Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In The Beginning..

The beginning of this blog is for the purpose of pre-trip planning. I will explain in 4 sections what it has taken for me to plan my trip.

1. How to get started
2. Preparing my truck.
3. Preparing my trailer.
4. Inventory

Also in this section you will find hyperlinks to go to other web sites. Just use you back button on your browser to come back to our blog.

Section 1. I have always wanted to drive to Alaska. About a year ago, I decided that it was time to start thinking about going, so I talked with my wife, Jennifer, to see if this was something she wanted to do as well. And, she said yes! So, I bought a copy of The MilePost “The Alaska Highway Bible.” The book comes with a map as well. The first thing I did was to map out a route. I read a couple of books and saw a couple of DVD’s of others who had taken a caravan tour. These resources helped a lot with planning.

One I mapped out the route, I figured out how many miles a day I wanted to drive. I am a disabled Vet and can’t drive too long each day, due to pain. So, I planned about four to five hours per day, except when we are going from Whitehorse, Yukon to Dawson City, Yukon. That run will be about 328 miles. The other long run will be from North Pole, AK to Coldfoot, then on to Deadhorse. That will be a two-day trip. It will be about 8 hours to Coldfoot and about 10 hours to Deadhorse. The reason for that amount of travel time is that the road is all gravel and very slow-going.

When planning out the route I used Google Maps to give me the distance from one town to the next. For mileage through Canada, I used a converter online to calculate KM to miles. After that I got online to find an RV park for each town. I used Good Sam Club and Woodall’s Diamond Club. (Woodall’s also has a book and comes with a DVD to take with you.) Then I called each RV park to make reservations.

To keep myself organized, I created a table in Microsoft Word with seven columns labeled as follows: Example

Section 2 To prepare the truck, I found a long list of things online that you should have when driving the Alaska Highway. If you are thinking about driving the Dalton Highway, the list is a must.

The Dalton Highway has the distinction of (among other things) having the longest stretch of serviceless road in North America. North of Coldfoot, there is a 240 mile stretch of road with no gas stations, restaurants, hotels, or any other basic services until the Prudhoe Bay oilfield at Deadhorse. Therefore, travelers are advised to have basic survival supplies, car repair equipment, and equipment for camping and other activities.

This website has a ton of information about the Dalton Highway, published by The Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Over the past year, I have purchased and had installed a CB Radio - a Cobra C75-WXST which is an all-in-handset Mobile CB with Soundtracker and weather channels. I have also bought a cross-the-bed extra-deep tool chest for all my tools that I will need in case of a breakdown. In my mind on how to carry 2 extra tires, fuel cans, etc., I came up with the idea of using a cargo basket. I looked at what is on the market and none of what I saw would cut it. So I bought a rack and used it as the foundation for my basket. After buying the rack, I found that the tool box wouldn’t fit because of my short box bed. So I had to take the rack and have it modified to fit the box . I used Blue Star Welding in Everson, WA 360.398.7647. Next I was going to build the cargo basket myself, but with added health issues that I was encountering, I had to have it built.
Then I drew out what I wanted for a basket and had Blue Star Welding in Everson, WA 360.398.7647 build it. The basket was powder coated by Mt. Baker Powder Coating.

Looking back, I have realized that it would have been cheaper in the long run to have Blue Star build it all.

As for tools for changing tires - - - as I said, I am disabled and therefore, am not able to use a lug wrench. So I bought an electric impact wrench. Then thought if I was not hooked up to my trailer with the generator, I would need electricity, so I bought a 1500 watt inverter for power. I also bought 2 smaller inverters for inside the truck so that the kids’ stuff will charge and keep running.

I have a mobility scooter platform, so I had a front hitch put on. This kills two birds with one stone – something to protect the front end from flying rocks and gravel from passing RV's and big rigs. Also it gives me the ability to use my scooter when needed. (I had to put the rack somewhere!)

Section 3 To prepare the trailer for this trip, I needed more storage space. So what I did was try to find more storage, using the same amount of space. For example, under the front queen-size bed, there is storage. There is a door from the inside going into the under storage, so I had two sides to make a cupboard for towels. In the back, the two queen beds go up and down. To make more storage, I installed on each corner of the bed a 1½ inch ABS black pipe with caps. This way, when the lower bed goes up, it stops when the pipe touches the upper bunk and you gain the extra space to store pillows and other stuff.

If you look hard, you can find many ways for more storage. Behind the TV, I used a baking pan and added hard drive magnets at the top for knives and glued hard drive magnets to hold the TV remote – great storage!

Section 4 This part was a simple concept – simply take inventory of all the stuff! I used a spreadsheet to put down the product and where I bought it and how much I paid for it. I also used the digital camera and took pictures of the products as well. This way my insurance company can’t dispute any claims. This is one thing insurance companies don’t want you to have. In case of an accident or what ever, if you don’t have this information, they can get off without responsibility of paying. This also enabled me to make sure that I had enough coverage to actually cover what I was taking.

Our Adventure starts June 21, 2010. We will keep you up to date as the days go on!