The sun was setting on our long journey but before returning home we wanted to see more of the north Pacific coast. Neither of us had been there in many years. Spike hoped to do a few more paintings.
We traveled south on I-5 and soon experienced the worst 3 hours of the entire trip, Seattle-Tacoma area through Olympia in drenching rain, bumper to bumper stop-and-go traffic and the roughest stretch of road we'd seen yet- cracks, pot-holes, lumps and bumps. Not recommended for anyone towing a trailer. We were so happy to escape that urban mess at last, we stopped for the night at the first rest-area we saw.
We crossed the bridge into Astoria, Oregon. The north Oregon coast is dramatic with rocks and mist. We found another really nice campground at Nehalem Bay State Park. Here we paid $20 for water and electric in a spacious and very empty campground. Empty of humans, that is. We had white-tail deer visitors who were curious enough to come within three feet of us as we sat in the sun while a large herd of elk grazed nearby.
It was time to head eastward towards home. We cut across the state of Oregon, aiming for the SE corner where we intended to enter northern Nevada via route 140. This was not to be. Near dusk we encountered a snow storm that worsened until the roads were slick with snow. We passed up our turn off and crept into Lakeview, Oregon where, with much relief, we found an open RV park. Safely parked and hooked to electricity, we were prepared to sit out the storm as long as it took.
With luck, the next morning was clear. We continued south, cutting through the corner of California into Nevada. We decided to go as far south as possible to avoid high mountain passes. The forecast was for snow all over the northern part of the state.
The coldest night of the entire 10 week trip was our last night on the road spent boondocking at a rest stop in Luning, Nevada. It was 17 degrees when we got up. We quickly made coffee and got back on the road towards home in time to see this a beautiful November sunrise looking west across the desert at the snow covered Wassuk Range.
For travelers thinking of a trip to Alaska with your trailer
Gas is very expensive in Canada (as is booze!) prices are somewhat lower in Alaska but food prices are high everywhere up north, especially in more remote areas. We resigned ourselves to paying $7 for a gallon of milk or $5 for a bag of tortilla chips. A favorite staple became giant Idaho baking potatoes, at close to 1lb each, they were a meal in themselves. We never see those here in southern Utah.
Many public and private campgrounds close up for the season mid to late September. This made finding campsites difficult as we continued to travel in October. Again, the Milepost guide was very helpful to locate not only campgrounds but also roadside pull-outs and rest areas. We also relied on local visitor centers for camping and dump station information. We grabbed all the helpful, free tourist literature we could. Some of these publications can be acquired on-line ahead of time. Pre-planning is helpful but winging it is fun too.
Driving the Alaska Highway, as well as all the other routes we traveled is no longer the rugged, daring adventure it once was, but it’s a wonderful adventure nonetheless.
Summing it Up
Miles covered: 10,832
Liters bought: 1181.84 (÷ 3.7854 = 312.21 gal )
Hours of generator use: 51:25
Total camping fees: $844.92 (an average of $12.43 per night)
Privately owned RV parks: 19 nights
National, State, Provincial, Territorial or Municipal park campgrounds: 23 nights
Paid campgrounds (including RV parks): 35 nights
Free campgrounds: 9 nights
Free roadside boondocking: 10 nights
“Courtesy parking” at friends' homes: 12 (11 nights at the Bear's in North Pole, AK)
Inside a home sleeping in a king-sized bed: 2 nights
Number of states, provinces or territories crossed: 11
International border crossings, passport required: 6
Number of times we ran out of gas: 2
1st in Idaho the first day driving
2nd in Faibanks 10' from gas pump, put gas in from can, pulled forward & filled the tank, LOL!
Chips in the windshield: 1 (in Yukon Territory)
Repairs, patches and improvements on Moonshadow: 11
Oil changes: 2
Credit cards used: 3
Credit cards compromised: 1 (in Alberta, Canada)
Number of books read: 7.5Paintings done: 12
Photos taken: 2,171 (thank goodness for digital!)
Airstream sightings: 66
Alaska scored the most with 14, Washington second with 10, in use 25, in storage 41.
Mammals: black bears, brown bears (grizzlies), caribou, rock sheep, Dall sheep, bison, moose, muskox, elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, mink, red fox, muskrats, steller sea lion, harbor seals, sea otters, red squirrels, coyotes.
Birds: bald eagles, gray jays, black-capped chickadees, varied thrush, sandhill cranes, harlequin ducks, trumpeter swans, brant geese, red-breasted mergansers, common mergansers, common loons, Barrow's golden-eyes, spruce grouse, spotted owl, American pipits, nuthatches, winter wren, and many others less significant or unidentified.
Fish: coho salman (silver), chum salmon (calico or dog)
Mosquitoes: NONE! We were there in September & October.
Best things we bought along the way: clip-on LED lights, strap wrench, Peterson's First Guide to Forests, Alaska Wildlife Notebook
Best things we took with us: Big Heat electric space heater, 12 volt fan, Italiano stove-top espresso pot, The Milepost Alaska Travel Planner.
Things we wished we had brought: more underwear and warm socks, bathing suits for the hot springs, 5-in-one screwdriver, more DVD movies to watch, a device to hang clothes to dry in front of the Panel-ray heater (will have to invent something if it doesn't already exist.)
Things we brought that we didn't need: dress-up clothes, pop-up shade canopy.
Things we wish we'd had more time for: museums, visiting with friends - new and old, walking & hiking, painting, reading, eating crab & smoked salmon, and the list goes on...