Adios Anchorage

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We arrived in Anchorage on Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) and checked in to the finest RV park in Anchorage. Alaska is part of the the United States, but in many ways it is a different country. The finest RV park in Anchorage (the biggest city in Alaska) has very tight unlevel dirt sites with only 30 amp electrical hookups. Read More...

Visiting Redoubt Mountain Lodge

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There is only one parcel of private property located on Crescent Lake deep in the heart of Lake Clark National Park. (If you have not read about Lake Clark National Park you might want to read the previous blog post before reading this post.) Located on this five acre parcel of property is Redoubt Mountain Lodge. We found the lodge on the internet while searching for bear viewing opportunities early last spring. After reading about it we contacted them to make reservations. They had one opening for the 2016 season. We booked the last cabin for the two days that it was available. We wanted to stay at least four days, but at least we were able to get two days. We called and emailed several times hoping for cancellations, but it did not happen. Read More...

Lake Clark National Park

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The National Park Service describes Lake Clark National Park as "a land of stunning beauty where volcanos steam, salmon run, bears forage, craggy mountains reflect in turquoise lakes." I agree with the description, but they forgot the glaciers, waterfalls, loons and the other wildlife that inhabit the area. Lake Clark National Park is a back country park. There are no roads, there are no campgrounds. The only way to get there is by small plane. Read More...

Becoming an Outdoors Woman

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Several years ago we saw a BOW flyer posted on a bulletin board in a West Virginia Forest Ranger's office. BOW - Becoming an Outdoors Woman, is a weekend workshop for women. The program offers classes on all kinds of outdoor skills. Since that time, I have checked in every state we have stayed in for any length of time to see if they have a BOW program. Alaska offers BOW through Alaska Fish and Game. I signed up for the program and was accepted. Read More...

Blue Angels

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For the past week, we have watched and listened to jets flying over the RV for hours every day. This is not like what you hear from passenger airplanes - this is so loud it shakes the rv. About midweek we put two and two together and realized that we were watching the Blue Angels along with other jets practicing for an airshow at the military base that is about 3 miles from us (as the crow flies). Read More...

Wrangell-St Elias Adventures

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While visiting the town of McCarthy is an adventure in itself, we had a few adventures planned for our time there. One day, Mary went pack-rafting with a guide. They hiked several miles up McCarthy Creek Trail carrying pack-rafts. A pack-raft is a lightweight inflatable boat that is designed for using in places that you can't drive to. Mary and the guide hiked up for several hours, put on dry-suits (a necessity in the cold water), blew up the pack-rafts and floated back to town on McCarthy Creek in about thirty minutes. Read More...

Visiting McCarthy, AK

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McCarthy, Alaska is located across the river at the end of a sixty mile dirt road (known as the worst road in Alaska) in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. A foot bridge provides access to McCarthy. There are two ways for outsiders to get to McCarthy - fly or walk across the footbridge. If you have not read the previous blog post, End of the Road, you might want to do so before reading this post since it provides some background information about McCarthy. Read More...

The End of the Road

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Wrangell-St Elias is the largest national park in the United States with 13.2 million acres. It rises from the ocean all the way up to Mount St. Elias with an elevation of 18,008 feet The park has multiple glaciers, volcanos and peaks along with rivers, creeks and natural springs. The park is six times the size of Yellowstone. It has four major mountain ranges which included nine of the sixteen highest peaks in the United States. There are glaciers larger than Rhode Island. Flowing from the glaciers are silt filled rivers. Read More...

The Reindeer Farm

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Alaska doesn't have a DisneyWorld or a SixFlags, but it does have the Reindeer Farm. I have discovered that some people think reindeers are imaginary, but I am here to tell you that they are indeed real. Reindeer are domesticated caribou. Alaska and Canada have caribou herds and people also raise caribou - which makes them domesticated and therefore reindeer. Read More...

Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

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Mary had three and a half days off this week and we decided to see if we could book some last minute travel. We were able to find a full-day kayaking trip among icebergs, a four-hour horseback ride, and a half-day fishing trip on the Kenai Peninsula. Finding lodging was not quite as easy. We finally found a place with over priced space available (everything in Alaska is expensive and although this place had less expensive rooms advertised, they said they were not available). We booked the room and the activities regardless of price - when will we be back to Alaska? Maybe never better take advantage now. Read More...

