Friday, August 30, 2019


I've got a case of Gethomitis (say it out loud) so the blog posts are getting shorter.

Once we crossed the Canadian border southbound, thoughts turned towards home. We decided weeks ago to bypass Seattle which gave us enough time to get reservations at Fort Casey State Park. Thanks to being visitors, the dry site cost $45 :-(

but the campground is right by the ferry, nicely positioning us (again, with reservations) for the ferry in the morning. We were actually able to get on an hour earlier than our reservation, headed to Port Townsend and then around the peninsula to the ocean.

BJ's all time favorite campground is South Beach where the campsites are just behind the driftwood and the waves break right on the steep beach. At 11 a.m. on a weekday, it was clear full so we continued south, ending up in Copallis Beach where it's a bit of a walk through the sand dunes to get to the very flat beach, but it was ocean.

We stopped in Olympia for three days to visit family and wander around one of the parks before heading back to Highway 101 to head south.

We stopped for a night in Tillamook which gave me a chance to stock up on some smoked brie cheese before continuing on to our friends in Newberg where I found another farm with a long list of projects. Just one day this trip, but we may to have come back. There's something about working on old houses...

With Newberg in our rear view mirror, we headed to Nampa, Idaho where we settled into a beautiful, private RV Park. Three days to visit family and lots of friends, and power for the air conditioner since the weather is trying to get us prepped for Arizona.

We did have a chance while we were there to do some essential studying - for a geocache.

From here we head to eastern Idaho and then south through eastern Utah, trying to stay high as long as possible before hitting the desert heat. Should be home in a week.

Sunday, August 25, 2019


As we climbed the steep road up White Pass from Skagway, we stopped for a view of the unique Captain William Moore bridge. It spans a fault line so it's only anchored on one end. Now it's being replaced by a solid concrete pour - apparently the fault won't bother the concrete???

We took the cutoff towards Jake's Corner, making a stop at a very unique cemetery along the way. Unlike so many modern cemeteries that require flat stones and straight lines, in this one, each grave site or family plot is unique.

Rancheria Falls was a nice chance to stretch the legs a bit. It has a fairly large parking lot and nearly a quarter mile of boardwalk out to a pair of waterfalls. When we were here six years ago, the parking lot sported a "No Camping" sign but there wasn't any sign of the type there now. We continued on to Yukon's Big Creek Campground for the night.

Baby Nugget was a fuel stop before we turned south on the Cassiar. It had a unique card reader system for the gas pump that only worked half the time, but the restaurant/store advertised cinnamon rolls so it wasn't a total loss. The rolls were OK, but nowhere near the best we've had on this trip.

After losing count how many times we crossed the BC / Yukon border on this trip, we knew that this time was the last, at least for this trip.

As we worked our way south on the Cassiar Highway, we stopped for a few minutes at Jade City. Didn't buy anything this trip, but did find the geocache and the coolest tundra buggy. I'm pretty sure this is what the Alaska contingent needs for their caribou hunting trips.

We understood why the Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park was so highly rated. Many of the sites (all first come, first served) backed onto the lake. We arrived mid afternoon to find a number of lake front choices. A couple hours later, every site in the campground was full!

The next day we headed for Hyder, making a stop for an earth cache at Bear Glacier along the way. Turns out, it was good we stopped on the way in - the next day it was shrouded in fog!

One of our "must-do list" items was a stop at the bus in Hyder. It's world famous, and was closed last time we visited. It was closed this time, too. Supposedly it's good, but we won't know. (As usual, you can click on any photo for a larger version if you want to read the sign.)

We stopped at the bear viewing area, and watched the fish. Seems that fewer and fewer bears are showing up here. With that a bust, we continued up the road

to get a view of the retreating Salmon Glacier. There was an active forest fire just over the pass which made picture taking a challenge.

We were going to spend a couple nights in Hyder, but we'd had three days of no connectivity so we opted for a night on the Canadian side of the border where we had connectivity and then continued our way south.

Our last Alaska stop was a bit of a bust, but still worth the side trip. As we continued south on 37, BJ managed to get a quick picture of our last bear (we assume) of the trip. It was crossing the road well ahead of us, but stopped to check us out as we slowed to check it out.

