We got to Haines around 1600 Saturday afternoon. We found the state campground about 9 miles past Haines (and about 5 miles past the ferry terminal). Beautiful campground on the water, $10.00 a night (but unlike Canada, no free firewood). We had a nice dinner of ravioli & chili after setting up camp, and then sat around the fire till bedtime. Breakfast consisted of Span with maple syrup and pinapple, and blueberry muffins. After breakfast (more like brunch) we went into Haines. We saw a bear on the way to town. We went to a laundrymat to do our final bit of laundry, and while that was going on I went to a carwash and blasted the hardened mud off the Jeep. Tomorrow we'll bring the trailer through to get blasted before getting on the ferry. After laundry, we went to a little fish and chips trailer and had... fish and chips. I've never had so much fish and chips since this Alaska/Canada trip. Not that I'm complaining.
Right now we're at the library (free wifi access) updating this travel thread. We're disappointed our trip is being cut short, but you can't ask for a nicer layover spot than Haines to wait for the ferry. We'll be leaving on the Ferry tomorrow evening, arriving back to Bellingham WA Friday morning.
A few more things we've learned on this trip:
1. Don't bring white clothes (T-shirts, socks, etc.) and expect to be able to wash them separately. Either figure they're going to get dingy in the wash, or don't bring them.
2. Those tent stakes that look like large nails with plastic tip - bring a dozen or more. Trying to hammer those "J" shaped tent stakes will just bend them.
3. Bring some sort of canopy for your campsite. It will rain on you while you're in Alaska and Canada. We should have bought one sooner.
4. Provided you don't get them wet, you can wear the same pair of pants for days on end.
5. Public bathrooms are a great place to wash your hair and face (and shave). I pretty much got all my hair cut off (high and tight) before the trip; just makes things easier.
6. Talk to people as you travel. We've learned all sorts of things, and heard some great stories just from talking to people along the way.
7. Eating out is expensive in Alaska and Canada. Even two orders of fish-and-chips out of a roadside trailer will put you back close to $25.00. If you've got the space, pack as many MREs as you can for roadside lunch stops if nothing else. We try to keep our eating out meals to no more than one a day.
8. Alaska and Canada are both beautiful. Take lots of pictures.
9. A TJ doesn't hold that much stuff. I've included a picture of the rear of our Jeep load with our duffle bags, sleeping bags, pillows, jackets, tools, computer, shotgun, etc. Notice there's no room left for food/cooler, tent, cots, cookware, campchairs, etc. A little trailer like we have is almost a necessity for this kind of travel if you're driving a TJ type vehicle. We would have had to make some major compromises in what we brought if we didn't have the trailer option. I can't recommend enough a small utility trailer set up modified for this kind of travel. We cruised for hours on end between 60 & 70 mph pulling this little trailer. Camping and roughing it are not one-in-the-same. Save the roughing it for backpacking. Being off the ground and getting a good night's sleep is so worth it. Here (again) is the link to my trailer write-up.
That was great to follow, and not to mention beautiful!
I just have one question for you.
A Canadian WHAT?????
We have Provincial Parks up this way
It's all the same lol j/k
Oops; sorry. that's my American speech slipping out there.
I do have to say, the parks in the Yukon were all wonderful, and free firewood to boot! In fact, I don't think we had one bad experience in Canada (other than the roads getting washed out due to the rain and causing us to backtrack back to Haines to catch a ferry back home, and the expensive dining out food prices). The scenery had been breathtaking, the people very friendly, the museums interesting, etc. I now know more about plane ski's and dog sled racing than I ever did. And Diamond-tooth Gertie's show is a must-see in Dawson City. We definitely fell in love with the Yukon area, and hope to make a return trip within the next few years (Mrs. armyRN, if you're reading this, I'm letting you know now Keith and I will be planning a return trip to Canada in the future). We can see why people want to live here.
very nice pics and narrations. can't wait to put my jeep back together and start taking trips. you'll have to let us know what your budget was. i'm sure it wasn't cheap but what an experience!
"4 low, 2nd gear, skinny peddle on the right"
bought not built, broke, then rebuilt
you thought you had rust? [url]http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f22/wasnt-me-my-2000-tj-weekend-warrior-1269820/[/url]
very nice pics and narrations. can't wait to put my jeep back together and start taking trips. you'll have to let us know what your budget was. i'm sure it wasn't cheap but what an experience!
