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Old 09-06-2005, 12:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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What will I need for the ALCAN?

I'm getting ready for a long drive from Fairbanks, AK to Tucson, AZ. What kind of things will I need to have checked prior to leaving in January, and who can check for a decent price? I'm putting an auxilary fuel tank in the bed for the trip and extra CPS, maybe an extra tire. Those are things I figured were no brainers! Thanks for the guidance in advance.
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Old 09-06-2005, 02:32 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: What will I need for the ALCAN?

I drive most of this route in reverse each summer to my property on the Kenai Penninsula, and the following is what I have learned. There are far more cultural things to prepare for than mechanical ones if you want to have a pleasant experience. I suspect you have driven this route before, so I will state some things that are geared more for those who have never driven the route before.

First off, your safety is most important: Bring enough arctic gear in the winter that you can survive if you break down and are stuck for a day or so at -40 to -60! Also, for a mid winter trip, you've got to bring tire chains! Lastly, buy one of those cheap throw away bar-b-ques at walmart in case your truck freezes up out in the middle of nowhere. You can light it and slide it under the front end and throw a blanket over the hood to unfreeze everything.

The Canadians are neat, clean, tidy, wonderful people and I genuinely love them, but they are also quiet and don't appreciate the boisterousness of their loud mouthed, south-of-the-border, yahoo-red-neck, arrogant-republican-George-W.-Bush-voting cousins. I get chewed on by them about Bush and his policies every time I go to Canada. Don't argue with them. Tell them you didn't vote for him and you are really sorry for all the trouble he causes them. I'm serious. I don't care how you voted. This is a survival guide for a foreign country that is very angry with this one, like it or not, right or wrong.

Take $300 cash with you and not a cent more, and don't spend it. I've been hassled for taking only $100. The secret is to put EVERYTHING on your debit or credit card. You will get the best exchange rate through the banks that way instead of some overpriced SWAG from some local retailer.

The Alaska Highway (sorry, it's no longer the "Alcan") is not the nightmare of yesteryear. It's all paved. The twists and turns, ups and downs have been mostly removed over the years. If you watch to the sides, you can see where the old "highway" went back and forth. They churned up the asphalt and grass and trees grow where most of that road once was. Now, some stretches you could land a 747 on then take off again without turning around.

I personally wouldn't bother with the cost of an extra tank, but if you have one and it isn't going to cost you anything, might as well bring it. However, I don't know if they will give you trouble at the Canadian border because of it- Diesel there is spendy, but I don't know how it compares to ours with the last 2 months of price gouging. There are plenty of places to fill up, but not necessarily at night, which is when I like to drive.

Study your road map for getting from Bellingham, Washington to the border crossing at Sumas and vice-versa. Backroads farm country and easy to get lost. Going northbound, if you take I-5 clear to the border, you are adding 150 useless miles to your trip, and a very ugly and slow border crossing situation.

Do not show up at the Canadian border with a NRA sticker on your truck. If so, you will be unloading everything you own and reloading it for 6 or 8 hours to reprogram your thinking. Arguing will get you 20 years in the electric chair, so don't.

Drunk driving is a felony in Canada (and Alaska). If you have been convicted of DUI in the states, you have the equivilant of a Canadian felony conviction. You will NOT be allowed into thier nation, period. A conviction is apt to show up after the 2 seconds it takes for the computers to photo and process your license plate to announce who the registered owner is. Two months ago the border agent asked me out of the blue: So is this car registered to you? I have driven several other cars over the border, several different times, but that was the first time in that car. They have all that info right in front of them so don't even try to bluff them...They have zero sense of humor and are NOT negotiable.

US border guards are even worse, especially on the southern end. I've seen ALL cars headed for Vancouver, Canada being stopped by US border patrol and sniffed by the drug and bomb dogs 1/4 mile from Canada. That seems illegal to me- no reasonable cause- but I won't argue with a 9mm glock held by BDU Bob fresh out of the torture academy at Abu Graib. The US guys are downright unfriendly...and frighteningly intimidating.

You MUST have your proof of US citizenship to cross the border either direction. Birth certificate and a valid drivers license are the easiest to present. In 2007 you will be required to show a valid passport.

