Tips for Travel Through Canada and Alaska - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 10-08-2014, 11:24 AM   #1
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Tips for Travel Through Canada and Alaska

We recently completed our journey to Alaska and on the way home I compiled some travel thoughts that may help future travelers.

Alaska Travel Notes

Roads

-Most highways in Canada and Alaska are 2 lane 55-65 mph, not interstates we are used to
-Most roads in a line north from Edmonton are in poor shape with frost heaves that require you to slow down
-Most of these frost heaves are marked by small orange cones
-Many of the roads are gravel, some in decent shape
-Just because the speed limit is 55-65, many times you have to go much slower
-Canadian drivers take many risks passing on double yellow lines, even going uphill; stay alert
-The road between Edmonton, AB and Dawson Creek, BC is horrible! The oil boom is going strong, lots of traffic very slow going due to conditions
-Expect delays due to construction

Campgrounds

-Most of the Provincial (state) parks in Canada and the state parks in Alaska are very nice, but have limited to no facilities (maybe a pit toilet)
-Although there is usually water available it is almost always not potable without BOILING first (no books tell you this)
-Many "full service" RV parks are electric and water only with a dump station
-Costs of most Provincial and state parks was about $15.00
-RV parks were in the upper $30s
-Many RV parks are nothing more than gravel lots
-Use the Allstays app for good information (but not always complete)
-Many cities have their own CG facilities, be aware of those as they are usually cheaper and usually quite nice
-If staying in Whitehorse, YT stay at the Pioneer RV park. Full hookups and the best prices on everything in town

Source Information (Books and Apps)

-The Milepost is the standard and good but can be quite complicated to read
-“Travelers Guide to Alaskan Camping" by Mike and Terri Church was our go to campground reference book. This book lists all the CGs in Canada and AK by highway with good information on each
-"Allstays" is a great CG and general information app for RVers
-Always have a paper map for each new state/province, still no substitute for these
-Welcome centers are everywhere, stop and take advantage of them

Internet and Phone Service

-Phone service throughout Canada can be very expensive (check with your provider). It may be best to turn it off and forget it
-You will be in "no service" areas most of the time
-Same for internet but many RV parks have wifi
-Use wifi when available (Starbucks, Tim Hortons, etc.)

RV Care and Abuse

-Make sure you rigs are in top condition BEFORE leaving home
-This trip will test your equipment (truck and RV) to it's fullest
-We had minimal damage traveling in AK but I think this was the exception
-Two complete, mounted spares are recommended, use your best judgement by the route you choose (we only had one for each vehicle)
-I would suggest protecting you sewer and grey tank drain system (I had to change my black tank valve due to damage)
-Your rigs will get very DIRTY!
-I would strongly recommend a solar system (we have a 95 watt panel). In northern Canada and AK electric hookups are not common and the solar will keep you going
-We used our furnace almost everyone night for several months and never had a problem with battery capacity

Weather and Bugs

-We were lucky with cool to cold temps for most of our trip, but a few years ago AK was very hot
-We needed the furnace but have only used the AC a few times
-Have good rain gear (coat, pants and shoes)
-Need to carry warm and cool weather clothes
-We did have to deal with mosquitos but our experience was not too bad, it really depends on where you are and at what time of the season
-Take mosquito “hat” nets and purchase clothing with repellant built into the cloth

Food

-Eating out is much more expensive than at home
-But the food can be really good
-Breweries are quite numerous, most serve food
-Grocery stores in Canada do not necessarily have the same things you may be used to at home
-In AK Halibut is a must have, but quality can vary

Border Crossing and Safety

-DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BRING A WEAPON AND/OR AMMUNITION INTO CANADA! Being caught with these is a mandatory jail sentence (that is usually pleaded out to a hefty fine)
-Remember that Canada is a FOREIGN country
-You cannot bring mace into Canada
-You can bring bear spray as long as it is marked as such
-We felt absolutely safe the entire time in both Canada and AK
-You must have passports
-You are limited to very little alcohol going into Canada
-You must have your pet's health information (verify what is needed on line)
-Depending on the situation waits coming back into the US (especially the lower 48) can be long, our longest wait was 1 ˝ hours

