Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 08-17-2008, 02:42 AM   #1
Senior Member
 
twolost's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: WA (USA)
Posts: 409
Garage
TWOLOST: Alaska 2008 (trip report)


This thread summarizes a 37 day trip to Alaska that my wife and I took this past summer (July, 2008).



SMB Fully Loaded (as measured on truck scale):
Front: 4497 lbs (2040 Kg)
Rear: 7672 lbs (3480 Kg)
Total: 12,169 lbs (5520 Kg)




** UPDATED **


Route:




Diesel Fuel Data:




Milage Graph:





Note(s) about the above data:

The additional 1,000+ miles we coverved from the 'Planned Travel Miles' was due to the many excursions we made from point-to-point. We also went out exploring on a number of occassions where our planned travel miles had been estimated to be zero.



About the Fuel Milage spikes (18+mpg) above. Please note that 18mpg is not realistic for my van. As you can see by the data, the next mpg data that follows any 18+ mpg value is significantly smaller (7mpg). The average of these two data points makes more sense. Also, note that we used our diesel generator a number of times overnight. This reduced the overall mpg average of the trip.




Cheers,
---TWOLOST---


__________________

twolost is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2008, 02:51 AM   #2
Senior Member
 
twolost's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: WA (USA)
Posts: 409
Garage

Date (day): June, 28 (Day 1)

Source: North Bend, WA (home)

Destination: Quesnel B.C. (hotel)

Travel Miles: 505

Bug Activity (mosquitoes, etc...): None to speak of.

Deviation from plan: Departure day has already slipped one day as I was still thrashing on several of my homemade van projects. We would make up the time by driving to our day two destination on this - our first day of travel.

Moment(s): While driving the van up to our front porch to finish loading before departure, I successfully backed into the one and only tree that is near our house. I was focused on not running into the porch itself and forgot just how long the van was with the added spare tire on the rear. My wife gave me grief (teased me) about this for the remainder of the day. I did not back into another thing for the remainder of our trip.

Takeaway(s): Never let your wife see you back into a tree in your own yard ten minutes before you leave on the trip of your life.

Sportsmobile Note(s): With the outside temps reaching up to 102 degrees (F) as we drove up the long steep grades of the Fraser River Canyon - we were both glad that we had added Sportsmobiles StarCool option (full cabin air conditioning) to our specific build. Truth is that we only used this feature during the first days of our trip and then the outside temps cooled enough where there was really no need to use it any longer. Sure made those first few days of driving more comfortable, though.



Our Sportsmobile sitting in our front yard during a final accessory test fit session:




We stopped along the Fraser River Canyon (driving north on TC-1) to stretch our legs and re-check all of the one-off stuff I built and hung off of our van.




On our first day from home, the outside temps climbed past 100 degrees (F) by 3:00pm as we climbed up the Fraser River Canyon.




Quesnel, destination day 01.


__________________

twolost is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2008, 03:10 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
twolost's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: WA (USA)
Posts: 409
Garage

Date (day): June, 29 (Day 2)

Source: Quesnel B.C. (hotel)

Destination: Stewart B.C. (Inn)

Travel Miles: 505

Bug Activity: Salmon Glacier - high.

Deviation from plan: Upon arriving in Stewart/Hyder, we drove the additional 20 off-road miles up to Salmon Glacier. Turns out, the main glacier viewpoint (a mile away or so from where we stopped) was still buried under four feet of snow. For fun, we tractored through the light stuff for a few hundred yards... but with a narrow road and a sheer drop-off on one side, we thought better of trying to go any further.

Moment(s): Turning around on a narrow snow covered road by creeping back and forth a couple feet at a time with an abyss (beautiful as it was) just a few feet in front of me was enough to get my complete and undivided attention.

Takeaway(s): Don't wear wet, snow covered, boots when attempting the above. This will make the brake pedal slick as...

