What we learned: Don’t expect to just fly through a nation’s border – they might search your WHOLE coach. Read up on what is allowed and what is not. Allow yourself time in your travel schedule for a thorough search if necessary.
What we learned: When making a pit stop at a large retail store, try going during off-hours and check satellite views on Google Maps to make a parking plan in advance. Some parking lots are not ideal for large rigs but can be navigated through if you know what to expect.
What we learned: Make sure you have full fuel and DEF tanks when crossing the border; fuel is much cheaper in the U.S. compared to that in Canada. Also, try calculating your range so you can refuel in Tok, Alaska. Fuel costs in Canada increase dramatically as you approach the Alaska Canada border.
What we learned: The scale of places in Alaska is immense. For example, Wrangell-St Elias National Park is on the way to Valdez from the Tok Cutoff. It is the largest national park in the U.S., with an 18,000-foot mountain, and several other mountains at 16,000 feet, visible from the road. When looking at these impressive mountains, you cannot judge just how huge they are. When looking at glaciers across Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay, the mountains and glaciers defy description. We were constantly amazed at the scope of the vistas and the beauty of Alaska.
We took a water taxi over to Katmai Bay for a day trip. It costs $80 per person round trip to use any of the numerous water taxi companies supplying this service unless you know a boat captain. We suggest using Forrest Greer, as his rates may be more negotiable. His wife also flies a floatplane for air tourist opportunities – Barron Air. Expect around $750 per person for flightseeing to see bears or fishing trips to remote locations.
Homer has 18-foot tides and a cool little fishing hole right on the spit, perfect for catching silver salmon. We fished the Kenai River using a technique the locals call ‘flossing’. You draw the fishing line across the path of salmon swimming upstream, and when the hook connects with the salmon’s mouth, you set the hook. It worked!
We left Homer a couple of days early so that we could attend the Salmonfest music festival, a fundraising event in support of protecting the environment and salmon fishing. They had 64 bands playing with food trucks around the area. We then headed north towards Wasilla, a bedroom community to Anchorage.
What we learned: We saw diesel prices 15-30% higher in Alaska compared to those in the lower 48 states. Anchorage prices were better than more remote places like Homer and Valdez. Heading towards Talkeetna, we stopped at a truck stop filling station for $2.82 per gallon for diesel, which was the best price we saw since we left Texas in May.
We are now back in the Lower 48 and we have consistent cell service, access to the DirecTV satellites, roads with greater than 2 lanes, lower food/gas prices, and fast-food restaurants on every street corner. If you want to go to Alaska and are concerned about roads and costs, we have learned that it is manageable. Alaska is truly the last frontier and it’s like going back in time 20 years. We both checked off a bucket list item and plan to go again in a couple of years.