Most of the time, we don’t do much planning for the traveling we do. When we first headed out in our very large fifth wheel and one-ton gigantic truck, we thought ahead about where we’d probably stay for the night, mostly because we couldn’t drive into just any place and park (we tried that once… a fictional version of what happened is in one of the “Road Tales” short stories). But after that first summer, we stopped working so hard. Bob still plots our route on a mapping and GPS program so I don’t have to keep a finger on a printed map (or tell him to turn right when it should be a left… directionally challenged that I am…), but other than that, the more we’re on the road, the less planning and plotting we do.
Alaska was different. I read voraciously before we left, during the trip, and we’re still “leisure” reading about the state.
Alaska is so vast, with so much to see and experience, you really have to think about where you want to go and what you want to do before you get there. Otherwise you’ll miss out. Summer is short, the driving is long, and you need to make the most of it.
While you’re in the state and on the road to and from, you’ll also want to check road conditions. No snow or ice worries in the summertime, but road work is everywhere, so checking conditions to find out about delays helped us anticipate where traveling could take longer than we might otherwise expect.
We wanted to know about local happenings — so we could join in or avoid crowds. We tracked the progression and containment of wildfires so we could cruise through smokey spots faster. We wanted to know whether an RV park we were considering staying at had full, partial, or no hookups. And what about the fact that Alaska has more seismic activity (earthquakes!) than any other state? And those volcanoes….
So much to know and track!
In case you’re planning a trip up north, here are some links to Web sites we found particularly helpful. If you have others to add, please do so in the comments!
If you arm yourself with just one resource, make it “The Milepost.” I used the printed version — highlighted it, inked the margins, dog-eared the corners, color-coded pages with sticky-tabs… all because I didn’t have to be online to use it this way. Buying the printed version gave us access to the online version, which I tried to use once but it loaded so slowly (because of where we were) it just didn’t work for me… even so, here’s the link: milepost.com
The British Columbia Parks Discover Camping Reservation Service site:
RV park reviews:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ (search for the name of the RV park you want to check, usually under “Specialty Lodging”) — for example, Bear Paw Park and Eagle’s Rest RV Park have reviews for Valdez
Border Crossing delays (Washington state, near Seattle):
Convert Canadian per-litre gas prices to US prices per gallon via this neat calculator courtesy of Todd’s Computer Place: http://www.toddsplace.ca/util.php?priceorig=142&exchange=.99&btnSubmit=Can+to+US
Volcanic and Earthquake activity in Alaska (scroll down to “Alaska Real-Time Information”): http://www.usgs.gov/state/state.asp?State=AK
InciWeb (my preferred site for information on wildfires regardless of which state we’re in; this is the link to AK info, but specify an incident or change states by using the drop-down options in the upper right): http://www.inciweb.org/state/2/
ESRI (type Alaska into the Search box, then click any of the icons to see specifics about particular fires): http://www.esri.com/services/disaster-response/wildlandfire/latest-news-map
Alaska Interagency Coordination Center: http://fire.ak.blm.gov
Wildfire info specific to the Yukon Territory: http://www.community.gov.yk.ca/firemanagement/
Alaska Air Quality:
Fairbanks and North Pole: http://co.fairbanks.ak.us/airquality