Soldatna & Kenai City

We got to our campground early in the afternoon and set up camp.  It wasn’t long before it started to rain and the camp roads became a muddy mess very quickly.   That evening we noticed the water in our Brita pitcher had a brown tint and the water in the toilet looked the same,  It was even more noticeable in the toilet since the porcelain is so bright white.   Turns out it’s a known thing and was “safe” to drink.  Hopefully…

I went out and bought 10 gallons of drinking water and made sure I didn’t fill the fresh tank with that stuff.   We noticed that a Fantasy Tour group that had pulled in one evening didn’t even connect to the water.  They were warned not to by the tour company.  It was a fairly expensive campground and they didn’t even tell us about the problem.  You can fill up for free at the Fred Meyers in Soldatna with clean City Water.  Next time I will know.

We were there the July 4th week, so we drove over to the 4th of July Parade in Kenai City with our chairs.   It was a pretty long parade that had lots of things not seen in other 4th parades in my past, specifically, tow trucks and race cars and even small children in go carts.   The one thing we missed was marching bands. There was not even one.  I guess that’s what happens when music class is cut from school curriculum’s.  At least the Shriner’s were there in their odd little cars.   Hard to imagine a 4th of July Parade without the Fez’s.

One afternoon we decided to take a drive to the beach, it was almost sunny and a bit cold but we braved it anyway.  Figured it might take an act of god to get us out of the car.   We headed south on Kalifornsky Beach road.  We went past Kalifornsky Beach and all the way down to Kasilof Beach Dipnetting fish camp.   It was a couple days before Dipnetting season but there were hundreds of cars, tents and trailers lining the road down to the beach.   We drove all the way down, to a spot that I figured was far enough as after that it looked like loose beach sand.  Got turned around and headed back toward Kenai City.   Along the route Kathy spotted 3 moose along the tree line near the road and I was able to slow down and she got a few pictures.  I was one cow moose and two baby moose.   Then about 10 minutes further up the road there was a very large bull moose just a foot off the road, by the time I saw him i was concerned he might jump in front of us.   He didn’t, but I looked back and he was meandering across the highway behind us.  Yikes.  He had to be 9-10 feet tall.  Having that coming thru your car windshield could ruin a lot more that just your day.

It’s been so cold and rainy, Kathy had to go to the sporting goods store and buy long underwear, socks, and a better jacket!  Now the sun should come out after spending the money!  We hope 🙂

The last evening in town we checked out St. Elias Brewery and had some wonderful pizzas!  And of course the beer was fantastic too.

Here are some of the 4th parade pics..






Williwaw Campground in the Portage Valley

This campground is very nice, very secluded with no hookups and just a smidge of ATT cell service.  Our Starlink had no service at all due to the tall mountains ringing this campground.  It was pretty full every night we were there, if you go, make sure you get reservations for the bigger sites.

The drive to Williwaw was a bit White Knuckled.  The wind was howling and there were wind warnings.  We thought it was bad on the first leg from Palmer to Anchorage, but then we got on the section that runs along the northern Turnagain Arm.  That was worse than anything I had ever experienced.  Each time we came around a rock outcropping, the wind wanted to blow the bus off the road and into the water. After that first small “point”, I went a lot slower around all the rest.

The first mosquito I swatted with my new zapper, it sparked and lit on fire  for a second.  Wow!  Since then it’s been zapping them with its 2750 volts. Black Flag Zapper Racket

We drove over to Portage Lake on a blustery day, checked out the visitor center, and afterward we had to go check out the gift shop.  We checked out the glacier boat tour, but the boat was down for repairs, waiting for a part to come in from England.

After lunch we took a hike up the Trail of Blue Ice for a couple miles or so, swatting a zillion mosquitos while walking along.   About half way along the trail, a couple teenage girls came up to us and said they had stumbled upon a bear just ahead and wanted to know if they could walk with us. I noticed they didn’t have any bear spray with them.  Larry said sure, and proceeded to head toward the bear sighting.   And we kept going too.  I thought we should of course go the other way!   Luckily we didn’t see the bear and walked for another half hour, then turned around. The girls thanked us and kept going on toward the visitor center, which was probably another half mile away.  Then I noticed they were running up the trail.