Superlatives or Not

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We have spent quite a bit of time traveling. Based on our experiences here are the best and worst of places where we have spent enough time to have a fair biased opinion (yes, I meant biased). I am sure there are many categories we have omitted by accident and some we omitted because there were no "stand outs." We only included places where we have been multiple times or for several months.
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Life in the Schoolyard

We found a unique opportunity in Anchorage. We are school stewards at the largest school in the state. Being a school steward is the best volunteer position we have ever held. As a school steward, we live in the school parking lot. The school provides us with electrical hookup, water hookup and wifi (which we don't need because we have our own). Our duties are very simple - we live in the school parking lot and notify authorities if there is a problem. We provide weekly pumping out of our sewage tanks ($40 - this is our choice some people take their RV to a dump station and dump the tanks as needed). The school gets a human presence on campus and we get a great place to live for three months with our only cost being $40 a week which is less than one night in an RV park. Read More...

Cheryl's Visit

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Earlier this year Cheryl (my younger sister) said she was going to visit us if we went to Alaska. Lots of people say they are going to visit us but fewer than half actually do visit. Cheryl hates being cold and the last place in the United States that I would expect her to visit us is in Alaska. However, Cheryl arrived from Charlotte, NC on June 9th. Even though it is summer, we made sure that her bed had an electric mattress pad on it so she would be warm. I also pulled out my winter clothes and jackets so she would have extra clothing if she got cold. She did not arrive until 10:00 PM (which was 2:00 AM in Cheryl's time zone). When we got to the RV I showed her how to operate the electric mattress pad and to turn on the fireplace if she got cold under the down comforter and fleece blankets on her bed. Read More...

Alaska Update

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We have been in Alaska for a month. It is warmer than we had anticipated and the weather has been beautiful. Things are turning green and flowers are blooming in the woods and in yards. One of the most prolific bloomers smells lovely and has beautiful white flowers. These trees are everywhere in the woods and in peoples yards. I liked them so much that I looked on the Internet to find out what they were. Come to find out, they are Chokecherry trees which is an invasive species that is deadly to moose. After finding out about the trees, I don't think they are so pretty anymore.
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Week One in Alaska

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Thank goodness for GPS. We are still trying to find our way around Anchorage both on foot/bike and in vehicles. We have found grocery stores, a laundry mat, a car wash and other necessities. We also have a mailbox at the UPS store; hopefully we will be able to find the UPS store again so we can get our mail. Read More...

Free Advice & Observations - Worth Every Penny

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This post is for RVers planning their first trip from the lower 48 to Alaska. We crossed the Canadian border on April 21 and arrived in Anchorage on May 5th. My first piece of advice is to purchase the latest issue of The Milepost before leaving home. Use the book to help you plan your route. There are some things the book does not tell you - dates a campground is open, which are the nicer options for RV parks, etc. Good Sams RV Park Finder was very helpful for finding info about the RV parks along the way. In addition to using The Milepost for planning, we used it every single day of our journey to check for diesel fuel locations and what we could expect along the way. Read More...

Anchorage

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No one would ever describe our lives as boring, but occasionally things get a little more exciting than we like. Today was one of those days. We got up this morning anxious to start finding our way around Anchorage. I wanted to go by the school we will be baby-sitting for the summer (through the Camper Host program) and Mary wanted to go by REI and check-in. Read More...

Tok, AK to Anchorage, AK

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I wish I could say the road conditions from Tok to Anchorage were good, but they were not. It was another day filled with frost heaves, potholes, long gravel sections, and road construction. The scenery on the drive was beautiful and we saw several moose and trumpeter swans. I'm not sure any of that makes up for the road conditions. The good news is that on our way back to the lower 48 we will get the worst driving days over at the beginning of the trip. Read More...

Day Four & Five on the Alaska Highway

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We decided to take a rest day in Whitehorse, YT. Whitehorse is quite the city. Mary says it a town because of it's population (about 28,000) but I say it is a city because everything is relative. The population of the entire Yukon is about 37,000. Whitehorse has a Walmart, public transportation, a prison, an airport (you can get to Whitehorse from anywhere), multiple fast food establishments, government buildings, paved roads, parking meters and lots of things that make it a city instead of a town. Besides that it is all relative and in the Yukon Territories, Whitehorse is the one and only city. Read More...

