There’s been a controversy in a couple of other blogs lately discussing whether people want to drive their RVs to Alaska. So I’m departing from my usual style of blogging, reporting what we’ve done and seen, to add to this discussion.
Rick & Paulette first posed the question “Any Places You Just Don’t Want To Visit In An RV?” a couple of days ago. Rick pointed to my blog as a way to read about a trip to Alaska, but not have to make the trip themselves. (Thanks, Rick!) His position is not so much that it’s a long distance or the roads might be bad (they’re not as bad as most folks think), it’s mostly that he and Paulette don’t like to boondock and he can’t see how you can travel to Alaska without boondocking. And they have plenty of beautiful scenery and the great outdoors where they live in British Columbia.
I have to agree, they have a great life with summers in B.C. at their beautiful home with friends and family nearby, and winters in the Palm Springs/Desert Hot Springs, CA area.
While it is possible to do the Alaska trip with hookups, at least electricity, every night, some of the most beautiful places we’ve stayed have been in rest areas and turnouts. In these spots you usually don’t have another RV with its awning or slideout so close to your rig that you can hear each other snore or smell each other’s breakfast. (Well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but several RV parks have pretty tight spaces.) We’ve chosen to boondock several times, usually to see scenery, and it also helps the budget.
The scenic sites are numerous for places to park free or inexpensively without hookups. For instance, I wouldn’t trade the experience of parking in Ninilchik and seeing hundreds of bald eagles on Cook Inlet, or on the Homer Spit and watching a barge being repaired, or on the beach in Seward watching sea otters from our windshield and seeing all kinds of boats come and go. And I could name other boondocking sites where the experience is unmatched in RV parks. Still, with careful planning most RVers can find places they like, with or without hookups.
Several commenters on Rick & Paulette’s blog expressed different views, some saying they would take a cruise here but not drive, others saying you can’t see the interior of Alaska from a cruise ship. Some complain about the cost of gasoline/diesel and/or RV parks and/or eating out. Still others claim the roads tear up your rig (they’re probably driving too fast). One even said “Everyone comes back and trades off the rig they took up there.” WRONG! Read the comments and see what you think.
We've met people on some of our excursions here in Alaska who were on a cruise for 7 to 10 days, and they all said they wished they had more time to see more. And comparing the expense of a 7-day cruise to a 90-day RV trip is like comparing apples and guacamole. They're both food, but oh, how different!
Thanks for bringing up the topic, Rick. It’s great to see the different opinions people have! And for those who don’t come, it makes it easier for us to find space in RV parks and boondock sites here!
Today, Nick Russell was more straightforward with his blog titled “Alaska Is Not For Us” and referred to Rick & Paulette’s blog as well. Nick and his wife Terry publish a bi-monthly newspaper for RVers, Gypsy Journal, (an excellent publication) and therefore need access to the Internet all the time and proximity to publishers that can handle printing and post offices that can handle and large mailings. They are working full-timers running a business while traveling in their motorhome, not retired like many of us who can take the time required to explore the vast distances involved in touring Alaska.
Nick also pointed to my blog (Thanks, Nick!) and that of Dennis & Carol Hill, and Judy & Luke Rinehimer. Larry & Marilyn Forbes, traveling with us, also have a blog, as do others we’ve linked up with on the road. Be sure to read the comments on Nick’s blog, too.
As for long distances, in fact we’re only seeing a small part of the huge state of Alaska. Some places are inaccessible by roads, such as Juneau and Sitka, although you can reach them by ferry but that’s expensive for a big rig. And, of course, you can fly there or take a cruise ship. Other places are only accessible by air, such as Barrow and Nome (or dogsled if you’re into that mode of travel).
But the part that we are seeing is unmatched by any scenery I’ve seen anywhere else, including the Lower 48 (I’ve been to them all) plus Hawaii and several parts of Canada (I’ve been to 5 of the 10 provinces and 1 of the 3 territories). I’ve also seen parts of Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands (including the British ones), Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland and Italy. Most of those visits were for business reasons, so I didn’t have much time to play tourist, but I still saw parts of them, and I appreciate the unique scenery, culture and customs each has to offer to visitors.
By ‘unmatched’ I mean different and unusual. I’m not making a judgment call on which is more beautiful or interesting. For me, it’s all about the adventure in seeing new places and having new experiences.
Regarding bringing a big rig here versus a smaller one, there are lots of differing opinions. Our 36’ diesel pusher is also our full-time home, so it’s literally ‘all the comforts of home.’ We tow a Honda CR-V for running around town and for day trips. Pat and Jim, traveling with us, decided to leave their big rigs in storage and instead travel in Jim’s truck with a slide-in camper. They are more flexible in where they can park it, but they have to unhook from campground utilities to drive anywhere. The other four rigs in our group are two 43-foot and two 40-foot diesel pushers towing cars. One of them had only been on the road about 4 months before starting this trip. It still looks brand new.
So the bottom line is, Alaska isn’t for everyone! And isn’t it great that we’re all entitled to our own opinions, likes and dislikes, preferences and tolerance levels? It’s what makes us unique and interesting, sometimes also different and unusual, just like the places we’re touring!