The bell tower in Kitwanga interested me. It was built in 1899 if I recall correctly. It's not clear if the Anglican church in the background is still used or not.

Home for the night was a free municipal campground in Burns Lake. Sites were a bit tight maneuvering, but the price was right!

The next night we wallydocked in Williams Lake and the night after that we enjoyed full hook ups at the Wild Rose Campground in Hope, BC. We'd rate this place at least a four if not a five. Very nice!

Although the signs said 10 minute wait, it took 50 minutes to get through the RV line at the border crossing in Sumas. Turns out, if you play (or are) dumb and drive through the commercial truck line, you get to force your way into the RV/car line near the front of the line. We watched five do it while we slowly got closer to the most surly border agent I've ever experienced. Oh well, don't have to deal with them again any time soon.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


The vast majority of visitors to Skagway arrive on cruise ships these days. There are a limited number of options for RV (or tenters) in Skagway. If you're approaching by road, you're going to approach from the north via Canada. US Customs was quick and easy although she did ask about pork products which certainly caught us by surprise. We listed them, she smiled, and said to enjoy our stay in Skagway.

Skagway as we know it exists because of the Klondike Gold Rush, and the town still leverages that experience for their existence.

The vast majority of the buildings in the downtown area date to the gold rush.

The city owns and operates two RV Parks and a free campground located 11 miles out of town, not far from the National Park operated campground. We made reservations several weeks in advance for Pullen Creek. We chose this one because it was

sandwiched between the primary cruise ship dock

and the train station, just a couple blocks from downtown.

Even better, it had views of the glacier on clear days.

As a train buff, we hit the jackpot. The White Pass railway recently completed the overhaul of their steam engine and operated it a few days a week, including one of the days we were there. The narrow gauge White Pass railway also dates to the gold rush era. It's now owned and operated by Carnival Corporation.

One day we drove out to Dyea. Once the location of a large settlement at the head of the Chilkoot trail, it's been taken over by forest.

This is the only piece of structure left in the town site although there are lots of built up spots where buildings once stood.

We did get to the start of the Chilkoot Trail and talked about the logic of even considering it at our ages.

We even sat in on the daily briefing for folks with permits to hike the trail,

but a review of the trail profile and distances between permitted camps crossed it off our list. I'm still interested in going as far as the Scales on an out & back but haven't researched if that's an option or not.

Another day we wandered through the gold rush era cemetery. The town has done a lot of research on the graves here, and placed wooden markers at known graves. The infamous Soapy Smith is buried just outside the cemetery but the man that killed him has the largest marker in the cemetery. Something about the "wild west!"

We walked past the cemetery to the waterfalls, in part because there was a geocache located there. After locating the cache and signing the fresh log that the cache owner had just replaced, we wandered back down the hill to check out more of the cemetery.

At one of the markers, I noticed what appeared to be a geocache laying at the base of the marker. Inside was a log sheet for the cache that we'd just located at the waterfall. Turns out this one went missing a couple years ago and was replaced at it's correct coordinates. Meanwhile, someone moved this container over 550 feet away from the correct coords. After correspondence with the cache owner, this one has now been removed and may be reused in Arizona just because...

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Oh, How Things Change

Six years ago, when we last drove to Alaska, the only place you needed reservations was at Denali. This time, our three day drive from Valdez to Skagway found two of our target overnights full before we got there in early to mid afternoon. This happened multiple other times on this trip as well - clearly an indication of the popularity of RV travel and the reduced number of available options.

We fueled in Tok after carefully driving the Tok Cutoff. There was a fair bit of construction, but we thought the road was much improved by the summer construction projects. We could have boondocked at the gas station but knew that came with trucks coming through all night. We could have sprung for an RV park, but preferred a more solitary experience. Our target was the State Recreation Area at the Tok River, but we found it full AND the highway bridge adjacent was under 24 hour construction, so we kept going, ending up with a slightly sloped spot at the rest area on the west shore of Tanana River. One other rig came in and parked at the other end for a surprisingly quiet night.

