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Old 08-22-2013, 02:26 PM
 
3 posts, read 6,535 times
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Hello!
We are a military family of 4 (+2 beagles) and we had word that we might be relocating to JBER this November. Just awaiting official orders to confirm.I am in planning mode nonetheless and I have read through past threads extensively, but I am still at a loss what would be the best option for us as far as traveling during the winter time is concerned. We will be leaving from VA with a 25ft, 5000 lbs travel trailer and an '04 F-150 4WD as TV. Driving is preferred - I have already ordered the Milepost - particularly after I saw what the ferry transfer is going to cost us. I have read all the 'moving to ANC during winter time' threads and I am pretty sure I have all the information I need regarding prep work and the do's and don'ts of driving in extreme winter conditions. We have experience with driving in snow, having lived and/or traveled in NY, WA, Germany, and Austria. We have never towed the trailer in snow before, though. So the question remains, is it 'safe' and wise to travel 5k miles, half of which possibly in ice and snow, with a trailer and two dogs and two kids? Once we get to WA, we'll have the trailer winterized and won't be using it afterwards. Are the roads going into Canada's interior and AK generally groomed and traveled heavily enough for us to drive cautiously, but relatively safely with the trailer? Considering the time of year and the reduced lodging options, will pets make it even more difficult to find a place for the night? Any experience with that? How much time would you allot from Seattle to Anchorage, especially when towing?
Any recommendations for the type of tires to use for the trailer? Two axles.
Thank you! We are very excited to move up there and be able to experience all Alaska has to offer.
Looking forward to lots of responses and insights!
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Old 08-22-2013, 03:46 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, AK
2,743 posts, read 4,897,606 times
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You'll be fine driving it with a trailer. Just watch your speed and don't drive faster than what you can handle.
How long with it take? I usually try and drive it straight through and have done it as quick as 60 hours and as long as 5 days. With a family and stopping each night, I would figure 5 days minimum.
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Old 08-22-2013, 04:44 PM
 
Location: Anchorage
1,923 posts, read 4,356,172 times
Reputation: 864
doesn't the military pay for your trip? I'd take the ferry.
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Old 08-22-2013, 05:45 PM
 
3 posts, read 6,535 times
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Yes, the military will pay for some - but definitely not the cost of shipping the trailer. That's on us. I also would like to avoid putting the animals through that kind of stress. They are used to traveling long distances with us, we've moved cross-country twice which was stressful enough for them, but I have serious doubts when it comes to airplanes and sea travel.
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Old 08-24-2013, 12:12 AM
 
Location: Anchorage
1,923 posts, read 4,356,172 times
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Alaska Air is really great with pets but I understand your concern. They have heated cargo areas for pets.
Enjoy your trip, take your time and have fun!
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Old 08-24-2013, 10:16 AM
 
4,715 posts, read 9,702,583 times
Reputation: 2179
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lower4 View Post
Hello!
We are a military family of 4 (+2 beagles) and we had word that we might be relocating to JBER this November. Just awaiting official orders to confirm.I am in planning mode nonetheless and I have read through past threads extensively, but I am still at a loss what would be the best option for us as far as traveling during the winter time is concerned. We will be leaving from VA with a 25ft, 5000 lbs travel trailer and an '04 F-150 4WD as TV. Driving is preferred - I have already ordered the Milepost - particularly after I saw what the ferry transfer is going to cost us. I have read all the 'moving to ANC during winter time' threads and I am pretty sure I have all the information I need regarding prep work and the do's and don'ts of driving in extreme winter conditions. We have experience with driving in snow, having lived and/or traveled in NY, WA, Germany, and Austria. We have never towed the trailer in snow before, though. So the question remains, is it 'safe' and wise to travel 5k miles, half of which possibly in ice and snow, with a trailer and two dogs and two kids? Once we get to WA, we'll have the trailer winterized and won't be using it afterwards. Are the roads going into Canada's interior and AK generally groomed and traveled heavily enough for us to drive cautiously, but relatively safely with the trailer? Considering the time of year and the reduced lodging options, will pets make it even more difficult to find a place for the night? Any experience with that? How much time would you allot from Seattle to Anchorage, especially when towing?
Any recommendations for the type of tires to use for the trailer? Two axles.
Thank you! We are very excited to move up there and be able to experience all Alaska has to offer.
Looking forward to lots of responses and insights!
Make sure you have all documentation to get your pets into Canada. Know about bringing guns, alcohol, and cigarettes (if applicable to you) as well. Before I leave I always check the Canadian Border Patrol site to make sure there are no last minute changes. Know what you are brining across the border, prepare to be inspected. If you are traveling with kids and without BOTH parents that are listed on the passport present, have a notarized, signed letter giving the other parent permission if not.

For the trailer, make sure you have at least decent trailer tires on it and that the trailer brakes work well. If all you have are gravity brakes not much you can do here other than making sure they engage and the fluid is topped off. If you have electric brakes, make sure they work, your brake controller inside the truck works and that the manual trailer brake switch works too. Personally, I'd have chains for the truck - although they may even be required. I went in the summer, so I wasn't concerned enough to research this.

