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March 24th - London

No sooner have I finished my Singapore to Macau blog (the link is at the bottom of this blog), than I am on the 'treadmill' of my next blog, this time for a drive from California to Alaska.

First credit is due to my old school chum, Peter W, for his suggestion of the North to Alaska title. Thanks, Peter.

Once again we will be joined on this drive by our great friends, Bob and Thelma Howells, who will be driving their Toyota Landcruiser. Both our cars are currently in a 40ft container being shipped from China to Long Beach, California.

The cars are due to arrive at the end of this week. They will then have to clear US customs before the cars will be taken to Malibu, ready for the drive to Alaska.

I'll give a detailed route itinerary once we have settled on the exact route.

March 26th - London

I've now posted two maps of our planned route. The first shows our route from Malibu to Skagway, Alaska. The second takes the route into Canada, through the Yukon and back into Alaska and via Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay and then down to Anchorage.

There are a few places where we haven't made a decision where we will be staying, mainly whilst we are on the drive from Malibu to Seattle. We have booked up in all those places where there is very limited accomodation available, especially in the wilds of the Yukon and Alaska.

We are booked on the three main ferry routes we are taking: Port Hardy to Prince Rupert, Prince Rupert to Skagway and Skagway to Haines.

It appears the cars have arrived in Long Beach, or are about to arrive, as our agent is sending all the customs documentation down to Long Beach on Monday. It will be interesting to see how long US Customs take to release the cars. When we sent the car to the States in 2005 for the Panamericana, it took two weeks.

April 5th

Good news!

We have just heard from our US shipping agent that both Bob's and my car have been cleared by US customs and are being released early next week. I have arranged for the cars to be collected from Long Beach and taken to Malibu for storage.

April 9th - The cars have arrived in the States

After a year of planning this trip, we have the final piece of the jigsaw in place: the cars are safely parked up in Malibu, California.

I say ready, but that's not quite true as there is a lot of work that needs doing to my Landcruiser to get it properly prepared for the 4,000 miles of driving up to the Arctic Ocean. The most urgent repairs to be done are on the front brakes, which have warped discs, causing quite severe brake judder. This has been a recurring problem on the Landcruiser. After heavy braking on mountain passes the brakes get very hot and the discs can then warp This has happened before in China and South Africa. The current discs have been skimmed once and it is now time to fit new ones, which I will do in May.

Returning to the events of yesterday. When my son Edward went to collect the cars from the shipping agent, just south of Los Angeles, things did not go as I had planned!

When we drove the car on its final leg of the SE Asia tour, from Behai to Macau, we ran the car very low of diesel. We did this because it is a requirement when shipping a car in a container that it has very little fuel in the tank. Well, I didn't realise just how little fuel there was in the tank, when I left the car with the agent in Macau, because as Ed drove the car out of the Los Angeles container depot it ran out of diesel! Now, starting a diesel after it has run out of fuel can be a problem, as was the case yesterday. He had the car towed to a garage, filled it up with diesel, but try as he might the car wouldn't start. He called me in London and I phoned Chris, who has prepared the car for all the events we have done, to find out what we could do to start the car. The solution to the problem was that, unknown to me, there is a priming pump that allows you to prime the system with diesel and expel any air. Once I had phoned Ed back with the solution he managed to get the car started.

Bob's Landcruiser was loaded on to a tow truck and Edward led the truck across Los Angeles and up the coast to the house in Malibu, where the cars will be stored until we start the event in July. I'll post a photo of the cars in my next posting.

With the cars in the States, we are getting very excited about the trip. We have always wanted to drive up to Alaska and now that will become a reaility, in just a few months time.

May 12th - Latest News

Here goes with the latest news on our North to Alaska trip.

The car has been garaged at the house in Malibu awaiting my ace technician, Chris, to arrive and carry out a load of work to get it ready for the start in late July. There are three main jobs to do. Fitting of new discs to the front brakes to overcome the brake judder from the existing warped discs. A general service and check of the car and finally the fitting of the windscreen stone guard that I bought on the internet from a company in Australia.

Well, the discs have been fitted and the final part of the servicing, the oil and filter change will be done, by the Chevron garage just down the road from the house, later on this week. That has left the fitting of the stone guard.

The stone guard is designed to stop the worst of flying stones on gravel roads from hitting the windscreen. Apparently the Dalton Highway, the 600 miles of gravel road from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay, is notorious for windscreen breakages. These are caused by the oil company trucks throwing up stones as they travel up and down to the North Shore oilfields.

Well, to make sure the guard was fitted how I wanted, my son Ed e-mailed me photos of the guard placed on the windscreen, prior to permanent fitting. The two photos below show the guard in the 'down' position to give protection and then in the 'up' position when the guard is not needed.

A photo looking through the windscreen with the guard in the 'down' position. You can just see Bob and Thelma's Landcruiser parked in the garage.

The latest news on the route is that we are now fully booked at all the overnight stops where there is limited accomodation avaliable. This was especially important for the stops in the Yukon at Beaver Creek and Haines Junction, and then in Alaska at Wiseman and Prudhoe Bay.

May 13th - Picasa Collage

Posted by Picasa
Just managed to set up Picasa 3 so that I can edit photos easily and post direct to the blog. Here's my first attempt a collage of photos showing the stone guard on the Landcruiser

June 2nd - London

With just under six weeks to go till we fly out to California, all the final preparations are being made. Virtually all the key hotels and ferries have been booked, with only those hotels in California and Oregon to arrange. As we haven't finally decided on our route to Seattle we most likely will leave the bookings until the last moment.

We are giving some thought to what we will do after we finish the tour in Anchorage. We had planned on shipping the cars back to the UK, but Bob made a comment some time ago about driving across Canada, and that has set me thinking!

We are looking into the possibility of shipping the cars from Anchorage to Vancouver, storing them there over winter, and then in April/May 2010 driving from Vancouver to, St.John's, Newfoundland, which is as far east as you can go!

We will keep everyone updated as our plans develop.
The web links to previous adventure drives, as well as our next drive across Canada in April/May 2010 and this blog's archives, are at the bottom of this page.

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