Back in the USA!



This is our lovely home after 7 days traveling through Canada….I think this is the “before wash” picture but the after wash still leaves a very dirty trailer. 

We are traveling through the Fraser River canyon on our last leg through BC.  After days surrounded by forests and green fields, we suddenly find ourselves in a high desert, all brown and rocky.


We are in this amazing gorge…..traveling for hours and hours along the mighty Fraser River.  After googling the river I learn it is the longest in British Columbia, 854 miles.  It is running faster than any river I’ve seen.

We are heading for Chilliwack, BC and a visit to the Escape factory.  Our planned overnight stop, a provincial park, is surprisingly full and we land at Telte Yet Campsite at Hope, BC. 

I can see the Fraser from our campsite and it’s more awesome up close!



It’s less than 30 miles from Hope to Chilliwack and two items are on our agenda before crossing back to the States. We want to see how the famous Escapes are made and I am in pursuit of a 80 watt portable solar panel that is sold at Fraserway RV in nearby Abbotsford. 

We have some very special friends who own Escapes…..it seems natural to learn more while we are here.

(Hi! Jenny and Ian..Vermont friends!  And Ranger Duke, Beverly, Vicki and Marv… Texas friends!) 

Dave from the factory gives us an excellent tour…even though we explain that we are not buyers.  We look for Tom’s (from our Egg Camping club) trailer but it’s not completely hatched yet.

The new solar panel is found and purchased and we are heading back through the border.  After a 30 minute wait, we are heading south on 9 and I am turning the cell phone back on. 

It’s hot, the road is narrow and winding and we head for the first Wal-Mart we can find.  Dinner is at Panda Express, a short walk from the super-store.

The next morning we are getting on I-5, what a traffic nightmare!  But managed to get through Seattle without a collision.

At days end we check into American Heritage Campground just below Olympia, WA.  The plan is to rest one or two nights.  I’m exhausted and did not really know it until we quit traveling!



Resting place for the past three days!


Sailboat race on Puget Sound..Olympia harbor.

I am almost back to normal.  Writing this morning seems to help get me grounded again.

Looking at the trip back through Canada, we endured many stressors but the road conditions were the worst problem.  The stretch from the Alaskan border to Haines Junction is real bad.  This is where the engine light came on both going and coming back.  One must constantly be on look out for the huge dips in the road.

Another problem is all mine….I get very anxious when my husband drives.  The twelve years between our ages has not caused much difficulty, but it does cause me to not relax when he is behind the wheel.  So I drive and drive until I’m ready to collapse; then he drives when I no longer care if we die!  I hate admitting this…. he prides himself on his excellent driving.

Problem number 3 is the amount of rain we encountered.  The roads are bad, visibility is poor and the huge tractor trailer trucks are still running wide open!

Mosquitoes come way down the problem scale.  Most of the time we could keep them out of the trailer.  It was really just a few nights that the constant whine in the ear affected our sleeping.  I got really good at catching and killing them!

Problems with the engine light stressed me.  But we were so fortunate not to have a flat tire or a rock thrown through the windshield as both frequently occur on the Alcan.

I was an emotional wreck, in need of personal space, by the end of Canada.  We had been frequently angry with each other, often yelling to relieve the strain.  One time while David was driving, I asked him to just pull over.  Got out of the car and just screamed at the trees…..it was better than screaming at him!

I’m feeling better after a rest.  We are heading south today toward the Columbia River gorge.   Hope it’s a easy drive and we find some magical place to camp!


8 weeks and 8,662 miles


We said good bye to Fairbanks 10 days ago….and started the long journey back through Canada.  After two days of resting in Tok, Alaska, we thought we were ready for the rough roads and internet deprivation.  Did not realize what was in store for us!

Our first night back in the Yukon was spent on the lovely Kluane Lake…..we learned later that it was illegal to camp there.



All the rest areas had “no overnight stay allowed” signs but this one area was not marked.  And it was getting late!  Fortunately we did not experience any problems……this was our first night to sleep without other RVs close and I was a bit anxious.

Our next night was at the Wal-Mart in Whitehorse, Yukon.  A very short travel day due to spousal misunderstandings.  Will not elaborate!

