Alaska Bound 4 Days and Counting

flowers 012Four days.  4 DAYS.  How many lists do I have? Certainly a lot more than 4! I am blogging about this why?  I have no clue, other than the fact that it helps me to write things down. It helps me to remember.  I love to journal about times past, to write the stories as they happen, to sometimes summarize the stories years later, or summarize the year past.  I also like to write about what I am planning, because it’s so much fun to go back after the planned event and read what I thought it might be like.

Alaska.  We are embarking on the “epic journey”.  Although as I follow along as other RV’rs travel this road I am thinking maybe it is no longer quite so epic.  The highway has been tamed a bit, it seems, so I am not really expecting epic.  I expect long, I expect a bit of monotony, I expect frost heaves and gravel. 

I remember once about 40 years ago I saw the Canadian Rockies west of Calgary for the first time.  Of course I had seen photos, but nothing really prepares you for the magnificent mass of those mountains.  The closer we got to them, the less I could breathe, with their weight lying heavy in my chest.  Truly breathtaking.  I expect moments like that one to come in completely unexpected places.

flowers 092Recently there was a blog discussion about places folks wanted to go in their RV, and Alaska was the subject of many comments, both pro and con.  I don’t know why I want to go to Alaska, but I realize that it isn’t so much that I want to go to Alaska, as it is that I want to do the road.  I want to know that I “did” the road.  I know many people who did it in the days when it was a wild place, when gas was hard to come by, and the animals were everywhere.  Now, as I read the blogs, I see the standard tourist destinations come up, the photos and stories, each with a different perspective, but still very similar.  Has the road been completely tamed?  Will we be one in a long line of RV’s plying the highway?

We haven’t made any reservations, wanting instead to stay flexible in our route and our timing.  We have “plans”, though, thoughts about where we want to stay, and places we want to see.  For me, big  on the list are the lakes along the Cassiar Highway and a soak at Llaird Hot Springs, and I want to put my kayak in as many BC lakes as possible. Sure, I want to see “the mountain”, but I am not attached to it, and reading about the crowds in Denali makes it a bit less exciting.

DSC_0024 (2)For me, it is about the journey, about the feeling of the road opening up ahead to vistas I have never seen.  Flat and boring spruce, or magnificent take-your-breath-away mountains and turquoise lakes.  Either way, it’s new, and it’s far.  I like the idea of “far”.  I like actually being on the road, the driving part, the riding part, the moving part where your body is vibrating with the engine, where the unknown road opens up ahead of you, with the extra benefit of a bathroom ten feet away, and the dog and cat with us. 

Mo has been the one checking and rechecking the MoHo, making sure all is well. All wasn’t well with the house batteries, they were five years old and heating up. Scary. Especially with all the photos of RV fires that have been in the blogs lately. Last minute trip to Klamath to buy new batteries. So many folks have talked about batteries, but I couldn’t remember where to find the discussions, so Mo just did her own research and came up with two 12 volt Trojans, for some reason not sealed, but supposedly the best. Once a year maintenance. Then, while installing the batteries, she blew the big 110 amp fuse on the inverter. No clue what was wrong, but after fiddling for a long time, she made an appointment at Central Point RV.

DSC_0016With the holiday weekend coming up, we were a bit concerned, but she drove down early yesterday morning and was back in less than 6 hours with a new fuse, the generator problem solved, and the MoHo is mechanically ready to go. The technician said that the linkage to the carburetor in the generator was stuck, and that it needs to be run every few weeks to keep it clear. Mo thought the problem might have been related to the battery/inverter issue, so was glad that she had checked the generator before she went to Medford. They charged Mo 80 bucks for labor and 45 bucks (ouch) for the fuse.  Hope we don’t blow that one very often. It was great to call the night before, get an appointment for the next morning, and have all the problems solved so quickly.

