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  Subject Author Date Posted Forum
RE: DISCUSSION: 8 ft + crew cab vs. SUV

"My other idea is to put a basic camper-top/cap on the truck and SOMETIMES use it for QUICK, solo camping trips. I don't need to discuss 4WD...do most of us NEED it? Probably not." I live in Alaska where I truly need 4WD every so often (probably need 10x per year, convenient much more than that) and I won't drive a vehicle up here w/o 4WD. When I lived in Ewe-stun, decided that I didn't need a 4WD F350, so got a 2WD F350. Some years later, at selling time, even the Ewe-Stun market dinged it for being only 2WD...and I managed to get stuck (spin-out, not buried) on wet grass (FL, AL, and MS) at least 3 times in the years that I owned it and camped (5th Wheel) with it. Caps: Main reason my pickups have a cap is for (relatively) dry storage of the gear I carry. Caps rule out sno-go, SxS, or other bulky item transport...but that's what trailers are for. I've used the cap more than once when my "I'm a tough Alaska guy, I can camp in a tent" opinion got hammered by hard rain :(, but it's mostly so that I can carry stuff without having to worry about it being soaked or buried in snow or covered in dirt.....the bed stuff still gets dusty if it sits there for a while.
PA12DRVR 01/25/23 09:34am Tow Vehicles
RE: DISCUSSION: 8 ft + crew cab vs. SUV

Over the 40+ years since I've been driving, I've had 1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton trucks and 1/2 and 3/4 ton Suburbans as well as a 1/2 ton Toyota Sequoia. I currently have 2 each 3/4 ton pickups with caps on them, 6.5' bed; an '09 Chebby and a 2019 F250. I tow a variety of non-RV bumper pull stuff. The 5th wheel days are behind me. Were I to start again with the proverbial magic wand: Single Rear Wheel 350 / 3500 Pickup with a Cap, 4WD, most likely diesel, 8' bed; game time decision of either a bed slider or a "Decked" setup. I won't spend the money to replace what I have, but in this ideal world, the 350 / 3500 and the 8' bed provide convenience and capacity disproportional to the cost. In my experience, the extra length of 8' vs. 6.5' doesn't make it any more difficult to park. Loved my 3/4 ton 'burb, but in the end, I "need" to haul fuel cans and other "stuff" that just doesn't work in enclosed, nice environment.
PA12DRVR 01/23/23 10:27am Tow Vehicles
RE: RVIA Certificate?

"Another case of why are you asking us schleps on the internet and not just doing the logical thing…." ^^^ That....but since I'm adding my schleppy $0.02: The rule is that an RVIA # is required, not if RVIA is valid, worthwhile, the same as USF or NFPA, or makes sense. If the park requires an RVIA #, either don't go (because you don't comply) or call and explain the situation and see if they'll give you an OK / waiver over the phone. The value or legitimacy of an RVIA # is not the issue; the issue is that the Park has a rule...either comply with it or seek their waiver.
PA12DRVR 01/19/23 09:50am General RVing Issues
RE: Rivian R1S

"I have read many Canadian gasoline stations also close in the winter if traveling to/from AK. Am I wrong?" I made my 1st winter trip on the Alcan going from Los Anchorage to Seattle area in 1972....I had only a learner's permit at the time and was on the trip with my uncle's foreman to help get hay and a trailer from Seattle and return. I would estimate that at that time 75% of the roadhouse stations through YT/BC outside of identified cities were closed in (IIRC) January...part of that was that there were a LOT more places 50 years ago and the winnowing effect was taking place. A colleague (admittedly not my direct experience) made the trip North from Seattle this year leaving on 2-Jan, getting here about a week ago. He reported that he had no problem finding stations to keep his 30+ gallon diesel tank at 1/2 or higher. He never had to get into the 20 gallons of spare diesel cans in the back of his pickup. ....which is a key point on this rambling message. Until my latest trip (3 years ago, helping someone relocate from Ewe-Stun), in 20+ trips since that '72 trip, I've always made a point to carry at least 10 gallons of fuel for any trip outside of the May - August window. That gave me anywhere between 150 and 220 miles of "Oh ****, I'm getting low" problem solving. I'm not sure what the mitigation is if one's pure EV lasts shorter than expected in cold weather. ...and again, I'll admit to a morbid fascination of "what can go wrong", but I'm unwilling to take the drive, at any time between October and April which is winter driving with all the risk that entails, between Los Anchorage and Glennallen even though the mileage looks to be within the range of an EV and even though there might (probably?) be charging stations in Glennallen.
PA12DRVR 01/16/23 05:43pm Tow Vehicles
RE: Rivian R1S

