Arizona ….maintenance/repairs with a few fun things mixed in

So why did we decide to go to Phoenix in the middle of September with temperatures reaching 110F??? We wanted to raise the RV 5 inches in the back from a welder in town.  Our Ram 2500 sits so high that it causes the back of the RV to sit very low causing us to bottom out numerous times and pretty much taking out our bumper.  We were quite happy to get in here and get it fixed for the next year of our journey.  This also being our future home when our travel days come to a close, we were excited to see the city and get a feel for what it will be like to live here.  I have to say we are so excited to call this place home someday that I thought about possibly seeing some open houses while we are here … I decided not too.  Don’t want to be tempted to settle while we are still in the journey.

A few fun facts we learned on the extreme Phoenix heat that Arizonians experience…

  • The steering wheels can burn your hands as well as the seat belts and leather seats in this heat.  Our first day here after the sun had soaked into our black leather truck seats, we went to run some errands and the seat was so hot, I felt like I was sitting on an oven. One way to get around the steering wheel we learned is people here leave oven mitts in their cars.  So we are trading in our winter gloves for oven mitts haha
  • Hot pavement can injure dogs paws, they actually sell booties to protect their paws when it is this hot.  We went swimming at the pool at our first RV Park and the concrete around the pool was burning my feet as soon as I took off my flip-flops
  • Door handles can burn your hands or RV front door handles for that matter!  I could hardly open our front door as it was intensely hot! Awnings are definitely necessary around here!

Where we stayed

Willard Springs Road just past Flagstaff was the perfect spot to get some RV work done before hitting 100 plus temps in Phoenix.  It was a quiet boondocking spot with very few campers for the large amount of spots available.  The road to get in is a little dicey with an old paved road that has eroded over time leaving very large pot holes and ditches that most vehicles will have trouble with.  We went slow but went into the first loop and did not venture down the road further where 4 x 4 vehicles could only safely go. WiFi was working but was extremely slow.


Apache Palms RV Park in Tempe was only 15 minutes away from where we had to drop the trailer off for service.  It was a small and quiet RV park with full bars LTE and it full hookups! We had been boondocking for 25 days and we were all excited to not monitor our energy or water usage for a few days and splurge on those showers! They are pet friendly but, do not have anywhere to take your pets other than the empty lot beside them.

3 Palms hotel.  We stayed here for 2 nights while the trailer was in for service.  We have lived in our trailer full time now for over 3 months and I was excited to stay in a hotel with a pool as a little getaway for something different.  I only lasted a couple of hours without thinking how much I missed our little home on wheels.  I love the comforts that you have with you, wherever you go and I certainly missed them.  It was nice to have long full size shower and fast WiFi though!


Lake Pleasant Regional Park just outside of Phoenix has spacious campsites, electric and water hook-ups and access to the water for boating.  It has fairly good signal with our AT&T lines but, our booster sure helped there.  It has two dump stations on the way out but, it wasn’t that busy when we went there.  They do however have wild roaming donkeys around the campground that truly surprised us when we saw them outside of our window!  We also saw the most amazing sunsets there, just incredible!


What we did


Purged again! With a bent axle from our weight issues, we decided to rent a storage unit here in Phoenix to unload some unused items in the trailer while also providing us a place to store additional stuff to drop off when we fly back home to Ontario in December.  I wasn’t quite sure what we would purge but, it is funny when you start living more minimalist, what you realize you can live without.  We removed our outdoor fridge and microwave and put them in storage. I have not used them once since being on the road and it was extra weight that we had been carrying around for zero value.  We also found odds and ends to put in storage such as reducing our dishes and putting those extra sweaters.  Can’t wait to bring our skis and backpacking gear from Ontario to the storage unit in December to use here this winter!


Repairs & Maintenance


While designing our solar system and analyzing our energy needs/expectations we figured we would need 4 batteries. Due to the cost we wanted to start with 3 and see if we could manage with one less, but built our battery box to be able to hold 4 batteries just in case. Jason spoke with Battleborn support (very helpful) to ensure we added any batteries to our bank within an acceptable time.


Why did we get a fourth? Well it means a little less stress about our energy usage for the day. We often wake up with our battery bank below 30%. We have had to skip doing things (while the sun isn’t shinning) out of concern we would run out of battery. We got tired of being right at that line. Being able to use the instant pot, fridge, coffee maker and our dryer on a daily basis with less concern. Boondocking has become our primary way of living and running the dryer for clothes requires power.


