Salt Lake City sideshow

We headed to SLC early on Thursday morning to get on the service list at the Freightliner dealer to have our exhaust manifold repaired.  I had talked to the service manager the afternoon prior and he said he could do it as soon as I got there.

When we arrived fairly early that wasn’t the case.  They told me they were too busy to look at it, and I should try back on Monday (4 days away) to see if they had time then.   It was then I realized that dealer had been bought out by the same company that owned the San Diego Freightliner dealer.  (that company should be called Darth Vader Enterprises)   I will not use those dealerships unless it’s an actual emergency as they are not what I would describe as “competent”.   Apparently when they buy out the local dealerships, all the good people leave.

Literally across the street was the Cummins dealer.  Needless to say, I drove over there next,  walked in and talked to Lacy, the service writer, and she said she could have a tech look at my manifold around 2 pm that day.  We hung out in the parking lot till then and I made reservations at the SLC KOA.  We had camped there twice before, first time on our first big trip in 2017, and again on the way to Alaska in 2019.

He arrived just after 2 and took the bus back into the shop.   After a while I went back inside to talk to Lacy and the tech happened to be there explaining what he found.   It was a blown gasket, and he also found the turbo charger bolts were very loose.  (so loose it was barely attached to the manifold.)

I told them to order the parts, and a new manifold, as I read it was a very common problem to have the manifolds warp on my model engine.  (ISL)  They thought I could bring it back in for the repair on Monday.

I had re-injured my back in Nephi and all the standing around at the dealership had not made it any better.   The ride that afternoon to the campground after the diagnosis of the problem was excruciating.   The next day, after a lot of pushing from Kathy and Cousin Frank, we scheduled a chiropractor visit.   After getting an adjustment, I felt much better!   I scheduled another follow-up for the next week.

I was able to order groceries from a local Smith’s store for pickup.   That turns out to be a really great convenience.  I think it might even save money as there aren’t any impulse purchases that happen when you wander thru a grocery store trying to find what you need.   I had been using our local Ralph’s while home, and in SLC, Smith’s is the Kroger affiliate.   Kroger’s app is great for informing them when you are leaving to go pick up the order and letting them know when you arrive.  But I use the Website to place orders as it’s easier to spot things ordered in error.   I don’t think I’ve ever waited in the parking lot for them more than a few minutes, probably because of the app allowing me to communicate to them when I am on my way.  Often they are there before I am ready.

Monday came and the manifold wasn’t there yet, but was expected later in the day.  We made an appointment for the next morning at 7am.   That afternoon I went back for the other chiro appointment.   The regular doctor was there and her adjustment was nothing like the first one I got.  I thought this lady had broken my back with what she did to me.   The drive home afterward was almost as bad as the drive back from the Cummins dealer on Thursday evening.   But by Tuesday, I felt a lot better and still feel pretty good a few weeks later as I write this up.

We packed up the coach Monday night and we drove over to the Cummins dealer and parked in one of their overnight spots.  They have 50 amp electric.   Doing that allowed the engine to cool off overnight, and in the morning the tech would only drive it a couple hundred feet and they could shut it off,  making it a lot cooler to work on when you need to do all the work from the top of the engine where the exhaust manifold is located.   In the morning the tech said thank you for that.  He said he cannot remember anyone purposely doing that in the past to make his job just a bit easier.

I had been quoted 12 hours labor and was hoping we could get the bus back before they closed for the evening so we didn’t have to go to a hotel for the night.  So we packed up all our clothes and items we would need in case we did.

We left to find a place to have breakfast and then drove a few miles west to the Great Salt Lake State Park ,which of course was right on the lake.   The potholed dirt road for about a mile was not nice.  And after that experience, they charged us to get in.  Otherwise it was a nice park and we walked around for about an hour.

After that I searched Google Maps satellite view for a nice small local park to sit around in the shade for a bit and Dusty could poke around all the trees and grass for a bit.   He might be deaf and cannot see much anymore but his nose is just as good if not better than it used to be.  That dog can sniff stuff for hours if you have enough patience to stand there forever.