We headed back and kept swatting the mosquitoes the whole way.  I wished I had brought the new zapper with me on that trek!

We hit a real rainy spell here in Williwaw, 3 straight days of rain without it ever stopping!  (Felt like 40 days and 40 nights).  I used the time to catch up on the blog and finishing the Perry Mason series.  We looked at driving over to Whittier for lunch but found out the only decent restaurant was closed.  We drove over anyway on one of the few sunny days.

While there we read a bit about that tunnel that was completed in 1943 as the main “highway” to move goods into Alaska for the war effort.   And a week later at the July 4th parade in Kenai, the woman sitting next to me told me when she was young, you could only get to Whittier via train or boat.  It opened to vehicle traffic on June 7, 2000 after a very extensive conversion from a World War II railroad tunnel.  It’s an odd experience as you straddle the rails when driving thru it as it’s only one car wide, meaning on the half hour you can go to Whittier from Portage and on the hour you can leave the city.   Good timing can save a lot of waiting!

With that in mind, we walked around a bit and then scrambled to get out of town on the hour;  and of coarse there was a train as we drove over,  and they were going to get thru the tunnel while it was outbound too.  We had to wait until after the train  cleared the other side of that very long tunnel.   It did and we proceeded to head back to Portage.

Once on that side of the mountain, we decided to drive over to Moose Flats to see if there were any moose to see.  There weren’t, so we headed back to Williwaw for the afternoon.


That evening we all drove over to the Double Musky for dinner.  It was a Cajun place out here in the middle of nowhere in Girdwood.   I tried the Gumbo and it wasn’t that good.  I think they burned the Roux.  I had the Jambalaya, which was good, probably a 6 of 10 on my Jambalaya scale.

Our Starlink did not work at all while at our site in the Williwaw campground.  I believe the problem was the tall mountains ringing that area only allowed us to connect when a satellite was directly overhead, and there aren’t many sats in the north latitudes yet.   We were able to extend our 4×4 MIMO Cellular antenna up off the roof on the batwing and get some AT&T signal.  It averaged -120dbm or worse.   I tried to use B14 but couldn’t get any signal with that, so I had to settle for B12 and a few other high-frequency bands aggregated together.   So surfing the web was not a fast thing, but we could check the weather and do emails and other internet things.



Palmer Alaska

The Glenn Highway was a lot rougher than I remembered it being.  Along the way a guy in a pickup passed us like we where chained to a tree.   Later on, maybe 45 minutes, we came upon a big accident scene.  As we passed, we noticed it was that same pickup at the bottom of a ravine.  There were so many police cars I knew someone hadn’t survived.

We arrived at Mt. View RV after a few long hours on the road. It looked like a big grass field with a few dirt roads between the rows, and it was. They don’t even mow the weeds. They were about a foot tall. And the weeds were hiding very out-of-level sites to boot.  I started thinking about why we didn’t go the few extra miles to Big Bear RV Park.  It is a much nicer place than this.










Kathy took a trip to the Musk Ox farm and also a short excursion to the Reindeer farm.  I went over to Wasilla Home Depot and got a new bug killer racket from Black Flag,  and what a bug killer.   It turned out to be one of the most powerful devices I have ever used!!  Bug Zapper Racket  While I was looking for bug killers, an Alaska State Trooper walked up and apparently was looking for similar equipment.  I had to ask him about the accident the day before on the Glenn Highway.  He said it was a single-car fatality.  I mentioned I had that truck on my dashcam footage where he passed me going at least 80 mph on a bad section of road.  He asked for my cell number and said he would pass it on to the investigating officer, that they may want to add that to the file for some perspective on the case.   It’s been a couple weeks and no call, so I am guessing they didn’t need it to close the case.