Let's see, what to budget money wise (this is for two people):
Ferry ride from Bellingham WA to Haines AK: $2500 (two people, a two-person cabin, 22' long vehicle [Jeep and trailer]).
While on ferry, figure about $10.00/person/meal a day. Figure you'll be on the ferry for at least three full days. We had MREs for lunch most days.
Once you make landfall, figure if you're going to eat your own food twice a day and one meal on the road, you'll spend about $30.00 (that's on the cheap side) to $40.00 at eating places (that's for two people) for that one meal. And that's just a burger and fries for two people. Food is expensive out here. I recommend having some sort of propane stove to cook dinner every night; breakfast can be either cold cereal or if you want to cook something that's cool too. Plan on having enough MREs for one per person per day. Trust me, when driving in the middle of nowhere, it's nice to stop on the side of the road and eat one for lunch. We bought MREs at the Commissary for like $4.50 each. If you stock up on canned soup, things like tuna helper, etc. before you head out you'll really save money on food by cooking what you brought at least one meal a day. I loved that propane stove/oven thing I bought (~$165.00) for making muffins, pizza, etc. I tend to get a little creative when camp cooking; others might just want to heat up soup every night. Just remember, you're going to spend between $15.00 to $20.00 a person for each meal you eat out; I don't care if it's a little food trailer in a parking lot; eating out is expensive out here in Alaska and Canada. We tried to keep eating at an establishment to one meal/day.
Gas - you'll have to figure that one out yourself. We averaged about 15 - 16mpg, and we figured we'd be driving about 3800 miles or so on our trip before we got cut short because of the road washouts. Gas was between $4.50 - $6.00/gallon between Alaska and Canada. Keith and I split the gas, and we used a lot of it. I'm not looking to seeing my gas card bill next month. Just figure you'll be spending over $1000 on gasoline if you run a route similar to ours. And that's just being in Alaska and Canada; that's not including gas to get to the border.
Campgrounds - figure anywhere between $10.00/night and $15.00 a night if you're in a state or "province" campground (we loved those Canadian campgrounds); up to $25.00 for a private campground. If you want to have firewood for a campfire, you'll have to buy a bundle (unless you're in Canada!) and that runs between $5.00 and $7.00 a bundle. Figure two bundles/night if you like having a campfire.
Entertainment: You will want to have some money budgeted for museums, parks, dancehalls (at least in Dawson), etc. Figure roughly $10.00 - $15.00 per person for admission to places. We went to quite a few very cool museums on our trip.
Supplies: we spent about $200.00 at the commissary on food and such before heading out. And depending on what you already own, you'll be spending money on camping supplies (I spent $55.00 on that canopy thing in Canada that I should have bought before our trip d/t rain). You'll want to make sure you have enough propane cylinders (I went through two of them), tents, cots, sleeping bags/etc., folding camp chairs, cookware, cooler, containers (I recommend Rubbermaid Action Packers), etc. I'm a believer in camping doesn't have to mean roughing it and being uncomfortable. that's why we loved the trailer we brought; it allowed us to bring enough stuff to be comfortable, dry and off the ground when camping. Bearspray was about $55.00/can (of course with the both of us we had to buy two cans). I figured it was cheap insurance.
If you're bringing a firearm into Canada (no handguns) that's another $25.00 at the border. We had custom loaded 12G 3" slugs loaded at about $12.00 for five (we bought two boxes) from Dixie Slugs in Florida.
Laundry: We did laundry every few days. Just figure up to $20.00 at a laundry mat to run two washers and two dryers. We also spent a lot of quarters at the car wash blasting the caked on mud off the Jeep. If nothing else, I'd work on making sure the brakelight lenses on the trailer and Jeep were kept clean so we could be seen on the road when driving.
Trinkets and such: we didn't buy much stuff on our trip. We bought a pair of head beanies, lots of postcards, a few small things but not much else. If you're into buying stuff like T-shirts or whatever on trips budget accordingly.
