June 29, 2024

RV ALASKA - Mile 0 - We Made It to the Alaska Highway!

I am officially out of my comfort zone.  Our stay at Whistlers Campground in Jasper National Park marked the last place we had reservations anywhere until we reach Denali State Park in Alaska.  For an overly zealous planner like me, this situation is causing an undue amount of stress.

Alan and I had made a conscious decision to keep our calendar as wide open as possible for the weeks we would be spending in Canada and Alaska.  (Our friend Bernie would be proud of us.)  That would allow plenty of flexibility in our itinerary so that we could stay a bit longer in any town or campground that caught and held our attention.  Despite the angst, I do still think that was the right choice for this kind of trip, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.  And for the record, I don’t.

June 26, 2024

RV ALASKA - Yeah, We're Lovin' Jasper!

The weather continues to be “iffy” with big dark clouds appearing daily in the late afternoon, often accompanied by intermittent showers here in Jasper.  We’re still making the most of every day – we just toss our rain jackets in the truck and go on with our plans.  My efforts to not fall behind in posts are failing, so this one will cover everything we did during the four days we were in Jasper.

On one of the four days, we took a leisurely drive down Maligne Lake Road to see the lake.  On another, we retraced our steps along the Icefields Parkway as far as Peyto Lake (which was the first stop we missed).  The remaining two days were spent exploring the town of Jasper, bicycling around the campground and catching up on camp and household chores.  We really had a great time in Jasper, and I’d go back there in a heartbeat.

June 21, 2024

RV ALASKA - Traveling the Icefields Parkway

The first thing Alan and I did on the morning of our departure from the Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court in Banff was peek out the window as soon as we woke up.  Ah, no snow on the ground.  What a relief!  Once we were on the road, we did take note of the gray and gloomy skies ahead.

In the “Road Trips” section in the Summer 2024 issue of “Where: Canadian Rockies,” the tourist guide describes the Icefields Parkway like this: “Touted as one of the most beautiful drives in the world, this 230 km/143 mile route between Lake Louise and Jasper traces the Continental Divide.  See glaciers, rugged peaks and frequent wildlife.”  “Frequent” wildlife was not our experience – “entertaining” wildlife was.  But Alan and I agreed the Icefields Parkway was the most spectacular road we’ve ever driven during our entire relationship spanning nearly five decades.  We hadn’t even reached Jasper before we had vowed to make the drive again.

June 19, 2024

RV ALASKA - Touring Yoho, Glacier, Mt. Revelstoke and Kootenay National Parks

Aside from the nine elk dining outside our window, we had yet to see any of the other wildlife for which this area of Canada is known.  Disappointed, yes, but that didn’t deter us from keeping an eye out anywhere and everywhere we went.  Our luck was about to change.

June 17, 2024

RV ALASKA - Lake Louise & Moraine Lake (Banff National Park)

As we transition into sightseeing mode, I’ll take a moment to set the stage for this great adventure.  Alan and I are traveling in a 2024 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4x4 pickup truck and towing a 2017 32’ Outdoors RV Creek Side travel trailer, affectionately known as “The Lodge.”   We left our kayaks at home, but brought our bikes – two Diamondback hybrids that work well on pavement and adequately on dirt or gravel trails.  We lock ‘em up everywhere we go because we love them and don’t want to lose them.  We’re also traveling with a small Honda EU2000i generator, a bunch of tools, two spare trailer tires, one spare truck tire, 10 extra gallons of gas, a marine radio with weather alerts and, believe it or not, a porta-potty for day-long expeditions in the outback.  Combine camping with boating (or boating with camping, depending on your perspective) and you come up with the oddest selection of gear.

June 15, 2024

RV ALASKA - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

After Alan and I left the Bonner County Fairgrounds in Sandpoint, Idaho, and were heading north toward the Canadian border, we agreed that we finally felt like the RV ALASKA trip had begun.  Although we had been on the road for just over three weeks, our days had been full of camping with family and friends and dealing with routine chores and the infamous truck/trailer issue.   With all of the angst behind us, our spirits were lighter and our sense of adventure had rejoined the trip.

June 13, 2024

RV ALASKA - #%&*! - Or How We Spent National Go RVing Day

We came to La Grande, Oregon, to have our trailer brakes and bearings replaced by an RV repair shop in town, run by a couple of guys with long histories in the RV industry.  Just routine maintenance – or so we thought.  After all, this travel trailer has over 40,000 miles on it.  While we were in La Grande, we were trying to resolve the “check trailer wiring” and “service trailer brake system” messages we were getting on the new truck.  Luckily, the GMC dealer in Baker City squeezed us in to take a look.  They said it was the plug where the trailer connects to the truck, but they didn’t have one in stock.  They were kind enough to call around for us, and found a shop along our route in Spokane, Washington, that had the plug and said they would be able to fit us in on Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m.  With a four-hour drive and at least one gas stop ahead of us, we left La Grande a little after 6:00 a.m. on Saturday.  Until that day, the alerts we had been getting were intermittent, and the trailer brakes always came back on.  Not so on Saturday.  We had no trouble at all during the entire drive to Spokane, and we believed that replacing the trailer brakes had fixed a problem we didn’t realize we had.  But when we were about a mile from the dealership, our trailer brakes went out completely – and didn’t come back.

June 09, 2024

RV ALASKA - Life on the Road Ain't Always Glamorous

Traveling by RV is often romanticized in movies, books and, of course, on social media.  Every new day is full of adventure and perfection.  Well, in real life, that’s not always true.  As Alan likes to say, “No bad days,” but that’s more about our attitude toward the day and less about what the day, itself, contains.

June 07, 2024

RV ALASKA - Severe Stress Over Severe Weather

There’s a reason we don’t usually travel through the Midwest during the spring and early summer.  It looks like this:

We often pack our handheld marine radio on our travels for access to NOAA weather radio alerts.  Crossing the Midwest at this time of year made the radio more of a necessity than a luxury.  When we left Shady Creek Recreation Area in Iowa, Alan and I were planning to spend one night at the Buffalo Country Fairgrounds in Kearney, Nebraska, and the next at Cabela’s campground in Sidney, also in Nebraska.  After checking the weather forecast on the morning of our departure from Shady Creek, we realized we might need a Plan B.

June 04, 2024

RV ALASKA - Working Our Way West, One Mile at a Time

Life on the road.  I don’t want to say that you love it or hate it.  I think it’s more that you take to it – or you don’t.  Alan and I must be kindred spirits; we’ve been roadtripping together forever.  There’s a certain rhythm to life on the road, with responsibilities and routines falling into place.  Because we don’t camp at all from late fall until spring, the first outing of the year always involves a little bit of discombobulation – for me, anyway.  Inevitably, I make rookie mistakes – turning the water heater on LP gas when we’re plugged into electric.  Failing to get the black tank chemicals and two gallons of water we add to it after we dump prepped before we need them – nothing serious, just annoying.  Then, we fall into the rhythm of the road, and all is well.  I love life on the road.

June 02, 2024

RV ALASKA - The Journey Begins!

Our family camped at Northampton Beach Campground on Great Lake Sacandaga for the first time in the summer of 2009, and we immediately fell in love with “the lake.”  Located on a beautiful piece of property in the foothills of New York’s Adirondack Mountains, the state-run park also offers a boat launch and a day use area with a beach and picnic tables. This year would mark our 16th year of family vacations there, and we didn’t want to break our consecutive streak.  So, even before knowing our exact travel dates for Alaska, we booked two waterfront sites at the lake for opening weekend in mid-May through Memorial Day.