We are back in the boonies of the Cassiar Hwy, for night 3. Unfortunately we chose a primitive spot on a mosquito infested lake.  Several persistent bugs would not be caught resulting in a very poor night of sleep.

Already feeling tired, now sleep deprived, and the topo map showed one lake after another on the Cassiar Hwy…..which meant lots of mosquitos.   We decided to abandon the route and go back the Alcan…….This was not an easy decision 

We had already voted to not take the ferry trip between Haines and Skagway.  It would have been a short ferry ride connecting the two towns and costing us around $172.  We were already experiencing difficulties with the engine light and losing running light covers on the trailer. 

It was the right decision.  I could feel relief knowing that we would be returning through a somewhat familiar road.  Wondered if there would be regrets later for not seeing Steward and Hyder, towns accessible on the Cassiar? 

It’s now day 6 of the return through Canada and we are at the Quesnel Wally World.  Last night was in Fort St John’s W.M. and the night before was on a frontage road in the middle of Fort Nelson. 

We are not playing tourist!  We are just wanting to get back to the States before the stress levels zoom any higher.

Rereading my words, I realize that I have not given an accurate description of our challenges.  Imagine driving all day over roads that disappear into gravel or dirt, traveling 15 to 25 miles per hour often in the pouring rain.  During the Yukon section of the northern rockies, we were the last car in a caravan following a lead truck through miles of construction.  Not sure of the altitude but we were socked in with fog and could not see anything in front of us.  Drove for miles and finally came out in the middle of more road work!

As we have worked our way down toward the border, the roads are much better and the sun has returned today bringing big puffy clouds to dot the sky.  The two long days of constant rain are a distant memory.  Now it’s hot for the first time in weeks!



Momma mallard and her babies….seen at a rest stop.


Teslin River bridge

The above was the original post…..slightly revised.

The heading milage reflects what is on the trip odometer today, 7/26/13, almost to the US border.

Compiling 27 fill-ups…not using any of the Canadian litres fill ups…. we are averaging 15.9 miles to the gallon.  Remember that we are in a 16’ trailer that weighs less than the usual 17 ft., pulling with a 6 cyl  Tacoma.

June 1-9

Miles through the USA to Canada…….2505 miles.

Expense:  $592 for gas……..$20 for camp fees.

June 9-16

Miles through Canada …..1847 miles

Expense: $718.75 for gas……..$72 camp fees.

June 16 – July 19.

Miles in Alaska…2452 miles

Expense: $632.24 for gas…….$431 for camp fees.

Some of the figures may be slightly off….the Canada mileage looks low….will compare with the return trip when finished.

We camp for free when we can.  Our Alaska camping fees were for over a month…$111 of the $431 was for the time we spent in Anchorage while David was sick.

This morning we are in Hope, BC on the mighty Frasier River.  We are very close to Chilliwack, home of the Escape trailers, and the US border.

Thanks to everyone for their support during this challenging, but wonderful trip!


Travel Update

In Quesnel, BC heading toward the USA......encountering some difficulties......but everything looks better after a shower (in the Walmart parking lot!) and coffee.

Our check engine light came back on yesterday adding to the stress of just being exhausted. 

It's went from cold to hot in one day.....80 plus degrees in the trailer last night at sundown.....and yes!, the sun is now setting.  We saw a big moon last night rising over the store. 

My laptop battery died again last night as I was trying to upload a post. It was OK as the post was not a happy or uplifting one.....may or may not ever publish it. 

After we find an air filter for the truck, we are heading south toward Chilliwack.

Using the tablet's Blogger app to post this and there's no picts worth publishing.  Just wanting to let everyone know that we are OK.


More Denali and Fairbanks


Horseshoe Lake at Denali National Park

This is our third night in Fairbanks at the Chena River RV Park.  Much thanks goes to John for telling us about this convenient campground.  After 6 days in Denali with limited groceries, camping across from a Safeway and Fred Meyers grocery was appealing.

We have been doing city stuff…..visiting the University of Alaska Museum and the Pioneer Park both of which are located close to this campground.  Also managed to get everything clean but the Casita….the truck got washed, the clothes, our bodies and I got a haircut!  Also bought lots of groceries….we were down to a few leftovers.

