Join Me on a Trip to Alaska!

Having lived in Alaska all my life, it still has a magnetic pull on me (plus I still have a son who lives there) so I am planning a trip to Alaska in the summer of 2014. The reason I am telling you this is so that if any of you are interested in loosely traveling with me, you are welcome to join us. I say “us” because of right now there appears to be one other lady who is fairly likely to be going with me.

I’m writing this so you can start making plans now to join me. I know many of you dream of doing something like this and going with like-minded people just makes it all the better. Plus, going with a life-long Alaska Resident who has driven the Alaska Highway a dozen times can’t hurt!

The longer you are in Alaska the more likely you are to see McKinley!

The longer you are in Alaska the more likely you are to see McKinley! Its about a 3 hour drive from Anchorage to where I took this picture.

I also know most of us live on very tight budgets and that is another reason I am telling you now. It looks like it will be about $3000 in gas, but it will be spread out over 6 months, costing about $500 a month. I’m giving you 6 months notice so if you can save up half of that between now and then, that will bring it down to about $250 a month. I know many of us can’t afford even that, but some of you can. So start saving now!!

If you are a hiker, we will stand in exactly this spot on a glacier.

If you are a hiker, we will hike back to this spot on a glacier.

But understand this; only self-reliant, independent people are welcome! I am going to enjoy the trip and not to be a tour guide, babysitter or entertain anyone. If you have any expectations of that, don’t join us. We all all have to strike a balance of traveling together and being independent. In some ways the trip I have coming up to Ridgway, CO and Moab, UT is a shake-down cruise to see how it will go with traveling in a caravan of other people.

Let me stop right now and say that this is all very tentative. I have no idea if it will really happen or not and it will certainly end up being very different than these initial plans!!. Like every vandweller I know, my plans are written in Jello! However, I think the odds of this happening are very high! I am determined to live my life NOW while I have the good health, energy and money to do it. I lived the first 50 years of my life for the future and that part of my life is behind me; from now on, I live in the moment!!

But Alaska is spectacular, you need to see it and take your time while you are there.

Alaska is spectacular, you shouldn’t just rush through and see it, you really need to take your time while you are there.

Here are the very broad thoughts about what the trip may look like; but understand all of it is subject to change:

  • June has the best summer weather in South-Central Alaska (the Anchorage area) so I would like to get there in early June. That means leaving sometime in May.
  • The Alaska Highway is no longer a difficult drive; don’t let any fears hold you back. I’ve driven it on a motorcycle and other than the construction areas it is no big deal.
  • Be aware that gas in Canada will be very expensive and there will also be very limited access to cell phone and internet through Canada. Also, while it is possible to bring some guns through Canada, it is a hassle so your best bet is to leave all weapons in the States. It’s possible I may bring a 12 gauge shotgun for group bear protection, but that remains to be seen. Bear spray isn’t allowed in Canada. For more information on how to bring in a gun, see this page:
  • I’m taking Homer, he just has to have all his shots and get a vet to issue travel papers. The Canadians have a very good web page describing crossing the border into Canada, find it here:
  • Since I’m spending my winter in Arizona, I will drive up the spine of the Rockies and enter Canada through Great Falls Montana.
  • We will visit Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rocky National Parks along the way. It has been a life-long dream of mine to visit the Canadian Rockies, so this will be a priority to me.
  • The trip will cost about $3000 in gas but will be spread out over 6 months, May 15 to October 15
  • Because we are all independent and self-reliant people, we can come and go as we please and be there for more or less time.
  • To make the trip a loop we will return via Seattle and drive down the Pacific Coast to the Sierras.
  • The trip is planned around the weather and trying to avoid heat, cold and rain. We’ll leave Arizona when it is getting hot and hit Canada and Alaska when it is warming up. We’ll stay in Alaska until the rains hit and try to get to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest before the rains hit there. As long as the weather is good there we will work our way down the Pacific Coast (where it’s cool). When the rains hit or we go far enough south we will head up to the Sierras where the weather should be cool and mostly dry. We will sit and wait till the desert cool off, then we will head back toward Quartzsite.
  • We will pass many National Parks we will pass along the way! This would be a good time to have the $80 annual pass to get into all of them free for one year:
    • Zion NP
    • Bryce Canyon NP
    • Grand Tetons NP
    • Yellowstone NP
    • Glacier NP
    • Canadian Rockies
    • Denali NP
    • Wrangell Saint Elias NP
    • Kenai Fjords NP
    • Olympic NP
    • North Cascades NP
    • Mount Rainier NP
    • Mount Saint Helens NP
    • Crater Lake NP
    • Redwoods NP
    • Lassen Volcanic NP
    • Mount Shasta NRA
    • Yosemite NP
    • Death Valley NP
    • Joshua Tree NP

