Last edited by A1A5KA; 07-13-2006 at 07:27 PM. Reason: Road trip is OVER!
Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.
Congratulations. You'll be starting two great adventures at the same time.Originally Posted by A1A5KA
You'd better count on more like 11+ hours. That's a 600 mile drive, and when you factor in rest stops, stops for gas, meals, and driver changes, as well as inevitable slowdowns for traffic, the best you'll be able to manage, even on a pure interstate route is about 55 mph. Still completely within the realm of possibility for two drivers, but better that you know what's coming.Originally Posted by A1A5KA
How much stuff are you talking about? Enough that you're pulling a trailer? In that case, each leg of your drive is going to take even longer, as you won't be able to maintain even a 55 mph average over the long haul.Originally Posted by A1A5KA
Ummm...This could be just about every half mile on those roads, If you've never been up this way, the scenery is absolutely spectacular, even the main roads are all but deserted, and wildlife is everywhere. Watch out for the larger versions!Originally Posted by A1A5KA
One specific recommendation for this leg. Be sure, while you are in Anchorage, to determine the time of the local tides. Ask! It would be a shame if you drove up the Turnagain Arm and missed the tidal bore. This is a wave of water that runs up the Arm as the tide comes in and is big enough to be surfed for several miles. I know of only a couple of other places in the world where this phenomenon occurs. Also, if time and your wallet (I believe there is a $5 fee) permit, take a detour down towards Seward and hike into the Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. It's a relatively easy walk and you can hike right up to the toe of the glacier.Originally Posted by A1A5KA
Seward is actually one of my two favorite cities in Alaska - the other is Talkeetna. But you'll have time to get to it during your summer of working. By all means, take one of the smaller excursion boats out into Resurrection Bay for some whale and glacier watching. And again, congratulations on making one of your dreams come true.
Last edited by AZBuck; 03-20-2006 at 07:58 PM.
The ferry trip is amazing! Enjoy the sites and any ranger programs that they might have scheduled.
I think you should add at least a day to your trip from SLC to Bellingham. First, because you're not allowing anytime at all for sightseeing. Second, because Umatilla to Bellingham is over 300 miles and you have to drive through the dreaded "I-5 Parking Lot" to get there. Seriously, traffic from Olympia to Everett can sometimes be a nightmare and take far longer than you anticipate. If you cross over to Seattle from Eastern WA via Snoqualmie Pass on I-90, you will be able to miss some of that traffic by taking I-405 North to where it meets up again with Seattle but, still, traffic through here can be a nightmare most anytime of day.
When are you going? At this time of year, it's conceivable that you will still have slow-downs on Snoqualmie Pass. Here's a link to the DOT page that can give you current pass conditions. You might want to keep an eye on this before you leave, in addition to watching weather reports, to see if you should come up from the south via Portland due to weather conditions. And, unfortunately, this winter a few avalanches have been bad enough to entirely close the pass a couple of times. That's rare but something to consider.
If you go up through Portland, you're traveling almost 450 miles on that leg of your trip and, because of the potential traffic slow-downs, it could easily take well over 8 hours to make that trip. Or not...because it all depends on how bottle-necked that traffic gets.
Anyway, if I were you, I''d want to be much closer to Bellingham on the morning your ferry sails because, if you miss it, aren't you toast? Don't you have to pay for the passage anyway? I don't think they give refunds easily. I guess that's why I'm trying to give you complete info so you can weigh the risks of potentially missing your boarding time.
It sounds like you have a dilemma of a tight budget vs. piece of mind that you'll make that ferry! I think I can help.
First, at the beginning of May, it would truly be a freak situation to have any problems on the passes. I would still check to make sure they are closing one or more lanes down for maintenance shortly before you leave. Snoqualmie Pass is the busiest pass, the easiest to drive, and gets a lot of traffic from long-haul truckers in addition to regular traffic. If they close a lane, the slowdown could make things quite slow. At that time of year, there will be other passes open and easy to drive. Actually the other passes are all prettier. Anyway, I would check a few days before leaving and, if you find it's being worked on, come back here for advice on alternate routes.
