General comments about roads, gas, etc.

Just a quickie – too costly to do a proper update on related blogs.

Roads:

The Taylor Highway is slow and rough. All road maintenance has been overlooked with defference to fire fighting, it seems. Slow driving in a RV, but look out for local hotdogs in trucks.

Do not recommend RV to Eagle – use towed vehicle.

Fuel:

Varies all over the place. Hint – always fuel in major junction/town, not outlying towns (this is where I usually run out of fuel because of poor planning). This will minimize costs regardless of what the price trends are.

I have seen lows of $1.83 diesel in Anchorage to $2.90 in outlying areas. Gas trends are same, only 5% higher in price.

In Canada, the same trend applies, but the cost is at least 20-40% higher than in US/AK.

The bottom line is, if you are coming, it really doesn’t matter once you commit – go for it. If you cannot afford the gas, then you cannot afford the RV (and I cannot afford either!)

I hear that fuel prices to Inuvik are up to $4.00/liter, at the half point. I will expand on this if I get more info, and internet oportunity.

Wish I had that 1.4 meter dish now!!

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Tags: AK

Internet Woes

Subject: Glenallen, AK (20 – 22 June)

About connections on the road:

I finally got another expensive shot at the internet, so I will update the site a little – no pics, though.

I camped at the Northern Lights Campground in Glenallen. Advertised “DSL connection”, then went to the city and locked the office. Frosted me, because that was the main reason I stopped there. Glenallen, like Tok, is basically a “basic services” highway junction, with an extensive Visitor Center for the area of AK. It happens that many “locations” in AK are “junctions”, and that most main highway (read: all highways) intersect away from major cities. So you basically go from This Junction, AK to That Junction, AK. These junctions vary in size from no services, to a few services, to most services. The ones that have “no services” are not particularly welcome when you have no fuel!

About Internet access on the road since I went out of range of my DataStorm. Access in short, NOT!

I have about given up. I hear that wi-fi is beginning to propagate through the RV parks. It appears to be at some major, expensive “resort” RV parks (the term “resort” and “RV Park” appear to be mutually exclusive to me).

In Haines I stopped at one such park, $30/night plus $6/night for the wi-fi. But it seemed to be not working. They also had two phone plugs for dialup. Guess where they were located? – on the outside on a wall with a small shelf where one has to stand, and where one cannot see his laptop due to direct sunlight.

I went to the public library in Haines, but their security system would not allow me to access TCP ports I needed to do much of anything.

Here, in Glenallen, the owners denied me access by going to the city and locking the office. They had exactly the same outside stand-up dialup connection, if ou have an 800 number. Sorry, but my back does not appreciated standing in such positions. I did use the DSL a little the night first night in the office. I sat at a small screen, narrow shelf on which to put anything but the screen and the mouse. And the mouse was on the left about a foot away. I guess this is the way they encourage their 15 minute limit. I also noticed that they had no security on their computer, had not disabled “history” in their browser, so my bank, credit card, web host, etc. URLs were there for anyone to view, until I deleted all history and cookies before I left.

Boy, will I be glad to get back to DataStorm range!!

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Tags: Glenallen AK

Side Trip to Eagle, AK

Where is Eagle, AK?

Drove to Eagle today, just because it was there, and because I cannot go East or North due to road closures.

Eagle might be a pleasant place to visit if the smoke was not so heavy. I did notice that there were no tour busses there. Usually the tour companies include Eagle on some tours, and Eagleans were complaining that they could not service the business due to fighting fires. Also, not a very healthy place for the elderly with poor breathing.

Smoke was bad, but one could see to drive. The road is gravel, and would be very slow and annoying in a motorhomne, but was OK in my Jeep. It’s main street is Waterfront Street, running beside the Yukon River. I stood there. I could not see the river.

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Tags: Eagle AK

Chicken, AK

Where is Chicken, AK?

Due to the smoke/smog, I departed Denali today, somewhat late after seeing the kennel, and headed for points unknown. All I knew when I left is that I wanted out of this foul “weather”. So I headed North – straight into fire territory. Never said I was logical.

As I drove toward Fairbanks, the smoke worsened. The flight tours at Denali were grounded, The airport at Fairbanks was closed, with visibility of perhaps 1/2 mile. I made a quick decision not to go to Prudhoe Bay, or Circle, AK, as some of the roads were possibly closed due to fire. These were potential destinations.

So I headed Southeast to Delta Junction, which is the beginning (end?) of the Alaska Highway, and which I needed to travel to reach the rest of my route. From there it was off to Tok and Tetlin, which I passed through on the way to points South. At Tok, I got a phone number for the road advisory for fire closings, and found out that the Taylor Highway had been closed, but opened just 15 minutes before I called. So up the Taylor I headed. If I could not get to Chicken, I could not get to to “Top-of-the-World” Highway that is my objective for a return route. Bottom line is that I drove the longest day since I left home, 12 hours from Denali to Chicken. I arrived at Chicken at Midnight, and it was still “dusk”, as I could not tell if my head lights were on or off.

I drove through burned out forest, both sides of the road, fires flaring a few places as a spared tree became consumed. I stopped dead still and stared forward at one point, trying to tell if I was facing a block wall, a road, or a ditch. I finally got out to check for sure. That is how dense the smoke was at some places.

I did reach Chicken, and enjoyed an old fashioned July 4th community cookout, steak, chicken (of course!), hot dogs with all kinds of trimmings and deserts. The shindig was thrown by an organization of gold miners in the area (Forty Mile Miner’s Association?).

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Tags: Chicken AK

Denali Wilderness Area, AK

Where is Denali, AK?

Two nights were spent in a none-descript RV Park near the entrance to Denali Park. I had time to visit the park via an eight-hour bus tour down the only road in the wilderness (by the way, most wilderness areas do not have a road down the middle). I also returned the morning of departure to visit the dogsled kennels.

The weather was overcast with smoke or smog, making visibility no more then 1/2 or 3/4 mile, at best. This made animal watching difficult, and the only animals we saw were about 3 meece, one with a calf, some white dots on the mountainside that might have been Doll mountain goats, since someone swore they saw one move, and one caribou in the road, and one Rabbit. Personally, I ever saw the dots. Of course animal viewing is dependent on the bus passengers watching rather than reading or sleeping. I suspect many on our bus feel into the second category. With my eyesight, I couldn’t see a mountain, unless it moved.

Due to the smoke that engorged the area as far south as Denali, coming from about a cumulative total of 500,000 acres of burning AK, nearby mountains could not be seen, let alone Mt. McKinley.

The sled dog kennel was fun. Denali raises and trains their own dogs from their stock. These are working dogs used in the winter to patrol to park. You have never seen a more cuddly bunch of dogs. Boy, did they all go nuts when they saw the sled brought out for the short little demo run.

And they lounge on top of their dog houses, just like Snoopy!

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Tags: Denali AK