Who knew that you should be towing your trailer level? We didn’t and our RV dealer never mentioned this when they installed our hitch.  Well after a year of driving with tail end very low (and numerous bumper collisions with the ground) we got the trailer lifted by adding a 5 inch subframe.  We also upgraded to the mor/ryde 4000 suspension (our mor/ryde 3000 was pretty mangled and bent from the Alaska roads).  It now goes over those bumps on the road so much smoother!  Hard to believe these guys weld outdoors in the 115 degree Phoenix heat….but, its a dry heat right?


Eating Out

I won’t lie, I have been looking forward to eating out at this restaurant for weeks! True Food Kitchen is our FAVORITE restaurant that is only located here in the states.  They are known for their locally sourced ingredients as well as their vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.  We shared several dishes off the menu and three desserts to finish off our meal.  Sooooo good! I need more True Food in my life!


Interesting things

We found scooters placed all around Tempe that were not in docking stations or in racks like your typically see in big cities for bike rentals.  So we had to google it and found out that it is actually a company called Bird.  They place these scooters around the city by 7am to 8pm and then pick them up and charge them overnight.  They also donate $1 per rental to the city to assist with more bike lanes on the road.  We thought it was pretty neat!

Moab, Utah

Hmmmmm Moab in early September…..yep we decided to come here and boondock in the desert with temperatures rising to 100 degrees…we figured out how to work with the temperatures though!

We absolutely loved Moab and spent 8 nights here and probably would have stayed longer had we not had plans in Phoenix for our much needed repairs.  A very touristy town but had a welcoming downtown with two grocery stores, lots of quaint restaurants (see below at the one we ate at!) and tour companies for any off-roading experience you would like to go on.  It was however very hot here in September and we couldn’t leave Kenya alone in the trailer during the hot desert afternoons.  We ended up just relaxing behind our trailer in the shade during that time and taking advantage of being out on the trails early in the morning or late in the evening.

Where we stayed

Willow Springs Trail on State Sovereign Lands: just a 12 minute drive away from Arches National Park and a 35 minute drive from Canyonlands National Park … doesn’t get much better than this for location!  We got good speed on our 3 bars of LTE through AT&T.  There are two vault toilets and several portable toilets around that were cleaned and stocked with toilet paper on a regular basis.  We stayed further down the road before the hill down to the second loop.  We only had one spot across from us but other than that we were in an excellent spot away from late night campers that seemed to stay near the beginning of the road.


What we did


Delicate Arch Trail is the iconic arch on all of the Utah license plates.  We were warned at the visitor center that this was the second busiest month to go to this National Park as hundreds of visitors will flock to this arch and you will wait in the blistering heat for your turn to capture that photo.  Seeing Delicate Arch was on our “must do list” so, we planned to work around it!  We set our alarms for 5:30 am and hit the trail at 7 am.  We enjoyed an AMAZING drive into the park with no one else on the road watching the sunrise.  It was just breathtaking and highly recommend getting there this early just to see the sun hit the this majestic park on your way in.  We have truly never seen anything like the entrance into Arches before.  We saw no one on the trail until we reached the top and ran into a few people leaving after seeing the sunset at the arch.  We were able to walk right up and get our pictures at the arch without waiting in any lines and dying from heat as we were in the shade the whole way up.  It was so grand that it had us all admiring and taking it all in.  So worth getting up early for!

Park Avenue Trail was another early morning hike for us.  Right at the front of the park it was easy to fit into another days activities.  Most people just did the lookout at the beginning and did not venture farther into the rigid part of the trail.  It was only 2 miles in and out and a great hike to start our day!

Devil’s Garden Trail can be upwards of 10 miles round trip, we did about 7 miles in and out to Double O Arch with hitting others such as Landscape, Navajo and Partition Arches.  Landscape Arch actually had a 60 piece fall off it in 1991.  Luckily, no one was injured as the visitors near it at the time of the fall were able to escape in time.  We hit the trail early at 8 am and got lucky with cooler temperatures throughout the entire hike with a lot of shade along the way.  Most of the trail is primitive with hiking over rock which is what we love best!  At one point along the trail just before you reach Double O Arch, it is a narrow rock passage with amazing views but, a very long way down on either side should you get too close to the edge.