...and there are (based on rough quick look) about 30 charging stations in Alaska. Just as a for-instance, there are 3 locations (depending how one counts "location" and there are more than 3 stations) between Los Anchorage and Valdez. Anchorage lists 8 charging stations but once outside of the core area: One of the other charging locations is at a local chain grocery store and has been blocked off twice in the past 3 weeks...presumably due to cold, although at the then -15 F, it wasn't that cold. Two of the other locations include a private campground (closed for the winter) and a public (State of Alaska DNR) campground and conference facility, also closed for the winter. There are probably others, but I would not choose to take a 180 mile drive (Anchorage to Glennallen) without the ability to "charge up" nor the additional 120 miles to valdez with no ability to "charge up" on that leg until reaching Valdez. Again, if I were to spend $100,000 or so on a summer-only vehicle, I'd probably be looking at something different. FWIW, there's an identifiable segment of Los Anchorage drivers that do the commute in their Teslas....although strangely enough over the past two weeks (when we had a bit of below zero weather), the Teslas weren't as noticeable. ...and I use GWN to refer to Alaska, although perhaps misappropriating the name from Canada.
PA12DRVR 01/13/23 02:53pm Tow Vehicles
RE: Rivian R1S

Well they are as fast as they are ugly! I’d love to have a ripper 11 second EV. But even though it smoked a TRX, if I had to drop $100k on a pickup truck for some silly reason it would be a TRX Redeye or the baddest new diesel 1 ton in my favorite color! Not an ugly midsize toaster oven. Back in the day, when I worked for Baker Poppa in Ewe-stun, I was the first employee to get a Prius, the then closest thing to an EV....so I've got nothing against EV's per se, but for this kind of price tag a quick look through the local fora and boards indicates: Could probably buy 2 relatively late model diesel (certainly gas) pickups, not new but close; Could buy an airworthy C180, although would need at least cosmetic work; could buy a moderately upgraded PA-12; could cover 65% of the cost of a rough C182; could make a 65% down payment on a new tricked out 24' ocean boat or could buy a low-time late model 24 or 26' in the same make in nice condition ready to go; or could buy 3 new sno-gos and a smaller Kubota tractor. The $$ just doesn't make this sort of vehicle attractive, never mind the dearth of charging stations up here in the GWN.
PA12DRVR 01/13/23 10:20am Tow Vehicles
RE: Best itinerary for Alaska

"A wild exaggeration. There are more & more places being closed off that were formally available. My guess is that they have been abused by campers." This is spot on. Up through probably the mid-90's, a road "Camping" trip on the loop (Anchorage-Fbks-Valdez-Anchorage) didn't need any planning since one could pick any wide spot in the road and "camp" there overnight. Similar option for the southern leg (Anch - Seward-Slodotna-Kenai-Homer, etc). In the 90's, lots of road-building / road improvement work took off and many of the wide areas became access to staging areas for construction, or became official pull-offs or became waysides or whatever and were either physically blocked (gates or jersey barriers) or had signs emplaced "Construction traffic only". That continues to this day along with the increasing number of signs popping up in the otherwise unaffected wide spots "No Camping". Another not insignificant impact to the "stop anywhere" paradigm is that more and more of the roadside property (this seems a bit more prevalent on the Glenn and Parks than on the Seward Highway) is being either bought or actively occupied and what was previously suitable to pull off now bears either housing or "Private Drive" or "Private Property" signage. One trigger event was the (unfortunately fairly frequent) dysfunction of the Alaska legislature in the early 2000's where funding was not given to the agencies (DoT/PF, State Parks, other DNR) to support the then-designated "camping spots" (often just a flat spot with a well and outhouses) so those spots were blocked or locked. People then just went to the next wide spot and "camped", leaving trash, garbage, s**t, and all sorts of debris. The next legislative cycle saw a fair amount of $$ dedicated to the "no camping signage". The wide spot in the road camping paradigm was indeed abused by campers.
PA12DRVR 01/09/23 09:31am RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Where is Battleship Row? (on land)

Jemez NM? Battleship Rock?
PA12DRVR 01/05/23 05:12pm Around the Campfire
RE: Best itinerary for Alaska

