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  1. #1

    Default Trip from Maryland to Alaska. Got some questions


    First off I would like to address that this is an amazing forum with lots of information and thanks to the community who is keeping this place alive ;)


    I am planning a roadtrip from Baltimore, MD to Fair Banks Alaska. About 4000 + miles
    I will be going in solo (all my buddies are too afraid to go on this epic expedition) :p
    I will be using my vehicle 2008 Ford F150 XLT Super Cab.


    My main concern is crossing the border.
    I am U.S. citizen and a USAF veteran. I have been to Canada in 2002 but was too young to remember much. I am going to be 20 when I embark on this journey.

    I will be going through the North Dakota/Saskatchewan Border

    As far as paperwork/documentation I am covered.
    However I want to take my rifle with me. (for personal protection)
    It is a Bushmaster Xm-15 Heavy Barrel Semi Automatic. (Ar15 type rifle)
    I purchased it legally at the age of 19, so it is legal in USA.

    I spoke with the Canadian Firearm Officials and they said that Ar15 is restricted but a Bushmaster is prohibited in Canada. I am confused because Bushmaster is the company and the type of rifle is Ar-15, plus it is NOT even fully automatic.
    So does anyone have any information or experience for this type of situation.

    Another concern is how much financial assets are the Canadian customs looking for a person to have in order to be allowed in Canada.
    I am unemployed. I am a full time student and I have all intentions to be back.
    However my final destination is Alaska, I am only cutting across Canadian terrain to reach to my destination by car.

    Another thing, I will have two 5 gallon Gasoline containers for emergency purposes, will this be a problem or subject to duties/tax.
    As far as electronics, I will have a couple year old Laptop, Camera all purchased in US but dont have receipts. Will they be subject to duties as well.

    Lastly, I dont plan on staying in motels. I will be camping, staying in my vehicle or truck stops for rest. So I will probably have good amount of food. It will all be FDA approved packed, such as "can Foods" so if they are meat products are they banned?


    I may have more questions later, but right now these are my main concerns.
    Thanks for your input :)
    please leave any tips for me ;)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Relax - it is a road much travelled.

    Hi and welcome to the Forums.

    As a grandmother, and a solo traveller, who has travelled (camping) to Alaska and back from the Boston area, twice in the last decade, let me assure you, that you will not need a gun, or any other item for protection...... other than your own common sense.

    And before I respond to any of your other questions, I urge you to go out and purchase The Milepost without delay. This publication - which is probably available in your local bookstore, but if not, is available online - is the bible of all those who take the trek north. It answers all your questions about customs, services, roads and their conditions, accommodation, attractions, and anything and everything you can think of.

    Contrary to popular belief, this trek is actually a road much travelled, and at certain times in summer can get quite busy. It is two lanes almost all the way, with quite low speed limits for the protection of wildlife. The towns on the road are all well spaced, and a day's travel from each other, and at every stop you will find a variety of all you are looking for, food, camping, fuel, etc.

    It is a great trip. Take your time driving it, and you will find it a most rewarding, if not life-changing experience.


    Edit: Let your buddies read The Milepost, they may change their mind.
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 05-16-2011 at 10:04 PM. Reason: add another thought

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Canadian Customs

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I would strongly suggest that you keep the rifle at home. I personally don't quite understand why you think you'd need that kind of firepower "for personal protection," but if you want the weapon with you when you are in Alaska, then have it shipped. Firearms are strictly regulated in Canada, and even mace can be confiscated at the border. Trying to drive into Canada with an Assault Rifle will not end well. I can almost guarantee that you'd be denied entry, and that could be the best case.

    As far as bringing the gas cans with you, that's also something I'd strongly recommend against. This isn't a case of being a tax/border crossing issue, its a safety issue. Transporting gas cans full of fuel is a dangerous practice on a roadtrip, and at the very least is going to leave everything you are bringing with smelling like a fuel tank. There are plenty of places to fuel up everywhere along your route, and using common sense is a much better way to avoid running out of gas than trying to bring extra fuel.

