3 Replies Latest reply on Jun 9, 2011 6:52 PM by jkom51

    Road Trip Recommendations?

    JerryD
      The spouse and I hadn't seen a large part of the US so we have done a couple of long road trips to see some places. In 2010 we went on a couple week 4,000 mile+ road trip to the Southwest US: AR -> OK -> NM -> Northern AZ -> Las Vegas -> Southern AZ -> West TX -> Southeast TX (Corpus Christe/Padre Island, San Antonio, Austin) -> Home. This May, we took a 3 week, 5,900, 20 state road trip to the East Coast: AR -> AL -> GA -> SC -> NC -> VA -> Washington DC -> NJ -> New York City - > Cape Cod -> Boston -> Bar Harbor ME -> Across ME & NH & VT to Western MA -> West point -> Shenandoah National Park -> Blue Ridge Mountains -> Smoky Mountains/Gatlinburg TN -> Nashville -> Home. There are a few selected pictures of these trips on my profile under photos.
       
      We have now seen (I didn't say how much of them) all of the states except AK and LA. Wondering if anybody has done a similar 2-3 week "road" trip from around AR or MO to Glacier National Park across SW Canada to Vancouver and up the Inner Passage to Lower Alaska? This one sounds like some plane rides and boat trips are needed to cover it. We were thinking about this one this year but the costs looked large. Sure could use some ideas and hints on how to contain them on a modest retirement budget.
       
       
        • Re: Road Trip Recommendations?
          jkom51
          I have not personally done what I'm suggesting but I always save articles about West Coast travel, and do have personal experience with the three ferry systems up in the Washington/Alaska area.
           
          They are excellent for low-cost travel. You can take the Alaskan ferry system all the way up the Inland Passage. I'm not sure if all their ferries have car carrying capability, or just certain ferries - their website is very good and will have all the info you need.
           
          Several Alaskan cities on the coast are boat/ship-access only. They were never designed nor intended to allow driving from city to city, as we take for granted in the lower 48.
           
          For Washington's San Juan Islands, it's a little more difficult as the major car ferry from Seattle was retired a few years ago. For example, if you want to bring a car to Victoria BC on Vancouver Island (worth an entire trip by itself, BTW), you can only come across from Pt. Angeles, WA. This is what we did - drove south around Puget Sound from Seattle. That's my favorite trip anyway (yummy raw oysters!) with gorgeous scenery, but it is a 2-1/2-hr drive.
           
          Wow, I'm impressed by your travels! We did a PNW trip wrapped around an Alaskan cruise from Seattle in late Sept-Oct 2010 and only drove 2000 miles, but we took extra time, were gone a full 4-1/2 weeks. Beautiful scenery, terrific area.
            • Re: Road Trip Recommendations?
              JerryD
              Jkom, thank you for the encouragement. We did a Seattle to San Francisco road trip many years ago and loved the beauty. We wanted to ferry to Vancouver from Seattle but our one week trip would not allow although we did go thru Tacoma up the Sound and ferry back to Seattle from the naval base there.
               
              We definitely want to see Vancouver and the Inland Passage. Other than the Southern part of Alaska, I wouldn't want to see more. Maybe the spouse will send me up there sometime with a fishing rod to see more in a much more close and personal fashion.
               
              We looked at this along trip with a train ride from Glacier Park which we also want to see to Vancouver, but the train cost blew us away. They want something close to $1,000 each and 2 days to go across on the Canadian rail line. We hear that the scenery is great on that ride but then that was a train nut who said that.
               
              We are probably transitioning from "road trip" vacations to stopping longer, but not too long, to smell the roses. I would put this trip in the class where we leave most driving to others. That implies some air fare to somewhere, maybe some train and definitely boats. We may need rental cars to see things the way we like to. Are you aware of any age restrictions for drivers in Canada like exist in Europe as we understand? All of that seems to add up to expensive. Any way that can be keep close to $5,000 or will the scope have to be cut?
                • Re: Road Trip Recommendations?
                  jkom51
                  The problem is that the only ferry that goes to Alaska is from Bellingham WA, not Vancouver BC. It is a car ferry: http://www.ferrytravel.com/ketchikan.htm. It goes to Ketchikan, which I have been told by seasoned Alaska travelers is not as charming as Sitka.
                   
                  We only had 1/2 day in Ketchikan on the cruise due to bad weather, and were not terribly impressed. Not much interested in totem poles or souvenirs. Alaska's very good for precious gem jewelry, apparently, which I didn't realize. Half the stores in the port were jewelry stores.
                   
                  We loved Glacier Bay, but in Juneau we didn't shop, instead did a land/sea expedition out to Mendenhall Glacier (it was raining hard) and whale-watching (okay, but it was better in the San Juan Straits off Victoria BC and cheaper, too).
                   
                  We went too late (last week in Sept) and the weather was foggy/rainy. The guides told us the best weather (least rain) is June and early/mid September. By late Sept it's very 'iffy'. Sailing through the fog is boring; I can do that at home, LOL!
                   
                  The British Columbia ferries just cover the San Juan Islands. You can go Vancouver to Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island.
                   
                  As far as I know there are no maximum age restrictions on driving in Canada. It isn't a long drive south from Vancouver to Bellingham; a little over 1 hr. Gas is cheap in WA, expensive in Canada, really cheap in AK.
                   
                  Sorry this probably isn't much help, this is all I know about the route you're planning. Good luck!