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Author Topic: Alaska roadmeet ever?  (Read 35315 times)

1995hoo

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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #25 on: June 12, 2015, 05:49:32 PM »

I absolutely loved Alaska when we went there in 2005 for a cruise. Funny thing, as I type this my parents are up there on the land portion preceding a similar cruise itinerary. They went to Whitehorse, Dawson City, Fairbanks, and Denali, and they're scheduled to arrive in Anchorage sometime today. My father mentioned that Holland America chartered an Air North Boeing 737 to fly the group from Dawson City to Fairbanks—they used to use a bus, but the long travel time coupled with the extremely rough road meant they were constantly repairing the bus, so now they fly everyone (which would be interesting too, seeing as how Dawson City does not have a paved runway—I find it tough to picture a 737 on an unpaved runway).

The biggest difficulty is the sheer size of Alaska. If you don't expect to get up there again, you'll want to see as much as possible while you're there, and the distances are VAST.

BTW, don't forget if you plan to drive to Alaska from the "Lower 48" you should account for car maintenance—possible oil change and tire rotation sometime en route, depending on what you drive. (I would love to drive there someday. I'm sure I never will. I missed my chance in 1997: I had a telephone interview for a summer job with a law firm in Anchorage and if they'd hired me I would have driven out, one way across the USA and the other way across Canada. I didn't get the job.)
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #26 on: June 12, 2015, 06:30:29 PM »

Count me in as a definite maybe for an Alaska meet in 2017. It sounds a bit far-fetched that I'd be able to drive there from Michigan, but I wouldn't say it's completely out of the question. However, I'm not getting any younger. I figure by the time the summer of 2017 arrives, my Hyundai will have about 100,000 miles on it. And hopefully that will be okay. I'm not sure how well-maintained the Alaska Highway is and how my car would handle that drive with 100,000 miles on it - but it would be worth a shot. I figure I will definitely need a couple oil changes and a tire rotation somewhere along the way there and back.
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #27 on: June 12, 2015, 09:23:48 PM »

I absolutely loved Alaska when we went there in 2005 for a cruise. Funny thing, as I type this my parents are up there on the land portion preceding a similar cruise itinerary. They went to Whitehorse, Dawson City, Fairbanks, and Denali, and they're scheduled to arrive in Anchorage sometime today. My father mentioned that Holland America chartered an Air North Boeing 737 to fly the group from Dawson City to Fairbanks—they used to use a bus, but the long travel time coupled with the extremely rough road meant they were constantly repairing the bus, so now they fly everyone (which would be interesting too, seeing as how Dawson City does not have a paved runway—I find it tough to picture a 737 on an unpaved runway).

The biggest difficulty is the sheer size of Alaska. If you don't expect to get up there again, you'll want to see as much as possible while you're there, and the distances are VAST.

BTW, don't forget if you plan to drive to Alaska from the "Lower 48" you should account for car maintenance—possible oil change and tire rotation sometime en route, depending on what you drive. (I would love to drive there someday. I'm sure I never will. I missed my chance in 1997: I had a telephone interview for a summer job with a law firm in Anchorage and if they'd hired me I would have driven out, one way across the USA and the other way across Canada. I didn't get the job.)
RE: Maintenance - keep in mind it's highway miles so you can stretch it past the severe conditions mileage (stretch 3k to 5k for example).  My habit: before a multi-day drive - get it done right before (even it not due because you'll be burning it.) It's 3400 miles OW to Anchorage from my place (1 week drive).  Google's being sarcastic too - it knows I need to clinch US-52.
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #28 on: June 12, 2015, 10:09:46 PM »

BTW, don't forget if you plan to drive to Alaska from the "Lower 48" you should account for car maintenance—possible oil change and tire rotation sometime en route, depending on what you drive. (I would love to drive there someday. I'm sure I never will. I missed my chance in 1997: I had a telephone interview for a summer job with a law firm in Anchorage and if they'd hired me I would have driven out, one way across the USA and the other way across Canada. I didn't get the job.)
RE: Maintenance - keep in mind it's highway miles so you can stretch it past the severe conditions mileage (stretch 3k to 5k for example).  My habit: before a multi-day drive - get it done right before (even it not due because you'll be burning it.) It's 3400 miles OW to Anchorage from my place (1 week drive).  Google's being sarcastic too - it knows I need to clinch US-52.