Did the OP ever decide on a different trip / smaller rig / rental rig? FWIW, certain Alaska public CG's (run by Alaska State Parks and other elements of the State of Alaska) struggled in 2022 to get funding for CG hosts, maintenance, etc....as did other parts of the publicly funded aspects of Alaska. Time will tell, but no reason to believe that there might not be similar problems this season. Strictly based on very anecdotal info, the problems seemed to be resolved by limiting winter services and later opening for Spring /Summer.... As far as I know, federally-run CG's weren't similarly affected.
PA12DRVR 01/04/23 09:45am RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Arctic Blast

We lived in western Iowa while I was growing up and I remember one winter, we had a reading of -25 F. Of course no social media, so no one realized how much danger they were in. So we dressed for the cold and went outside to do chores. Amazing we ever survived. Now, it gets cold for two days and there's all but a national emergency. Where's the like button? It's a bit of interesting phenomena....growing up in Los Anchorage in the 60's, the schools had fairly regular presentations on the effects of / how to avoid frostbite, hypothermia, etc. ...and this was when days of -20 were not uncommon and there was always a week or two in late Jan / early Feb of -30 or so. Now that social media is nearly universal, I guess the administrators believe that kids can learn enough that way: No instruction in class and no teachers pointing out that the latest Nikes are not appropriate footwear for winter. ...and of course, even up here, "-20" seems to drive panic in today's print and broadcast media.
PA12DRVR 12/28/22 09:37am Around the Campfire
RE: Taking dog to alaska from NY...food questions

FWIW, for the Alaska part of your trip, while I'm not sure of your itinerary, the towns of either Squarebanks or Los Anchorage are a day or two drive from the Canadian border and have all sorts of pet stores, feed stores, etc. Never having traveled with a dog (horses yes),nevertheless I suspect that bringing a day or several days worth of dog food into the U.S. will not be scrutinized as much as going into Canada, so I'd just suggest having a few days supply as you cross into Alaska and then re-stock in due course.
PA12DRVR 12/22/22 01:25pm RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: cell phone

What Crowe said. Keep in mind that there is also the issue of international coverage / charges while in Canada / Canadian waters, depending on the specific route of your ship. Never done the complete traditional inside passage but have done a good chunk of it in pieces. Although some of those segments were several years ago now, cell towers were pretty few and far between. If staying in touch is important, based on my most recent trip in early 2020 (before the panic set in), I'd recommend a Sat phone.
PA12DRVR 12/14/22 07:45am RVing in Canada and Alaska
RE: Tires for Towing 20k 5ver and Snow at altitude

I had both the Goodyear Duratrac and the BFG's on prior vehicles. Being a fussy and paranoid sort of winter guy (I always switch to studded tires on my primary winter vehicle), I never put enough miles on either brand to speak to their longevity, but I had no complaints while I did use them. My buddy down the road has some variant of Falken (I think the AT3W, but not sure) on his F350 and has never mentioned any issues...of course, FWIW, I did have to pull him out of a ditch once....along with a few others as I had fully armor clad (chain mail :) ) tires all'round on my F250.
PA12DRVR 12/12/22 01:52pm Tow Vehicles
RE: Tires for Towing 20k 5ver and Snow at altitude

To each their own and there's lots of good advice on here. I drove (not daily, but regularly) an F550 dually dump truck for a few years until I converted it into a dedicated plow truck. My take-aways: 1) If you have the luxury of waiting out the massive snow dumps that happen rarely, stick with your current tires and get some chains; 2) If you're primary use of the truck in the winter is a grocery-getter, as hinted at, maybe a Subaru is a good 2nd vehicle; alternatively (assuming OP's truck is 4WD), get a set of bad-a** aggressive chains for the front tires....that's where your weight is (if not towing) and you'll only need to chain up for the few times that you'll face the combo of "have to go" and "bad roads"; 3) FWIW, having driven multiple duallies since 1974, there's lots of good mud/highway/AT/Snow (even a few good combo) tires out there, but tires are not going to offset the decided tendency of a dually to act like a cow on ice when the roads are slippery.
PA12DRVR 12/12/22 10:50am Tow Vehicles
RE: Insert pins