Absolutely pigged out at the Mayan Mexican restaurant the first night here and, while walking the next morning, we found the Loose Moose CafĂ© which had a caribou sausage omelet with pancakes.  It’s embarrassing how much we ate!  Like we had not been in a restaurant for weeks….but, don’t think that we have had anything but fast food….other than hubby’s excellent grilling.


Chena River site…nestled in between the white spruce and quaking aspens.

Pioneer Park had been our destination before John told us about Chena River.  It’s city run and they allow RV’s to stay in the parking lot for $15 a night.

There’s a restored train car from President ? visiting when the railroad was completed back in the 20’s.



We also toured an old paddlewheel full of dioramas.


(This is where the laptop battery died last night.  Resuming post this AM at Starbucks in the Fred Meyer grocery.

Woke this AM contemplating going to Wal-Mart and buying a new laptop…no Best Buy in Fairbanks!)

Anyway, back to Pioneer Park!  There were flowers everywhere.




While riding the bus at Denali, our driver discussed an exhibit at the University of Alaska’s Museum.  This is the 100 year anniversary of the first successful climb of Denali and the exhibit has pieces of the journals kept by the four climbers.  Imagine the hardships of climbing a 20,320 foot mountain in 1913!   And there was a spiritual connection…..one of the climbers was Hudson Stuck, the Episcopal arch deacon of Fairbanks.  He started the whole project to raise money for his church!


At the Museum.


IMG_1761Inter Tidal Pools by Steve Gordon


In Nenana, a town close to Fairbanks, we met another person, Joanne Fairbanks, with an inspiring story.

Her  shop, The Tripod Gift Shop, was next to this visitor center.


We were buying t-shirts and chatting when I spied a book at the check-out.  She said it was her story of how she drove to Alaska, alone, in the winter, 40 years ago!   It’s a memoir that I could not put down.  She’s now pushing 70 with the feistiness still obvious!

The book “Alaska, the Land of M&M’s (Men and Money)” can be purchased here.


Our campsite at Riley Creek…Denali.


Waiting for the bus! Denali.

More from Denali……Arctic Ground Squirrel


Savage River Hike   Denali





I’m going to find a way to return to Denali……….it’s energy is already calling me back.

Heading out today….will get to Tok in a day or so and then it’s the long trek back through Canada.  

Plan to post some travel statistics soon. 


Sunshine and Denali


This is the end of six days at Riley Creek campground in Denali National Park and I can’t remember when I’ve been so sad to leave a place.  I just love it here!  Seeing Denali again would be the best reason to return to Alaska!

Meet Mt McKinley!  The Mountain refused to show its face the first 3 trips we made into the park but on Friday, blessed with abundant sunshine and clear blue skies, this is what was seen.

First glimpse McKinley


I can’t remember how far away we were…..seems like we were about 75 miles away when it first appeared. 

I took one of the green shuttle buses to Eielson Visitor Center which is 66 miles into the national park.  Travel is restricted after 15 miles and the pavement ends.  It took 8 hours to travel the 66 miles and return……8 hours in a bus similar to a school bus and on a washboard road!  But we saw three of the big five animals and the mountain! We were very far away from some of the critters….like the Dall Sheep.  Can you see them?

Dall Sheep

My camera is only 6 mp….this was the best I could do.  There is a sheep in the exact middle.

But back to the mountain.



As we got closer the clouds started moving in….by the time we got to Eielson, only the top and bottom could be seen.



I realize that I am going on and on about this mountain, but it is a really big deal to be able to see it!  We joined the 30% club as only 1/3 of the visitors to the park get a glimpse of the mighty McKinley.

One more picture before we move on!


The park employees were constantly reminding us of the protocol around the wildlife.


“If you see a bear, don’t run!  They will think you are prey and outrun you.

“If a moose comes toward you, run into the trees zig-zagging.”

“And don’t let a wolf get into your space…throw rocks or sticks…but don’t hurt him!”

Wolf sightings are kind of rare.  Bears are seen more frequently but we were advised that moose were more likely to cause problems.  Females will charge if their babies are around.  This momma moose had a baby but the picture was made from the safety of the bus….she was on the side of the road.

red squirrel



This caribou refused to show his front side…..look at that rack!

I’m getting sleepy….will write more later about this great park.

