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Thread: Moving to AK in April or July???

  1. #1
    Member outaMT's Avatar
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    Default Moving to AK in April or July???

    Hello all!
    Iíve been planning my move to AK for the last 8 months. Iíll be moving up from Montana. My original plan was to move in July. But....my wife and I will be closing on a house in Wasilla by mid March, and I have a three week window in April if we decided to move then. The wife and kids are pushing for us to move in April rather then July.
    My question is; how are the services that early in the spring? We're planning on camping a bit on the way up, but I donít want to push the need for some unexpected services that arenít open that early; gas, mechanic, one flat tire too many, etc. Our truck and boat trailer are both new and well maintained, but you just never know. It seems May and June is about the time everything opens up for the summer rush.
    I know the weather cannot be predicted that early (April) and there is a good chance of snow etc. Iíll be moving with a large U-haul truck towing my 19Ft boat, followed by the wife in our F250.
    Iíve been reading this forum for months, and have received great info and advice on fishing and boating, thought I would give you all a crack at moving up in April versus July. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Member upinak's Avatar
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    I would suggest you tow the boat with the F250.

    I have done the Alcan (Cassier) in the middle of April. It was haphazard since it was still cold and snowy in quite a few areas. They are also redoing the road (again) and it can be soggy in some areas. Use the F250 for the boat so you don't totally get bogged down in a muddy shallow.

    Good Luck, and make sure that you ge a Mile Post for Alaska.
    No amount of education can help those who want to remain permanently ignorant of facts, which includes those whom have been educated.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by upinak View Post
    Good Luck, and make sure that you ge a Mile Post for Alaska.
    Second on the mile post. I drove the Alcan in Nov of '07 and it was a definite help. tells you what stores will be open that time of year, just make sure you reference it. Also doesn't hurt to have some extra gas just in case. I did and didn't need it. Did have one close call though. Gas station wasn't open on Sunday, but the owner just happened to be there and let me fill up.

    Good Luck!

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    April is too early.

    Get a Milepost

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    Gotta have the Milepost, it is a must. If you can sven delay a month to May you will be better off but I would recommend you wait till May with a U-Haul, a 250 and a boat, tis better to be cautious on the ALCAN. Crazy things can happen like when my reciever hitch bagan to split apart near Watson Lake, I made it to the No Auto Parts Availible dealer there where he informed me the closest place to buy a new one was "384 miles north in Whitehorse" I got lucky and found a spare in my trailer otherwise I would have had to drop the trailer and drive 768 miles round trip to get a new one (carry a spare). Destruction bay is named that for a reason. Anyway it will be the trip of a lifetime and it is absolutly awesome!! Just be prepared.

  6. #6
    Member COtoAK's Avatar
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    Some of my closest friends are moving back to Alaska from Tulsa, Oklahoma at the end of March. They are driving with a UHaul and 4 kids in tow. Good for you for moving this time of year. What a trooper!!!
    It's definitley possible, but please play it safe.
    I third the motion of the Mile Post.

    Where will you be crossing the border at?
    Are you bringing your guns and ammo with you?
    When you make it to the border, they will not allow you to bring alcohol or fruit. They will make you relinquish it to them at the border and then give your little kidlets Canada tattoos for their enjoyment.

    Now, on a serious note... the roads will be rough and bad. It will still be cold and soggy. Do you have your vehicle winterized? I know that it seems silly to have it done now that you are moving at the end of the season, but it's still cold in Canada this time of year. Be sure that you get it winterized. There is nothing worse than to be in another country without being able to get your car started because of something preventable previous to making the trip.
    Be sure that you bring some gas cans for both your truck and any other vehicles that you will be driving. When we moved, we brought up a trailer worth of our items and we almost didn't make it into Tok, Alaska because of running out of gas. Also, when we made it to Dawson Creek, every gas station had run out of diesel. We barely made it into the last station that did in fact have diesel. What a horrible gut wrenching feeling to be with kidlets not knowing if the last station in the area had diesel or not.
    My suggestion is that you take some time at Laird Hot Springs. I know that it might take a little bit of effort, but taking that time will save you time in the long run. It gets the kids super tired and they will sleep for a good amount of time for you and your wife to have a relaxing drive even for just a couple of hours.
    WORTH IT! I am telling you from experience.
    Also, one last thing. Use your credit or debit card making the drive. The currency exchange stinks and you will have to pay out more cash if you have American Dollars instead of their Canadian currency. Whenever I take a trip into Canada, I am reminded of this. Last trip I took to Dawson City, my 'roommate' pulled out what she thought was going to be $100 and it started spitting out Canadian currency and she just about flipped because we were only in Dawson City for less than 2 days.

