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Key West, Florida To Prudhoe Bay, Alaska


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My wife and I just started a road trip in our 1976 Chinook from Dallas Texas to Key West Florida and then on to Prudhoe Bay Alaska. Will post updates as we get them written!!!

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that sounds like a great trip. I would like to head to Alaska someday myself.

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  • 6 months later...

As you can tell I was not very good at keeping up with the progress of our trip. I will therefore write out the trip (obviously after the fact) and update postings as they are finished.

After working on our 1976 Chinook for about 6 months after we purchased it, we finally started our road trip from Dallas TX to Key West Florida and then on to Prudhoe Bay Alaska before ending in Anchorage. We decided we should go from as far south as possible to as far north as possible. We left from Dallas on April 30, one day before our 38th wedding anniversary. We made it to Key West Florida on May 3 where we did touch the Most Southern Point Monument before turning around and heading back north. It seemed that $70 a night to park the Chinook at a camp ground was a bit much and couldn’t seem to find anything cheaper.

With the way the heating system was designed in the Chinook it was a bit warm driving through Florida as there was no way to turn the heat off so had a constant flow of hot air on our feet. Had the air conditioner going full speed but couldn’t keep up with that hot Florida weather so finally just used the old fashioned air conditioning system - open the windows!

We drove from Key West to the Fort Lauderdale area and stayed for one night. We then drove just a bit west of Daytona Beach and stayed there for for a couple nights.

We had great traveling weather after we left the Daytona Beach area on our way up to Michigan to attend the wedding of a niece. But while we were traveling the back roads in south central Michigan on May 8 we lost the clutch. The slave cylinder decided it did not want to hold fluid anymore. As we had to be to a wedding rehearsal dinner that evening we rented a car and drove to the rehearsal, leaving the Chinook in Richland Michigan. We found a new part the next day in Grand Rapids, drove back to Richland. The repair took about 20 minutes, cost approximately $14, and we were back on the road again.

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After spending only one night in Grand Rapids we drove on to Chicago where we left the Chinook at O'Hare airport as we had to fly up to Alaska to work for a week. We flew back to O’Hare a week later, picked up the Chinook, and spent a few days with family in northern Indiana.

While visiting with the family in Indiana we installed a brass shut-off valve in one of the heater hoses in order to shut off the flow of hot water into the heater core. This made a huge difference in our future travels as we no longer had hot air blowing onto our feet at all times, which was great until we hit the colder weather in northern Canada and Alaska.

We decided to take Interstate 94 for the trip from Chicago to Montana. We can’t count the number of times we have driven this route over the past 35 years or so but have always went speeding down the road. What a difference it made just to take our time. We stopped at a number of places we had driven past but never spent any time. In New Salem, ND we met Salem Sue, what is claimed to be the world’s largest dairy cow (fiberglass). In Jamestown ND, at Frontier Village we saw the world’s largest buffalo (fiberglass again) and also visited a reading room and birthplace of Louis L’Amour. While these places were somewhat more tourist oriented than we normally like, they did make some great photos with the Chinook!!

Theodore Roosevelt National Park was one particular spot which amazed us at how beautiful it is. We never realized how much beauty there was just a short drive off the interstate. This is a definite must see for anyone driving through this area and it only takes about 2-3 hours to make the loop drive through the park. We saw buffalo and a couple herds of wild horses. Just east of the entrance to the park (maybe 5 or 6 miles) is the Theodore Roosevelt National Park rest area on I 94 with an overview of the park, great sunsets and sunrises, and buffalo walking through the rest area when we arrived in the late afternoon on May 24, and again at sunrise the next morning.

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I'm enjoying this. Thanks for the report and the recommendations.

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Sounds fabulous. And I agree, it is amazing how much there is to see out there, and how you can actually see it when driving at the pace of a Toyota. And thank you for the reports, it keeps me going until I can get on the road myself.

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