Also, what is your driving range pulling the trailer with your truck?

You may want to have a couple of jerry cans of fuel. Stations are few and far between in the 'season' and even fewer and farther in between in the winter. (I saw some seasonal signs when we did our drive last year) It really shouldn't be an issue if you fill up every time you stop or at 1/2 tank you see a gas station and top off. It's the I'm stuck on the side of the road and you would like to keep the engine running and the heater on. Or when you hit the steep, curvy roads you get worse MPG than you thought you would. In our case, two stations were out of fuel... Thankfully we had enough to just keep on trucking. Another difference between USA and Canada is cell phone coverage. A good deal of your drive in Canada (and parts of AK too), you just won't have it. Kind of like the rural mid-west. When I do the drive again and definitely if I had to do it in the winter, I'd rent a SAT phone. Do you NEED it or would I have used it on my trip - NO. But having it and not needing it, is better than needing it and not having it.

There is more -- but it sounds like you got the long distance driving prep thing down. Since you've done it a bunch of times before.

Have a safe and fun trip. Enjoy the scenery. Thanks for your service.
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:59 PM
 
3 posts, read 6,535 times
Reputation: 11
Thank you for your replies. We now have official word that we are relocating. I'll probably have a million questions the next couple of months.
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:39 PM
 
Location: Texas No More....Alaska!!!
44 posts, read 79,736 times
Reputation: 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lower4 View Post
Thank you for your replies. We now have official word that we are relocating. I'll probably have a million questions the next couple of months.
Feel free to ask.......we all came from the same page you are coming from. Me? Came 3 months ago. Be careful driving, rest at night and eyes open on animals and steep roads and hills...
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Old 10-30-2013, 07:18 AM
 
1 posts, read 1,778 times
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Hi there!

My fiancé and I also got orders for Fort Richardson once he's done with JFO training this Friday we are heading out, going to stop at or homes in Minnesota and then go from there. I'm the one doing all the planning and I'm not too worried as we love road trips, however we don't have kids or dogs yet so it'll be quite different.

We are bringing a UHAUL and he has a Chevy pickup. We are definitely bringing a couple jugs of gas in case we get stuck in the middle of nowhere in Canada. The only place I've noticed is pretty dead is the drive after you pass Fort Nelson but I'm not sure where you're entering Canada. We are driving over to Montana and then going up. I've heard it's wise to stay in the US as long as you can before heading into Canada.

Also, not sure what cell service you have, but we have Verizon. It's either 50 cents per call and then per minute or if you get the 'plus Canada and Mexico' deal it will only be about 15 bucks for us together and then we'd cancel it by the next month. This would help a lot in case we need to call hotels, or have emergencies so it doesn't cost us an arm and a leg. Just be careful if you choose not to.. even looking at a text you received will cost you!

Not sure what else at the moment but if I think of something I'll let you know. The Milepost is awesome and helps a lot. Definitely take a look at tourist attractions, I've read the Alaska Highway is the best road trip one can take in North America. Then again, we are going up in November, not July unfortunately.

Good luck to you!

Jamie
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Old 10-30-2013, 10:19 AM
 
4,715 posts, read 9,702,583 times
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It is better to stay in the U.S. as long as you can because of fuel prices and prices in general are cheaper here. Allegedly, services are closer together in the Rural Northern US than in Canada. Cell phone service is definitely better. (US Phone on US Network)

I have Verizon and did the drive in summer of 2012. Outside of towns in Canada, and even in some rural towns, you will have 'no service.' That Verizon coverage map for Canada is hopelessly optimistic. Sometimes your phone will show 'bars of service' and you still can't make a call. We also had a ATT phone and the same thing happened with it. At times I ended up using a magicjack/skype app using a Hotel's Wifi in Northern Rural Canada. For Example, both phones worked in Fort Nelson, but not Lake Watson. Once I left Fort Nelson IIRC, the next time I could use it was Whitehorse and then Tok, AK. No other points in between and even then, it was hit/miss. I added the Canada plan for the trip and cancelled it the next month - we still managed to have used it enough to make it worth it. If you are squeamish about no phone, you'll have to rent a sat phone. Maybe things have changed in the past year, but I doubt it.

As long as you have a 300 mile driving range, you won't use the fuel jugs. HOWEVER, I had one 5-gal with me and it was a great comfort factor. We did top off often- but I admit I have a running out of fuel anxiety issue. And if you got stuck but could still idle the truck to keep comfortable, the extra fuel means more time to stay comfortable inside the truck waiting for help. You could also use it to bypass some of the more expensive fuel stations along the way or at least limit your fuel purchases when fuel is $8 USD/gal., which is what we did. Although if I went in the winter, I would be topping off often as you never know what stations ahead are open and do they have fuel. In the summer we ran into a couple of stations without fuel - their next delivery was in 3 days. BTW, one was in Whitehorse and they were the only station open at night, but in that case fuel was coming in the morning and other stations would be open. We were lucky and able to fill up with premium just before they ran out.
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