    In the meantime, hang in there. There are other people that are moving to Alaska this time of year. Don't get discouraged. Wasilla awaits your arrival! Congrats on moving towards making it to Alaska!
    Lurker.

  7. #7
    Member AKFishOn's Avatar
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    Get gas when you can after you pass Mile 0 of the ALCAN. There is a town called Pink something a good stretch before White Horse, don't pass up gas there. Besides that I take two 5 gallon cans, UHaul usually got me further than the pickup but I have only a 27 gallon tank on my pickup and usually was pulling around 10,000lbs with it. I'm jealous you are making the trip it is a great one. Where in MT are you starting from?

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    Member outaMT's Avatar
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    All,
    Thanks for the great input. Your experiences helped with our decision; we have decided to wait and do the original planÖ.take our time and move in July. If it was just the wife and I and we werenít hauling kids and U-Haulís and boats and pets we would go in April. Weíll be starting from the Kalispell area here in Montana. My wife got the info on crossing with guns and ammo and petsÖthanks COtoAK.
    Since weíre moving in July, Iíll use my time off in April fishing the Flathead LakeÖthe last Montana splash before we get to AK. Thanks for all the advise, I appreciate your time to help! See you in July!

  9. #9
    Member COtoAK's Avatar
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    See you in July! I am sorry if I or we (any of us on Outdoors Directory) scared you into waiting and holding off until then.
    Upside is that you miss majority of mosquito season.
    Downside is that you miss King salmon fishing. (It's in June).

    Let us know if there is questions that you have between now and then.

    Wasilla is a really nice area of Alaska to live in and I think that the transition from Kalispell to Wasilla will be easier than you moving somewhere more remote.
    Lurker.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by COtoAK View Post
    Also, one last thing. Use your credit or debit card making the drive. The currency exchange stinks and you will have to pay out more cash if you have American Dollars instead of their Canadian currency.
    Check with your bank or credit card company to make sure they don't charge any additional fees for transactions outside of the US.

    USAA charged me a fee for each transaction I made in Canada on my Visa debit card. I raised caine and got the fees back, but it was a PITA.

  11. #11

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    Fill out the paperwork on the firearms ahead of time to save time at the border. Download the forms off the Canadian Customs website. Check how many copies of the forms they'll want filled out. Typical government operation where they want multiple copies filled out.

    Have the pets vaccination paperwork in a file with other important documents handy for the border crossing.

    Extra fuel in cans as mentioned. Save for emergencies. I was told you were only allowed 5 gallons at the border in a fuel can, but I had 20 gallons canned up and was never asked about having extra fuel at the crossing. And I didn't mention it.

    Get another spare tire for the truck and have two for the boat trailer. Have a tire plug kit for backup. Carry a small floor jack to make tire changes easier.

    Have some basic tools handy for road emergencies.

    Have duct tape handy.

    Make an 12 volt electrical emergency kit. Fuses, bulbs, butt connectors, some wire, electrical tape.

    Extra fan belt(s).

    Engine coolant.

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    Default Shrinkwrap your boat & carry bearings

    I would strongly recommend you shrink wrap your boat to keep the dust out. Also remove the trailer hub W bearings and take to your local supplier to purchase a backup. If your trailer is loaded to the max I would even check into a spare trailer spring. These are always good spares to have on hand, even when your not running the Alcan hiway. The hub and the spring should be less than a hundred bucks.

  13. #13
    Member outaMT's Avatar
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    Thumbs up See you in July!

    Not at all COtoAK.......

    We weíre literally split 50/50 on the pros and cons between moving in April vs. JulyÖwe just needed something to tip the scales on our decision, and all the info you guys provided did that for us. As excited as we are to move, we also want to enjoy the trip up and not be worried about extreme weather conditions or lack of services. Thanks again for all the great info. This is a great forum and my main source for answers to all the AK questions I have. Keep it up folks, you are appreciated!

  14. #14
    Member upinak's Avatar
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    April wasn't bad when I drove it in 2000. I was up and down from Seattle quite a bit and I was driving a small Focus at the time. I went on the Cassier Hoghway which in some cases can be worse then the Alcan due to no open gas stations. Always have an extra 5 gallon's with you.

    Just check around the end of March to see if Glennallen is going thru "Break Up", if it is, you should be fine driving up. You must have chains, due to BC laws on some of the mountain areas.

    Also IF you are coming up in July... you WILL NEED a passport for everyone. The rules are in place and you have to have one now going thru Canada as of June 1st.

    http://travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html

    And it doesn't matter what year the Mile Post is (the last 7 is fine), make sure there is a map in it.