If you are bringing a dog, you MUST have proof of rabies shots to get from Canada to the US. I don't know about the other way around. No more than 2 cartons of cigarettes allowed across the border, and ciggys are really spendy in Canada. 15 years ago they were $40-$60 per carton. Booze- Don't take it across the border- I think you can only take 2 fifths and it's a big hassle anyway.

Do not take a firearm across the border. A handgun will land you in prison, and the "long rifle and shotgun" paperwork is at least 5 pages in triplicate and has to be mailed to Auto-Wah months in advance for approval. "Just passin' through" with a gun isn't going to get it. Seriously. It is MUCH easier to have your firearms shipped by airfreight to or from Fairbanks by a friend or relative when you get to your US destination. There is some easier way for those in transit, but I spent hours trying to find the info and they have intentionally hidden it very well, forcing you to call up voice messaging that rivals their web redirecting dead ends on the subject.

Speeding in Canada: The tolerance for speeding is different than in the states. I once was ordered to take my wife to lunch at Moxies Resturant in Prince George in lieu of a fine. I recommend it, by the way- That would get a cop fired here, yet in BC it gets you out from behind the wheel where you have been for too many hours. Their RCMP's are decent people without the "I'm the law here" attitude.

Watch your tranny temps if you are towing, and if you don't have a temp guage, install one before you leave. There are several long, steep pulls that will eat your tranny on that route if you don't have adequate tranny cooling. Speaking from $4,500 worth of experience. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/depressed.gif[/img]

One year ago yesterday, we drove through 6 hours of snow and 23 degrees F in the middle of the night and saw 2 other motorists and one hitch-hiker...200 elk and one grizzly. So you may or may not need chains. And be careful by driving only when you are alert! For those that don't know, a moose, which is dumber than a sheep with a low IQ can weigh 1,600 pounds and is just the right height for you to shear it's legs off and put it right straight through your windshield. They stand right in the middle of the road because it's convenient for them, especially in foul weather. There are wild horses, Buffalo, goats, sheep, deer, elk, cariboo, wolves, fox, and maybe even Girls Gone Wild on that highway at all hours. Only thing I haven't seen is the girls, darn it.

Whitehorse, Yukon Territories must be a leftover from the "cities of refuge" concept. Do NOT leave ANYTHING in you vehicle there overnight, period. You would be better off not staying in that town as far as I am concerned. In July I had to stay there to get some sleep and stayed in the only hotel that had a room available. Water pouring from someone's second floor bathroom into the lobby...for so long that nobody paid attention to it because it washed the vomit from the drunks out.

The Cassiar Highway is a much more scenic route- but it's slower in spite of it being 150 miles shorter, and partially unpaved. You break down out there and it may cost you a couple grand for a $50 part with installation. It happened to my neighbor one November 14 years ago when it was -40. I hope to drive it again when I am not in a hurry, durring the summer.

Another side trip that is incredible is the trip from Whitehorse to Dawson City, not to be confused with Dawson Creek, 1,000+ mile south east. It's where the gold rush started and you can drive up the gravel road to the creek itself to the exact spot where gold was discovered...and to a retired dredge that is enormous, and to a section of the creek where you can pan for gold. Don't plan on getting rich there. Active mining is miles further up. After spending a little time in Dawson Creek (the town), learning about prostitutes, madmen and how the Nordstrom family made their first fortune, you cross the yukon river and head for the "highway at the top of the world." If it's clear, it will change your life. I camped along the road and would love to again. Some stretches are unpaved for a few miles, but it is all good road, as was the Cassiar when I drove it 2 summers ago. Motorhomes can make it no problem. More gold country on that road and it eventually ends up back at the Alaska Highway in Alaska on the southern side of Tok. That gets you out of the northern most 100 miles of the highway in Canada which is terribly frost heaved. Speaking of which, in the frost heave areas, keep your speed down to no more than 50 mph or you will destroy your shocks and maybe more. I snapped a front sway bar end link from the frost heave bumps in that area that were about 12 inches tall.

A good spare tire is certainly a must. Last year we had 2 separate mishaps with our trailer and it cost me 4 tires and 2 wheels plus 2 days of travel time.