Sometime after noon I was checking out the Fido Friendly App and picked Uinta Brewery for lunch.   Just after finishing and paying the check, I got a text from the bus saying it was moving.   I opened the Linxup App (GPS asset tracker)  and sure enough our bus was back into its parking space the tech had picked it up from about 6 hours prior.  I hoped that was a good thing but didn’t want to get my expectations up in case there was a problem and that’s why they pulled it out of the bay early.

We drove back over to the Cummins dealer and were pleasantly surprised to find it was done.   The only unpleasant part was they still charged me for the 12 hours, saying they charge the standard rate for that repair, even if it takes half the time of the estimate.   That seems like the standard time estimate is extremely flawed.   I don’t care how efficient a tech is, he should be able to shave off maybe 20% of the time,  finishing in half the time just means the standard estimate is a bogus figure.   And what was going to get reviewed as a 5-star experience on Google turned into a 3 star, and almost a 2,  with me feeling cheated.

We stayed that night (Tuesday 14th) at their hook-up sites and drove off for Green River State Park the next morning.

Meziadin Lakefront for 7 days over the US & Canadian Labor Day Weekend.

Turns out that Canada’s Labor day is the same as in the US.  Most of their holidays are different than the US’s so we were not expecting this weekend to be a holiday.   I only found out it was while visiting the hardware store in Stewart, BC.  The shopkeeper mentioned they were closing early on Friday to start celebrating for the long weekend.  I asked what the long weekend was and he replied labor day.  I immediately thought I was back in the US and asked him if we were.  We had been crossing back and forth between the US and Canada a few times each day while staying in Stewart.  I was thinking I was confused for a moment.  But I was not.   They celebrate the holiday at the same time.

So we left Stewart around 10 am for the short trek to Meziadin Lake Provincial Park.   Sue and Larry had reservations; but when I checked a few weeks prior to arrival, all the reservable sites were full.  So we were looking for a first-come, first-served (FCFS) campsite on the waterfront the Thursday morning before a holiday weekend.   I had done a bit of online research while in Stewart and saved a  screenshot of the campground layout to be able to find the lakefront sites when we get there.

Their reservation system was a confusing mess, showing some reserved sites as FCFS for Thursday and Friday and reserved for the next few days.   I wrote the camp operator to understand what the deal-eo was.  He had no idea what I was talking about.  (After meeting him I understood why he had no idea what I was talking about)

We got to the lake and we drove right past the 4 waterfront sites that were actually FCFS.  Unfortunately, I had not transferred the campground screenshot to my phone, so I had to stop, whip out my laptop to view it.  Then I unhooked the car and drove back to the 4 sites and found one open, although there was a truck and trailer parked just across from the site.  I walked over to ask what was happening, and they were actually there for another site around the corner. So I got into the car and pulled it in to claim the last available lakefront site.  2 minutes later another RV came by looking for a site.  Phew, just in the nick of time!!

I walked back to the bus and whipped a U-turn and Kathy moved the car out of the spot and I pulled in so the front of the bus was facing the water.  Glorious!

We fully deployed the house and I set up the solar suitcase and then the awnings, outdoor rugs, and all our chairs, the two lounges, and two regular chairs.

I even hooked up the Bill-Turi so the diesel fumes go up and over our RV and the folks next door.

I then drove out of the park about a mile and checked out the local gas station store and a cafe behind it.  The cafe wasn’t like anything I’d seen before.  I walked into what looked like someones mud room, full of dirty boots.  Thru a doorway I could see maybe 8 big picnic looking tables with really thick, maybe 4″ polished wooden tops.   I walked back into the place a bit further and there was another long room with a similar arrangement and probably 5 guys eating steak and creole prawns.

The dinner looked really good to me.  So I asked one of the guys where you ordered food.  He said it was back in the kitchen and pointed the way.  Sure enough, there was a large kitchen and on the wall were a few white boards with food you could order right from the kitchen counter.  I took a few snapshots in case we wanted to eat out while here in river city.

That evening Kathy and I carried our chairs over to Larry and Sue’s coach to have cocktails and a fire.   A fellow camper who  introduced himself as Chris came over to chat and then went and got another chair to sit by the fire.  But it turned out wherever Chris sat or stood, the smoke followed him.   That went on all evening, a few hours.  Now he is known to us as Chris the smoke whisperer.  Unfortunately for us he had to leave the next morning.  We will miss him keeping the smoke out of our eyes.