Second, you can find lodging in inexpensive motels for about $35-50/night for two people. I know it's nice to save money on the road for other things you'd like to do but I really think this is a small price to pay for the piece of mind you'd gain. And you can save enough money on food to more than make up for it if you eat out of a cooler. Load a cooler from home with things like fruit, cheese, bread, condiments, lunch meat, tuna, crackers, bagels, cream cheese, granola and/or protein bars, and drinks like water, pop, etc. I usually eat this way most of the time while I'm on the road and only eat out once every 2-3 days. It's healthier and cheaper. When you need more food, stop at a full-size grocery store instead of a mini-mart. If you eat like this for most meals instead of always eating at restaurants, you will easily save enough for that extra night in a hotel. I always look at it this way, eating this way means that I'm not spending much more than I would if I was still at home. If I'm eating like I would at home, I'd have to eat anyway, right? So, eating this way really means you're not spending more than you would at home (for the most part, anyway). Hope this helps.
Ontario, OR, is 393 miles from SLC.
The intersection of I-90 with I-405 east of Seattle is another 434 miles.
It would then be about 100 miles from this intersection to Bellingham.
I think Ontario sounds like a good stopping point. And it's big enough where finding inexpensive hotels wouldn't be a problem. If you have the energy and time, pressing onto Baker City wouldn't be a bad option. But only if you're up for it.
Now, onto Seattle....it almost sounds to me like Seattle really isn't your thing. If you don't like driving in traffic, Seattle will drive you batty. If you want to enjoy more of Seattle, you could go back to the waterfront area and do Ye Olde Curiousity Shoppe (a very cool store!), walk back up through Pike Place Market and then head south to Pioneer Square to check out the cool old business with beautiful architecture and then take Bill Speidel's Underground Tour (lots of fun!). You could also check out the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and watch the fish go up the fish ladders. Or go to Lake Union and see the houseboats and even rent a canoe or kayak and do some paddling. But you will fight traffic every step of the way. I would suggest skipping Seattle and checking out some other places instead.
You can find plenty of inexpensive hotels at the intersection of I-90 and I-405. There is a Motel 6 in Issaquah, exit #15 off I-90, which is just before the I-405 intersect. Internet rates are $58.89 for two (plus tax).
Personally, if I were you, I'd enjoy the drive through Oregon and eastern WA and stop for the night in Ellensburg. I'd then go north from Ellensburg on 97 to Leavenworth which is a gorgeous Bavarian-themed town. Kinda tourist but still, it would make a fun stop to stretch your legs a bit. Then I'd head west on Highway 2 over Stevens Pass. This is a much prettier drive than you'll have over Snoqualmie Pass (I-90). Far more scenic, through smaller towns, and this will get you over the pass north of Seattle so you won't have to deal with the headache traffic there at all. You will merge with I-5 around Everett. This should take you about 4-4.5 hours to drive.
I would definitely hit the road early, absolutely no later than 8am, just in case there's some place you want to explore more or if some traffic pile-up does occur. But you shouldn't have too much trouble with traffic on this route.
If you get near Bellingham early and have some extra time, Bellingham is a beautiful town to explore. You can go into the old Fairhaven District where there are wonderful old buildings, interesting shops, etc. Or you can just tour the waterfront. Even walking the main downtown area of Bellingham is a fun experience. They have some interesting shops. I LOVE Bellingham. Wonderful town. If you get there early, you will surely find something to do to keep you busy until it's time to board.
Anyway, if you break up your drive this way, you'll have:
SLC to Ontario: 393 miles
Ontario to Ellensburg: 338 miles
Ellensburg to Bellingham: 220 miles
It breaks up nicely and should give you some time to enjoy the drive.