We topped off our fuel again at Palmer,  because at that moment they had the cheapest fuel in Alaska.  Not sure why. But I even got to use my Chevron Rewards app to save an extra $25 off the price.  After we filled up, we headed for Williwaw Campground a couple hours away.


Ranch House Lodge near Glenallen Alaska

The drive down the Tok Cutoff to Glenallen was pretty good. Beautiful scenery the whole way.  We did come upon an older trailer on its top and all smashed in on the side of the road.   May have happened the day before was my guess.  Slow down, people!

We arrived at the lodge early in the afternoon and Andy lead us out to a section of the park that wasn’t there the last time we stayed here.   It was right on the creek that was more like a fast moving river at the moment. Turns out this spring (2023) this place was flooded by an early thaw. We were only here for the night and we went to the lodge for pizza, which turned out to be very good, surprising us all.  We were noticing that a lot of Andy’s projects looked half finished, but he has made a lot of improvements to the park.   The next morning the mosquitoes were ravenous. Kind of glad we were heading out.

Tok Alaska

We arrived late in the day after what was a grueling drive from Discovery Lodge, only about 150 miles away. We had thought the previous drive was bad, but today’s section was over the top Bad.  It was starting to seem like the Yukon and Alaska Road departments were having a competition for who could make the worst road conditions.   In my opinion Alaska was orders of magnitude better at making awful roads.


We were here for 3 nights and that is definitely too long. There is not much to do in Tok. The RV wash is good and Fast Eddies was great. This was also a good spot to buy fuel as it was a buck more expensive in the western Yukon Canada. There is a grocery in town that  was way better than expected for such a podunk place, so we got to stock up a bit.

It had rained a bit on the road getting here, so the mud was pretty extreme and very difficult to get off even with the power washer they provide at the $25 RV wash.   I was working the brush pretty hard to clean what the power washer couldn’t get off.

We walked over to Fast Eddies the second night and the food was better than I remembered.   The next evening we were sitting outside for happy hour when the campground owner’s wife came by on what resembled an old style Good Humor Trike that used to come around our neighborhood when I was a kid.  But this one looked custom made and as most of us were drinking, beer we did not partake of the ice cream.

We were glad we paid a bit extra here to get the better sites. Last time we were here, they stuck us in the back and it was so tight we could barely get our slides deployed due to all the poorly placed trees.  Even getting into the site and out were difficult as you could easily hit the trees they planted right at the end of the sites on both sides.  What were they folks thinking?….




Beaver Creek/Discovery Yukon

On the way up the ALCAN, we saw some wild horses on the side of the road.  We had not seen that up here last time.   That was usually a Wyoming and Montana thing.

The road was rough in the extreme, much worse than last time.   We eventually pulled into the campground and were led to our site.  It was right on the highway, and I went back into the office to ask for a spot facing the grass airstrip like we had last time.   They led me to a different site but not on the strip.  We stayed here for 3 nights,  which is WAY to long.  This is a one-night place.  Nothing to do here.

The first morning there was a lot of noise outside and what was happening was pretty odd.  They were using a helicopter as a crane to offload a semi-flatbed full of materials.  As I watched for a bit, that was really odd.  They could easily have gotten most of it off by hand.  Instead it took that thing hovering loudly for hours to do it.   Then after that’s done, it came back a lot to ferry those materials to somewhere else.   All day Sunday and now Monday morning starting at 7am they were doing it.   It would have made a lot more sense to just use the helicopter once to pick it up off the flatbed and ferry it to wherever it needed to be.  But instead they took double the time to unload it fully, then come back to ferry each box to the other place.

A single engine small plane that looked to have been a military spotter plane or similar landed Sunday afternoon.  Kathy went over there to get a picture of it and met with the pilot and his wife.


We played a game of Yahtzee inside our bus and it appeared to give me luck as I won the game with a very high score.  I had 5 Yahtzee’s in that game!!!

Fixed the front vent fan lid switch in the kitchen, but the back vent fan only works for inbound air.  Exhaust venting won’t work.  Possibly the rocker switch that controls that has a wire off on the out switch.  But that will require a lot of dismantling, so I am saving that for “some other day”


Electrical Mod while traveling in the cold this summer.