To call this trip “Epic” would be to damn with faint praise! Join me if you can for any or all of it. If you are going, be sure to buy a Milepost right now to start studying it.
The Milepost 2013

I also highly recommend Microsoft Streets and Trips for travel planning:
Microsoft Streets and Trips 2013


I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

60 comments on “Join Me on a Trip to Alaska!
  1. LaVonne says:

    Whether I make it next month or not, I’m in for Alaska. Sounds amazing!
    LaVonne recently posted…My Great EscapeMy Profile

  2. What a great idea! Thanks for giving plenty of time for others not only to save some money for gas but to also get their stuff together and start their Vandwelling journey off right. A Trip to Alaska! Excellent!
    Traveling Troy recently posted…How to Start a Travel Blog #8 – Make Money BloggingMy Profile

  3. CAE says:

    I’d love to go….fishing a hiking would be fantastic there from what I’ve read. I’d rather take my Honda Civic as it gets 35 mpg pretty easily on highways. So I’d be tent camping. Is that a possibility?

    • LaVonne says:

      I was thinking the same thing, CAE.
      LaVonne recently posted…My Great EscapeMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      CAE, I honestly don’t know. Because I worked and lived there, I never once did dispersed camping. I either went backpacking or I stealth parked in Anchorage. I know nothing about dispersed camping in Alaska. There are so few roads and the land around the roads is usually private, so I am inclined to think it is not practical. I am planning on spending much of my time in Anchorage because I have friends and family there, so if you do go in a car, you need to be able to stealth park and sleep in the car.

      A big consideration is the mosquitoes. It’s hard to describe how bad they can be.

  4. Myddy says:

    I can’t wait to see all the beautiful pictures, I’ve always though Alaska was gorgeous. Maybe by then I’ll be able to drop in, I think at the moment it’s too far ahead for me to know where I’ll be yet!

  5. Been there, done that, only it was short for me due to finances and COPD issues. So, I’ll wave to you from Hawaii instead. Have fun. Wish I could afford it. One day I will.
    Charlene Swankie recently posted…Desert TortoisesMy Profile

  6. Desert Rat says:

    Bob, I’ve been in Canada (BC and Alberta) several times and they always let me take in bear spray. This was recently, too. I’ve heard that there’s a diff between the big cans and the little ones – I always carry the big ones. They didn’t even ask to look at it when I told them.

    Also, people should be aware that your vet certificates have to be dated no more than 30 days before entering Canada, though I’ve never had to show them, either, they didn’t even ask if I had them. So if you’re in AK more than 30 days, you need a new certificate before heading back into Canada. My vet (in Colorado) charged me $30 total for all three of my dogs, but I go to him regularly.

    I might be up for it. I have tons of relatives in Fairbanks, as well as Kenai. They usually come to the Lower 48 in the winter so I get to see them, but it would be nice to go up there for a change. Keep us posted – great idea.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Hi Desert Rat, it sounds like you know more about border crossing than I do so I will take you word for it. It makes sense that they would not object to the big cans because they have bears just like we do. It also makes sense they would object to the small cans. They seem to object to self-defense in any form (if it can be used for defense, it can be also used for offense and that terrifies them).

      Good to know about the vet certificates. I’ve also never heard of anyone being asked to show them, but with my luck I would be the first!!

      Hope you can make it!

    • Anna says:

      I made this trip a year ago with two dogs. Spoke with the Canadians and all they require is a rabies certificate. (You can confirm this on their website. I printed it out and took it with me in case of problems.) It is the State of Alaska that requires an interstate (not international) health certificate signed by a USDA certified vet, less than 30 days old. It does NOT have to be signed by your state veterinarian (I spoke with the Alaska state vet and he confirmed that). Be aware that when you return to the US, the state in which you enter may also require this health certificate. At that time, Washington state did not require it. All of this can be confirmed online (good luck because it’s confusing but the CDC is the authority for the US; I spoke with them, too) and by phone.

      I was asked about bear spray by the Canadians and denied having any. The Canadian website is a good source of info and it clearly states bear spray is prohibited. Pepper spray is okay. Bob is right about firearms, too.

      This will be a fun trip! Prepare yourself for mosquitoes and have a fantastic time!