    The rest of the things you are concerned about aren't likely to be a big deal. Having proof that you'll be going to school wouldn't be a bad idea, but I've never been asked about financials when crossing the border. Canned foods won't be a concern, although fresh fruits/veggies/meat could potentially be a problem - although again as Lifey mentioned, you don't need to bring everything with you there will be plenty of places to get supplies. Electronics are also not something you need to worry about.

    The biggest thing is to not draw attention to yourself. Being a young camper will be a bit of a flag, so you're likely to get a few extra question, but as long as you aren't acting unusual, show patience and respect, and don't try to carry prohibited items like high powered rifles, it should be a relatively painless process.

  4. #4

    Default The rifle is not worth the hassle

    Good morning!

    I am the father of a young veteran Navy Seabee who purchased pretty much the same weapon as yours as soon as he left active duty for the Reserve, where he still serves. I would advise both he and you to have the rifle shipped to AK after your arrival. It's a great piece to have in AK if you plan to get out and about a great deal, but the hassle of getting it through Canada is huge and doing without it along the heavily-traveled Alaska Highway is easy. You simply will not need it along the way in the Lower 48 and in Canada.

    I'd focus instead on getting the truck ready. New serpentine belt and radiator hoses, cooling system flush, new thermostat, automatic transmission full system flush, rear gear fluid change, spare parts including the old hoses you've replaced + the old serpentine belt + old T-stat, a water pump if they're cheap, a full size spare (or two), a tire plugging kit, and a compressor. Couple or three gallons of concentrated bug-removal windshield washer fluid + brand new blade refills, a long-handled squeegee + spray bottle for extra windshield and side glass cleaning. I put a bug screen across the grille of my Superduty before embarking on an out-and-back 5,800 mile trip to Montana last summer and was glad I did. The millions of bugs you'll encounter are much easier to clean off of the screen than to flush out of the radiator itself.

    I don't share my colleague's concerns about carrying fuel so long as it's VERY well secured and is in a proper jerrycan-type steel container. That said, you won't need it. Fuel is readily available all along your route and the most rudimentary of planning ahead will prevent you from running out in the 50-110 miles, or less, between fuel stops.

    And right from the start, Lifey's suggestion concerning acquiring "The Milepost" (current edition for the year of your planned trip) is spot-on. It's indispensable for the trip you're planning.

    Thanks for your USAF service, safe RoadTripping, and have a blast in Alaska (and on the road there and back).


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Bugs??


    Not sure where the bugs are, but I have not encountered them on the road to Alaska, nor in Alaska. Mosquitoes.... lots of them! Bugs on the windscreen.... nah! never enough to bother me. And I don't like a dirty windscreen, especially since I take half my photos through the windscreen.


  6. #6



    Thanks for all your input. Yes it is wise to not take the rifle.
    My only concern was to use it in Alaska. And since I am young and traveling alone (just a safety precaution).
    But like what you all said, some common sense is the best defense :p


    As for my Vehicle, I just bought it a month ago. Has about 42K miles on it.
    It went through Maryland Inspection and got some renovation done to it.
    But all those things are they necessary?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    A state inspection and a good mechanical inspection are two very different things. A state inspection will make sure it is legal to drive on the road, with major safety features functioning and in some cases smog testing. A good mechanical inspection will make sure that the major parts are not worn out and/or in danger of failing.

    Most of the things Foy mentioned fall under the category of routine maintenance and/or cheap insurance. If you just had them done in the past month or had a similar inspection done before you purchased it (and I mean by a mechanic that wasn't the dealership trying to sell the car) then you could probably let it go, but if not, it would be a small price to pay for piece of mind knowing you're not as likely to break down in the Yukon, where you'd pay triple for the repair.

  8. #8

    Default It's a matter of traveling style and tastes, I think

    My dear friend Lifey favors a less regimented style of travel where waiting for days for routine repair parts in Canada or Alaska is a accepted part of the travel experience. And good for Lifey that she has such an upbeat, positive outlook.