[WARNING Technical  Info Below]   Read at your own risk!

The afternoon before heading out to St. Elias,  I had finally procured all the parts I needed for a modification we really wanted in the coach this cold summer here in Alaska.   When we have 50 amp shore power, I like to run the fireplace and also a second portable electric heater we procured while in Grand Prairie this trip up.   It helps us not to use propane we will need when dry camping, which we are doing quite a bit on this trip, 7 weeks this time up here.

Turns out all the 120v outlets inside our coach are on the inverter, which is great for us.  But there is one drawback.  The inverter is actually on a 30 amp breaker.  So running two 1500 watt heaters (25amps) doesn’t allow much head room, really any headroom, to run a toaster, coffee pot or microwave at the same time as the heaters are on high.   We had to turn one of them off to run any of them, especially the microwave as it draws about 14 amps.

I started thinking about a better way to do this so we didn’t need to remember to turn off one of the heaters first.    50 amp service consists of two 50 amp legs of power.  (L1 & L2) The inverter is on L1 in my bus, so my thought was to tap into L2 for a new outlet in the living room area.  Then I remembered there was a second outlet behind the fridge that wasn’t on the inverter, so I proceeded to make an extension cord to utilize it.

What I built is fairly overkill so as not to have an issue.  I used 10/3 SO cord.  I could have used 14/3, but I figured 12/3 would be better, and I ended up with 10/3 as that was all that was available in Kenai at the time.  First I tested the outlet to see what leg it was on, and of course it wasn’t on L2, but was on L1 also.   But when I thought about it, that was fine due to each leg being 50 amps.  The heater I would plug in would be ~13 amps, so that, plus a maxed-out inverter (in pass-thru mode)  would not be a problem at 43 amps max.  It still had some headroom available for something not considered.

I had purchased a second special outlet that fits into a round hole to use for the new heated toilet seat modification, a different project that was a nice to have; but this modification was needed as soon as possible, so I repurposed that Journeyman-Pro 5279 15 Amp 120-125 Volt, NEMA 5-15 Flanged Outlet   for this.   This is the angled plug I used to make it stay plugged in during all the shaking the motorhome goes thru.  Leviton 5266-CA 15 Amp, 125 Volt, Angle Plug

I pulled off the louvered cover that’s to the right of the fridge that gives you access to all the wires behind the circuit breaker panel.  I checked to make sure nothing was in the way of the new cords so I wouldn’t be drilling thru something critical.    I drilled the hole, made sure my outlet fit it, then went back outside and built the cord and put the male end on it.  I then fished it down and under the fridge close to the opening where I had taken the louvers off.  (Come to think of it, I should probably block off those louvers as they are not really needed now that I have a residential fridge instead of the old Propane/Electric Nevercold that was in there when I bought the bus.)   Then I went back inside and pushed the wire thru the newly drilled hole, and then striped the wires and installed it on the new outlet.

Once that was done, I put the outlet into the hole and screwed it in after a short test of the circuit first.

All done!   Now we can run the second portable heater while on 50 amp shore power and not have to play “checkers” with the on/off switches so we could run other things in the mornings.   And it will let us go longer before having to go thru the hassle of getting the propane refilled!

Congdon Creek Campground

We decided to skip Pine Lake Campground and instead head for Congdon Creek Campground, another Yukon Provincial Park about an hour further along our route toward Alaska.

It turned out it was a great choice!   We got there and what I thought was the best site was in the process of being taken when we arrived.  We had to wait for those folks to detach their car so he could back up and pull into the site as we could not get past them.  If only we hadn’t stopped at a rest area, that coach wouldn’t have passed us and gotten there first.   But later we figured out it really wasn’t the best site.  Turns out we got the best site in the campground (#9)  But I will get to that later on..

I saw Campsite 9 and it looked good to me, so I needed to turn around and pull into it.  But at the end of the sites, the turnaround was about 5 feet short of allowing that, so I had to detach the car to get back out of there.  I then pulled the bus into the site so we were facing the lake.

