With the US-Canada border closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to ship our RV and toad to Anchorage and fly ourselves there to embark on a 14-week trip ... including the travel time required to get us to/from Tacoma.
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  • Day0

    North to Alaska

    March 25 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 27 °F

    A last-minute decision for our summer RV trip ... but one we are very happy to have made!

    In case you missed it in the title of this “Trip,” we will be exploring Alaska with our RV.

    How is this even possible with the US-Canada border still closed? Details coming soon to a footprint near you 😉Read more

    www.ravenandchickadee.com

    So exciting!!!

    4/8/21Reply
    Nickie Wilkinson

    Wonder how far north you'll go and how far west, but, I can wait to read all about it. Don't run off any moose!!

    4/10/21Reply
    Two to Travel

    We plan to go as far as the roads lead us in any direction. The one exception is the haul road (Dalton Hwy) to Prudhoe Bay. We went up the length of that road to the Arctic Ocean in 2001, so not planning to repeat that area.

    4/10/21Reply
     
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  • Day0

    Cruiser & Toad A-Cruisin’

    March 25 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 45 °F

    Mui and I may not be able to cruise out of US ports yet, but our RV and toad [tow vehicle] sure can. And that’s what makes our plan to explore Alaska this summer with our Phoenix Cruiser possible.

    Here’s the backstory ...

    It was a chance comment about Tote Maritime in the “RVing to Alaska 2021” Facebook group that had us once again putting Alaska on our travel map for this year. Can’t drive the RV to Alaska? Ship it instead!

    I’d already checked the Alaska Marine Highway to ship ourselves and our vehicles to the 49th state. But the fare was cost-prohibitive. Would Tote, the shipping company that makes twice-weekly supply runs between Tacoma, Washington and Anchorage, Alaska similarly be a budget-buster?

    The only way to find out was to shoot off a quote request. I did that yesterday afternoon. A couple of hours later, I had a quote. One that we could live with ... especially after Mui agreed to remove the hitch and spare tire to reduce our vehicle size to fit within the 21-30 foot pricing range. Of course, we’ll need those “accoutrements” for the road trip in Alaska, so we’ll just put them inside the trunk of the toad for the cruise and re-install them in Anchorage.

    So, now we have a plan. I’ll share the details in another footprint.
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    www.ravenandchickadee.com

    We're looking forward to hearing the details. Alaska is still on our wish list for sometime in the future, just not sure about the plan.

    4/8/21Reply
    Two to Travel

    I’m going to do my best to stay on top of the footprints ... but my usual “be in the moment instead of writing” issue will be further complicated by cell signal and wifi availability ... or lack thereof.

    4/8/21Reply
    www.ravenandchickadee.com

    Haha, you know me...I'm always late in posting. It will be fun to read your posts whenever you get them posted!

    4/9/21Reply
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  • Day0

    The Plan!

    March 25 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 46 °F

    This is going to be a fluid trip. Meaning that we’ll have a “framework” bounded by a start date and an end date. Reservations where necessary ... but mostly footloose and fancy-free. The idea is to be fluid enough to jiggle things as weather and other considerations warrant.

    So, here’s the “barebones plan” calendar as things stand right now. Everything between these dates ... well, all that will be fleshed out during the planning process.

    (You can click the calendar for the details.)
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    LowesTravels

    Can't wait for the adventures to unfold!

    4/8/21Reply
    mohotravels

    so exciting

    4/8/21Reply
    www.ravenandchickadee.com

    Looking forward to virtually traveling along with you!

    4/9/21Reply
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  • Day0

    Before & After

    March 26 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 36 °F

    Before and after what? Let me 'splain.

    Since Tote Maritime does not take passengers, our RV and toad will be cruising to and from Alaska without us. How long will that take? About five days ... give or take a day ... what with loading, unloading, the transit between the Lower 48 and the 49th state, and whatnot.

    We'll be flying to and from Alaska. That will take us just a couple of hours each way.

    What that means is that we will have time to kill before the vehicles arrive in Alaska and again after we ship them back to Washington State at the end of our road trip.

    What to do with that waiting time?

    Well, we decided to head up to Alaska on the outbound trip in May ... spend a few days in Anchorage ... revisit some old haunts.

    Then, when we reverse course in July, we'll spend time in Washington ... where is TBD ... probably somewhere we didn't get a chance to visit when we lived in Tacoma in the 1980s.