This is almost a once-in-a-lifetime sort of trip. Don't try and be too cheap. Get the camping gear you need to be comfortable; stock up on food before heading out but be prepared to spend more money than you'd like to for meals out. Bring a lot of extra spending money (get US money converted to Canadian before heading out if possible; at least have some converted before arriving). You don't want to run out of cash. Most places will take credit cards; we put most of the gas on credit cards. The major cities are like any major city; but other than Anchorage we more enjoyed the smaller towns we went through, and they may not take credit (other than for gas). A lot of the "towns" we went through the city map was just a straight line.
Get the "Milepost" book. DO NOT PLAN A TRIP TO ALASKA/CANADA WITHOUT BUYING ONE FIRST MONTHS IN ADVANCE AND READING IT OFTEN. The topo book I bought I never used; the Foders book I bought for Alaska I never used. The Milepost book was used extensively daily. I can't say enough about the Milepost book. It is the bible for Alaska/Canada travel (at least western Canada). It is money well spent. They update it every year.
Buy a huge three-ring binder, and a lot of those plastic document protector sleeve things. We had it organized with our ferry info, firearm paperwork (etc.), and we collected a lot of booklets and such for the towns we were going through (or going to be going through) and put them in the plastic sleeves. It makes it a lot easier to keep those sort of things organized.
Hopefully this is helpful. If I think of anything else major I'll let you know.
So here we are, Monday afternoon. Once again, I'm at the Haines Library (free wifi access). The ferry leaves this evening for Bellingham, WA (to arrive Friday morning). So we've got time to kill. My contact with the outside world will be minimal once we get on the ferry until we get back to Bellingham. Then it will be a quick sprint to Ft Lewis so I can let my co-workers make visual contact with me (so they'll know I've returned - see you next Monday!), and then the last 25 miles back home to Mrs. armyRN and family.
Last night we bought a bunch of really nice firewood for $10.00 and brought it back to the camp. Our final dinner consisted of "homemade" pizza via a "chef-boy-ar-dee" (spelling?) pizza mix. It comes in a box with the dough, can of sauce, and cheese. I had a package of pepparoni and some shredded motz cheese, and it made two pizzas. We were full by the time diner was done. And we stayed up late sitting around the campfire one last time. We will be sorely missing Alaska and Canada; we plan on returning to finish our trip and explore places we weren't able to plan on this trip. This has been a great adventure.
This morning we got up and it was drizzling off-and-on. Thank-goodness for that canopy thing I bought. After making us some hot chocolate I cooked us up some pancakes with bacon bits mixed in for breakfast, and then we organized our stuff for the ferry ride, and then packed up the Jeep. Then we broke down camp and loaded up the trailer one last time. I don't plan on going into the trailer again until after we get back home to WA.
We then went to the laundrymat that we went to yesterday. They have coin operated showers there, and I don't remember the last time I took an honest-to-goodness shower (Fairbanks?). So Keith showered first while I ran the Jeep and trailer to the carwash to blast the caked on mud off the trailer best I could (I also hit the Jeep again since I was there). They still need to be washed by hand, but they're not filthy like they were before. Then I drove back to the laundrymat and took a shower and put on all new clean and dry clothes. I lost my camping patina (both visual and olfactory) of bug spray and campfire smoke, but I'm sure nobody will mind (especially me - I didn't even want to be around me by this morning). It feels good to be clean and dry again.
Then I went to the bank to exchange some of my Canadian money back to US currency, and then back to the Library for their wi-fi (we'll donate a few dollars into their donation jar on the way out).
Here are a few links of the road washouts that are going on here. These are having a major impact on Canada and Alaska.
Not that we're experts now on traveling to and exploring Alaska and Canada, but we've at least been here and experienced it. So if anyone out there ever has any questions related to this sort of trip please feel free to ask; we'll try and answer the best we can.
We got an unexpected long layover in Ketchikan, so we took the opportunity to find a wifi place in town to update. I’ll have to post pictures later (takes a bit to download them to the netbook, then resize them, etc.). Today is Wednesday, and we're scheduled to get to Bellingham on Friday morning.
As mentioned on my last post, we went to the laundry-mat to take a much-needed shower before getting on the ferry. There was another family there doing laundry that we later saw on the ferry.