My car tells me when it wants or needs its oil changed. I could drive to Alaska and back and still have enough oil life left for another drive to Alaska.

quote fixed --sso
« Last Edit: June 12, 2015, 10:33:34 PM by SSOWorld »
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #29 on: June 12, 2015, 10:36:43 PM »



My car tells me when it wants or needs its oil changed. I could drive to Alaska and back and still have enough oil life left for another drive to Alaska.



As does mine...averages about 13,000 miles between oil changes, pretty consistently over the 225,000 miles I have on it.  The dealer has never told me the old oil was either too low a volume or too sludgy...

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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #30 on: June 12, 2015, 11:15:01 PM »

Not a chance.

1.) No money.
2.) No passport (yet).
3.) I don't fly.

Not flying should not be an issue (if you have the time for such a long trip across the continent, of course).
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #31 on: June 13, 2015, 01:00:04 AM »

I figure by the time the summer of 2017 arrives, my Hyundai will have about 100,000 miles on it. And hopefully that will be okay. I'm not sure how well-maintained the Alaska Highway is and how my car would handle that drive with 100,000 miles on it - but it would be worth a shot. I figure I will definitely need a couple oil changes and a tire rotation somewhere along the way there and back.

The 1982 Honda Accord I took on my first drive to Alaska in 1994 had well over 100,000 miles on it. My only mechanical issue was an unusual one -- my car had two fuel pumps, and the one in the fuel tank failed, so I had to keep the engine revs up through the Yukon and into the panhandle, to help the front fuel pump make up for the DOA rear pump. Fortunately, (a) the Honda dealer in Juneau was across the street from the airport, (b) the mechanic there instantly figured out the problem, and (c) I already had booked flights for a day trip to and from Sitka. So I just dropped my car at the dealer, had fun in Sitka, and my car was fixed by the time I got back to Juneau.

The Alaska Highway is fairly well-maintained, fully paved except for temporary long stretches of gravel on segments (usually at least one) being reconstructed.

Not a chance.

1.) No money.
2.) No passport (yet).
3.) I don't fly.

Not flying should not be an issue (if you have the time for such a long trip across the continent, of course).

In particular, people can take a ferry out of Bellingham WA to various points in southeast Alaska, with some sailings continuing to the Anchorage area, completely avoiding Canadian border controls (even though the ferry passes through Canadian waters). That option is especially useful to people who Canada won't let drive through due to DUI or other criminal records, or who want to bring handguns or other restricted/prohibited firearms with them.
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #32 on: June 13, 2015, 01:16:55 AM »

I changed my oil right before embarking on my last trip and had it changed maybe 6500 miles later at a place in Washington state where the dude was a bit impressed to see someone stroll in with New York plates. I did not rotate my tires during the trip but this was deliberate since I had (and still have) two older tires on the back and two new tires on the front. I didn't want to risk wearing down the treads on the older pair too far before I got home so I left them in the back. I'll move them to the front when I get them replaced.

With regards to Alaska driving, Dalton sounds much more exciting than the Alaska highway since it'd be a very different environment from anything I'm used to. I see trees all the time. Tundra? Not so much.
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #33 on: June 13, 2015, 07:15:59 AM »

Alaska is definitely on my bucket list of places to visit before I die, so going to an Alaska road meet would not be out of the question for me. I don't think that I'd be driving on the Alaska Highway to do it though, but rather I would fly out West, spend a few days visiting family in Oregon, then fly up to Alaska from there.

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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #34 on: June 13, 2015, 09:02:49 PM »

The Dalton is a highway that I have been fascinated with.

The idea of carpooling sounds like a nice way to reduce the costs.  If drivers were rotated, it would help prevent fatigue and also reduce the vacation time needed by increasing the number of hours driven each day.

2016 is definitely out for me, and 2017 may be pushing it.  In any case, it would likely be the only roadmeet I attend in whatever year it's in if I go, due to the cost and amount of vacation time needed.  Since summer is the busy season at NYSDOT, I would need plans to be nailed down WELL in advance in order to coordinate my time off at work.
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #35 on: June 13, 2015, 10:39:17 PM »

I absolutely loved Alaska when we went there in 2005 for a cruise. Funny thing, as I type this my parents are up there on the land portion preceding a similar cruise itinerary. They went to Whitehorse, Dawson City, Fairbanks, and Denali, and they're scheduled to arrive in Anchorage sometime today. My father mentioned that Holland America chartered an Air North Boeing 737 to fly the group from Dawson City to Fairbanks—they used to use a bus, but the long travel time coupled with the extremely rough road meant they were constantly repairing the bus, so now they fly everyone (which would be interesting too, seeing as how Dawson City does not have a paved runway—I find it tough to picture a 737 on an unpaved runway).