Sportsmobile Note(s): After running our first off-road section of the trip (with lots of sharp golf-ball sized rocks) - I was very glad that I had installed a higher rated and more aggressive set of tires on our van prior to the start of our trip. We did not suffer a single puncture or tire related problem the entire trip... and we covered some pretty rough and chewed-up terrain.



Bear Glacier, Stewart B.C.



Stewart B.C.



We stayed at the Ripley Creek Inn while in Stewart B.C. Here is in the common sitting area:



Ripley Creek Inn; room accommodations.



Ripley Creek Inn; here is the deck off of our room overlooking our van.



Crossing the dividing line between Canada and the U.S. @ Hyder, Alaska.



On the way out to Salmon Glacier.



Inhibited from pushing the remaining mile to the main Salmon Glacier lookout due to the depth of the snow... and the height of the cliff.



twolost is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2008, 03:24 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
twolost's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: WA (USA)
Posts: 409
Garage

Date (day): June, 30 (Day 3)

Source: Stewart B.C. (Inn)

Destination: Same

Travel Miles: 0 (pre-planned layover day)

Bug Activity: high.

Deviation from plan: None.

Moment(s): With a free day on our hands we decided to go out and explore the surrounding area. At one point we attempted to follow a jeep trail up to a lake (presumably), but we were hindered by the fact that our vans departure angle out of one of the creek crossings was too great for my added spare tire carrier and under-floor generator. Leaving the creek bed alone and intact was more important to us than forging ahead - so we ended our excursion here and found a few other less aggressive trails to explore instead.

Takeaway(s): It was absolutely awesome to have 'time' to actually explore the surrounding area (even if only for an extra day). We had traveled up here on motorcycles in 2006 and due to our tight travel schedule we did not get the chance to just see what was down this path or that path. We had no time to let curiosity take over and lead us down some random spur road or goat trail - for no other reason than to just see what was at the end. We built a few 'extra' days into this trip (primarily as a safety buffer) and we were fortunate enough to cash them in for play rather than to handle an unexpected emergency. Both Alaska and the Yukon have hundreds upon hundreds of 'random' trails that just lead off the main highway for no apparent reason. Many of the richest experiences we had on this trip was taking the time to follow some of these off-shoot trails - just because we were curious.

Sportsmobile Note(s): The backup camera was a nice aide in backing down this long stretch of steep narrow and winding jeep trail... at the same time it did not prevent me from backing into the only tree in my front yard on day one).



Out exploring trails and roads that were not on the map.



Rear mounted generator and additional spare tire carrier were not going to make this creek crossing without a fight. We chose not to fight and backed out peacefully.






In our specific case, other than some occasional interference in the back, there are not many places this rig simply wont go.


twolost is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2008, 03:35 AM   #5
Senior Member
 
twolost's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: WA (USA)
Posts: 409
Garage

Date (day): July, 01 (Day 4)

Source: Stewart B.C. (Inn)

Destination: Nugget City (RV Park)

Travel Miles: 404

Bug Activity: high.

Deviation from plan: We had planned to simply stay in a 'dry' no accommodations campsite. However, after being directed to an open field of sand, in direct sunlight (90+ degrees F outside), and next to a dump area... we upgraded to a 30amp site in the trees (what little trees were available).

Moment(s): I attempted to use my credit/debit card to pay for fuel in Dease Lake, YT. Gal behind the counter said that my card had come back 'rejected'. Luckily, I just happened to have enough US cash to pay this fuel bill. However, I was now out of cash with this unexpected surprise and was in jeopardy of not being able to contact my financial institution by conventional means before I needed to pay for fuel again. I found a clearing on-top of a ridge and deployed our newly acquired satellite phone. As it has been a while since we tested it in our front yard, it took us a few times to successfully connect. Mosquitoes were in full attack mode. Phone would stay connected... but reception would fade in and out. I explained to the lady on other end of the phone my situation and she confirmed that my account had been blocked due to a previous fuel purchase in Canada. She then went on to reprimand me for not informing my bank of my intention to travel out of the US and she said that I had to speak with a security officer first before my account could be unblocked. None of this has ever happened to us before and we have made several trips to Canada in the past year. Waiting on hold with a fluctuating connection, getting dive bombed by blood sucking P-51's, burning what little pre-paid SAT phone minutes I had, and getting a lecture from someone who was denying me access to 'my' money was really pushing my patience. Finally, security dude comes on the phone, asks me a few questions about a Canadian fuel purchase and then after 25 minutes agrees to finally unblock my account. By the time this was over, some of the mosquitoes were so full they were unable fly any longer.