"To be fair, alot of my missing trailer hitch stingers are attributed to someone else on the jobsite "borrowing" it (and the primary reason I started locking them so I wouldn't have to do the trailer hitch easter egg hunt), but I've lost a couple to plain old theft....a long time ago, before I started locking my hitch onto the truck!" Nothing quite as frustrating as getting multiple rigs set up to tow (either boat, sno-go's or ???) then on Friday evening find out that #1 Son has borrowed either the stinger, the hitch pin, or the hitch bushing because he couldn't find his. It's equally frustrating to come back from a long day of sno-going ready to unhitch only to find that some part (or the whole part) of the locking hitch setup is frozen and I can't drop the trailer at the storage spot. ....so I've now come to the point where: a) on either boating or sno-go trips, I use locking hitch pins as well as locks on the trailer ball; and b) on sno-go trips, I carry a small butane torch (fits in a shirt pocket to warm it up) and a larger gas torch for thawing purposes.
PA12DRVR 12/09/22 09:29am Tow Vehicles
RE: Insert pins

I tend to lose pins and clips at a 1 x per year basis since I set it down ("I'll remember that location") and then walk away or drop it in the snow or something similar. My "fleet" (4 vehicles, 3 UTV/ATV, all with receiver hitches of one size or the other) was equipped with the Reese pins with grove. As I lose them, I'm replacing with the style the OP mentioned in his post. I've never had either style clip or pin come out without an external (i.e. me) influence.
PA12DRVR 12/05/22 09:41am Tow Vehicles
RE: Towing in the snow

Having just (10 minutes ago) completed a 95 mile trip to Los Anchorage with boat (not RV) in tow, I'd second what everyone has said and would emphasize: - Slow is your friend, but if there's a part of the road that is straight, level, and consistent conditions, don't go 35 in a 65 mph zone....right or wrong, other drivers anticipate something below the speed limit, not 50% or less. - Back off on the gain on the trailer. - Plan on stopping at every light you hit. If you don't have to stop, less harm caused by a slow passage on green than a panic out-of-control slide on yellow or red. - I don't believe in cable chains. Never had much success with them and would recommend (as above) diamond / V-Bar / Pewag chain chains if you'll be routinely driving on packed snow, ice, deep snow etc. That being said, make sure any chains are properly tensioned so that you don't get chain lash slapping your tow vehicle or trailer. - If the lanes in the road are packed snow (or ice), don't hesitate to use the shoulder for stopping. The difference in drag of even a couple inches of fresh snow vs. black ice is noticeable. - Watch out for the idjits driving other vehicles.
PA12DRVR 12/01/22 10:02am Towing
RE: Europe Electrical Adapter

Leave all that stuff at home except for the phones. Europe runs on 220v The phone charger runs on both 110 & 220 all you need is an adapter for the plug. Any store that sells suitcases and travel gear will have what you need. https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/phones-tech/electric-adapters-converters ^^^^ This. Common mistake is to head overseas with a bunch of different plug adapters (which allow plugs to fit outlets of different shape / structures) but not to have an appropriate transformer. As noted, stop by the travel store, get a bunch of adapters for the phone plug, pick up the rest of the stuff over there.
PA12DRVR 11/17/22 09:41am Around the Campfire
RE: Cargo trailers to tow behind an RV

Would second the suggestion to just borrow a few trailers and try pulling them for a bit, see how it works, and how the drivers' stress level changes. FWIW, since '85, I've had several "trailers" either 1-axle utility, 1-axle sno-go, 3 axle 5th wheel, several dual axle sno-go or utility, and a dual-axle boat trailer. Probably jinxing myself but one of my current trailers (have 4 now) is a 1999 vintage single axle utility and it is the only trailer that has gone that period of time (i.e. 22+ years, and have gone through 3 sets of tires FWIW) without a blowout. The wife's stress level is probably a paramount consideration, but I'd get the trailer that fits and would not worry about 1-2 axle if the single axle otherwise fits your needs.
PA12DRVR 11/08/22 10:30am General RVing Issues
RE: Replace instant hot with standard water heater?

No dog in the hunt but what is the beef with an instant vs. traditional water heater? With the instant hot you have to maintain a certain volume of water flow or else it won't activate. If you take Navy showers, no hot water. If you trickle a little hot water while doing dishes, no hot water. Insufficient water flow in both of those scenarios. Got it....I use a instant at the cabin (not an RV) that is ideal for that mission ....propane fueled, doesn't require power (just water pressure), ignites off the flow, etc....but out at the cabin, neither water volume (500 gallon catchment) nor flow rate / pressure are otherwise restricted. Thanks for the info.
PA12DRVR 11/02/22 10:03am General RVing Issues
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