Friday, second day there, we met Dave and Brenda at Larry’s coach.  They had met L&S in Muncho Lake but later had gone a different route,  similar to our parting with them in Whitehorse to head up to Dawson City,  and we eventually met them in Valdez a month later.   We all talked Friday afternoon and after dinner met back over at L&S’s coach for a fire and more cocktails that evening.

7 am Saturday morning bear encounter in our campsite.  Holy Cow.  Kathy’s trying to take Dusty for a walk and she starts yelling there’s a bear in our campsite, bring the camera.   I take a few snapshots out the windshield and Dusty gets up on the drivers seat to see what all the commotion is about and inadvertently puts his front paws on the horn when he spots the black bear a couple feet away, which startles the bear and it runs around the bushes a few feet in front of the bus.   We did want to see bear,  just not sure them being that close was our intention!

Right after that the trailer in the space next to us left.  It was another FCFS site and the site was a bit longer than ours and had a bit better view, but most of all it would receive more sun than our very shaded site (after 1 pm each day)   So we packed up and moved one space east to Site 31.   Right now, as I am writing this at 2pm, the sun is still shining on our solar panels and generating 20 amps to the batteries.

This afternoon while I was snoozing on the recliner next to the lake, I awoke hearing a new noise.  It didn’t sound like a jet-ski or boat motor at all.  Then I turned my head and a plane dropped out of the sky and landed on the water just in front of us.   It then taxied over to the beach about a hundred feet to our left and parked there.   It was a different type of float plane than the normal ones I had been seeing all over Alaska and Canada.  This one had the floats hanging off the bottom of the wings and the fuselage sat directly in the water like a boat hull.   The prop was up and behind the cockpit, so it pushed the plane instead of pulling it along like most planes we see.  It was there a couple of hours and then took off.   I was astonished how quickly it got up and out of the water, looked like less than 100 feet and it was flying away.

On Monday morning there was a mass exodus from the campground.   We took that opportunity to move to a site that provided electricity.  We had been struggling to get a full charge into the batteries due to the limited sunshine caused by all the shade trees.    After this experience I am considering  replacing our batteries with lithium ion type.  They are supposed to be able to take the full output of our panels, where the lead acid type can only take the full output up to 80% charge, then it tapers off quickly, and all that time the sun is still shining but not going into the batteries anymore.

Moving to a site with power was a good move.  No more issues getting our second cup of Joe early in the morning prior to generator hours.

Tuesday we headed out to find the fish ladder on the outlet of Meziadin Lake.   We found it way down a potholed gravel road that kept getting narrower as we drove further into the forest.   We did find it finally and it was at a large waterfall, and the ladder was just a small opening off to the side of the falls.  There were some fish trying to get up the falls, but we never saw one get past it.   I was talking to the guy that uses a big net to get fish for his village.   He was telling me that the fish from there provides 80% of their food.

We had a lot of downtime here, watching Larry and Sue fly fish, Kathy even joined them in skipping stones in the lake, and we all played Yahtse one afternoon!

Stewart and Hyder tourista’s

We registered and pulled into our campsites in the Bear River campground around 3pm.   It was still raining a bit and the roadway was pretty muddy.  Luckily the sites were well- drained gravel and there was nice grass on each side.  They did have a funny arrangement for the utilities I had not seen prior.   Each site was paired with another site.   We were in 16A & 16B.  The B site you nosed in to the site and the A site you backed in.  The utilities were shared in the middle between you.  There was a note that you shouldn’t both dump at the same time.  There were two access ports, but it was just a Y pipe to a single sewer pipe below.   I guess it would be bad if two large tanks were dumped at the same time.   Not something I wanted to test!

Later that afternoon we drove over to Hyder, and the most surprising thing happened:  There wasn’t a border checkpoint on the US side.  We passed a Canadian border checkpoint but nothing, nada, no wall or even a fence was to be seen.    We then kept driving thru Hyder and then on to Fish Creek, which is probably 8-10 miles north of the small hamlet.  I got a chuckle reading this sign on a “store” along the road in Hyder.

They are now charging $5 to enter the boardwalk at Fish Creek, and for $10 you got a three-day pass.   There were so many salmon in the creek, I couldn’t believe there wouldn’t be a zillion bears having dinner,  but we didn’t see one.