The folks in the site left us a stack of “split” firewood which was nice of them.  Yukon Government sites offer free firewood in large bins around the campgrounds but they aren’t split yet.

We set up our chairs and reveled in the warmth of the sun right then.  Later on we brought them down to the water’s edge and it wasn’t long before the sun went behind a cloud and it got cold pretty fast!  Luckily the clouds moved and it came back out a little bit later.  The wind here was really icy cold!  But what a beautiful place.  God’s handiwork for sure.

This campground, like most other Provincial parks in Canada, is dry camping.  There were no utilities or dump station at almost all that we have been to in the past.

As we were only here for two nights, the following morning we drove over to the Soldier Summit Trailhead to hike to the original Alcan route where the opening ceremonies occurred on November 20th, 1942.  I cannot imagine how cold it would have been out here on that date.

It was an easy hike, less than a mile and only about 300′ in elevation change, but the mosquitos were horrendous!   There were American and Canadian flags along with a large wooden platform with signs about that historic event and subsequent events, like the 50th anniversary back in ’92.  No mention of the 75th anniversary though.  This is grizzly country, so we all had our bear spray, and all were probably wondering the same thing as I was:  will it help in the event a grizzly wanted to get up close and personal?  And to our surprise there were the classic Parks Canada Red Adirondack chairs at the top! 

Here is a pic of our traveling companions at the top of the hill.   After an uneventful hike, we drove over to the visitor center, which was pretty small.  And while we were there, we watched some Dahl Sheep way up on the mountainside thru telescopes positioned around the building.   As we were heading back to the car, we saw a motorhome stop on the roadway, about half a mile from us, where a bunch of sheep were crossing the highway.   By the time we got over there, the sheep were about 40 feet up the cliff wall, somehow clinging to the side.  It sure would have been nice to see how they got up there, but we missed it.   And my pictures of the cliff face somehow didn’t include the actual sheep of which there were about 8 of, a couple were very young.

If that wasn’t enough animal sightings for the day, about 8 miles down the road toward our campground we spotted a grizzly on the side of the road eating the shrubs.  Turned out it was a mamma and a cub.  As we watched, they wandered down the road toward us.  To our excitement, they crossed the road right in front of our car!!  I got a great shot of the cub looking at us, but the mamma bear never looked our way.   It was funny, no one got out of their cars to get a closer look :).  Apparently, not everyone is stupid…

After the bears crossed and headed into the tall stuff, we drove the couple miles to our campground,    I know I was thinking how wonderful it was we hadn’t encountered them on the trail a few minutes prior.

The following morning as we got ready to move a guy walked up and asked if we were leaving.  I told him yes.  He then told me this was the best site in the campground and that he lives in Whitehorse and comes here many times a year.

A bit later we drove to Discovery Yukon Lodgings less than two hours away according to google maps, but the drive was so rough it took us 4 hours to get there.  Yikes!

Whitehorse Yukon

The drive from Teslin to Whitehorse was pretty nice, and the roads were especially good once we hit the Whitehorse Highway maintenance sign.  You could see and feel the difference!  At the Hi Country RV Park, we got the exact same site as last time we were here.  Coincidence?

Mexican for dinner at Sanchez Cantina Saturday night.   As we drove up, we realized Kathy and I had been here last time for lunch.  And it didn’t disappoint!  The food was very good.  Hard to imagine getting great Mexican food way up here.

We headed out to Miles Canyon for a hike.  It was quite a nice hike in the woods.  There was even a small wooden suspension bridge on the trail.   Later that evening we headed to Boston Pizza for dinner.  Wasn’t anywhere near as good as the pizza we had back in Edmonton at their Boston Pizza.   We also went to a Canadian Tire store.  Kind of seemed more like a big box store – huge.  I never actually saw tires in there.




Teslin Lake Overnight

We drove to Teslin just so we didn’t have to drive all the way to Whitehorse in one day.   There isn’t much to say about the drive or the stay, other than the campground is a dust bowl when it’s windy.