Today we bid farewell to Valdez, and headed back along the Richardson Highway from whence we came three days ago. Again, we took our time, enjoyed the scenery, and put up with the bumpy portions of the highway which reminded us of driving in East St. Louis back in 2012, or the many times I drove between Pine Bluff Arkansas and Little Rock, or the many drives along U.S. 99 in Central California.
We thought for sure that we would see a moose, a bear, anything … but so far since we have been in Alaska we have struck out. Even with our trip to Skagway, when we saw a bear it was in Canada. One would think that we would see Smokey the Bear or Bullwinkle J. Moose in Alaska…but so far, it has not happened…perhaps they have been right there in front of us and we have not seen them due to the spectacular beauty of Alaska?
So with the trip up here and ten days of Alaska under our belts, here is a list of things to struck us enough to mention to others who might contemplate this type of trip (assuming that one already has done basic research on the trip):
-- Yes, it is very beautiful, and if you are thinking of doing the trip, it really is worth every minute on the road, every bump, even every bruise in Marcia’s case after her little misstep the other day.
-- Nothing worth crying about if you get scrutinized at the border. Just tell the truth, and nothing but the truth. Once scrutinized, it will be stuck in your record for future crossings, you will be asked about it again.
-- When you have a plan like Amazon Prime, and you expect to download movies to watch…remember that you cannot download them in Canada unless you are using your American Aircard. So download all you can from a free WiFi BEFORE you enter into Canada. Since our 40 Gigs of Aircard is nearly used up each month, in Skagway I purchased 7 Gigs of WiFi time for $18.95 with AP&T (yes “P”), which had numerous towers in Skagway, and one in Tok. With that, I was able to download a dozen movies and used up 6.9 gigs.
-- Yes, the roads “CAN” be as bad as everyone says. On the other hand, the roads are in good shape for most of the trip. Of the 1,250 miles from Dawson Creek to Tok, 1,000 miles of the road is in real good shape. Another 150+ miles are in fair shape, as long as you slow down at the road markers showing frost heave damage, you can handle that real well. About 100 miles are under construction, of which 60 of those 100 miles are the worse roads you have ever driven on, and the other 40 are pretty bad. So when you look at it from that perspective, the roads are not that bad. So far in Alaska, the roads have ranged from very good, to fair, with minor spots being poor.
-- The weather needs to be closely watched. It can snow anytime up in parts of British Columbia, the Yukon, and Alaska. We had snow in the Toad Creek area before Muncho Lake, but it did not stick along the roadway. But just four days later they had 4-6 inches fall, grinding many travelers to a halt right alongside the roadway.
-- Yes, the mosquitoes can be a problem. But a little spray with DEET, and some bug spray to go around the doorway, and a good old fashion fly swatter will do the trick. No we have not experienced any of the no-see-ums as of yet. Frankly, so far, we only had bad mosquitoes in the Glennallen area, and we are back there again tonight and the problem is not as bad, but still a problem.
-- We choose to not purchase a cell phone plan for Canada. With both of us using dumb phones, we would have had to upgrade, or buy a phone with minutes at a Canadian Walmart or convenience store. Once in Alaska, we have not had a problem other than travel day … then it is hit or miss. With our Verizon plan, we did activate the $1 per day for use in Canada option, which only kicks in on days you use it, for our Aircard. We have stayed in cities or locations where I knew we would have a signal, so we could use the aircard every night and every morning. Only 2 or 3 RV parks had adequate WiFi, with Eagles Rest in Valdez having the best WiFi so far.
-- Did I mention how spectacular the scenery can be? Worth a second mention, that’s for sure. It does not mean that the entire trip is full of spectacular scenery…but when you get to certain areas, it is jaw dropping, eye popping, absolutely spectacular stuff.
From here we head to the Palmer / Wasilla area for three nights, and if we need another, then we will boondook at Cabela's for a night or two. Then it is off to Seward…and when we are tired of Seward, we will head over to Homer where we have reservations for the 4th of July weekend. From there…only time will tell...I figure we won't be crossing into Canada for 65-70 days from now, and even then we have to cross back into Alaska to see Haines and later, Hyder.