We left and headed back toward Stewart.   I had read about a great place to eat, so I drove by it on the way back.   We checked out The Bus.  It didn’t look like much and I wasn’t expecting our compatriots were impressed.   We kept driving and arrived at the Canadian Border crossing.   The gal took our passports and ran them thru her handheld machine and appeared to be make notes as she asked the usual questions:  weapons, alcohol and cannibis products.   After she was finished, I asked her where the good food is in the area and she immediately said it was at The Bus.   She also mentioned the Prince Edward Hotel, but qualified that with, it just turned into a Chinese restaurant.

As we drove off, we started discussing our dinner plans for The Bus.

Each day we made at least two trips to Fish Creek to see the bears.  The fish were starting to die and a couple days in it started getting a bit smelly with all the rotting fish on the banks of the creek.   I think it was the second evening when we finally saw a bear, although it was very briefly as he was eating berries and didn’t get into the water.  He was on the other side of the blue lagoon.

I had been noticing logging trucks driving past the campground for a couple days and decided to take a drive down that road to see where they were going.   It wasn’t far, but there was a port area that had lots of trees piled up, ready for shipment to China and Japan.   One of the workers told me a cargo ship came in about once a month to load them and take them on their way.

I wanted to go to see Salmon Glacier, which was about 25 miles past Fish Creek on a gravel road.   No one else wanted to go, assuming there would be a really rough road.  Luckily for me that wasn’t the case and it was one of the most spectacular drives I had ever been on.  The scenery was like what I’d expect to see in the Alps once we get there.   And at the summit the view was indescribable.   The road did get really narrow at one point, and there were a few areas of potholes, but most were easily driven around.  Most of the road appeared to have been recently graded, except for the narrow area that appeared to have recently had a slide of dirt come down the hillside.  I wouldn’t take my motor home up there, but any car can get there easily.  It’s worth the drive.

The last evening we were going to be in town we drove to The Bus for dinner again (3rd time)  for our last halibut fish and chips.  It’s right up there with the best Halibut I have had.   The first night Kathy and Sue had the halibut cheeks,  what we heard are the best part of a halibut.  The taste was out of this world.

After dinner Larry drove us out to Fish Creek for the last time, and as we came around a small bend in the road, a black bear moseyed out in front of us.  We were going slow (the speed limit there is 20 MPH) and we just watched him cross about 10 feet in front of us.

When we got to the creek, there was the smell again and noticeably fewer fish in the creek.   There were no bears and I figured the one we saw, which was heading away from the creek, was the one we had seen the prior evening.

We headed back to the border crossing for what I think will be the last crossing back into Canada for this trip.

In the morning we headed out in the bright sunshine for the drive up the mountain to Meziadin Jct.










Whitehorse on the way south.

After leaving Haines, AK, we headed back into the Yukon for Whitehorse.  We stayed at Hi Country again as it was a known quantity, but we were only going to be there for one night.

My first priority was to top off the fuel, then take the car to purchase groceries, wine and beer.  You can’t bring much alcohol across the Canadian border without paying a lot of duty.   It might be cheaper to do it that way as booze in Canada is way costly.

After getting the chores done, we headed out with Sue and Larry to our favorite restaurant in Whitehorse for fish and chips.  They didn’t disappoint us.  They were as good as remembered.

Valdez trip to the Glacier

We arranged for a dog walker for Dusty as this would be a long day for him in the RV while we head out to the glacier. It was listed as about 11 hours on the boat. We boarded the boat a few minutes prior to them shoving off about 9am. The boat was about 70′ long with just one deck and was a catamaran style configuration.

There was fog on the way out and we kept going into and out of it most of the way in and out, luckily for us is was mostly clear out there.
We didn’t see much in the way of wildlife except Otters and Seals on the way.



We did come across an iceberg that looked like an ice sculpture and drove all around it. Pretty spectacular sight. I kept wondering how large it was underwater as the captain kept getting closer and closer to it.




We saw lots of fishing boats waiting their turn to throw there nets in the water.   We watched one on the way back that had a sea lion jump over the net into the catch area to probably find much easier fish hunting in there.

We went on our way to the glacier, as we got closer it kept getting colder and colder.   The glacier was majestic, much larger than the portage glacier we had seen over near Whittier.   And while we were there i happened to get a calving on video.  That was amazing to see and hear up close.