The other funny story is about the Protect-a Tow. We wanted to do business locally, and RV Trailer Warehouse in Medford finally agreed to order some in and promised to save one for us. The folks there weren’t too good about returning calls, or giving us any idea of when they might actually get one in, so Mo finally ordered one on the internet directly from the Canadian manufacturer. It was actually cheaper even with shipping that the local guy quoted.  It was supposed to arrive within 8 to 12 business DSC_0020days via expedited mail. According to the tracking number, it was only processed through Toronto, Canada, on June 29th. When Mo went to Medford, she picked up a Protect-a-Tow from the folks who had ordered one and saved it for us. He said the return policy was good if we didn’t use the one we bought. We will hopefully return the one that shows up in the mail after we are long gone. Apologies to the local store, but if he had been more on top of keeping us informed, he would have had the sale, even if it WAS more expensive.

Our trip looks to be somewhere in the vicinity of 7,300 miles, just a little bit more than our cross country trip to Niagara last summer. Streets and Trips has been tweaked and shoved and waits patiently on the laptop.  Lists like this: laptop, plug, external drive, baby laptop for Mo, plug, phone, plug, charger, camera, plug, charger, baby camera, plug, charger.  GPS, GPS cord, tripods, Mo’s phone, plug, charger….GEEZ when will someone come up with a wireless charger and wireless power for all these toys.  Oh yes, Kindle, and plug.

DSC_0019Another list: passports, animal certificates, copies of important documents saved to an external,cancel the TV, cancel the paper, cancel the mail. Mow the lawn and spray the Liquid Fence once last time.  Make sure the house sitters have all the relevant phone numbers. Dog food. Cat food. Dog leash. Cat leash. Clothes for rain, clothes for being cold, clothes for being hot while still traveling through Oregon and Washington and maybe the first part of BC. How many shoes and what kind of shoes for each situation. Walking sticks. Dry bags for the kayaks. Find a dry bag for the camera in the kayak!

I finally resorted to paper lists, on those 5 inch hot pink lined Post It notes.  One for each of the next four days, lined up in a row along the counter with the piles of stuff to go to the motorhome.  More lists.  Mo install the Protect-a Tow, blow the pine needles off all the roofs today. Make cookies. Make spaghetti sauce for freezer.  And yes, “go to July Fourth Celebration in Klamath”.  That one is on Monday, and thank goodness the parade and festivities don’t actually start until 5pm, so we have all day Monday to do “stuff”.  Then Tuesday more stuff, and then finally Wednesday morning we are off.


Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

20 thoughts on “Alaska Bound 4 Days and Counting”

  1. just bring 'everything' and you won't forget 'anything'!!..North to Alaska! exciting..can't wait to ride along!..I promise to be quiet and only ask a few times for photo ops!!


  2. So excited for you. Had to laugh at your lists…here you are going off into the last frontier and a good portion of your list is devoted to electronic items and their cords and chargers! Isn't it funny how times have changed? I, for one, am certainly glad that we have the capability to go forth and conquer and yet still be connected to the rest of world and be able to make a digital record of our journey. Looking forward to all the wonderful stories and pictures that will certainly be the result of your “epic” journey. Best wishes.


  3. If you come over the pass and north through Eugene, give us a shout. We could meet for a quick coffee, if nothing else!

    Looking forward to following your trip. So excited for you! Glad Mo got the batteries and other problems solved. You will have a wonderful time on the road. The worst part is always trying to make sure you've got everything!

    Stay safe, and have fun!


  4. So exciting, I'll be following along with you. I'm considering a workamping gig for 2012, but my plan is to take the ferry to AK in May and then maybe drive back at the end of summer.


  5. Pretty exciting adventure you are about to set out on. Thinking about what I might forget is one thing that always drives me crazy before a long trip. Looks like you are doing everything possible to avoid forgetting anything crucial. Well, B.C. has lots of Walmarts if you forget anything. Looking forward to your posts from the road.


  6. Oh, Oh! I'm so looking forward to your travel posts. You sound so much like me. enjoying the journey and new vistas.

    Two years ago, June 15th to July 18th we drove SF to Vancouver and back. In between we cruised to Alaska and back, 14 days on board. Our hottest day except for the the trip from SF through Sonoma, and Redding was at Skagway. It was sweltering there. I was sorry that due to budget restraints we only saw the cruise ports but it was all new and wonderfully awesome. An experience to treasure.