Takeaway(s): Call bank and confirm any out of US trips before leaving the US. SAT phone was very expensive... but it saved my backside (on only the fourth day of our trip).

Sportsmobile Note(s): Nugget City was the first place we ever used 'shore power' connected to our SMB and all of these systems just seemed to work as expected.



Heading up Hwy 37 toward Nugget City, YT.




Here is our 'upgraded' campsite with electrical hookups at the Baby Nugget RV Park (Nugget City, YT). The bugs here were some of the worst (most numerous) on our entire trip.



twolost is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2008, 03:55 AM   #6
Senior Member
 
twolost's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: WA (USA)
Posts: 409
Garage

Date (day): July, 02 (Day 5)

Source: Nugget City (RV Park)

Destination: Carmacks (RV Park)

Travel Miles: 365 (along the mostly unpaved Robert Campbell Hwy)

Bug Activity: high.

Deviation from plan: None.

Moment(s): Descending one specific paved and un-flagged section of the Robert Campbell Hwy, I had a lapse of concentration and we hit a sizable dip in the road. This dip had a few friends on the far side as well. By the time I spotted the main dip, it was too late to do anything other than ride it out (at about 45mph). The front end dropped into the wallow and we attained max compression. A microsecond later, we attainted maximum rebound as the front end left the ground. When the front end returned to the earth, it then followed the second and third dips as well. The result of each subsequent dip was less dramatic than the first... but they extended the time we were flopping about in the van. Once all of the commotion stopped, I pulled over to the side of the road and checked the front and rear axles. Everything looked fine and I could not visibly see where we hit the rubber bump stops. The air bags in the back were still inflated and not leaking. The one casualty was the Aluminess rear bumper. The bracket on the bumper that mates with the latch on the swing out holding my spare tire was basically ripped off. The latch holding my rear box was still intact. Fortunately, I had a homemade pin that fixed/connected the two swingouts together that I had fabricated and installed before we started this vacation, so there was no danger of having the rear tire swing out while driving on from here. However, this incident was just the beginning of more problems with these rear latches.

Takeaway(s): For the majority of our trip north of Hyder AK, the dirt roads were in far better condition than the paved roads in terms of encountering obstacles that had the potential to do real damage. Also, I did not have the time to add the Aluminess fix to the rear bumper latches before I left on my trip. I should have either made the time or put a hack in place as a temporary solution until I got back. I knew this was a weak link (as it has been discussed on the forum as well as email lists) and my lack of preparation here came back to bite me.

Sportsmobile Note(s): With this portion of the trip being unpaved (for the most part), we were able to see just how much dust entered the interior in every conceivable location. It came in the seal around the back doors, came in the seal around the side doors, came in the engine cowl, came in the doghouse, came in under the floor, etc and so forth. At the end of the day, the inside of our van was absolutely 'covered' in dust (you could visibly see the dust floating around inside the van just like a heavy fog).



Quick stop at the Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake, YT




Robert Campbell Hwy (blissfully empty for most of 300+ miles). And you will need an SMB with digger tires or something similar if you plan to enter from the Watson Lake side (due to the very soft/deep/sandy road surface being prepped for repair).






No rain... and the dust we kicked up was brutal (entered into the cabin from just about everywhere).