Seward Alaska

Scored a great site right on Resurrection Bay for our time in Seward.   Kathy says it’s the prettiest view ever.   We got here around 2 pm and there were plenty of open waterfront spaces.  We picked one and pulled in, set up shop and put our chairs out in front by the large metal fire pit.

Later in the afternoon I noticed the batteries were discharging more than I would have expected with the amount of sun then.   I checked out the solar and saw it wasn’t really charging.   I made a note of that so I could run the genny later.   Of course I didn’t remember to start the genny till 5 minutes before quiet time, so the next morning our batteries were lower than I had gotten them before.  Nothing drastic, but we were down about 240 AH; so it was going to be interesting to see if we could get them back to 100% that day.

In the morning I immediately deployed the solar suitcase to supplement the charge, which worked out well as we were at 100% by 5pm.   Solar is awesome!  Having to run the genny… not so much.

Wednesday we got to sit out on the waterfront and drink our coffee on a glorious morning and did so each morning afterward.

We drove over to Lowell Point, which was just a bit further south from town along a narrow gravel road along the bay.  As we drove out of Seward, there was a waterfall with a lot of water coming down right beside the road.  It looked like it was coming off a concrete spillway.   They probably had to do that to prevent the road from getting washed out all the time.   Once we got to the Point, there were lots of homes and what looked to be vacation rentals and a campground of sorts.   Definitely not as nice as our waterfront spot.





The next morning we drove out to the Exit Glacier along a smooth paved road.  (I only mention that as most roads in Alaska are pretty rough)  There were signs along the road marking where the glacier’s toe was over the years.  It has receded, like all the others, quite a lot.   In the not to distant future the fresh water situation may become a problem to a lot of folks.  I’m sure that’s further away in Alaska, but it made me think of all the people that live near Glacier NP.   Those glaciers will be gone next summer.   Water might become an expensive commodity around there sooner than we might think.

Prior to heading over the Exit Glacier, we searched and found what we thought was a fish hatchery, but what we found was not as expected.  It was an odd little place sort of sandwiched in the corner of a lot on the way into a small wooded residential area.    It almost looked abandoned, especially due to a sign near the door that it wasn’t opening till July,  and we were there the last day of July.

Being in a huge fishing community, I wanted some halibut fish & chips. Ray’s on the Waterfront had reasonable reviews so we headed over.  It was a nice place right on a boat marina, but my fish were very dry and way overcooked.  Luckily for me a buddy called about our visit to Valdez and reminded me of the Bucket ‘O Butt at Thorn’s.  The next evening we went there.  Very good halibut fish and chips!

We had been seeing buildings across the bay the whole time at the campground, so one afternoon we decided to find a way over there.   It turns out it really wasn’t very far.  We have found that sometimes here in Alaska somewhere that looks really close is a very long drive due to the lack of roads.

We got over there in just a few minutes and it was mainly shipyards.  I had seen a coast guard cutter on the bay a couple days prior, and now I saw it up on land being worked on.   Just past that was a guy remotely driving a huge mobile boat lift.   I had seen much smaller ones in the past, but this one looked like it had picked up that very large coast guard cutter and placed it where it was.   He was driving it from a joystick mounted on a harness he was wearing.  I was surprised it was wireless.

From the other side of the bay I could just see a green roofed building that turned out to be a lot of 40′ containers stacked up in a U shape with a large metal green roof spanning the opening containers, making a huge building open on the south side.  That was something I had not seen prior to now.


On the way back we tried to drive into a so-called campground that was probably the ugliest place I had ever seen.  It was so potholed, we turned around only a few feet into it.  And it was more expensive than the beautiful spot we had!   Instead of going there, I would just camp in a turnout somewhere.

We stopped along the route back and snapped a few pics of the town and our campground along the water.  It was pretty far away, but one of the cruise ships at the dock is easy to see.   Our campground was  about 1,000 yards to the left of that ship.



We heard about this gadget that sounds perfect for being off grid in Canada and Alaska.  The Spot Gen 3 GPS satellite notifier, so I have one being shipped to our campground in Tolsona to pick up when we leave Valdez next week.