    Watch for Buffalo (yeah I almost hit one 2 yrs ago on the Alcan), Deer, Mountian Goats, Elk, freaking COWS on the road (yeah I almost hit a couple of those too around some mountain passes), and of course Black Bear and Moose. Black Bear love to sit on the side of the road driving up in April and early May.

    Alberta has the crazy drivers... try to stay as FAR AWAY from Calgary if you can possibly do it. Make sure to have a bunch of CD's and if I were you don't drink a bunch of coffee. I.E. some gas stations didn't have toilet paper so pack your own.

    Have fun, enjoy yourself and remember it will be QUITE chilly coming up in April and absolutely beautiful in July. Don't forget we have (and Canada) can have some serious wild fires in the middle of summer.

    Have I scared the crap out of you yet?
    No amount of education can help those who want to remain permanently ignorant of facts, which includes those whom have been educated.

  15. #15
    Member upinak's Avatar
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    OH OH OH... before I forget....

    DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT go more then 45 MPH outside of Haines Junction towing the boat in either the Truck or the Uhaul. That is the small town right before Beaver.. and the Alaska/Canada border.

    If you go faster then the boats axles can take it, the frost heaves will KILL your axles.

    Last time I drove from Minn St Paul, there was a 32 ft 5th wheel camper, whos owner was driving a heck of a lot faster then 45 mph. He bent one axle and the other axle had fallen off! The camper was literally on wood and blocks.

    If you like your boat... DO NOT drive fast the rest of that way. It has frost heaves you wouldn't believe AND they are always doing road construction on that part of the road.
    No amount of education can help those who want to remain permanently ignorant of facts, which includes those whom have been educated.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by ADUKHNT View Post
    (carry a spare). Destruction bay is named that for a reason.
    Destruction bay almost did me in. Towing a 8x20 enclosed trailer with everything I own in it about 8500lbs. The road was so bad, I didn't notice a flat tire for many miles. There was no tire left on the rim by the time I noticed! Bring 2 spares for each vehicle, and keep at least 10 gallons of fuel in cans for emergencys. Be prepared for wildlife on the road, we had caribou, bears, bison, and stone sheep on the Alcan. Change all fluids before you go, and when you get here. The worst hill to go up is Stone Pass. I watched my trans temp guage get up to around 200 going up that hill and I thought I was never going to make it all the way to AK. If you can make it up that one, you are fine for the rest of the way. The road goes to crap at Destruction Bay, and doesn't get much better until Tok. Watch out for those orange flags, they mean car-swallowing potholes. I never want to see another orange flag....

  17. #17
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    On our last trip (March of '07) I actually got all four tires of my Silverado 2500 Crew Cap in the air on the frost heaves outside of Destruction Bay on Kluane Lake Kids loved it, truck hated it...LOL... I pulled a Jetta TDI out of the ditch a few miles later because a the guy lost control in the bumps and lost it.

    You made a good choice. No way in Hell would I do it in April. I've done it plenty of times in late May and Sept, and I much prefer the deep of winter (Feb/Mar).

    If you are from Montana you will not have any issues with drivers in Alberta I make up all my speed in Alberta and fit right in with the locals. Nothing like 75mph in a brand new truck on 6" of ice over the pavement heading out of Grande Prairie
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

  18. #18
    Member upinak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    No way in Hell would I do it in April.

    Sissy! Come on you can DO IT!
    No amount of education can help those who want to remain permanently ignorant of facts, which includes those whom have been educated.

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    I did the trip last year in Jan pulling a 20' stock trailer and had a fantastic trip with the wife.
    I did the trip again the first of June AK to CO and back and a again had a great trip that time with my Daughter. I always carry 20 to 25 gal of fuel and mis tools on the trip.
    Spare tires are a must I did go throu a couple on my trips but again we (my family) had a great time on both trips and would do it again.
    Endjoy your time with your family while you can take your time and see the country side WITH them.

    Serious note, if you are carring guns make sure you have all the information on cal, L from front site to breach, make and model and know what you can carry and what not to carry.
    Good luck T

    Sweepint
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    '' Livn' The Dream ''
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  20. #20
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    No matter what you decide take your time, try to enjoy the trip an not bust things up. We did it in April 22 years ago with three little ones an everything we could haul, took our time, gas was a little thin in places, an the road was rough in places, but have done the trip both ways since, all in the summer,not sure the spring conditions were that much worse that the summer construction areas. It's been a few years since we drove out so have no first hand knowledge of road conditions, but I' m not sure that's not true unless you talk to someone that drove it the day before .Alex

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