    Me, if I had to wait 2 days for a fuel pump or water pump, when I can change it out myself within a couple or three hours, or where the nearest shop could get me going same day if they only had the parts on hand, I'd go plumb crazy with annoyance at my being so unprepared. Different style, no doubt.

    Looking closer at your original post, I see your truck is a 2008 model. Generally speaking, OEM batteries have an expected lifespan of 3-4 years, tops. If your truck was built in mid- late 2007 as can be the case with a 2008, and if the battery is original, you're close to battery replacement time. Some will advocate preemptive changing of belts and hoses every 4-5 years. Day after day of all-day travel is tough on your rear axle fluid, and here again, you don't know if it's ever been changed in 4 years & 42,000 miles. I'd change it. I didn't mention the fuel filter, but I'd for sure install a new one and keep the old one for a spare. All you need to do is get a single load of bad fuel and your filter is toast, so having a replacement on hand can be key.

    Another RTA Forums regular is glc. He RoadTrips in a F150, too, and he'd recently posted some observations concerning a fuel pump relay or solenoid which was problematic on some models of F150 (apparently they corrode and fail routinely). Could be a good idea to check that out. Hopefully glc will check in here with the specifics.

    So, it's not as though you're doing a Trans-Siberian expedition, but my own favored approach is to be prepared for routine problems so as not to let them interrupt my trip any more than is absolutely necessary.

    Lifey has had a different experience with bugs than I have, but she's been through Canada to Alaska and I have not (yet). I do know I've had to get off of I-90 in South Dakota and find a car wash in order to blow the grasshoppers and other bugs out of my radiator to stop my truck from overheating, so the bug screen went on before my subsequent run to Montana. We were also in "bug city" for the warm weather months on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (surrounded by Canada) when I spent 2 years doing field work up there. Finally, I keep reading that Canada and Alaska are "high bug locales", all of which plus my overwhelming desire to have a clear windshield leads me to carry my own bug-removal juice and tools.

    Safe travels!


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default No substitute

    Yes, it is true, I do take things in my stride and worry very little. (Life is too short!) Every experience is an adventure. Every adventure helps us to 'grow' stronger. The glass is always half full! On the other hand, if a batch of 1920s Bentleys (albeit, well maintained) can make the trip with barely a hiccup, your truck will do just fine. The first time I did it was in a small (rental) sedan. They did not even know where I was taking it, so no extra preparation at all. The second time was in a Dodge Caravan. Much better prepared, and yet, it is on that trip, that I had my only hold-up. Made the most of it by taking a commercial tour.

    However, despite all the advice given here, let me assure you that it is no substitute for The Milepost. This forum is written by those of us who have traversed the path once or twice, and some, never. The folk at The Milepost have the experience of more than half a century behind them. As well as that, they travel the road frequently, in all seasons and on all aternative routes. They have seen the best and the worst, and it is all documented there, in their very popular publication. Few who go north for the first time, do so without The Milepost.

    And I don't even have shares in it!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    At 42k, you don't need all that much done to the truck. The differential fluid is good for 100k, I wouldn't worry about it - factory fill was full synthetic. However, I would get the transmission fluid completely exchanged (with a machine, not just a pan drop), change the oil (use only 5W-20), change the oil, air, and fuel filters (no Fram filters, Motorcraft preferred), and get the battery load tested, replace it if it's any less than 85% capacity. Get the coolant flushed, hoses, thermostat, and belt inspected, and carefully check the fuel pump driver module for corrosion. You have to drop the spare tire to get at it (lube the winch cable while you are at it), unscrew it and check the back side for corrosion. If there is ANY corrosion, replace it with the improved module from Ford, it comes with standoffs. It may be back ordered at your dealer, but should have some in stock. If it's not corroded, clean it anyway, glue some insulating material (rubber) to the back, and fabricate some standoffs with longer screws and washers. When the FPDM dies, the fuel pump shuts off.

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