The Homer Spit

It was about a 5-mile drive out to the campground on the spit.   The spit is pretty long and you can’t help but notice the many Tsunami zone warning signs.   It would not be a good spot to be after a large earthquake.  We kept our fingers crossed while we were there.

After deploying we, drove the rest of the way out the spit.  We passed lots of boats, tourist traps, restaurants, and businesses that cater to the fishing industry.

While all the way at the end of the spit, there was a small parking area and just offshore on the inside of the spit were thousands of birds making quite a ruckus.   We couldn’t see what was going on in the water, but we guessed there were a lot of fish near the surface that we could not see due to the angle and short distance to them.

Our site at Heritage RV Park was very nice.  50 amp FHU.  You do not find 50 amp that often once you pass the border into Canada and into Alaska.   Most places are 30 amp maximum, and some only had 20 amp service.   They all work for us as long as we don’t need a lot of air-conditioning.  But the best part about this park was the sites along the water were pull-in, not back-in sites,  so our windshield looked directly out onto the Kachemak Bay.  It was a delightful place to camp for a couple nights and the weather was gorgeous.

The first morning we headed out fairly early to do some shopping in the tourist traps, and after spending a while there we headed further on down the spit to the next touristy area, but by then all the parking was taken.  We drove around there for a bit, but there were plenty of other cars hovering to also find a spot if someone was leaving, and after a while we drove off.

Then we headed back up off the spit into old town and found Bishop Beach where they allow you to drive your car onto the beach, but not very far.  They keep you to a small area with large boulders.  We walked around there for a few minutes as it was a lot windier there, making it very blustery!!

We did have the water pump lights in the kitchen go out while in Homer, so I called around to see if I could find a replacement.  There was a “Gear Shed” that said they had some, but when I got there it was not one that would fit my unit.   Called some other marine supply places, but I was not successful.  I moved the working light from the bedroom sink area into the kitchen so we could tell if the pump was left latched.   I’m wondering if the water pump control unit is going bad as if we leave the pump latched on, it uses 10 amps most of the time, even when it’s not pumping water.   So we have been keeping it turned off till it’s needed when not connected to city water.

Whittier Ak

We headed out to get in line for the Whittier Tunnel to make it thru on the half hour when it’s open for the eastbound ride into Whittier.

The lines to go thru are in parallel numbered rows.  Trucks are all the way to the right and they get to go thru first.  Then it’s back to Row 1 and they count up.

The tunnel is a one-lane affair that has you straddling the railroad track that it was built for and it seems a lot longer than its 2.5 miles length.  It is the longest tunnel in North America!

Kathy took a few short videos while I was driving thru.

Whittier is a very secluded town with mountains surrounding it and a large water port for large ships.   It was drizzly and fairly windy the day we were there.  We stopped for lunch at Swiftwater Cafe at the end of the main road near the ferry building.


While walking around that little spit of land with shops on it, I noticed a patio on a restaurant that looked a bit precarious to me.   Stacked 2x scrap holding the deck up.

We then drove out a gravel road that went a few miles and ended at a large viewpoint.

On the way back, we stopped at a small park where I saw a bunch of seagulls milling about near a creek.   I went over to see what was going on and I was shocked to see the small creek was chock full of salmon.  So many it was like they were packed in nose to tail!  The creek was almost too shallow for them to move, but it didn’t stop them from trying to get upstream.

I was tempted to just walk over and grab a few for dinner, but decided that was a bad plan.  I later heard it would have been illegal to do it without a rod and lures specifically for that water.  I also don’t have a fishing license.

We snapped a few pics and even a short video and headed back toward the tunnel that goes west on the hour.   We had to cross the railroad tracks at the end of the rail yard, and of course there was a long freight train blocking the only way out.   It was going forward and backing up to add more and more cars; and as it turned out, when we finally got to cross the track, the train was given the right-of-way to enter the tunnel while we waited in line.

I took a video of it, but its probably 5 minutes long, so I will post it on YouTube so it can be watched.

There is a decrepit building at the extreme west end of town that looks like a Soviet era barracks, and it turned out to be an old army building.  Very creepy looking with all the windows missing.   Hopefully it’s not considered an historical landmark so they can tear it down someday.

Here is the link to the video:  Whittier Train heading into the Tunnel.


Portage Glacier trip.