4 x 4 Trail to Willow Springs within Arches NP.  We found one that actually goes from Balancing Rock right to our camping spot at Willow Springs. There was only one clip we took along the road and it got much more intense as we drove along. At one point I had to hop out and spot the truck as Jason drove up a boulder….well less spotting and more thinking… “what did we get ourselves into” and “please don’t let us damage our truck”!!! We rely on our truck to tow our home on wheels around.  So I didn’t think about capturing that moment as I watched the truck climb over boulders, or thinking about it as I sat in the car not letting go of the “oh crap” handle. We did make it right to our spot without damage, although at one point on the road we bottomed out. All seems to be fine though and now we are sitting here wishing we had caught more on video!  It was a pretty neat experience and would definitely do another in a National Park again.


This trail was recommended to us by one of Jason’s old colleagues back in Ontario who had vacationed here numerous times so we had to try it!  It was about 50 minutes away from our spot but, oh, it is a scenic drive around the Colorado River along route 128 the whole way there.  The trail is located off of a rough dirt road that did not recommend more than 22 feet towing (so good thing we were just in our truck!) The trail is 4.4 miles in and out.  There is a ladder to continue on the trail just before the 2 mile mark.  We had Kenya with us so that is where we ended the trail to turn back but, I think it took us twice as long anyway just stopping to take pictures and feel the magnitude of standing against these towering sandstone rock formations.

On the way back along route 128, we visited Castle Creek Winery.  One of things I loved about living back in Ontario was being so close to Niagara on the Lake and biking around sampling new and old favorite wines along the way.  So needless to say I was VERY excited to sample some wines! This was a cute winery with a nice selection of whites and reds.  We walked away with a bottle of Lily Rose White which we enjoyed after two long days of hiking!



It seems that Arches National Park gets all the glory around here.  Canyonlands National Park is definitely worth the visit! Breathtaking overlooks and viewpoints had many visitors set up with their cameras for opportunities of pictures in solitude overlooking the canyons.  We arrived in the evening and the sunset was amazing over the canyons allowing us to grab lots of good pictures and just time to take it all in. We went in the evening to see the Star Party that Canyonlands was hosting.  The 3 parks in the area, Arches NP, Deadhorse Point SP  and Canyonlands NP get together and host a star viewing night with the rangers with several telescopes for visitors to use.  The rangers put on a fantastic lecture on some of the history behind beliefs in the stars and they allowed us to all partake in viewing nebulas and planets.  September we learned was one of the best times to see the Milky Way which was just incredible!


This was somewhat of a tough decision for us to go to as it was $20 to get in the park and it doesn’t cost us anything to go to the National Parks now with our annual pass.  We were told that it gives a closer look to the canyons and it is also dog friendly so we were able to take Kenya out on the trails and lookouts with us.  In our opinion, had we not had the annual pass, it would have been worthwhile to go here and spend the day.  For us however, it had similar lookouts to Canyonlands NP just on a smaller scale.  We did enjoy hiking around Deadhorse Point lookout and getting out for the afternoon with Kenya in tow.


Eating Out

This was the best Mexican Restaurant we had ever been to!  Fiesta Mexicana is located in downtown Moab that had a great ambiance and beyond reasonably priced menu for the serving size you receive.  We were raving about it all week and it was very hard not to go back a second time!


What we missed

We were hoping to take our paddle board out along the Colorado River.  With the heat of the afternoon, we opted for our time spent on the trails instead. Would have been fun though!

Dinosaur National Monument

So one thing I now know about our travel style is that we don’t have one! We have a rough idea of the route we want to go on but are flexible to go wherever we feel like. Our original “plan” was to go to Salt Lake City to Antelope Island State Park, relax and do some paddle boarding.  After talking with friends, we were told that the bugs were horrible, the water would not be paddle board worthy and there was a smell from the lake.  So, our plans changed to go to Dinosaur National Monument!


Where we stayed

We wanted to go boondocking and found this amazing spot on Campendium on the Colorado side of the National Park.  It is a 20 minute drive from the National Park Visitor Center on the Colorado side with the most scenic view going up.  We got 3 bars AT&T LTE, which if you go up here, is rare as you will have a lot of no service zones.  Only had 1 neighbour who was hardly at the site as they were here for elk hunting.  It is on Blue Mountain road which is a gravel road that also goes down to the highway.  I really enjoyed some runs and walks down it as it was a lot quieter than the Harpers Road behind us.  Bonus, you will see over 4,500 stars here at night, just spectacular!  One night we went out and starred at the sky in awe finding Mars and more stars than we had ever seen.  Watching Annalise in this remote place, high up in Dinosaur National Monument and having this moment looking into the sky together was all what this trip was about.


