpy,
I am not going, but my neighbor wants to and we were discussing distance to Anchorage. I based my estimate on the fact that four couples that I know that have gone and put on about 10,000 miles for the round trip. I thought my neighbor just wasn't being realistic about the distance and the cost. We are good friends so there were no ruffled feathers. I tried ask.com and all I could get was the "as the crow flies" distance of 2625 miles. I'm not very computer literate so I thought Craig could give a better answer. Thank you both for your help.
Sam 4106
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« Reply #30 on: February 28, 2009, 09:50:48 AM »

Sam,
To get a relatively useful idea of mileage from point "A" to point "B" just go to google and type in your starting point, (City and state "to" your destination point, (City and State) hit enter, then look in the upper left corner and click on "Maps"

The screen will change to google maps and give you mileage, a route and estimated time.

You can also change your route by grabbing the blue line on the map with a left mouse click and pulling it to where you want it. The map will recalculate automatically.

For instance, I just did Savanah, Ga to Anchorage, AK and came up with 4615 miles, 3 days 5 hours of travel.

Then I grabbed the blue line and pulled it over to Minneapolis, MN area and the map recalculated to 4596 miles and 3 days 6 hours travel.

I'll leave the difference in travel time up to the user to figure out, but it is logical, based on speed limits etc.

http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Savannah%2C%20Ga%20to%20Anchorage%2C%20AK&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl



Hi Brian and Gumpy,
I am not going, but my neighbor wants to and we were discussing distance to Anchorage. I based my estimate on the fact that four couples that I know that have gone and put on about 10,000 miles for the round trip. I thought my neighbor just wasn't being realistic about the distance and the cost. We are good friends so there were no ruffled feathers. I tried ask.com and all I could get was the "as the crow flies" distance of 2625 miles. I'm not very computer literate so I thought Craig could give a better answer. Thank you both for your help.
Sam 4106
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« Reply #31 on: February 28, 2009, 02:08:14 PM »

Hi Dallas,
Thanks for the suggestion, but there seems to be a slightly optimistic calculation on the time required to travel from Savanah, GA to Anchorage, AK. First, the travel time of 3 days 5 hours would require you to travel 77 continuous hours. Second, it assumes a speed of 60 MPH over that 77 hours. While the distance of 4615 miles fron Savanah to Anchorage may be correct, the distance from Minneapolis to Anchorage can't possibly be. The difference 4596 miles and 4615 miles is 19 miles, and I know the distance between Savanah and Minneapolis is farther than that. It would probably be out of the way go from Savanah to Anchorage via Minneapolis but not that much.
Thanks, Sam 4106
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« Reply #32 on: February 28, 2009, 02:59:08 PM »

Ok, well, let's see what the log book says....

Odometer read 94884.9 when we left St. Michael.  When I filled in Anchorage, it read 98962.0.

So that's 4077.1 miles.

Again, that's not a direct route from St. Michael to Anchorage.

Oh, and our final odometer was 104283.0.  So total mileage for the AK trip was 9398.1.

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Dallas
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« Reply #33 on: February 28, 2009, 03:09:43 PM »

Sam, I wasn't talking about moving your starting point from Savannah to Minneapolis, but rather changing the route taken....
the original route went through Iowa and South Dakota, but by grabbing the blue line with my mouse and pulling it to the Minneapolis area, it changed the whole route and so recalculated the distances.
Try creating a route with the directions given before. Once you have that, move your mouse to the blue line that shows on the map as your route. As soon as you are on the blue line, hold down the left mouse button and it will grab the line. Without letting up on the button, move the mouse somewhere else. Now let go of the button, and, Viola! your route has now changed.

Good luck.
Dallas

Hi Dallas,
Thanks for the suggestion, but there seems to be a slightly optimistic calculation on the time required to travel from Savanah, GA to Anchorage, AK. First, the travel time of 3 days 5 hours would require you to travel 77 continuous hours. Second, it assumes a speed of 60 MPH over that 77 hours. While the distance of 4615 miles fron Savanah to Anchorage may be correct, the distance from Minneapolis to Anchorage can't possibly be. The difference 4596 miles and 4615 miles is 19 miles, and I know the distance between Savanah and Minneapolis is farther than that. It would probably be out of the way go from Savanah to Anchorage via Minneapolis but not that much.
Thanks, Sam 4106
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« Reply #34 on: February 28, 2009, 03:29:27 PM »

Hi Dallas,
Thanks for the clarification. My brain doesn't work nearly as well as it used to. Thanks again for helping.
Sam 4106
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« Reply #35 on: March 01, 2009, 09:58:35 AM »

http://www.panda.com/canadaguns/]Having lived in Anchorage for a long time and driving back and forth 27 times I found the information in this thread to be mostly accurate.

I submit the following concerning firearms:

It is not possible to legally transport hand guns through Canada for ordinary folks.

Long guns and shotguns may be transported ONLY TO AND FROM ALASKA! The barrels must not be shortened. They will require a Canadian transport permit. There is a cost for the permit. It will be collected at Canadian Customs. The information is available here.

[url]http://www.panda.com/canadaguns/


You MUST fill out the US Customs firearms form at US Customs BEFORE departing the US. This form will be stamped by Customs and will be valid for as long as you own the firearm. The purpose is to prove that you owned the firearms before you departed the US so you can return with it/them. Do NOT forget this or you will not be able to return with the gun.

Does that sound like firearms registration?[/url]
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Joe Laird
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