Category: Alaska

Dick camping in the Yukon Territories.

Dick camping in the Yukon Territories on the way to Alaska.

(I love the nomadic lifestyle so much I encourage everyone to do it full-time, but I always have to remember, that just isn’t practical for everybody. But I do think most people can and should incorporate some elements of it into their lives and they’ll be much better off for it. Today we have a guest post from Dick Kelley from Florida, who is 85 years old and has the incurable disease of itchy feet. He’s amazing proof that it’s never too late to follow your dreams! This is the story of how he drove a Prius to Alaska)

Hi, I really like driving around the country and just looking at things, yep you do need to keep your eyes on the road too!  I drove Montana’s Beartooth Scenic Byway this time and really enjoyed the scenery.  I was out there in 2010 on a Honda Shadow bike and was going to do the Beartooth highway from Red Lodge but it had snowed the night before and I was afraid to try it so took a different route back to Florida.  Alaska was the only state that I hadn’t been to so I just figured I must do it or else!  I have a wonderful wife but she doesn’t want anything to do with camping so she tells me to “go ahead and do it”.

I did have bear spray along with me but I didn’t do much hiking because I have a problem with my age and shortness of breath so I can’t walk very far especially at any altitude.  Canada doesn’t allow you to bring a weapon along with you so I didn’t even think about that.  I had also read that “bear spray” is a much better alternative than a gun.  If I was younger I would like to do what Bob does and I have taken along a pet dog on some of my trips but not this time. Get bear spray from Amazon here: 13.4ozSuper Magnum Bear Spray with Chest holster

The Prius on the Beartooth Scenic Byway.

The Prius on the Beartooth Scenic Byway.

On the road with lunch cooking in his RoadPro Oven.

On the road with lunch cooking in his RoadPro Oven.

Before I purchased the Prius I had an 03′ Chevy Astro Van that I drove to Big Bend Nat. Park in Texas in April and had a good time on that trip but the Astro only does about 17 mpg’s versus the Prius’s 50 so since I’m a little bit of a Cheapy! the Prius was a better choice for the Alaska adventure.

A glacier near Valdez Alaska.

A glacier near Valdez Alaska.

I bought a used 2006 Prius with 101,000 miles on it and did some conversion so I could sleep in back comfortably and then headed for Alaska from Fort Myers, FL about 5000+ miles.  I made it there and back without any problems and enjoyed the trip in the Prius, I averaged about 50mpg’s and was gone for 22 days.  Well I only stayed in a motel twice!

Prius-bulkhead

To get all the space he could Dick took out the back seat and built a frame so he could make the rear floor flat. He removed the factory armrest and built one the right height to match the rear shelf, then put a bulkhead down the center to support the plywood.

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You can see here it gave him a great deal of room for storage. The plywood that goes over this just lifts off for easy access.

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With the plywood in place he has an incredible amount of room in back for sleeping and for carrying more storage. A good use of the space is duffel bags filled with clothes, extra bedding, rain and cold weather gear.

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I removed the rear seat and built a platform from the edge of the rear ledge to just in back of the rear seats when they are moved forward.  The front piece of plywood is removable so I can move the driver seat back to drive.  I have plenty of storage underneath and had more clothes and food than I needed.  I found that all along my route that there were enough gas stations, fast food places and rest stops that I didn’t need my coffee maker or portable pottie but used the things along the way.

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To anchor the rear bulkhead, dick removed the factory armrest….

Prius-new-armrest

… and built a box the right height to match the bulkhead. That also gave him extra storage between the seats…

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… and it was more comfortable to boot! As you saw in the above photo, without the foam cushion he has lots of storage underneath and his Roadpro Oven fits right inside it.

I did have mosquito netting on the two rear windows so that I could get some cross ventilation but only needed that twice on the trip.  I had enough blankets that I was able to keep warm plus I did leave the Prius in park a couple of times with the heat set at 65 so it did come on when needed. I think the Prius makes a great camping car and I love the car for it’s gas mileage and trouble-free operation. Get No-See-Um Netting from Amazon here: No-see-um Netting 54″ Wide X 5 Yards – Black

Prius-Mosquito-net
Would I do it again, well maybe not to Alaska but I love traveling and just looking at things so I had a whole lot of fun and I will head west again next year but probably just to Wyoming, maybe Montana and back.  I will be 86 next June so I will have to wait and see if I’m still able to do it.  I plan on keeping the Prius and will use it again but I will do more camping next time
I’m 85 years old and Alaska was my last of the 50 states to visit.
Visit my blog at https://priusalaska.blogspot.com
Dick Kelly, Fort Myers, FL

Thanks for supporting this site by using these links to Amazon. I’ll make a small percentage on your purchase and it won’t cost you anything, even if you buy something different.

Bear spray in a chest holster. This is the only one I will buy, get it from Amazon here: 13.4ozSuper Magnum Bear Spray with Chest holster
RoadPro 12 volt Oven. I love mine and wouldn’t be without it: RoadPro 12-Volt Portable Oven
No-See-Um Netting: No-see-um Netting 54″ Wide X 5 Yards – Black


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