Alyeska Caravan, by the numbers

We’ve done it! We survived a long caravan. Not just any long caravan, the 2012 WBCCI Alyeska caravan.

Our Caravan Route

We travel by ourselves or with another couple sometimes. Traveling with a group of 76 people is a different ball game, especially for sixty-three days. Weren’t sure Jim could play nice so long with so many people, but he mostly stayed out of trouble.

It helped that the caravan was nicely paced. We had some “zero” days occasionally throughout the caravan to walk about or blog or reorganize ourselves. By the end of the caravan we felt like we could launch immediately into another caravan.

We track, along the way, our costs and numbers. We don’t report on them so much. This caravan is significantly long, large, and expensive so we thought you might be interested in our review of some of these numbers. All our numbers (unless otherwise noted) are for the 63 day period within the caravan:

4,899 towing miles (exclusive of towing mileages to arrive at start point)

8,544 towing miles from North Carolina to end of caravan

$2,693 gas costs

$643 dining-out costs (not covered by caravan kitty fee)

$747 groceries costs (for the two of us)

$2,091 camping costs (covered by caravan)

7, $1,546 number of cruises, and their approx total cost

$0.00 repair costs incurred by dreamstreamrs

18 dings in our windshield

12 pounds mud on our trailer

20 gal water & 5 pounds dust in our trailer on Top of the World Highway = biggest disaster to beset the dreamstreamrs

Clear view of Mt McKinley = biggest good surprise for the dreamstreamrs

Compared to dreamstreamr’s normal full-timing costs, we find caravans very expensive. The caravan drives up our costs for entertainment, food, camping and gasoline because we are paying to see more and drive (a lot) more. And we tend to dine out a little more than normally. Normally we tell people we’re not “on vacation”. The caravan puts us into vacation mode, both sightseeing- and costs-wise, for two months. Another factor is buying in Canada and Alaska is well more expensive than in most of the lower 48.

Some folks seemed to do a lot of hardening on their trucks and trailers before this caravan, some folks seemed to have done nothing. We heard varied recommendations on vehicle and trailer preparation for the Alaska Caravan and tried to strike a reasonable middle strategy.

Our radiator protected against rocks and bugs

Our trailer tires were one year old, truck tires two years. Trailer batteries were less than one year old. We protected the trailer’s exposed copper propane lines with foam insulation. A nice mesh covered our truck radiator grill and Jim and Bill Nicol covered the lower radiator inlets neatly with 1/4″ welded wire mesh. We covered the truck headlights, turn signals, and fog lights with 1/16″ lexan film.

Our trailer did not look like this one. We did NOT remove or protect our propane bottles’ cover, nor cover the solar rock guards over the trailer’s front windows, nor cover the stainless rock guards over the trailer’s lower front quarters. We also did NOT cover the trailer’s side windows against rock damage.

Our trailer and truck tires weathered all the roads, gravel, dirt, and asphalt, without puncture, delimitation or any other failure. Not everyone was so lucky — two people had tires delaminate, one with serious wheel well and secondary damage requiring an entire day’s repair by three men. Approx twenty tires required replacement over the course of the caravan.

Larry’s windshield took this hit 40 miles into the caravan

We suffered many rock dings in our windshield. The past six years have seen several repairs to rock dings in this windshield. It may be past filling, we’ll see when we get to Mesa in November. But our headlights, turn signals, fog lights seem untouched. We didn’t hear of anyone suffering damage to their front lights. But at least two tow vehicles suffered broken windshields on the caravan.

no exposure on this trailer

The trailer in this picture looks ding-proof, unlike ours. Our trailer’s front rock guards, lexan above and stainless below, picked up a lot of rock dings. These manifest as little stars on the solar (lexan) rock guards but these were already thoroughly dinged up so no biggie. The stainless steel guards have many small dents in them, as befits their purpose. They protect the trailer against these dents.

We did cut silver bubble wrap to cover some windows to keep out the endless daylight. When we visited Alaska four years ago, we had difficulty adjusting to the bright nights in our RV. This time, because we traveled slowly to the upper latitudes, we were accustomed to the longer days. We didn’t need light-darkening any more than our trailer already has.

The caravan wasn’t what we expected. The description in the club’s magazine doesn’t do the caravan justice. Airstream friends warned us about road hazards and measures to take, but we otherwise had little preparation for what we would encounter. We had no road worries and found northern BC, southwest Yukon, and Alaska beautiful, fascinating, and wonderful. They’ll be more affordable on our own next time, and we are looking forward to the revisit.

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey, chasing 75 degrees

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©2007-2012 Dreamstreamr

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2 responses to “Alyeska Caravan, by the numbers

  1. Thank you for this outstanding summary of the Alyeska Caravan experience. It will help a lot of folks (us) contemplating this more challenging caravan. I was particularly taken by the comparison of “on vacation” to daily living modes. On our last caravan, Julie and I were often content to stay around the campsite and just reside in our Airstream at a beautiful camping location, rather than go out to eat or take in another tourist shopping venue. Your post could be suggested (if not required) reading for the more extreme WBCCI caravans.

  2. Richard,
    I “lost” a day in Italy 13 years ago because I wanted a zero day, just enjoy staying in bed late, a cup of coffee, and a small walk along an edge of Vicenza. We had been hard-charging all the other days, multiple sites per day, and I just gave out. Felt like a loss, but now I score it as smart.

    Jim

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