Our RV Park destination in Carmaks, YT.


twolost is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2008, 04:14 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
twolost's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: WA (USA)
Posts: 409
Garage

Date (day): July, 03 (Day 6)

Source: Carmacks (RV Park)

Destination: Dawson City (Bonanza Gold Motel)

Travel Miles: 222

Bug Activity: medium.

Deviation from plan: None.

Moment(s): It is common for my wife and I make a bathroom stop sometime during the course of the night. As we did not get bathroom accommodations installed in our van, we rely on the facilities (if available) where we stay overnight. It was roughly 2:00am when nature called on this specific night. We each got up, got dressed, and then that is when all of the commotion started. Turns out the campsites bathroom was very close to a bar (which had apparently just closed). That left a number of pretty toasted folks outside milling about looking for people to verbally spar with. Not really wanting to engage in deep discussions at 2:00am with the local spelling-B champions, my wife and I waited for the right moment and then made a stealthy 007 style break for the head. It was still light out at this time. Using the shadow of some leftover construction equipment, both of us successfully made it out and back without being noticed. How do you spell RELIEF?

Takeaway(s): Remember to disconnect 'shore power' before driving off. Fortunately, we never had a problem with remembering... but I can definitely see where this would be something that would be easy to forget (especially, if there are multiple drivers). A mis-queue would be so easy in fact, that I think that I am going to make some sort of sign to hang over the steering wheel while I am connected- just as a reminder.

Sportsmobile Note(s): I think that we had found the weight limit for what we could put on our roof and still use the electric top lift. With the Jerry Can holder that I built - in addition to all of the other doo-dads that I had up on my roof, the top would just barely go up. Once up, the loads on the top made it unstable and it groaned profusely in even the lightest cross wind. As such, I took this fuel apparatus down off the roof (80 lbs) and installed it in the front hitch receiver (where it was designed to go once we started up the Dalton Hwy). I figured I would catch some flack by having this hanging off of the front end while in the cities of Anchorage or Fairbanks... but it never raised as much as an eyebrow. As such, the fuel cans remained out front for the remainder of our trip. With all of the other junk I have on my top (Pull-Pal, 2 x Kyocera solar panels, the roof rack, the lights, and a 60" High-Lift jack) the top still resists a little… but it is now far less wobbly with the Jerry Can holder removed.



On the way up Hwy 2 (Klondike Hwy) toward Dawson City, YT.




Entering Dawson City, YT



Our motel for the evening. Spent some time cleaning up our van here as well.



Front Street, Dawson City, YT. We ate a picnic lunch on the bank of the Yukon River.



View of Yukon River from the lookout at the top of ‘Dome Road’.




Heading back down a reasonably steep fire lookout tower access road. No tour busses up here.



twolost is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2008, 12:25 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
twolost's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: WA (USA)
Posts: 409
Garage


Date (day): July, 04 (Day 7)

Source: Dawson City (Bonanza Gold Motel)

Destination: Tok Alaska (Tok RV Village, RV Park)

Travel Miles: 185

Bug Activity: minimal.

Deviation from plan: None. We were up and out of our room before 5:00am and were the first vehicle in-line waiting for the ferry to shuttle us across the Yukon River (to the 'Top Of The World Highway' side). We had to wait less than 30 minutes before the ferry came over from the far side of the river bank (empty) and picked us up - just us. We were informed that we were being given the early bird award today. With nobody on our tail, we had the Top Of The World Highway to ourselves - Perfect!! We encountered zero other moving vehicles up until the border crossing with the US (and even then, there was only one fuel truck in front of us - temporarily).