  7. Lynnzie says:

    Alaska, land of the Midnight Sun.
    I would love to go back and see Fairbanks where I lived for 8 years and visit the Geophysical Institute where I worked and see if any of the scientists I knew are sill there. Visit the U of A test Gardens. Visit Poker Flats the rocket range for the Institute where they used to shoot barium into the zenith of the Aurora Borealis to highlight and study it. Of Course we would not be able to view the Aurora in the summer months due to the sun light. (Don’t forget to bring Aluminum Foil to block out the sun so you can sleep during the summer months, LOL ) One can go and request to see some stored auroral videos at the Institute’s theater as I did when my grandmother visited in the summer many years ago.

    The 2014 Seward Silver Salmon Derby was always a big highlight for me plus I really really miss the good salmon that is only to be had in Alaska. Starts Aug 10-18 2014 and then renting a boat in Homer to do some halibut sea fishing.
    I would love to go to visit Mt Denali too. Ah many dreams of Alaska. Do Alaskans still want to secede from the Union?

  8. Rob says:

    Wow, what a trip! What do I want to do next summer?

    Some years back the VW bus list put together a trip to Alaska, I followed it on line..

    I spent 20 years in Coast Guard aviation, a lot of Alaska stories in the CG. A LOT!

    Back in the spring of ’99 or ’00 or ’01 I was working in a front end shop in Bemidji Minnesota and a guy stopped in. He was driving an Isuzu Trooper, he had his things in the back & was heading for Alaska. He stopped in as he was going by to have his rig “checked out”, just in case. He needed work, he got it and was on his way before the day ended. I’ve often wondered how the trip went.

    My Dad wanted to get a boat & take it up the inland passage to Alaska someday. He was a tanker Captain for Chevron & had been up there several times. He didn’t outlive his job.

    Alaska… A magic word
    Rob recently posted…The move…My Profile

  9. Doggy says:

    Hi Bob. I read your post and looked at your map. Being Canadian I can give you a few tips. The Canadian border can be anything from a Welcome to Canada to, pull over so we can search everything. I seen a couple from Montana get their car searched after they told the guards she had bear spray. She was a nature photographer and always carried it.

    Handguns are a no go. Long guns you can bring but you will need to check on the hoops.
    Gas is currently about $4.05 a U.S. gallon but I expect it to go up during the summer. I would guess about 25 cents or so. Our dollar normally drops below U.S. in the summer, so that may help you out.

    If you want to see the Rockies you will need to go west from Calgary then up through Banff and Jasper National Parks.

    I hope that helps you out a bit. Who knows. Maybe I will get to meet you. I have enjoyed your site and posts on Yahoo.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Doggy thanks for that info, very helpful! I’ve heard lots of stories of them tearing your vehicle apart also both on the Canadian but mainly on the U.S. side. When I drove down from Alaska in 2006 I brought a shotgun and filled out the paperwork and got through with no problem. Having them tear the rig apart is such a pain I am inclined to carry no weapons just to reduce the odds of it happening. I don’t expect to do much in the backcountry that will put us in contact with bears.

      Thanks for the info!

    • DougB says:

      40 years ago I looped back through Quebec from New York after a funeral. A very different time from now, certainly. The Canadians waved us in with open arms, though they still held a grudge in Quebec for Washington trying to attack the British and Canadian loyalist forces there. And my ex was stunned that her fluent French was completely useless in the odd dialect of French Canada. Coming back in through Michigan, the U.S. Customs took one look at my Corvette convertible, figured “drug runner!” and emptied it out. They then packed it back up again, not so efficiently of course, and damaged some stuff. I liked Canada a lot. It’s the Americans I wasn’t so sure of. ; )
      DougB recently posted…7 Reasons You Don’t Need a PetMy Profile

  10. Peggy says:

    About bear spray…I once forgot that mine was in my knapsack and they took it away but I was at the airport, so I can kind of understand! You could easily buy some spray in a sporting goods store once you’re in Canada. BTW, I had a black bear on my back deck last night, helping itself to my suet and bird feeder.

    Anyway, Alaska has been on my mind these days too. Hmmm… Will give it some thought.
    Peggy recently posted…Chipmunks on the LooseMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Peggy, I can certainly understand not wanting it on airplanes! The bear spray is no big deal. I don’t think we will be in the backcountry to need it. If anyone wants to go fishing then it becomes a big issue. Every river along the road system with salmon in it attracts fisherman and they also attract bears. I know of a few places they simply close to fishing and hiking because the bears are so thick you can’t be safe.