We left the main portion of Alaska in our rearview mirror, but would visit two more parts of Alaska before we left for good. Crossing into Canada was a two minute process this time with just the normal guns, veggies, and recreational marijuana related questions.

Our target for the second night was Congdon Creek Campground, one of the many Yukon Government campgrounds. All of them are dry campgrounds with outhouses and usually some sort of water source. The campgrounds are much nicer than they were six years ago, but are still only $12 per night. Congdon Creek had over 40 sites including a number of large pull-through sites with good visual separation between sites. We had lots of choices when we arrived, but it appeared the campground was full by the time we went to bed.

Congdon Creek featured a dedicated tent camping area behind an electrified fence. The campground is known for bears wandering through, but once again, we didn't see any - near or far!

Our plan for the third night was to stay at Wolf Creek Campground, another Yukon Government campground located near where Highway 2 heads south towards Carcross and Skagway. We arrived before 1 p.m. to find every single spot in the campground full. After a tour of the campground, we headed south, looking for an unsigned pullout. Many of the rest areas were marked "No Camping" but most of the other turnouts were unmarked. We found one near an abandoned section of the railway and called it home for the night.

We had some time the next morning since the RV Park in Skagway (where we had reservations!) recommended no early arrivals. A check of the Geocaching website showed some nearby caches so it was time to explore. I was amazed to discover a large complex of log buildings that had once served as the Robinson roadhouse. It turns out, it's accessible from a rest stop just down the road from where we stayed, 

but that one is marked with the dreaded sign.

In spite of no availability at two out of three places we anticipated staying, it would turn out better than we could have hoped. We had quieter nights, less expense, and found some things we might not have found otherwise. Fact is, we finally found a bear in the woods!

Saturday, August 10, 2019


After our stops in the Fairbanks area, we headed south, through Delta Junction, headed for Glenallen and on to Valdez. We stopped for the night at a very nice pullout across the road from the very quiet Allen Army Airfield.

We stopped in Glenallen to enjoy some excellent Thai food from the Thai restaurant. It's progressed from a food truck to a small building, but it's still a take-out only operation.

As we continued south we started getting into glacier country approaching Thompson Pass.

Blueberry Lake State Recreation Area had been recommended to us, and it was a beautiful setting, especially if you had a day with clear skies. Unfortunately, the state has licensed it to a local organization that's trying to keep it going but the increased prices and decreased services, along with the cool weather, led us to look for something else.

The other disadvantage of Blueberry Lake was that is was still quite a distance to town. Even when you got to the welcome sign, it was still 22 miles to city center.

That was 22 miles of outstanding beauty, however, with waterfalls that were several hundred feet tall.

Earth caches took us to some interesting places including Valdez Lake, complete with icebergs at the base of Valdez Glacier, barely seen up the valley in the background.

As usual, I enjoy checking out the marinas, but what really caught my eye was the beautiful flower baskets everywhere.

One of the reasons I wanted to visit Valdez was because it is know for bear watching. We didn't see any bears in spite of the huge number of humpies entering the creek. We did see people who couldn't read...

And, as luck would have it, we did spot one bear. There are several RV Parks in town, most located at or very near busy intersections near the center of town. We opted for the KOA about 5 miles out of town since the layout wasn't as crowded and it was closer to the bear viewing area. Rarely a fan of KOA, but we were very pleased with this one!

One of the things we did while in town was to visit the local museum. I'd highly recommend it, especially for the film they've done about the history of the town.

While there, we observed a stuffed version of the very rare fur fish, "It's fur coat is an adaptation to the frigid glacial waters of the area." "New information just in suggests that the Fur Fish is still alive! It has gone through further adaptation since this specimen was caught. It is rumored that one caught recently was not fur covered, but was instead covered with Gore-Tex with a Thinsulate liner!"

After three days in Valdez, we had the first of five road construction stops at same place that we thought was so beautiful going the other direction. Everyone was taking advantage of the wait to take pictures.

We'd planned to stop for the night at a State Recreation Area just east of Tok but there was bridge construction adjacent to it so we opted for another very nice roadside area on the west shore of the Tanana River.

Next stop Skagway.