If you need parts, Dawson Creek, Whitehorse and Tok Junction are about your only really viable options between Fairbanks and Prince George. There are fairly good sized towns along the way, but they seldom will have what you need in stock. If you break down, Greyhound busses are all towing trailers that they haul freight in, and you can get what you need usually in a day or two for a price.

If I had a few bucks to spare and my engine was back in my Excursion, I would be heading that way as soon as I could get my trailer packed. I'm on strike so I have all the time in the world, but no money to go anywhere.

Plan on 5 days of driving between the US border to Alaska border. You might be longer or shorter depending on how you drive. I do it in lots less time than that, but that's me.

Have a great trip- anyone thinking about making that trip can PM me if you need any other info- I also posted some other info about the route in the rallys and events forum a couple weeks ago, I think it's called "alaska trip."
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Old 09-06-2005, 09:29 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: What will I need for the ALCAN?

Thanks Clam, I was thinking about doing the drive next year, but it sounds like the Canadians are almost hostile. Think I'll just fly to Alaska, rent a RV, tour locally, and fly out. No reason to support an economy of US haters.
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Old 09-06-2005, 11:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: What will I need for the ALCAN?

Spare fuel filter.
Anti-gel or 911 additive.
Spare CPS.
Spare serpentine belt.
Spare headlight bulb.
Jumpers.
Good tow/pull rope/strap.
Tools.

Check coolant for freeze-point, hoses, block heater, etc.
File a travel plan with a friend.
Emergency kit with sleeping bag, water, food, flares, flashlight, candles, shovel, etc.

A few comments.....I've been crossing the Alaska/Yukon border several times a year for at least 15 years. Relax and enjoy one of the most beautiful trips you'll ever have. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img]

Getting back into the U.S. is always much harder. That's where you'll want the proper identification and where you'll see the sniff dogs, etc.

IMO, most Americans have more of an attitude problem than most Canadians. If politics come up, I always humbly support my country and my president as a proud American. Canada has enough of their own problems and they're very unhappy with their own government. Plus they watch too much CNN. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img]

About the credit card....The conversion will be better than cash when you buy, but you'll get dinged with an out-of-country service fee. And if you plan on using it much, call the credit card company ahead of time and tell them. Otherwise when they see several out-of-country charges, they will put a "stop" on your card. If you want to save a buck, exchange your cash for the current rate at the bank. There's generally not a fee.

I've never had a problem bringing tobacco and alcohol through the border. Just make sure you only bring the allowed amounts, and tell the authorities that you have it (declare it).

I also bring firearms (shotgun/rifle) across the border without any problem. It's well worth having the gun for personal and wildlife protection. There's no pre-approval necessary. There's a small fee (about $25) and a form to fill out. The authorities will inspect your firearm(s) for barrel length and non-automatic mechanism. You can download the form off the internet and fill it out in advance, or have them send you one. This expedites the process. Handguns are a different story.

Have fun. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img]
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Old 09-06-2005, 11:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: What will I need for the ALCAN?

The drive is GREAT!! Just take your time. The road is tar and there is lots of diesel along the way. If you have not done the drive it is worth it.
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Old 09-07-2005, 12:09 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: What will I need for the ALCAN?

Gooch-

Thanks for clarifying and correcting what I posted. I don't want people to get the wrong information, and I also want them to realize that we are talking about a large and desolate foreign country that is obsessed with government...and half of them work for their government.

I've met gas station attendents there that know and understand political processes better than many political science majors here in the states. They are simply very well versed on the subject, even on our political quagmire. I've learned to just stay out of it as being the easy route for me. One of their opening lines to me was, "how come you guys elected that no-good so-and-so? Don't you know that every decision Washington DC makes directly affects us because like it or not, we're in your back pocket..." Yes, they hate their government, especially in B.C., and they love to engage in conversations about it. I'm just saying to be prepared to talk about it or don't talk about it.

I once met one of their MP's on the boat back from Nanimo and chatted with him for an hour. Nice guy, but a dedicated lifelong politician, and I personally have no use for any of them- ours or theirs.

As far as the rife and shot gun thing goes, I stand corrected. I must have just looked in the wrong place and called the wrong numbers. I agree with Gooch- I would feel much safer in some of those remote areas with a shotgun loaded with rotweill slugs and 0-0 buckshot, because grizzlys have zero sense of humor after age 3. Oh yeah, if you do take a weapon, do not put in your vehicle if it is loaded. I have been stopped at roadblocks where they checked every single vehicle for loaded weapons and permits and nothing else.