      If you want to fish, or spend time at the fishing spots, buy bear spray with your license when we get there.

      Actually, I just thought of a place where we would want bear spray. I will certainly go back to the Eagle River Nature Center and the last time I was there in 2006 they had warning signs posted everywhere that a bear had a moose kill and to be very careful. Brown Bears are most dangerous when they are protecting a kill pile and when they have young. I carried bear spray that day!!

      • Peggy says:

        I regularly run into bears around here on my hikes but it wasn’t until a few years ago when I would see 2-3 bears each hike that I finally bought some spray. We only get black bears here though, no grizzlies. We have wolves and cougars too. I’m o.k. with wolves but cougars make me nervous. Still haven’t seen one though.
        Peggy recently posted…Chipmunks on the LooseMy Profile

        • Bob Bob says:

          You are fortunate to live in such a beautiful place as BC! I’ve always loved driving through it. Maybe next time I can slow down and enjoy it’s wonders.

          You be safe out there!

  11. Nicole says:

    Hi Bob

    Your trip sounds amazing. We’re planning pretty much the same trip in 2015. I’ll take a lot of notes and learn from yours. I just thought to point out that if you are 62 or older the LIFETIME National Parks pass is only $10.00 Here’s the link.

    Take care.


  12. Joni says:


    What an awesome Jello mould! I sure hope it gels though I may have to catch up with you about 3/4 of the way up to Alaska as that’s where the summer place is *smile*.

    And a note for your gas budgets – YIKES! The ‘current’ gas price in BC is over $6.00 per gallon USD.

    Safe travels Bob and everyone.


    • Joni says:


      I am a Canadian and I want you to all come here and I want you to not have a hassle at the border. Please be forwarned…crossing the Canadian border is just like any border, it can be “fun”.

      Pepper spray and any encapsulated propellant used for defense is illegal in Canada. As are all handguns and anything but a basic single shot at a time trigger pull firearm would have to have a transport certificate and never be used while in Canada. Butterfly knives, gravity knives…all this stuff can get you not just turned back at the border but potentially arrested if you had not decared the items.

      I’m not quoting any web site with this information, my late husband worked for Canada Customs for 30+ years. I count Border Services personel amongst my friends. The last time I came back from a US day trip my own country tore me apart and sent me back to the US to return an item I had purchased at the hardware store as it was not allowed into Canada. The contraband item was horse liniment!

      Being in transit directly through to Alaska can cut you some slack at the border but every entry is up to the individual border agent at the time of crossing just like it is for me when I go south.

      Also, if you are coming for an extended stay Border Services will ask about your health and health insurance, as does the US when I come there.

      I hope you can come, please just be prepared. It can help if you’re visiting a Canadian so I’m open to friends *smile*!!



      • Anna says:

        When U crossed into Canada, I was asked Iif I had bear spray. I replied, “No, but I do have this,” and I handed them a can of spray called “Halt”. It’s pepper spray for dogs. She looked at it and handed it back and said, “That’s ok.” so I think it do depend on the person you get. Also, I avoided the Vancouver crossing and went through a smaller one east of Vancouver. Short line, and I got the “Welcome to Canada”. Alaska did ask to see the dogs’ health certificate, btw.

        Bob, the Dalton Hwy was an experience! It taught me confidence! And when I made it back to Fairbanks, the van got a new windshield and five new tires (mine just wore out). It was worth it.

      • Bob Bob says:

        Thanks for all that good info Joni! Maybe I will get to see you at your home.

  13. DougB says:

    What a glorious potential trip! Not suitable for me at all, but for the right person in the right vehicle, wow! What an opportunity. And as your planning evolves, all that will mean is that the trip routing and timing will get better and better!

    Oddly, part of the hardship for me would be coming back through California. I’m researching potential campsites in four states and had to give up on California entirely, because I can’t find free sites of any kind, at altitude, that will take my rig size, nor give me access without warnings of very rough trails. There are some awfully nice places there, but it’s just not gonna happen for me without some serious downsizing and ground clearance. Oh well! At least there’s plenty of acreage left to work with elsewhere.
    DougB recently posted…7 Reasons You Don’t Need a PetMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Doug, I can’t speak for the rest of the Sierras, but where I worked as a campground host was full of great spots you could get in no problem. If you need to be close enough to town to get cell and internet there were less but they were still there.