We drove over to check out the tour boat that takes you to the portage glacier.   Turns out there were tix available for the 3pm tour and we purchased them.   We headed back to Williwaw to leave Dusty in the RV while we went out on  it.

We got there and waited a bit till they allowed us on. It was a really beautiful day, so we took seats on the top deck.   So far the Kenai has been all sun for us!

They get to within a couple hundred feet of the glacier wall and unfortunately we didn’t get to see it calve off.   We did hear what sounded like a gunshot, which we were told was the ice moving, but never saw any movement.

The tour was a little over an hour and we were sure glad we had gone right away as that evening it started raining and it continued to rain the next two days we were there.




Off to Whittier in the morning.

Xscapers Convergence on Isabel Pass in the Alaska Range.

We left early and drove up the Stewart Highway from Glennallen so we would get to the mountain pass around noon.   It was a beautiful sunny day and probably a cool 72 degrees as we very slowly dodged the many and large potholes on the gravel road we had to take to the campsite below the Gulkana Glacier.   For the whole drive up to the site, the glacier was just gleaming in the sunlight.

There were already about 8-10 rigs lined up pointing various ways when we got there.  We looked around and found a good spot, mostly east facing so our solar panels could get the most sun while parked.    We met the hosts, Stacy and Gary and their two dogs, Spirit and Sofie .

I was amazed when I saw all the panels mounted on their RV roof.   Turns out it was 2,400 watts for the house and 100 watts for the chassis batteries.   And the icing on the cake was their 500 amps of lithium batteries (@24v)  That’s 1,000 amps to us mere mortals using 12v systems, or 800 amp-hours usable.

That evening we got to meet about 50 or so other Xscapers.   There were more than 20 RV’s by then and a few more came in the next day or so.  To everyone’s surprise, at least 75% of them were first-timers.. as were we.   It seems everyone also had the fake fire rings to bring to the social hour, and blueberry margaritas!  Sweet,  literally and figuratively.

In the morning I took the car out to the highway so we could download a few TV shows as we didn’t have any signal at the airstrip we were camping on, 1.8 miles east of the highway.   While I was there in the Monument parking lot, I snapped a few pics showing where we were and the view of the glacier and of course the Stewart monument with the bullet hole in his head.

On Saturday morning most of the attendees left for a jet boat tour from the MacLaren River Lodge.   It was about 40 miles down the Denali Highway.   The first 24 miles were paved, and then it turned into “Alaska Gravel,” a rough, washboard and potholed mess.   It was a beautiful drive according to Kathy.   I was too busy to see that as I was scanning as far down the road as I could in an attempt to miss the holes.




We didn’t get on the list for the boat tour as I wasn’t going into Facebook enough to get onto the list prior to it filling up, so we went anyway to have a lunch with everybody at the lodge.

The river was very nice and appeared to be melt water from a glacier a few miles up river.  The jet boats took you close to the glacier.




After lunch we were on the patio talking to a helicopter pilot who had a crew of geologists up on the side of the mountains using electronic equipment to find minerals.  They weren’t saying what minerals were being looked for though.

Sunday morning started out with a potluck breakfast.  There was all sorts of food, even a couple of griddles cooking blueberry pancakes using the same blueberries picked on the sides of the roadways that were also used in the margaritas.   Later on some groups of folks hiked up to the glacier.   Most of them seemed to come back walking gingerly.   It was a rough hike out there.  Not much of a trail thru the moraine.

We headed up the road to do it, but about three quarters of a mile up the road the gravel became large river rock and I wasn’t sure Kathy’s car could make it thru that; so we turned around probably 1,000 feet from the small parking area near the small suspension bridge:   lots of broken boards with large gaps in between suspended over a swift river by steel cables.

Monday evening there was a potluck dinner, and many hours later we all said farewell as this was a late-waking crowd and we were leaving early (9am).

Tuesday morning we got going at 9am.  Don came by to say goodbye and Kathy went down and said goodbye to Joann and Mike.  (she had met them as they were leaving the campground we were staying at in Fairbanks a couple weeks before)

As we headed down the potholed gravel road (very slowly) I could see Mike and Joann driving out of there detached, presumably to attach their Mini Cooper at the monument a few yards from the entrance to the highway.

We headed south on the Stewart Highway to get to Anchorage and they turned to the North to start heading home so they could get to their daughter’s wedding.