Back to the original post: Camera. It is the most beautiful drive you will ever make. Matches. Lots of strike anywhere matches. Also a tarp that's maybe 5x7 so you can crawl under your truck if need be without getting filthy or wet. A really good working flashlight with an extra bulb and an extra set of batteries. I assume that you already have a cover for your grill, but if not it's a good idea. These PSD's are awfully good at cooling but not so hot with heating.
Gloves that you can wear while installing tire chains. I'd also consider purging the fuel bowl before leaving and bringing an extra fuel filter in case you get some bad fuel. It's a long, long walk from Muncho lake to anywhere else in the universe. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif[/img] That was about were my wheel bearing started to squeel in my Mercedes and I had to drive hundreds of miles to get to where I could buy a new one in Whitehorse.
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Old 09-07-2005, 12:21 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: What will I need for the ALCAN?

[ QUOTE ]
Thanks Clam, I was thinking about doing the drive next year, but it sounds like the Canadians are almost hostile. Think I'll just fly to Alaska, rent a RV, tour locally, and fly out. No reason to support an economy of US haters.

[/ QUOTE ]

That's an option that lots of people do. Lots of Germans especially fly in to Anchorage and rent motorhomes.

The Canadians don't hate us, and they are definitely not hostile. However, they hate our government just like many others, almost as much as they hate their own and they enjoy conversations about it. That's different than most americans. Their citizens are really warm hearted and kind people, the vast majority of whom would give you their last dime if you needed it. Alaskans were like that for eons, but the constant influx of ill mannered tourists has definitely taken it's toll on their level of trust.

It's the border guards on BOTH sides of the border, particularly the southern end, that mean business. I'm just trying to say, "make sure you have your ducks in a row."
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Old 09-07-2005, 01:51 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: What will I need for the ALCAN?

Canadians are hostile??? Naw.... I just sound that way. I'm a *****cat in real life.

FWIW.... Canadians are offering up millions in Katrina relief.... How hostile is that?
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Old 09-07-2005, 09:01 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: What will I need for the ALCAN?

I'll respond to the Canada - BC portion of your trip. I have a seasonal residence in the Peace Region, 700 miles NE of the Washington border crossings. I'm 2 hours from Fort St John/Alaskan Highway.

Guns - as previously pointed out no handguns. As Gooch pointed out long guns are permissable. The paperwork is simple. I did it for 4-5 years. Its at least $50 now and could be $75 (Canadian). I now have a 5 year license to carry and purchase long guns. Go Here to download the form as a pdf. As Gooch pointed out do not have a loaded firearm in your vehicle. If you want more info use Google to find the Canaadian Firearm Center and brouse the bob-resident stuff.

Politics - yes Canadians can be opinionated about US policies - and their own. You should hear rural Canadians rant about their current gun laws or those that live in the praire provinces rant about Quebec. If you're dealing with a person in authority be it Customs or RCMP starting an argument over politics is just plain dumb.

The Border - I cross the border 8-12 times per year, often hauling a lot of stuff. The most maddening part is the inconsistencies from Canadian agent to agent. Most of the time they wave me through but once in a while they bring me in to show paperwork or fill out paperwork. Only once did I have the gun challanged. I had the proper papers and had to just bear with the guy for a while. One year they had my wife and I fill out 6 month immigration papers, then we went to renew them and the guy said "what to hell do you have these for?". Just be polite and go with the flow. I don't have issues with US customs except they are always backed up.

Do the drive - the scenery is great and bring that camera. I'd stay away from much night time driving because of the critters. I run a large set of 'Lightforce' lights as my moose spotters but have seen whata they do to the front of a superduty and its not pretty.

P.S. - If you drive up and bring a firearm declare it at the drive through station. They will give you a slip of paper to go inside. Don't go walking in with a gun under your arm - even if it's in a case. Also make sure the gun is trigger locked. Walk in, explain why you were sent in and ask the agent to come out to your vehicle to verify the firearm. If they insist you bring it in then do it. (This is the only time I came close to arguing with an agent)

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Old 09-07-2005, 11:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: What will I need for the ALCAN?