Day Three on the Alaska Highway

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Moxie and I got up about 5:30 this morning so we could go for a walk around the lake. We were on the trail by 6:00. Moxie loves her morning walks. The first half of the walk was between the lake and the back of businesses along the highway. About a fourth of the way into the hike we entered into a wooded area which continued throughout the remainder of the hike. The hike was a couple of miles long and at one point I wondered about wild animals in the area - especially since we were out early and that is when the wild animals like to eat their breakfast. Read More...

Day Two on the Alaska Highway

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Today was probably the very best day we have ever had on the road. It started with breakfast at the Triple G Getaway in Fort Nelson. We were seated at the bar on stools made from horse saddles. Mary was taking pictures and one of the staff told her that to take pictures she had to have a hat and a beer in her hand. We were the first customers of the 2016 season and before we left we knew everyone who worked at the place and had agreed to come back.

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Day One on the Alaska Highway

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The next morning, we took some time to clean out our sewage tanks (since we had not been able to do that since we left West Yellowstone. One thing I am picky about is keeping those tanks clean - I know it drives Mary crazy that I am so picky about it, but we do not have any issues with odors or clogs that so many RVer have. We met some people from Knoxville, TN in the RV park that were also heading to Alaska. The were searched at the Canadian border.
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Milepost 0 - The Alaska Highway

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We left Jasper and headed to Grande Prairie, Alberta. In Jasper all the deciduous trees had leaves on them. By the time we got to Grand Prairie the trees were just starting to bud out. The road between Jasper and Grand Prairie is a logging road and The Milepost (a book published each year for people driving to Alaska) did not recommend it, however, we talked to some people from Grande Prairie who were pulling an RV larger than ours and they said the road was fine. Taking the road shortened our travel by several hours. Read More...

Jasper, Alberta

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Jasper has certainly put its best foot forward for us. We have met friendly locals who happily recommend restaurants, bike trails and hikes to us. The weather has been outstanding - warm sunny days. While Jasper National Park's winter RV campground could use some updating at least it is open and provides electricity.

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Creature Comforts

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Since we left Boise on April 17th, we have slowly been giving up creature comforts. We have not had TV since we left Boise. On April 21st, we crossed the border into Canada and lost wifi (the wifi we have for the RV is only good in the US). At the campground in Banff, there was a faucet so we could fill our water tank when we arrived and a dump station where we could empty our tanks when we left. This means we had running water in the RV. While there was no water or sewage at our campsite and getting water and emptying our tanks took a bit of effort, we did have a working water system in the RV. Read More...

Icefields Parkway

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Mary got up early this morning and we were on the road by 8:30. The elk were waiting at the campground exit to tell us goodbye. They were in the road and on both sides of the road. I thought Mary had gotten up early because was excited about driving Icefields Parkway, but I was wrong. Between Banff and the start of Icefields Parkway is a bakery that Mary loves. She suggested we stop there for breakfast. We had breakfast at the bakery and Mary left with a L-A-R-G-E bag of assorted pastries. Read More...

Banff & Lake Louise

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We like the Banff / Lake Louise area. We expected the towns to be pretty deserted this time of year since it is after ski season and not yet tourist season. We were wrong. There are quite a few people in town and in the campground. We were also wrong in our thinking that the trails would be muddy and possibly snow covered. It looked like the trails have been snow free for quite a while - they are dry. Our thinking was based on what we had read about the area in early spring (April & May) we were pleased to find that we could hike and bike on the trails and that areas that are generally closed because of impassable roads are open. Read More...

On to Alberta, Canada

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Leaving Yellowstone did not start out too well. The truck developed some odd electrical issue while sitting in West Yellowstone - it had no lights and the fuel gauge read zero (Mary was sure it had 3/4 tank of fuel). When the truck has no lights, the RV has no lights. We figured it must be a fuse issue so we got out the manual, found the fuse box and realized that there were way to many fuses for us to start messing with and according to the manual you had to disconnect the battery to check some of the fuses. Read More...

Yellowstone National Park

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We arrived in West Yellowstone, MT early afternoon. The town appeared to be deserted - nothing was open, there were very few cars. The RV park (the only one open) was vacant except for two RVs (one appeared to have been unoccupied for a long time). The owner of the RV park asked if we planned to eat out and warned us there weren't many places open. We parked the RV and got it set up before heading to Yellowstone National Park. Read More...

Go!!!!!

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Here is the most up to date route plan. Of course things are always subject to change along the way. We do not have a time table for travel, but we have figured out that we will be driving at least eleven days (perhaps more depending on what we find along the way). We have tentatively planned stops, but no set days for arriving at those locations. Read More...