The family consisted of the Mom and Dad, and four well behaved kids (one boy, three girls [one looked adopted] with the oldest kid probably about 10 yrs old). The mom looked like she could be a model (tall, slender, eclectic dress fashion), dad was a big guy, and they seemed totally squared away with vinyl bags carrying their munchies and toys (not grocery store plastic bags; this family had class), and each kid with a backpack. They camped up under the solarium like we did. It was funny watching them the first night as they tried to figure out how they were going to do their sleeping arrangements with six deck chairs with their kids all hyper and excited. What they ended up doing was making a circle with the deck chairs and everyone slept in the middle like a bunch of cats in a box. I’m figuring they weren’t able to book a room (unexpected ferry trip like us?), because by the looks of the camera around the mom’s neck and the fact that all the kids sleeping bags were from REI I don’t think cost was an issue. Because if it had been me, I would have got a four-bunk room if at all possible, and I would have slept under thes olarium if necessary leaving everyone else in the room. The poor dad; after the first night, the next day the mom took the kids somewhere and the dad came back and crashed in the middle of the chair-circle for a few hours of sleep. They seemed to adjust to it the remainder of the trip.
After wearing and sleeping in the same clothes for twodays/nights, Wednesday I figured it was time to take a shower and change my clothes. For $1.00 they’ll give you a towel, washcloth, and bar of soap. They have public showers on board (and NOT coin operated!), so that’s what I did. The showers were nice; they have hard sided stalls, and each one has its own ante room to put your clothes and such before going into the shower. It felt good to take a shower, but obviously not as good as it did for the guy taking a shower in the next stall; I kept hearing heavy sighs and “Oh yes” (ok; just once I heard him say it) coming from over there (I kid you not). Maybe he just hadn’t taken a shower in a while and was glad to be finally taking one, or he was being very thorough.
The rest of the trip has been pretty benign so far. Sleep in, MREs for lunch, get out and walk a bit when the ship stopped at different ports (no stops on Thursday). We would talk to people we’d meet on the ship, and otherwise just hang out, read, etc. We got used to sleeping on the deck chairs after a bit. As before, the scenery was beautiful. We saw bears along the shore, whales, sea otters, bald eagles, etc. You really need to do this at least once; make sure book the MV Columbia. We spent three nights on the boat coming up here, and four nights going back. The scenery is beautiful, and it’s a very mellow relaxing ride. And don’t forget to attend the dog shows that happens a couple times a day on the car deck.
Ok, a few more lessons learned and such from this trip.
Let’s talk about campground and travel etiquette in Alaska and Canada (I think I mentioned ferry etiquette in an earlier post). This of course wasn’t my first time camping, but this was the longest I’ve been continuously camping (two weeks straight in multiple campgrounds) so I’ve got a few points to put out (if you feel like I’m lecturing… well that could possibly be true):
1. You’ve heard of white trash and trailer trash; well there’s also such a thing a camp trash. Fortunately we didn’t see it too much, but really folks; a campground isn’t a place to “let it all hang out”. Try and keep your campsite tidy and clean. And especially clean up your campsite when you leave. We tried to leave ours cleaner than we found it.
2. Noise; now this is a big one. For some reason, people (in this case it was older teens/early 20’s) think that by paying $14/night for a campground (and free firewood as this happened in Canada) it means they just booked a party hall. They had music blaring, loud noise, hooting and hollering, etc. I had to go remind them (at 2330) that there were signs posted; that quiet hour was from 2300 – 0700, and it was time to be quiet. I told them folks were trying to sleep; that tents do not stop noise,and their noise was carrying across the campground. They actually had two campsites side-by-side; one for their party, and one to park all their cars. It was made worse by the fact it stayed light out all night, so they thought it was still early and party-time. Now I don’t mind being the fun/noise police (it comes naturally for some reason), but really, don’t be the campground @ssholes by being loud and obnoxious (if you’re being loud especially after quiet hour in a campground no matter what you’re doing you’re being obnoxious and an@sshole in case you didn’t know – but now you do know so no excuses). Don’t think it’s ok to have your party unless someone tells you to shut it down (some people are afraid they’ll come across as confrontational if they tell you to be quiet – I guess I’m not one of them); don’t think everyone else is just happy for you that you’re having a good time so they don’t mind listening to you all night. Your good time is causing others to have a bad time and to be hating you (you obnoxious immature self-centered inconsiderate @ssholes – you know who you are – yeah I’m talking to you party boy : ). Really; if you want to have a party, drive out into the woods somewhere and have your good time while not bothering anybody –have a grand time. Most people go to campgrounds wanting to hear nature and get some peace and quiet; not listen to your loud drink-fest party. I don’t care what your Mom told you – you’re not special.