We are leaving here tomorrow, heading for Fairbanks and the last week of our time in Alaska.

David’s healing….has rarely mentioned his shoulder in the past two days.  He did not do the bus trip but felt like hiking today.

Hope to post this tomorrow, Sunday!


The Good, the Bad and that’s Life!

Iditarod Tr Seward

It’s a lot easier to write about sunny days filled with blue-green water and purple mountains than to write about the other less pleasant times.  This past week was filled with bad weather and pain, hubby’s physical pain and my emotional challenges.

It started with the rain in Seward, one week ago.  Bone chilling buckets of water forcing us to stay inside.  Then the wind blew howling in off the bay.  The problems with David’s shoulder were worsening; he’s constantly rubbing his shoulder and arm with pain on his face.  On Monday, he finds me at the library and we head to the Steward general store that’s selling Alaskan style rainproof coats for 50% off.  Our Tennessee rain jackets were not doing the job!  Then we drove to Exit Glacier to see the national park.

husband in new coat Exit Glacier

Posing at Exit Glacier in the new waterproof jacket.  (Feeling good at that moment.)


City park next to our campsite in Seward.

rain in seward

View 0n Monday from the Casita in Seward


Breaking camp rain-free is a blessing and we are heading toward the Chugach National Forest and Portage Valley.  A side trip to the town of Hope provides some scenic vistas.

road to Hoperoad to Hope

The Williwaw campground honors our senior pass thus costing $9 for the night. Hubby grills halibut, shooing off mosquitoes with one hand and holding his shoulder with the other, all in the pouring rain.

This is no fun!  There’s lots of hiking trails here and wonderful new plants to see in the forest but we pack up and head out trying to find warmer, drier weather.  And it’s become apparent that medical help is needed as the pain just keeps getting worse.

Wednesday is just awful!  Some comfort sounds good after the days of cold and wet and we opt for a site with an electric hookup in Anchorage.  Ship Creek RV Park is in downtown and the helpful work-campers recommend an orthopedic clinic.  We unhook and David tries to drive while I read road signs and interpret directions to the doctor.  It’s a nerve-wrecking trip as the pain has increased to an unbearable level.

The doctor gives him steroid shots and prescriptions for pain pills, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxers.  The shots do nothing to ease the pain and he is walking out the door in the same distress.

This is where I am just about to lose it.  Over 5,000 miles from home and trying to care for someone I love in the tiny trailer!

(I hesitate to elaborate on this unpleasantness….but decide to keep it in the story as it’s the truth, though not pretty.)

The next two days are rest days for him and chore days for me with laundry and grocery shopping.  And I learn how to navigate Anchorage using the voice directions on my smarter –than-me phone.Anchorage downtown

downtown Anchorage

Flower beds in downtown Anchorage.


traveling small

Smart Car and trailer that caught my eye…envious of their gas mpg!

All the meds seem to be working…..not working great but he’s in much less discomfort.  By Saturday we are heading toward Denali National Park and Fairbanks.  The weather forecast for Fairbanks looks much, much better.  Maybe some sun and warmth will help the patient.

Talkeetna is about a hundred miles north of Wasilla and there’s several campgrounds there.  We arrive and flee the town within 45 minutes!  Can’t drive as the tiny town is full of people in the streets… After all, it is still the holiday weekend.

New plan is to spend the night on the side of the road.  We love the price and after 3 nights of $36, we feel like economizing.

Crossing a bridge, we notice several small motorhomes on the river’s gravel bar.  With a little exploring and a lot of guts (or stupidity to travel such a bad road) we arrive at our new boon docking site.

I’ll let the pictures tell this story.  This is the Susitna River, 5 miles north of Talkeetna.




The tiny bird on the gravel bar is really not so small.  He’s one of two bald eagles that are fishing the river.


We enjoyed watching the eagles and the local kids on their 4 wheelers

Sunday we arrive at Denali National Park…there’s no campsites available so we head back down the road and pull over with other RV’ers 

Pull over on the Parks Hwy south of Denali.


Hubby is slowly getting better……the sun is trying to shine and we are taking it a day at a time.  Thanks to everyone for the support!   

Posted from site B-40, 12:30 PM, Denali National Park