    We arrived at Whittier in time to experience 4th July fireworks at midnight.

    Only a couple more *Sleeps* before you hit the road. I can feel the excitement from here.



  7. We are so excited for the two of you. Looking so forward to reading about your journey. Don't worry too much about forgetting something…there is always MaterCard. LOL! Happy and safe travels.


  8. How exciting, it's getting closer. Take your time and try to notice the little things and that will help make your trip different to everyone else's. Don't rush and stay away from some of the more touristy spots and focus more on places the locals can tell you about sometimes they are the quiet, beautiful places that most people might miss.

    We hope to do that drive one day, right now I am so jealous.

    Kevin and Ruth


  9. Are those some mighty fine new Nikon camera photos I am seeing:)) Not likely we'll make it to Alaska so we'll just have to ride along with you here in the blog. Your excitement has really ramped up my hitch itch now you know!!


  10. We lived there for 10 years and just came down the Alaska Highway. What a mess it is. Bring spare tires and make sure you put some kind of protection on your windshield, like Diamonfusion or something. The frost heaves are as many as 10 in a row. The washboard gravel roads are horrible. Never seen the roads so bad. Parts between Destruction Bay and Tok, Alaska we expected would take 5 hours took 15 hours instead. We were exhausted.
    Make sure you stay in the Rotary RV park in Fort St. John and stay away from the RV parks in Dawson Creek (expensive). Not sure if you're taking the east or west route, but the roads all the way from the border through to Alaska are awful.
    Lots of things broke in our RV on the way, but there were (thank goodness) some nice people along the way. Bring a sign to put in the signpost forest in Watson Lake.
    The state parks in Alaska have no services. No water, no septic, nothing. (because you have to dig 15 foot trenches to put in water lines in Alaska) Bring an extra can of gas and some extra water. There are very few RV parks left, but the park just outside Eagle River is really nice. Most of the parks have gone out of business.
    The Heritage RV Park in Homer is expensive but worth every penny. The park in Seward is nice, too..or you can just park on the beach.
    You will love the drive between Glennallen and Anchorage, though. The Matanuska Glacier has melted a lot in 10 years but is still pretty.
    Expect rain and 40 degrees at night with 50 to 60 in the daytime in the Anchorage area. (Also rainy in Tok area) Fairbanks – expect lots of mosquitoes.
    The services are not that great, but the views and places you'll see more than make up for it.
    Turnagain Arm is worth the trip there.
    If you have more than 5 vehicles stacked up behind you, law states you must pull over into a turnabout and let them by.
    Have fun!


  11. Oh, and don't stay at the Blue Bell Inn at Fort Nelson – it is a muddy dump with no Wifi and drunk people yelling all day and all night. And no place for pups to potty.


  12. Bring rubber boots, too. And be sure to get back down the Alaska Highway by September 15th, or you'll get caught in snow and high winds. When you start seeing termination dust in the mountains, it is time to get!


  13. Sorry to keep posting, but I remember things and then want to tell you. The Holiday gas stations have free dump sites. Best place to dump your septic.


  14. Looking forward to following along on your adventure!

    Karen and Steve

    • *”˜˜”*°•.¸☆ ★ ☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆
    ╔╗╔╦══╦═╦═╦╗╔╗ ★ ★ ★
    ║╚╝║══║═║═║╚╝║ ☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆
    ║╔╗║╔╗║╔╣╔╩╗╔╝ ★ 4th of July ☆ 2011
    ╚╝╚╩╝╚╩╝╚╝═╚╝ ♥¥☆★☆★☆¥♥ ★☆


  15. We went in 2002 in our Pick up camper..The Cassier HWY was a mess, but the Alaskan HWY was good..with lots of road construction. We would love to go again with our Hiker, but it is hard on rigs…We saw Beluga Whales at Turnagain Arm..Manley Hot Springs is fun, but a 77 mile gravel road one way…We will be following behind you!!


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