3. More noise stuff at campgrounds: RV generators. I don’t care how quiet you think it is, orh ow quiet the salesman told you it was; to the rest of us it sounds like a lawnmower running. We don’t like it; it spoils the mood (being one with nature) at the campground and makes the rest of us not like you (you elitist snob too good to sleep in a tent [but secretly jealous of you]). Keep running-time to a minimum, and especially shut it down for good during quiet hour.
4. Oh, and splitting firewood is loud; it seems even louder after quiet hour. We (Keith anyway) split a lot of firewood during our camping; get what you need split before quiet hour begins.
5. Dogs at campgrounds. I like dogs. I have two large ones at home. I like dogs better than many people (and especially more than I like most people’s kids – and they say I’m not a people person – go figure). And I know “bears do it in the woods”. But a campground doesn’t count for being in the woods – it’s a campground. So cleanup after your dog. If it poops, scoop it up and dispose of properly (throwing it further in the woods does not count). I mean, are you really that nasty and inconsiderate of others?
6. More about dogs – this time on the road. Lots of folks travel out here with their dogs; cool – I’m jealous. When traveling in Alaska and Canada, you’ll go long stretches between towns (or what they call a place on the map with a gas-station). Folks will get out of their vehicle with their dog after driving for a few hours, and the dog will want to go poop right there within the first few minutes. Again, CLEAN IT UP! A lot of these places will even have signs telling you to clean up after your dog (you’re not the first), and some will even supply the plastic bags. Yes; they’re talking to you Mr./Mrs. “leaver of dog poop”. For some reason you think it’s ok to drive away and leave your dog’s poop in the parking lot. You’re probably the same one that has a fit if a neighbor’s dog poops in your yard, but for some reason you think it’s ok to leave your dog’s poop in a parking lot and drive away. Clean up after your dog. Or better yet, stop by the side of the road a few miles before you get to town and let your dog do its thing (you’ll be in the middle of nowhere, trust me), and then go into town. I mean really, do you normally visit a place for the first time and say “Thanks for the hospitality; we left some fresh feces out front for you to enjoy”? If not, don’t do it here. Yuck. Gross.
7. One more dog thing: know your dog. Some dogs like to run and track scents. There are lots of wild animals around here. If you don’t have your dog on a leash, it might just run off chasing/tracking something if you pull off to the side of the road or stop for gas. You might be sitting there for a few hours waiting/hoping they come back (one lady wrote they waited two hours for their dogs to come back – she was lucky). Just picture it – the dogs runs off into the woods, kids are crying because the dog’s run off, you can’t wait there all day so eventually you have to leave (kids still crying no more dog and you’re feeling really bad about the whole thing)… what a fun thing to happen on your vacation. And little yapper dogs and bald eagles – I’m just saying I’ve heard of it happening (good-bye fluffy). Keep tabs on your munchkin dogs.
8. Picking your campsite at a campground: Some sites are obviously made for vehicles with trailers (drive-through sites) while others are regular “back-in”sites. We were at one campground, and somebody with the smallest tent took the largest drive-through site. They even had to put logs at either end of the drive-through so people wouldn’t think the site was available (their tent was hidden unless you looked for it). Really; be considerate. If you’ve got a very small footprint, don’t take the largest site (or a drive-through site); let the RV’ers or those with trucks and trailers have them.