The biggest difficulty is the sheer size of Alaska. If you don't expect to get up there again, you'll want to see as much as possible while you're there, and the distances are VAST.

BTW, don't forget if you plan to drive to Alaska from the "Lower 48" you should account for car maintenance—possible oil change and tire rotation sometime en route, depending on what you drive. (I would love to drive there someday. I'm sure I never will. I missed my chance in 1997: I had a telephone interview for a summer job with a law firm in Anchorage and if they'd hired me I would have driven out, one way across the USA and the other way across Canada. I didn't get the job.)
RE: Maintenance - keep in mind it's highway miles so you can stretch it past the severe conditions mileage (stretch 3k to 5k for example).  My habit: before a multi-day drive - get it done right before (even it not due because you'll be burning it.) It's 3400 miles OW to Anchorage from my place (1 week drive).  Google's being sarcastic too - it knows I need to clinch US-52.

Yeah, of course. I was trying not to be too specific because different cars have different schedules and different car owners have different preferences as to how they handle maintenance. My Acura dings at me when maintenance is due and I've done fine following that schedule. (The nuisance about this is that it makes it difficult to do maintenance in advance because there's no way to know what code it's going to display. I can usually predict about how far I can go on the highway before it'll ding at me, but I can't predict which code it'll throw except I knew at 105,000 miles it would call for a timing belt, which I had already done three years earlier.)

I know some people who are sticklers for changing the oil every 3000 to 5000 miles. I think that's unnecessarily frequent, but I'm not going to tell someone else how he should maintain his car.

Speaking of all highway miles, last year my brother sold his 2005 Honda Civic to Carmax. It had around 197,500 miles on the odometer, the vast majority highway miles (but he never made it to Alaska or Mexico). The most remarkable aspect? He was still on the original clutch.



Regarding Alaska, vdeane's comment about summertime prompts me to note that summer is great for exploring Alaska because of the very long days. In most of the state, other than the Panhandle, it doesn't really get dark in June. Even in early August, in Anchorage it's still nice and bright at 11:30 PM. Our flight (nonstop from Atlanta to Anchorage) landed at 9:35 PM local time and it was as bright as midday in Virginia. My father said last weekend when they were in Dawson City in the Yukon, sunrise was at 4:02 AM and sunset was at 12:32 AM. But it doesn't really get "dark" in the sense those of us in the Lower 48 are used to seeing. It's one of the weird things as you travel south from Alaska how noticeable the darkness is. (Heck, I notice the difference between sunset times here in the DC area versus Florida when we go down there. At Christmas, sunset down there is a good half an hour later than it is here.)
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #36 on: June 13, 2015, 10:56:59 PM »

I've thought more about timing an Alaska trip to be in September or thereabouts. I don't want it to be ungodly cold, but I don't want near-perpetual daylight either since that means no Aurora viewing.
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #37 on: June 13, 2015, 11:01:12 PM »

I've thought more about timing an Alaska trip to be in September or thereabouts. I don't want it to be ungodly cold, but I don't want near-perpetual daylight either since that means no Aurora viewing.

We went in August because of the combination of the cruise line schedule and airline availability. Ms1995hoo had won two free tickets anywhere in the USA on Delta as a door prize at her office Christmas party. (Thankfully, they let us do an open jaw flying home out of Vancouver.)
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #38 on: June 14, 2015, 12:01:03 AM »

I've thought more about timing an Alaska trip to be in September or thereabouts. I don't want it to be ungodly cold, but I don't want near-perpetual daylight either since that means no Aurora viewing.

I haven't been there except during the peak summer months, so I can't comment with authority. But it may help to be even later in the year, and in Fairbanks rather than Anchorage. Japanese tourists like to visit Fairbanks in the winter, and watch the auroras while soaking in Chena Hot Springs. OTOH, the short hours of daylight that improve aurora viewing also means less time each day for roadgeeking. There might be a sweet spot with enough time to roadgeek in daylight and view the auroras at night, without freezing your ass off (unless you're at Chena, in which case you'll freeze only getting into and out of hot water).  But my hunch is that aurora viewing and roadgeeking are probably best done on separate trips.  agentsteel did an aurora trip in recent years, and his trip report might help decide timing. So might the Milepost guide to Arctic travel, though I don't have my copy with me on the road on how helpful it is on aurora viewing, or other relevant issues.