  14. Bob says:

    Hi Bob
    I retired on Aug 30 in NJ at 64. I have a 94 Jeep Wrangler pulling a 98 Scamp 16 with my Westie. I picked up route 50 in WV and took it to Reno and then took the back roads up to Seattle where I am addressing some things in the Jeep and trailer to make things better. Great ride by the way. My next move is South in the next few weeks. I’m in good health and have the resources and was thinking of going to Alaska myself so I’ll seriously consider it next summer. I hope to drop in sometime this Fall or Winter.
    Stay well – Bob

  15. Curtis says:

    Sounds like a fantastic trip Bob.:) Appreciate the advanced notice.

  16. Dan says:

    2014 will not work for me, bummer, but I am interested in your choice of dates. I do not mind experiencing the occasional winter weather if there are more nice days than bad days. When does spring generally arrive in Alaska? Similarly, your picture shows wet winter weather in December. How is the weather in November for example? Your date range is similar to other trips that I’ve listened to, so your plan sounds solid, just wondering and thought I would ask a native. Six months is a long time; just wanting to extend the long trip as much as possible.

    I have to ask about the mosquitoes. Will they make us want to return home early? Are they primarily in a certain area or along rivers? How do the natives cope?

  17. Linda Barton says:

    WOW This is on my bucket list. In fact its #1. I am 2 years from van dwelling and as you love Alaska maybe by 2017 you will be ready to go again and I can make that one. Oh and I love jello its dependable and flexible.I cruised Alaska in 2005 and Left a piece of me there. I have pined to go back ever sense. I definitely want to drive to Denali park.I just know the cruise wont hold a candle to driving.I cant wait to follow your travels.

  18. PamP says:

    What a thrill for you! I’ll be traveling along too, but only as a blog reader. I have to accept that the time for me to make big adventures is past – but I’ll be there in spirit with your caravan!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Pam, I fully understand we all have to know and accept our limitations. Backpacking trips are not an option to me, but I still subscribe to Backpacker Magazine (on my Kindle Fire).

      So you are welcome to come along and live vicariously through my posts!! I’ll try to enjoy t enough for all of us!!

  19. Phyllis Anne says:

    Exciting blog! Enjoy your trip! I am not independent with my van YET!! So I will miss that great trip. It does sound like such fun. I do hope you have a great group that travels well together. I have done group trips in the past, and I do know what you mean by “being independent”. Some trips were near disasters because of dependence of others in the group. Other trips were great with others not feeling the necessity of arriving “all together” at each stopover. We had CBs and those were FUN trips!!
    Wishing you a great trip, and I will be following any blogs you post during. That will be fun for me too.
    Phyllis Anne

    • Bob Bob says:

      Phyllis Anne, wish you could make it, maybe another time! Thanks for your feedback on traveling in groups, it is welcomed!

      As I have gotten older I am becoming more and more a loner who just doesn’t want people around me all the time. I love people, and love having around, but I need my alone time and if I don’t get it, I’m miserable. So I want people to join me, but there must not be any dependence or clinginess. The people I’m with must have just as much need for alone time as I do. I get along great with those people!!

  20. m.a. says:

    I think you need one of these for your trip – They’re only around $400,000, but you can pick them up 2nd hand.

  21. ILDan says:

    Holy cow, can you dole out the mind-candy! I also look forward to the vicarious trip. Thanks again for taking me along for the ride!

  22. LilNomad says:

    Would this be a trip for someone towing a 25ft travel trailer?

    • Bob Bob says:

      LilNomad, there is no problem taking a 25 foot Trailer to Alaska but it may be hard for you to caravan with me. I am going to stealth park in the cities much of the time and travel down some bad roads. So you would be welcome to join me. but you must be aware that there will be times I will go places you can’t and be independent enough to go off by yourself.

      I hope you can make it!

  23. Wow, great post! I’ve always wanted to visit Alaska, but unfortunately have not had the opportunity yet. Maybe one day.
    Kevin Wilderman recently posted…Quick Cash with Paycheck LoansMy Profile

  24. Dan says:

    Hey Bob, love the blog! Been following you for a few years. I’m from Canada, and was planning on fulltiming vandwelling until I met and married my wondeful wife. Oh well, maybe when I retire. Anyways, I’m in Edmonton, so make sure to announce on your blog when/if you pull through here and we’ll do lunch!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thanks Dan! I’m a big fan of lunch!

      But the truth is I think Edmonton is one of the most confusing places I’ve ever been! I’ve gotten lost on my every trip through it. I may give you a call just to guide me through it!

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