There have been some changes to the plan for our AlCan cheap car challenge, but at least we’re still moving forward.
Turns out Washington has some... lets say inconvenient laws around vehicle purchasing and we became unconvinced the we could still buy cars in Washington, cross an international border, and travel 2000 miles in a foreign country with an acceptable level of risk.
Something had to give.
The tl;dr of our research is that Washington state does not appear to issue temporary licence plates and they only allow 15 days to register a vehicle after purchase. They do issue 3-day trip permits, of which you can purchase up to 3, but that is it. We considered just registering the vehicles, but apparently without a Washington State ID and address, that wasn’t going to happen.
Basically, they’re fucking us.
Actually they’re just doing what they think is best for the state and fucking us is an unhappy side effect.
Our options as we saw them were thus:
Ship the first road trip cars (which we all still own) to Seattle and then ship them back from Anchorage. I was probably the biggest cheerleader for this option as I think it would be delightful to finish the trip that we’d started in those cars back in 2015. However, the logistics and expense of shipping three cars across the continent, twice, was a bit much for the other two and I respect that.
Then there was the option of re-planning a totally different trip to take place at the same time. We have a lot of trip ideas available so it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to pull one of those out of mothballs. That said, all of us are pretty much in love with the idea of this trip so... that option is off the table.
That leaves us with our two leading options:
Option 1: Find an adjacent state with more favorable laws to purchase cars in. This basically meant Vancouver or Portland. Vancouver had the benefit of halving the number of border crossings we needed to make in these cars, but made getting those cars into the US... interesting. Portland we have been unable to determine the applicable laws, but have some feelers out to see what our options are.
Option 2: Buy cars at home, title and register them, and ship them to Seattle. This has the benefit of being 100% legal and above board. It does add to the expense of the trip a little, but considering the car market in Oklahoma at least is pretty cheap, we’re thinking it might be a wash.
Option 2 is the one that appears to be capturing our imaginations the most as it has some pretty strong benefits. First off, cars don’t rust here. Also AWD cars don’t command a premium like I assume they do in the PWN. All this means that I assume if we wanted to and chose correctly, we could... well not make money but lose less money than usual. Or at the least should be able to pick cars that are easy to sell in Alaska. Also option 2 gives us the opportunity to take a look at riskier cars that we wouldn’t ordinarily look at.
Option 1.... well it doesn’t have a ton going for it. It better preserves the manic hunt for a car, but doesn’t reduce the risk much and adds a lot of miles.
If I were to guess I would say we’ll end up with option 2.