===

Two other issues:

-- Mosquitoes. They don't seem to like me very much, but YMMV. Going early in the year might give us more daylight than we could possibly use, while still chilly enough to keep the mosquitoes from coming out.

-- Lodging availability can be an issue, especially for four-walls-and-a-roof guys like me. The problem is that Alaska has such a short tourist season, that it can't support an ample supply of tourist accommodations, so the ones that exist tend to be pricey, especially the ones that survive year-round by catering to business travelers. There are some good deals out there, and also raw deals (like one in Anchorage I recall having four floors and no elevator). An abundance of campgrounds and B&Bs help fill in the gap, at least in the seasons when they're open. Since Anchorage and Juneau get some year-round business travel (and for Anchorage, medical travel), availability might be better there, but not necessarily pricing, In short, research this out ahead of time. Shoulder seasons (such as, perhaps, May or September) might help here.
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #39 on: June 14, 2015, 12:17:06 AM »

The Dalton is a highway that I have been fascinated with.

Yes, but driving it on your own requires good equipment and other preparation, starting with two full-size mounted spares, which like the other four need to be light-truck rather than passenger-car tires (which seem to get lots of flats). It's unsuitable for rental vehicles (most companies specifically forbid driving the Dalton), except the ones specially ruggedized for the Dalton and priced accordingly.

One good option might be a tour operator, which can supply the needed equipment and other logistical support. My 1994 trip included a two-day one-way van tour, with a flight back to Fairbanks (optional stopover in Barrow -- I stayed on the plane) at the end of day 2. This trip can be done in reverse order, to fill the vans on their return to Fairbanks.  There are also day tours to the Arctic Circle (mile 115) and back.  My 2012 trip was in my own vehicle, a full-size pickup truck with four light-truck tires on the corners and two mounted light-truck spares in the back (which I never had to use, even on several roads even worse than the Dalton).
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #40 on: June 14, 2015, 12:32:20 AM »

If I go, I'll likely take my Jeep Liberty as opposed to my VW. I already have one full sized spare, and would likely mount one of my snow tires on a junkyard rim for a second. It has over 100K on it but is running strong, and I just bought brand new tires for it. Registration and insurance cost basically nothing in Montana, so I keep it around even though it only gets about three thousand miles of use per year nowadays.

My plan would be to drive the Dalton in addition to spending some time in the NWT on the way to the meet - probably taking two weeks off work to do this. I may not be interested in carpooling up the Alaska Highway from a logistics perspective, but I'd definitely be happy to shuttle folks up the Dalton and back. 

I'd echo Anthony's suggestion for September or so - I like long days, but I'm realistically not going to drive more than 12 hours a day or so, and the chance to see the aurora is important. September 2016 is a little bit dicey for me in my current work situation (though not at all out of the question), but September 2017 should be wide open.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2015, 12:40:55 AM by corco »
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #41 on: June 14, 2015, 04:48:18 PM »

September sounds good.  Still busy season, but not as bad, and more people are in the office to possibly cover since they're not taking the kids out on vacation.  If we could do the carpooling and keep the drive time there/back to a minimum, I could probably do this as long as it's planned far enough ahead and I keep the rest of my travel that year to family visits and day trips.  I have 14 vacation days/year to play with and can bank some, but I'd still like to not clean out the accrual completely.

The Dalton is a highway that I have been fascinated with.

Yes, but driving it on your own requires good equipment and other preparation, starting with two full-size mounted spares, which like the other four need to be light-truck rather than passenger-car tires (which seem to get lots of flats). It's unsuitable for rental vehicles (most companies specifically forbid driving the Dalton), except the ones specially ruggedized for the Dalton and priced accordingly.

One good option might be a tour operator, which can supply the needed equipment and other logistical support. My 1994 trip included a two-day one-way van tour, with a flight back to Fairbanks (optional stopover in Barrow -- I stayed on the plane) at the end of day 2. This trip can be done in reverse order, to fill the vans on their return to Fairbanks.  There are also day tours to the Arctic Circle (mile 115) and back.  My 2012 trip was in my own vehicle, a full-size pickup truck with four light-truck tires on the corners and two mounted light-truck spares in the back (which I never had to use, even on several roads even worse than the Dalton).
Which is why I'd only go on it via a group roadgeek tour or on one of the tour busses that goes up.
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #42 on: June 14, 2015, 06:11:43 PM »

September sounds good.  Still busy season, but not as bad, and more people are in the office to possibly cover since they're not taking the kids out on vacation.  If we could do the carpooling and keep the drive time there/back to a minimum, I could probably do this as long as it's planned far enough ahead and I keep the rest of my travel that year to family visits and day trips.  I have 14 vacation days/year to play with and can bank some, but I'd still like to not clean out the accrual completely.

