Journey to Alaska: From Fairbanks – Some travel tips

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post on the blog but as Greg noted connectivity has been difficult and the drive up is long and requires attention.   Tom English and I talked about the drive this morning and agreed that this drive is extremely long, grueling, mentally tiring and for anyone considering driving from the Midwest up across the provinces and to the start of the Al-Can highway, we drove over 2300 miles (from Michigan) just to get up to the starting point at Dawson Creek in British Columbia.  This trip definitely isn’t for the weak of heart, takes a long time to get here and will make you think twice about what you have bitten off mileage and physical/mental stamina wise.  I won’t attempt it again, but would consider flying up to Fairbanks, grabbing a car rental and traveling Alaska that way.  I’ve traveled from coast to coast and this trip is by far the longest trek of them all and one I will always remember.

We spent the first night in Dawson Creek (prior to beginning the Alaskan highway) at a campground called Tubby’s RV park.  It was a basic, on gravel style park with decent facilities and with a German shepherd guard dog that reminded me that he was “king of the hill” from behind the fence that butted up next to the bathroom/shower facilities that were attached to the park owner’s home and office.  That part wasn’t as annoying as him barking at 5 AM, waking me up in bright light (grow accustomed to a well lit night ) and not being able to get back to sleep.  It’s almost eerie going to bed in the light, not hearing or seeing others up and about, looking at the time and realizing that it is very late and that it is time to hit the hay!  Tom and I have laughed about this and now are in a 4 hour time differential from Eastern Standard Time.

As a side note, after arriving at the Alaskan border after the arduous drive up from White Horse in the Yukon and along the miserable, muddy, rut pocked road up from Destruction Bay to Tok, Alaska, the experience was like and day coming through customs and back into the US.  The border guard was cordial, a gentleman and asked the usual questions of where are you going, where have you been, vehicle license plate number, any guns or others on-board, etc.?  It took me about 3-4 minutes and I was back home in the US again!


From left to right – Tom English, Mike Smith and Greg Seely


Greg Seely travels along the Alaskan Highway in Alaska

A few things learned along the trail as I write this morning from beneath my Paha Que XLT canopy:


  • The light of day is long, sleep can be difficult and almost eerie at time.
  • Leave eggs and citrus at home or hard boil the eggs before entering customs.
  • Credit card should contain a chip for travel in the provinces.
  • Things are expensive in Canada, bring bottled water, snacks, lunch meat, bread, chips, etc.
  • The mosquito fear generated by others has been a myth as they are here, but have not been the feared predator or state bird that others proclaimed. I bought and brought along a survival assortment of varying applications for these insects and have yet to use any of it!  Yes, I’ve been bitten a few times but Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was by far the worst encounter on this trip the entirety of the way.
  • Road work has been ongoing along the Alaskan Highway and will continue on into the various places we will visit.
  • People have reported flat tires and cracked windshields from passing vehicles. So far, so good!
  • When on gravel move over as far to the right as you can and always maintain an interval between vehicles as gravel is being kicked up by cars in front and those coming at you.
  • Be on high alert as deer often run across the roadways, as do elk, moose and bear. One man reported that he spoke to a guy driving a fifth-wheel who had to slam on the brakes when a grizzly came up onto the roadway, causing him to jack-knife, drive down into a ditch and back up onto the road, sustaining some damage.
  • Internet connectivity will be sparse and limited, even at McDonald’s in Canada. Try using a Wendy’s or Tim Horton’s as it was better there.
  • AT&T’s international plan is a joke at best! Yes, you CAN text at times but are using the Roger’s phone system in Canada as there is no AT&T in Canada and it amounted to futility and angst while traveling across the provinces.  Tell your loved ones to be patient as the best you will get is an occasional text and most campground Wi-Fi access is garbage, since every other camper is trying to use up whatever resources are available, often resulting in more futility and the inability to check email, etc.
  • 4G AT&T is available just over the border into Tok, Alaska and it is with you in the major cities.
  • Mountains will obviously limit phone/internet access, but you still can text occasionally when line of site is available between larger cities in Alaska.
  • Bring rain gear (rain coat, rubber shoes, etc.) as it does rain along the way.
  • Bring a warm jacket, jeans, long sleeved cotton shirts and a warm sleeping bag. The nights are cool and these items help out as the temps change quickly with weather fronts and elevation.
  • Obey the speed laws as although you might not see the police, they are waiting in the small towns and they mean business!
  • KM or kilometers are the norm across the provinces and you will have a steady diet of them traveling across Canada.
  • Keep up on the fuel and expect to pay higher prices along the long stretch of road.

That is about it for now and I am having a good time, enjoying the fresh air and we have met some nice people along the way, even a few friends from the forum traveling in T@B units.   Will post more later and attach photos when we find a decent Wi-Fi system that allows us to do so!



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