    Let the details unfold as the planning progresses.
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    Nickie Wilkinson

    Okay, I think I get it now.

    4/10/21Reply
    mohotravels

    perfect

    4/10/21Reply
     
  • Day0

    Before & After Logistics Part I ✅

    March 26 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 45 °F

    With the "where to spend the waiting time before we are reunited with the RV and toad" question answered, it was time to book flights.

    I had some spare miles languishing in my Delta SkyMiles account ... returned to me due to a pandemic-related trip cancelation earlier this year. So, I used those miles to book roundtrip SEA-ANC-SEA flights ... 19,500 miles each + a few dollars in taxes and fees ... not bad for the Comfort+ cabin. Our seats are already selected.

    Our northbound flight departs around 7:30a and will require an o'dark hundred arrival at the airport. Southbound, we have a decent departure time from Anchorage, but we have a late arrival at SeaTac — around 9:30p — due to losing an hour for a time zone change. So, I booked us into the Crowne Plaza near SeaTac at either end of the trip.

    With these logistics details taken care of, it's time to find accommodations for our "waiting time." But that's for another day.
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    mohotravels

    love seeing the planning. you are so good at it.

    4/10/21Reply
     
  • Day0

    Before & After Logistics Part II ✅

    March 26 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 45 °F

    With the decision made to spend our time waiting for the vehicles northbound in Alaska and southbound in Washington State, today we focused on finding accommodations for those days.

    If we're going to be in one place for just a day or two, we're OK staying in a hotel. For stays of longer duration, however, our preference is to book a place through AirB&B or VRBO ... or similar. Having our own place is a lot more comfortable and brings with it the advantage of self-catering at least some of our meals.

    For our week-long stay in Anchorage, we booked a property listed as "Charming Historic Cottage." It's located downtown ... walking distance to restaurants and such. Looks cute as a button in the photos.

    Before we could book a place in Washington, however, we had to first decide where to base ourselves for about a week. We settled on Leavenworth. No, I don't mean the US penitentiary in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

    Rather, we'll be heading to the Bavarian-styled village in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. Though we lived in Tacoma for a little over a year when we emigrated to the US in 1982, we never made it up that way. We're looking forward to exploring a new-to-us area.

    AirB&B came through for us once again ... this time with a property listed as "Lily House." The place is in a quiet residential neighborhood in Leavenworth and within walking distance to restaurants, shops, and such.

    We've also booked rental cars to get ourselves around in both Anchorage and Leavenworth. That pretty much takes care of the logistics for "before & after." Now, we can focus on the logistics of getting our vehicles to and from Washington.
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    COS-to-TAC Routing ✅

    March 28 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 54 °F

    We're planning a "fluid road trip." But that doesn't mean that we don't have some parameters to consider ... namely calendar deadlines.

    Leaving home on 3 May ... delivering the RV and toad to Tote Maritime on 11 May. These are the dates that bookend our drive from Colorado Springs to Tacoma. That gives us 9 days to make the ~1,500-mile drive. Technically, we can make it to Tacoma in considerably fewer days.

    At present, we're planning on six easy-driving days on the road and three days at the travel camp at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Olympia, Washington. The three days @ JBLM are essentially a buffer in the event we run into weather or other issues along the way.

    The map below is from RV Trip Wizard, the app I use to plan our road trips. I've added some potential overnight stops — boondocking spots and a couple of campgrounds — to our route. But nothing is carved in stone. We'll drive more miles — or less — each day depending on our mood and any unforeseen circumstances.

    When I added the auto-generated return to Colorado Springs to the map, it created a loop for us (top of the map). That's another area we have not explored before, so we just might add a bit of sightseeing on the way back home.

    Now, to get down to the nitty gritty of planning the "big trip" in Alaska. It will be a fluid framework, but planner that I am, I can't entirely go with the flow 😄
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    mohotravels

    Columbia River Gorge!

    4/10/21Reply
    mohotravels

    gonna try to keep track of when you will be there.

    4/10/21Reply
    Two to Travel

    7 May for the gorge. Have a couple of boondock sites programmed but have read that due to COVID they may no longer be available for overnight parking. If not maybe Memaloose ... if we can get in.

    4/10/21Reply
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    North First? Or South?