Now, going this way would add about 25 extra miles to your entire trip but I really believe the amazing scenery and the ability to totally miss Seattle and the traffic there would make that worth it and probably still save you some time because of lack of traffic.
Hope this helps a bit.
Amy, I'm glad you're adding another day. I think the minimal extra cost will make your trip far more enjoyable.
However, because of the pass, this gets tricky.
If you are going to go over Stevens Pass (Hwy 2), you can either stay on the east side of the mountains at Leavenworth which is about 160 miles and just over 3 hours from Bellingham, or you can go on over the pass to Monroe which is about only about 75 miles from Bellingham, about 1 hr, 20 minutes. There isn't much in-between on the pass itself. And, what's there, if I recall correctly, is going to be a bit higher priced. Well, actually inexpensive hotels are also hard to find around Leavenworth.
If you go over Snoqualmiee Pass (I-90), the last town before you get over the pass on the east side is Cle Elum which is 172 miles and about 3 hours from Bellingham, or you can go all the way over the pass and stay in the North Bend which is about 120 miles/2 hours to Bellingham. Again, there are places to stay up on the pass itself but they tend to be fairly high-priced.
So, your choices are to stay on the east side of the pass and have, minimum 3 hours to get to Bellingham or cross over the pass and just have a short jaunt into Bellingham.
If it's late, getting dark, and you're kinda tired of driving, yet you want to get over the passes that night, I would go I-90/Snoqualmie Pass as it's an easier drive, less twisty/turny. It would be a shame to miss the beautiful scenery that any of the pass drives over during the daytime though.
I would think that the custom agents that you're going to encounter are quite used to people in your position, and you shouldn't have any serious difficulties. There are, however, things that you can do to make sure that that is the case. The first is to make sure that you have the proper documents for yourself. As of the end of this year, people arriving in the US by air or sea (presumably including ferries) will be REQUIRED to have a passport, even if you are a US citizen. If at all possible get a passport and carry it with you at all times when crossing the border. If you don't have one and can't get one before you leave then you will be REQUIRED to show proof of citizenship and proof of identification. For all practical purposes, that means that you need to have BOTH your original birth certificate (or a certified copy of it) and a government issued photo ID (i.e. your driver's license).
As for those items that might be questioned, such as your computer and camera, I was in a similar position once and what I did was to take my camera to my local US customs office and get them to issue a letter stating that I possessed it prior to leaving the US, and listing the model, serial number, and date. They were happy to do it. It turned out to be unnecessary, but gave me a great deal of peace of mind. I'm sure that you can find a similar office in Salt Lake City.
A good, working, general rule about food is that processed, packaged food is fine, while fresh fruits and vegtables may not be. Just keep in mind that what they are trying to prevent is the spread of plant diseases.
Finally, relax and enjoy!
I think you'll find your crossing VERY easy, especially that far north. As far as the digital camera and laptop, people bring those items in and out of the country daily, so there should be absolutely no problem there.
And to comment on AZBuck's comment on passports... the date in which a passport will be required to gain reentry into the US will be required is fast approaching. So, if you plan to travel between the USA and Canada or Mexico, even by car, you might want to get your paperwork in for a passport now anyway. I plan on getting one myself shortly (I enjoy an occational visit to BC), just incase.
I am currently in Soldotna, AK. I'll be traveling back up the Alaska Highway at the end of August, headed for Juneau. (Actually driving to Haines, then taking the ferry to Juneau) I'm traveling alone and I want this to be as inexpensive as possible, so I plan to stay in hostels. So far, I've found hostels in Anchorage, Tok and Haines. I need to find hostels (or other cheap lodging) between Anchorage and Tok - maybe in Glennallen - and between Tok and Haines - maybe in Haines Junction. Any suggestions? Any recommendations or warnings about any of the hostels in Anchorage or Tok or Haines?
Amy, How did the rest of the trip go thus far?
Sorry, I just don't know about hostels up there.