9. Parking on the side of the road. Think before you pull over to take a picture (or let your dog out). Make sure you’re not parked around a bend to where someone is going to slam into you. Some people, for lack of a better word, were stupid about this. If you’re not careful, you’re going to cause a wreck with someone slamming into the back of you; someone might die because you did something stupid. If it’s a long straight away I’m not so concerned if you’re blocking the road a bit; I can see you with plenty of reaction time. I might even slow down further to see what you’re looking at. But if it’s in a curvy area you might have to go a little further forward to find a safe place to pull over and then walk back to where you want to take a picture. If you cause a wreck out here, it could literally be hours before qualified medical help arrives (I’m a nurse – I take note of these things). Phones don’t have service in much of this area so dialing 911 will get you nowhere, and it’ll likely have to be an air ambulance that comes to get you (or the person injured because of your negligence in parking). They are not cheap. You don’t want to go there, or especially be the cause. Be safe and think before pulling over. Check your rearview mirror and ask yourself “Can the person coming up behind me as I’m pulled over see me in plenty of time?”. For some reason, it was the trucks pulling large camper trailers that were often guilty of this, and they’d be half on and half off the road.
This trip was definitely a blast (even taking into account having to cut part of the drive short due to washed out bridges androads). If you’ve got an adventurous spirit, I would definitely recommend a run up to Alaska and Canada. You owe it to yourself to visit up here at least once.
Sounds like you had some sleepless nights. In my younger days growing up in Colorado/Wyoming, we usually camped "off the grid" away from anyone where hunters camped. Plus, even a number of campsites out there don't have everyone packed in as tightly as they do out here in the East where I am now. In fact I stopped by a campground several weeks ago to check it out and trailers and tents were nearly side by side. It would probably be quieter and you'd have more privacy at a Motel 6.
I agree about the trash... clean up your campsite! One time, I had some drunks show up late nearby one night and the next morning left their beer cans all over the place. While I cleaned it up I was wishing that they drove off a cliff on the way home.
Anyway, again I enjoyed reading about your trip, and I'd love to duplicate it. And let's see more of your pictures.
The ferry arrived to Bellingham at 0800, and we were quickly on our way south home. Of course, we had to stop for breakfast; we went to a Jack-in-the-box; I had a breakfast special - Keith had four tacos. Then other than running to post real quick to sign back in on leave (I had to extend my leave a day due to the washed-out roads in Canada) we got home about noon. By 1230 we were unpacking the Jeep and trailer, and getting things cleaned up. After everything was unloaded (including the trailer liner) I bought the Jeep and trailer to the car wash to pressure wash everything (including the engine), and then brought them home to wash by hand. One that was done, I assigned one of the kids (gotta make them earn their keep somehow) to wipe down everything on the inside. Fortunately, the day was sunny and warm (doesn't happen that often in WA), so we were taking advantage of it. While I was washing the Jeep and trailer, Keith and one of my daughters were setting the tent up in the back yard to brush it out and make sure everything was dry, respray the seams on the rainfly with seam sealer, clean the camp chairs, cots, etc.; and generally make sure everything was ready to be packed away until the next adventure. We're running the camp cookware through the dishwasher (probably a good idea) before packing them away, and doing laundry. Tomorrow we'll bring the sleeping bags to the laundrymat to use their big washers. By 2030 we called it done for the day. We're about 95% done; just a few things we have hanging in the garage to make sure they're totally clean before final packing away (for now).
This was an awesone trip even if it got cut short. Of course, having to take the ferry home made it seem not so bad. The scenery of our trip was fantastic; photos don't do it justice. Fortunately we took a lot of mental snapshots so we can go back anytime in our minds.
So after three weeks of being away from home sleeping on cots, and the last four nights sleeping on a deck chair, I'm really looking forward to sleeping in a real bed tonight.
Glad you guys had a good trip, the Yukon is a beautiful trip. I was out of town all week, else I would have kept an eye out (Although if you ever saw a grey TJ with a JeepForum.com sticker on the driver's side, that's mine).
Diamond Tooth Gerties is an awesome place-although it gets quite a bit livelier during the Dawson Music Festival in July.
And, yeah, there's a looooooooot of dogs in the Yukon, and they poop everywhere. It's one of those things you just get to accept, even if you don't like it. It's worse after the snow melts, there's one stretch of road near the animal shelter in Whitehorse that looks like a chocolate minefield.
And, yeah, I've almost run down a few tourists taking pictures. Once, someone just stopped their big RV right in the middle of the damn road. That's begging for some proactive Darwinism right there.
"Buying a Jeep for on-road handling is like downloading porn to savor the cinematography."