    March 30 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 32 °F

    We'll begin our 10-week Alaska road trip by leaving Anchorage on 19 May. Easy decision ... that's when we have to check out of the "Charming Cottage" we booked in the city while we wait for the RV & toad to catch up to us.

    The question then was which direction to go first. North or south?

    Our instinct was to go south and then make our way north. After a brief discussion, however, we reversed course. Why? We spent time in Seward in 2010, so we figure it will be a good place this time to relax for a bit at the end of our roadtrip.

    The plan now is to head north from Anchorage ... perhaps jiggle west a bit to catch some of the central roads on our way to Denali National Park. From Denali, we'll head as far north as we can before beginning the southbound trek.

    When I say we'll drive as far north as we can, we're excluding the Dalton Highway from that consideration. We traveled the Haul Road all the way to the Prudhoe Oil Fields and the Arctic Ocean in 2001 ... a two-day trip with one overnight in Coldfoot and another one in Deadhorse .... with someone else doing the driving. We don't intend to punish our vehicles by doing the drive ourselves.

    Is this plan carved in stone? Sort of. Not really. We have a few reservations made to cover us during the two federal holidays that fall within our road trip ... Memorial Day and the 4th of July. But we can change those reservations if, for some reason, we decide to really jiggle our plans.

    Now that we have the barebones of our trip in place, it's time to get serious about researching what we want to see and do. Methinks there is a lot of reading in my immediate future.
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    Nickie Wilkinson

    Methinks there's plenty to see, too!

    4/12/21Reply
    Diane Clark

    Erin, so much to see and have fun. Challenge; On our 2017 Denali bus tour we spotted 21 Grizzlies, yes distinct ones, on the long hours of the worthy bus ride.

    5/3/21Reply
    Two to Travel

    Fingers crossed. I booked the bus tour, and since we are staying part of the time at Teklanika, we have the Tek Pass for more rides into the park.

    5/3/21Reply
     
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    A Change ... Not of Our Doing

    April 4 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 72 °F

    The culprit behind the change to our trip is not us. Rather, it is Delta Airlines.

    I got an email today advising that our outbound flight has changed. New flight number. New departure time from SEA.

    On the other hand, it is still a non-stop flight. And we still have Comfort+ seats ... although we're now in aisle and window seats with the middle seat showing blocked. The pop-up message says that the middle seat is not available for selection ... with the caveat that it might be filled by the time the flight departs. 🤞🏻 it does, in fact, remain unoccupied.

    The change means that we'll lose some time in Anchorage on our first day. But it also means that we'll get to sleep in a bit before heading to SEA for our flight to ANC. As well, we won't have to figure out what to do to kill time in Anchorage before the 4:00p check-in at the cottage.

    Bottomline ... all's good!
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    mohotravels

    I like it when changes can be managed

    4/13/21Reply
     
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    And the Prep Continues

    April 10 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 57 °F

    In the week or so since I last wrote, the prep work for our AK road trip has been ongoing. We've been busy bees ... though in different ways.

    My time has been spent reading — the Milepost, blogs, and more — and taking copious notes on this and that ... things that might be of interest to us. My Todoist app has a whole slew of things to look into or do ... and the list is growing in leaps and bounds.

    We've jiggled a few plans ... added a short side trip that will put us on the Alaska Marine Ferry ... looked into a few off-the-beaten-path destinations. I'll leave the details as a surprise. The overall plan is still essentially barebones to keep us as fluid as possible.

    Mui has been giving the RV and toad the once-over. He's changed the battery and air filter on both vehicles and ordered a few things he'd like to have handy for on-the-road handyman work. He also did a bit of spring cleaning to get rid of the winter grime.

    We've removed from both vehicles things we don't want to take with us on this trip ... to make room for things that we do want to take with us. Some of the necessities have been reloaded into the RV. The de-winterizing, however, won't happen until a few days before our scheduled departure ... we do live in Colorado after all and hard freezes are still a very real possibility.

    And thus ... the "preparation beat" goes on!
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    My Souvenir Memories

    I am so envious of you in your “planning mode.” But even if we have no major trips to plan for ourselves, I am very thankful that I will have the chance to travel along with you and Mui through the blog! I applaud you for thinking outside the box to make this trip happen!

    4/18/21Reply
    Two to Travel

    Thanks, it’s been fun planning, but I do wish sometimes that I had a bit more time to do so for a trip of this magnitude. Oh well, we’ll wing it more than we usually do.

    4/18/21Reply