Moment(s): We had stopped in the town of Chicken Alaska to eat a picnic lunch and check out some of the old machinery (dredge, carts, etc...) that were scattered about the town. Not two miles down the road (after leaving the town), another vehicle showed up behind me going much faster. I spotted what seemed to be a wide spot in the road (extra half a car width) at the bottom of small grade so I put my right turn signal on and started to drift over to the side of the road to let them by. As I got closer and closer to the far outside edge of the road (slowing down moderately from 40 mph), the more the right side of the van would sink into the progressively softer and softer soil. I turned the wheel hard to the left, but the van had a mind of its own. Coming to a stop was soft and uneventful. Problem was that half of the van was now up past the fender wells in swamp mud and the other half was still on the hard packed roadway. I jumped out, locked the hubs (I had to dig out the hub on the low side), threw every 4x4 trick I had at it, and we did not move an inch. Mud was packed up above the front axle and the swamp had us in a death grip. I thought about using my Pul-Pal and winch, but I would have had to string the winch cable across the road in order for it to be of any real use (super dangerous). Even though there was very little traffic, I did not want to turn my small problem into someone else's big problem. As luck would have it, two fuel haulers showed up 10 minutes later. One pulled in at an angle in front of me and the other pulled in at an angle behind (blocking any potential oncoming traffic in either direction). The truck in front hooked up a chain to the d-ring on the front left side of our Aluminess bumper and with very little effort - set us free. At least we now know that the bumper is good for more than a table top. The driver said that this happens all of the time and that we were the fifth vehicle to get stuck in this same spot this past week, nice rig, and have a great vacation. Huge thanks go out to the guys in the trucks that helped us out here. And for the record, lesson learned. I did not get us stuck at any time for the remainder of our trip.

Takeaway(s): Slow down (way down) on the main road surface before attempting to use the side of the road as a pull over spot. Also, my tow strap was located in my rear outside box. Unfortunately, this tow strap had fallen back down behind a box of tools that I had in there as well - which made accessing it in a pinch like this a real job. Tow strap is now inside the van behind the drivers seat, where I can get quick, guaranteed, and unhindered access to it when I need it. Lastly, the bolts that go through my d-rings had not been lubricated/coated with anti-seize since I purchased the van. As such, they were each frozen solid due to oxidation and there was no way for me to spin them loose out in the bush. Being able to actually remove a d-ring bolts now goes on my list of things to check before starting any new adventure.

Sportsmobile Note(s): I was certain that hooking a chain up to one d-ring on the front bumper of our stuck van was going to result in my bumper being dragged behind the fuel truck - while the van remained - stuck. To my surprise, everything held together. The bumper itself was not damaged in any way nor did not come out of alignment with the rest of the vehicle. This accessory really worked when we needed it.



Yukon River Ferry ride over to the Top Of The World Highway.



Alone, fourth of July, great weather, Top Of The World Highway.






USA/CAN Border outpost, Top Of The World Highway.



Now back on US soil, Top Of The World Highway.



Chicken, Alaska



Checked out the "Pedro Gold Dredge" here in Chicken, Alaska.



Our van, shortly after it got pulled out of the boggy swamp.



Camping destination for the evening, Tok RV Village, Tok Alaska.


twolost is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2008, 04:08 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Helena, Montana
Posts: 613
Wonderful trip report Twolost! Brings back memories of our first Yukon expedition in 1997, especially the bugs!

How was the RV traffic this summer on the routes you took? In 1997, our Dodge Dakota pickup was probably the smallest camping vehicle we saw on the entire trip. My personal favorites were the ultra large Empress Class As and the appropriately named INTRUDERS. Both resembled cruise ships more than road vehicles.
__________________
2006 Baja Tan SMB 4X4 EB50 PH 6LPSD
Mohawk Royalex Solo 14 foot canoe (light white-water)
Mad River Kevlar Explorer 17 foot canoe (flat water)
Dagger Royalex Legend 16 foot canoe (white-water)
Maravia New Wave 13.5 foot raft (fishing and white-water)
Ed in Montana is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2008, 05:01 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Pasadena, CA
Posts: 785
Thanks for putting the time into such a well done trip report. I've enjoyed it quite a bit.
Rob
__________________

__________________
2006 SMB 4x4, EB-51, 6.0psd
EMrider is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3
Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Sportsmobile SIP or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:40 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.