The thing about September is that those of us who are Jewish have our High Holy Days in that month, so it's often a difficult time for us to get away.  If September were to work for a 2-3 week trip for me, it would need to be either early in the month in a year when the holidays fall late or late in the month in a year when the holidays fall early.
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #43 on: June 14, 2015, 07:23:05 PM »

Ha! I'm already starting to get excited thinking of the prospect of driving from Michigan to Alaska and back. I already started thinking of a potential route. Here's what I came up with (assuming anyone riding with me would be up for this):

Day 1 - Grand Rapids MI to the Twin Cities MN
Day 2 - The Twin Cities to Regina SK via I-29, Winnipeg, and the Trans-Canada Highway (MB-1 and SK-1)
Day 3 - Regina to Edmonton AB via Calgary and AB-2
Day 4 - Edmonton to Fort Nelson BC
Day 5 - Fort Nelson to Whitehorse YT
Day 6 - Whitehorse to Fairbanks AK
Day 7 - Fairbanks to Anchorage

That might be ambitious but maybe not. Does the Alaska Highway have plenty of gas stops along the way?

Going back, I'd probably want to spend more time in the U.S. - driving through Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, etc. This trip would easily be a two-week venture but I'd so want to do it.
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #44 on: June 15, 2015, 08:50:15 AM »

I saw some nice aurorae in mid-August.
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #45 on: June 15, 2015, 08:20:38 PM »

I saw some nice aurorae in mid-August.

I so want to see one in person.  It's so cool!
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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #46 on: August 02, 2015, 10:52:00 PM »

Some who seem to tend to balk at the idea of a geek-meet/road-trip to Alaska are spooked by the three weeks or so on the road.  Allow me to offer a cooperative compromise possibility.  Perhaps some of us have vehicles with surplus passenger and cargo capacity, and fewer time constraints.  If so, they could caravan to a point near the south end of the Al-Can Highway.  For discussion's sake, let's say Edmonton.  The folks with tighter timelines could fly to Edmonton and meet up with those drivers with extra capacity.  From there we could all caravan together to Fairbanks (three twelve-hour travel days, or so), meet and tour around Fairbanks, a travel day to Anchorage, and a tour day there.  For those with tough time constraints, a flight home from Anchorage.  It could be easily done with one week of vacation and two weekends.  Those with as much as two weeks of vacation could continue with the tour back toward Edmonton, including side trips to the coastal towns accessible only from Canada.  With enough time for advance planning, it could be done.
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Rothman

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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #47 on: August 03, 2015, 08:42:51 AM »

Some who seem to tend to balk at the idea of a geek-meet/road-trip to Alaska are spooked by the three weeks or so on the road.  Allow me to offer a cooperative compromise possibility.  Perhaps some of us have vehicles with surplus passenger and cargo capacity, and fewer time constraints.  If so, they could caravan to a point near the south end of the Al-Can Highway.  For discussion's sake, let's say Edmonton.  The folks with tighter timelines could fly to Edmonton and meet up with those drivers with extra capacity.  From there we could all caravan together to Fairbanks (three twelve-hour travel days, or so), meet and tour around Fairbanks, a travel day to Anchorage, and a tour day there.  For those with tough time constraints, a flight home from Anchorage.  It could be easily done with one week of vacation and two weekends.  Those with as much as two weeks of vacation could continue with the tour back toward Edmonton, including side trips to the coastal towns accessible only from Canada.  With enough time for advance planning, it could be done.

Although I'm interested, I'm thinking the financial burdens would keep attendance pretty low to the point of making the meet not viable.
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noelbotevera

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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #48 on: August 03, 2015, 01:44:53 PM »

I really don't know why everyone wants to drive the Dalton - although it would be interesting, it would also be pretty darn boring.
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Rothman

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Re: Alaska roadmeet ever?
« Reply #49 on: August 03, 2015, 02:04:07 PM »

I really don't know why everyone wants to drive the Dalton - although it would be interesting, it would also be pretty darn boring.

Because it's there.
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