[ QUOTE ]
Its at least $50 now and could be $75 (Canadian).

[/ QUOTE ]

Believe it or not Canada recently reduced the non-resident firearm declaration fee to $25 (Canadian funds). The declaration is good for 60 days and good for any number of firearms. You can renew it for free. If you fill out the forms in advance like I do, don't forget to leave your signature blank....you have to sign it in front of the Custom's Officer. BTW, you'll need your copy of the declaration if you plan on purchasing ammo, otherwise no ammo.

Another thing you might want to know...if you're traveling with kids, be prepared to show that they are yours. Make sure they are awake at the crossing. The Custom's Officer always asks my kids if we are their parents.

Since you're traveling in January, don't forget a long extention cord for your block heater! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img]
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Old 09-07-2005, 12:39 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: What will I need for the ALCAN?

I'll just add one tidbit to to what Gooch and Clamgulch said. We were in a motorhome headed north out of CacheCreek and were stopped at a RCMP roadblock. My wife had just gotten up to do something when I came around a corner and there it was. Anyway, I had my seatbelt on and obviously my wife didn't. The officer very politely asked me that when my wife sat back down would she put her seatbelt on? I politely answered "yes sir she would". He thanked me and sent me on my way. It may have been that they had just passed a seatbelt law as this was a few years back.
Also I don't travel without being armed. As stated you CANNOT take a handgun into Canada. I took one of my shotguns. They asked why, I said on my way back home I was going to bird hunt in eastern Washington. They were OK with that.
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Old 09-07-2005, 01:09 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: What will I need for the ALCAN?

a few things that came in handy for my Alcan/Inuvik trip...

Spare Snowplow light assembly for if a rock takes out a stock light.

Also I would put some chicken wire/some sort of radiator/trans cooler guard. for rocks.

Several spare tires.
And an oil change setup with bucket if you're religious about the 3000mi oilchange interval.

This is a fun trip take your time and ENJOY!!! take lots of film, you'll use it!
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Old 09-07-2005, 02:56 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: What will I need for the ALCAN?

Are you going to DM? I'm assuming by your username that you work ammo, I'm AGE. I haven't made that trip, but I did drive from Tucson to Vermont going thru Canada. We had our two dogs with us and they didn't make much of deal about the shots at the border. I would bring some no-doz and a lot of caffine. On that trip I did about 6000 miles round trip and didn't have a single problem with the truck. I think your route will be a little austere though. Have a good trip.
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Old 09-07-2005, 04:27 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: What will I need for the ALCAN?

[ QUOTE ]
What kind of things will I need to have checked prior to leaving in January

[/ QUOTE ]

Don't forget to print this out http://www.thedieselstop.com/faq/9497faq/registry/
It's a copy of our dieselstop help list. Just print out the names in the states you will be traveling through just incase [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img].
Have fun
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Old 09-07-2005, 05:09 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: What will I need for the ALCAN?

Wow!!! I really appriciate it guys, I know it is a really long trip and was kinda concerned about it, and with that comes a lot of questions you know. Buy you guys answered every imaginable question. From what I hear they keep the roads pretty clear. But at what point will I get out of the negative temps? Also if anyone else is planning this trip, buy a milepost from walmart, sams, etc. It has everything in it about the trip, every store along the way, info about the different town and so on. I just bought mine and I trust it will help.

I mentioned taking an auxilary tank with me, would they give me a hard time about that at the boarder, if so I won't go with and will just have to deal with stopping every 7 hours to get fuel.

And yeup!! Agetroop I'm going to DM, I had a house built there and it has been done since Feb. Its got a 2 car garage, but I have a dually, so that means the wifes riceburnner is in the drive way, and she is gonna be lucky to have that!!
__________________
New Truck: 2003 6.0L Dark Red F-350 Crew Cab Lariat FX4 Dually. Innovative Diesel Tuned SCT Xcal 2, Installed red lights inside cab and amber lights inside wheel wells (cool look). 5" Stacks Blowin' Black and the good ol' Train Horns!! More to add.

OLD TRUCK: 2000 F-350 DRW, 6-Speed tranny, 4 pos DP tuner, 10k mod, K&N FIPK system ---TOTALED by a snowbird motorhome!
http://community.webshots.com/user/ammo22100
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