Tourist Tidbits and Souvenirs

-There are many opportunities for boat trips, plane trips, dog sled rides, etc. -If planning to do these take extra money as they can be quite expensive
-In Valdez, we recommend the Lu Lu Belle boat ride into Prince William Sound
-In Talkeetna, AK take one of the plane rides with glacier landing to Mt. McKinley (expensive, unfortunately we did not do this)
-At Denali NP, sign up for the bus ride deep into the park. Make reservations months before going
-Budget separately for this category
-There are opportunities to purchase original artwork from First Nations artists, do so if possible
-The Museum of the North in Fairbanks is excellent
-Try to get to the Arctic Circle, not much there but well worth the experience

Fun travels to all...

Steve
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Old 10-08-2014, 11:50 AM   #2
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Great stuff Steve.

One of the things I didn't mention to you the other day was what we use for repelling bugs -- Ben's 100% DEET. It comes in a pump spray, not an aerosol, and you only need a tiny amount of it. It's fun to watch the mosquitoes actually turn around and run away. A tiny spritz in about 3 or 4 places on your clothing is all you need. We were at Strawberry reservoir in Utah a couple of years ago and the bugs were so thick they formed a cloud. We sat outside unmolested while everyone else was hunkered down behind their screen door.

http://www.amazon.com/Bens-100-Insec.../dp/B000N02M9E
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Old 10-08-2014, 12:15 PM   #3
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You may not recognize some of the brand names in Canadian grocery stores, but rest assured, it's all Kraft products ( just like home ).
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Old 10-08-2014, 10:23 PM   #4
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You have been on the road since we met you on the wine tour in Osoyoos? How fantastic is that! Glad you had such a marvelous trip!
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Old 10-08-2014, 10:34 PM   #5
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Hi Jan and Paul,
Yes we were just getting started back then! Spent most of July in AK then back to the states in August and finally home.

Steve
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Old 10-08-2014, 11:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjnuss View Post
-Remember that Canada is a FOREIGN country
I just checked my passport Steve, and it seems that is not so.

Lots of other good points though.
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Old 10-10-2014, 02:49 PM   #7
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Our biggest surprises in Canadian (BC), grocery stores:
Many more varieties of rice.
Many fewer varieties of beans.
When we asked the whereabouts of the ground sausage, (Jimmy Dean, etc.), we got a blank stare and the question, "you mean like they put in stuffing?" He finally showed us the ONE type of ground sausage they had. I guess sausage patties and cooking with ground sausage isn't as popular up there as it is here in the South. In our local stores our ground sausage comes in several flavors within each of the several brand names.
Oh, and in our local WalMart we have our choice of about six varieties of AR15 assault-type rifles - plus Mace without a picture of a bear on it. (Of course, there are many places in the US where that also isn't allowed.)
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Old 10-10-2014, 04:00 PM   #8
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Personally I like the increased selection of the hot sauces at lower latitudes.

Franks. Ugh.
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Old 10-11-2014, 12:20 AM   #9
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Although the same common products and major brands are found across North America, there are lots of local variations. Canadian stores are not identical to each other.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray N View Post
He finally showed us the ONE type of ground sausage they had. I guess sausage patties and cooking with ground sausage isn't as popular up there as it is here in the South. In our local stores our ground sausage comes in several flavors within each of the several brand names.
Safeway and Save-On Foods here carry two or three flavours in each of a couple of brands - I used some in pasta sauce last week. I'm not sure that this was always the case, and I agree that sausage meat is not a staple in Alberta anyway.

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Originally Posted by BCnomad View Post
Personally I like the increased selection of the hot sauces at lower latitudes.
I've seen dozens of hot sauces in an ordinary Canadian supermarket... but not every supermarket. Hot sauce has been a trendy thing for a while .
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