We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

One week to go!

Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
5,630 posts
16 reviews
Save Topic
One week to go!

In exactly one week, my wife and I will begin our Alaskan adventure. We are so excited about this trip, and looking forward to visiting a real "Winter Wonderland". We've been planning and preparing for this for over six months, and it's hard to believe that it's almost here. In case anyone is interested, this is the final itinerary:

12/25 - Fly from ATL -> SEA, stay overnight in Seattle

12/26 - Early AM flight to ANC, pick up rental car, drive to Seward, overnight at Hotel Seward (planning to tour SeaLife Center if we get there early enough).

12/27 - Seavey's dogsled tour to Exit Glacier, drive to Anchorage, stay overnight.

12/28 - Rust's Flightseeing to Denali (weather permitting) or museum tours if not. Afternoon flight to BRW, stay overnight for Christmas Games.

12/29 - "Day" tour of Barrow, evening flight to FAI, pick up rental car. Overnight at Aurora Borealis Lodge.

12/30 - Drive to Denali for the day. Overnight at ABL.

12/31 - Sightseeing in Fairbanks and North Pole, drive to Chena Hot Springs Resort, stay overnight.

1/1 - More sightseeing in Fairbanks and North Pole, overnight flight to SEA.

1/2 - Day tour of Seattle Center, fly back to Atlanta.

These are the "big" activities - there are a number of smaller things that we will fill in with (or not!) if there is time.

Many thanks to all the folks on TA who have offered advice and encouragement. I doubt we could have planned this without it. If anyone is inclined to meet us somewhere for a cup of coffee during the trip, then please let me know.

Hard to believe we'll be there in a week!

-JimG

Gold Daughters Alaska
Speciality Museums, Game & Entertainment Centres
Alaska 360
Game & Entertainment Centres, Beer Tastings & Tours
Lake Spenard
Playgrounds, Parks, Bodies of Water
Bristol, Connecticut
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
4,647 posts
27 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: One week to go!

One word of caution, the south central area has had snow and heavy winds for the last few weeks and this can lead to avalanche conditions. They take great care and are always on the road clearing snow and shooting down the dangerous areas but be prepared for delays. When they are clearing you may be delayed for a couple hours if there is a large slide you may be stranded on one side or the other. Just have food, a full tank of gas and warm clothes and you will be fine. They (police/road crew) will also watch after you if you are delayed between towns. I am not trying to worry you I just don't want you to be surprised.

The areas between Anchorage and Portage and just north of Seward on the Seward Highway are the areas to watch out for the delays.

Have a great trip!

Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
5,630 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: One week to go!

Thanks, spacefry - I have been keeping an eye on the weather and forecasts, and we will just deal with it as it comes (not much else to do!). We are allowing about 5-6 hours to drive from Anchorage to Seward (and will be driving the section from Girdwood during daylight hours), so hopefully that will be enough time to take things slow and allow for delays.

We have many years experience in the outdoors (camping, backpacking), and some experience driving in remote areas, so know most of the standard precautions to take about gas and food. I was actually planning to start an "emergency road supplies" thread in a day or two, to get some ideas on what sorts of things to pack for unexpected delays. We are basically prepared to spend the night in the car if it becomes necessary, and will have plenty of warm clothing in the event that that happens.

We're not really "worried" per se, but do plan to be cautious and not try to hurry too much.

-JimG

Las Vegas, Nevada
Level Contributor
3,803 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: One week to go!

Have a wonderful trip! Can't wait to read about it when you return.

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Level Contributor
41,434 posts
44 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: One week to go!

Been having a Chinook for the past week, but today temps are supposed to be dropping back down to a more normal level. Happy travels!! :)

Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
5,630 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: One week to go!

Yes, I have been noticing that. It would be kind of disappointing if we went all the way up there with all our cold weather gear and had temps similar to what we have here in Atlanta. :-)

-JimG

Fairbanks, Alaska
Level Contributor
1,526 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: One week to go!

Roads have a nice layer of ice on them for you here in Fairbanks. Now we are throwing more snow on the roads to cover the ice up.

Manitoba, Canada
Level Contributor
6,894 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: One week to go!

"I was actually planning to start an "emergency road supplies" thread in a day or two, to get some ideas on what sorts of things to pack for unexpected delays"

This is a good site to get you started: getprepared.gc.ca/prod/tp/tp201012-eng.aspx

You can also type "winter driving" (use the quote marks) in the Search box just above the forum to find previous threads about that topic. Lots of good info.

The 2 most important things if you get stuck in a blizzard: keep warm, and do NOT leave the car to go for help. People die every year from hypothermia.... So stay in the car (except to shovel snow away from the exhaust if necessary). Search crews will be out looking for stranded cars as soon as humanly possible.

Oh, and on a more delicate matter...if you are stuck in a white-out blizzard and need to use the "bathroom facilities" (ie, nearest snowdrift), tie one end of a length of cord (say 25 feet) to the car door, and the other tie around your waist. You can literally lose your way only 6 feet from the car in a white out....

Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
5,630 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: One week to go!

You guys are not exactly instillng confidence with these condition reports. I may have to take back the part about "encouragement". :-)

-JimG

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Level Contributor
41,434 posts
44 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: One week to go!

Let's see - friend just drove from Healy to Fbks - slick conditions, had to drive slow . . . around 50. Temps are dropping, which improves the road condition. I did hear that south of the Park/Cantwell, they got 20"+ of fresh snow, but I don't think you are driving that way, so you should be fine. Just take your time and you'll be fine. :)

Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
5,630 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: One week to go!

coalminer, I doubt seriously that I would be comfortable driving anywhere close to 50 (unless you meant kph :-). I just hope there are plenty of passing lanes or pullouts so the slowpokes like me can get out of the way of the faster drivers. I do agree that lower temps are probably better overall for road conditions. And you are correct that we are not planning to drive as far south as Cantwell - pretty much Fairbanks to Denali for a few hours (Murie Center and surrounding area) and then straight back.

Manitoba_Maple, that's a pretty good website with some good suggestions. Most of those are "common sense" (or should be!), but I did have questions about a couple of things.

We are planning to stop in Anchorage (and again in Fairbanks) to pick up emergency car supplies for the driving - probably at a Walmart or something similar. Is it common for rental cars in Alaska to come equipped with things like snow and ice scrapers and jumper cables? Most rental agencies in the lower 48 do not supply those, but it seems like conditions in Alaska would almost mandate having them. I usually just budget for buying stuff like that (as a sunk cost) at the start of the trip if I am planning to be somewhere remote.

Also, I am assuming the vehicle in Fairbanks will come with an electrical connector for the block heater (I believe the common name for this is a "blue cable"). Are the ones that are supplied with the vehicles usually long enough to reach most outlets, or should I plan to buy an extra outdoor-rated extension cord?

Again, I am less concerned about the expense than I am about having the right emergency gear. It won't matter how much it costs if we need it and don't have it!

-JimG