What we did

Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur Quarry Visitor Center

This place was nothing like we had ever seen for a dinosaur exhibit.  You take a short trolley ride up from the visitor center to the Quarry Exhibit Hall where you will get to touch and see up close dinosaur bones in their original place before any excavation.  It is quite amazing to see and we spent time just starring at the wall and looking at all of the bones.  We opted to hike back to the visitor center to view the sights down along with some more dinosaur bones along the way.  Now this was Labor Day weekend when we went and still VERY hot! I think we were all pondering our decision to hike down during the hottest part of the day, but it was still incredible all the same!


Lookout Points off of Harper’s Corner Road

After not being able to do the Harper’s Corner Trail (see below), we decided to opt for the scenic drive and do all the lookouts along the Harper’s Corner Road.  They were all breathtaking views of canyons, Echo Park and the beautiful colours that laid within the rock.  It was certainly worth the day trip around!

Truck hike to Echo Park Campground

We did our first Truck Hike!!! When we first heard this term we truly didn’t understand what it meant, are they referring to hikers but in a truck?  Now we understand after doing one, it is taking a road that requires high clearance vehicles in order to venture down it.  The road down to Echo Park Campground is just that!  Bumpy roads and fantastic views down the 12 mile road … which took us around 30 minutes from the turn off from Harper’s Corner Road.  At the bottom, there is a first come first serve campground and several unmarked trails around the rivers and towards Jenny Lind Rock.  We had a picnic there and hiked around this beautiful spot admiring the scenery.  There is a calm spot in the river where you could paddle board or go swimming.  We were kicking ourselves for not thinking of bringing our bathing suits or paddle board!

What we missed

Harper’s Corner Trail is at the end of Harper’s Corner Road about 30 minute drive from the site we were at.  It was in our itinerary, we took Kenya with us, got all the way there to find out they don’t allow dogs on the trail.  So sad!  I usually check to make sure these hikes are dog friendly but, just assumed that it would be fine for this one….guess not!


We purchased some plexiglas from Lowe’s in Twin Falls on our way here to do a temporary fix to the broken window.  Jason managed to put it in and add temporary tint to it until we can figure out how to order a new one from Montana …. we will see how long that takes!

Craters of the Moon, Idaho

Weather has brought us on an unexpected detour for round 2 of the adventure.  The devastating forest fires surrounding the west coast and blowing towards the east, has pushed us towards Idaho and Utah earlier than planned.  Being from southern Ontario, and never exposed to forest fires, it was a real eye opener.  Our hearts felt for the residents of those areas affected.  Passing through and speaking with locals on how it had affected their health and surroundings really opened our eyes to their reality.

Idaho sure did surprise us with its rolling hills, picturesque scenery of golden fields and desert vegetation.  Just beautiful countryside that I am so glad we got to experience!

Where we stayed

We found the Hayspur Fish Hatchery Campground on Campendium:  We chose this spot for its location as we wanted to be close to Craters of the Moon.  This is a free campground on BLM land. It has 2 vault toilets, fire rings and lots of campground spots available.  They have a 16 night maximum stay and cell signal.  We stayed 4 nights and it was quiet the whole time we were there.  We also enjoyed the natural trail and walking around the grounds.  Pretty awesome free spot!

What we did



Did you know that this was originally the spot where NASA trained astronauts on the basics of volcanic geology to prepare them for explorations to the moon back in 1969? When you go there, you will see why this spot was picked.

We entered landscape we have never seen before with volcanic remains from thousands of years ago surrounding us with limited or determined vegetation.  We loved exploring the caves and lava tunnels.  We even ran into another full-time RV family #lbrvadventure there and spent the afternoon exploring this amazing place with them.  It was definitely a highlight of our trip!


We spent the day there exploring and going to the visitor center.  If you are going for the a day visit it is definitely enough time.  They do however have some nice hiking trails that take you around the volcanic landscape if you wish to go back for another day.  There is a campground at Craters of the Moon but, we found that only verizon worked with one bar of signal there.


About 50 minutes away from the campground, we pulled over at a turnout to switch driving.  As I walked around to hop into the drivers side, I found the side window broken above our couch.  Learning from jumping into impulsive repair decisions, we decided to continue to head to our campground, assess the situation and see if we were comfortable enough to spend time there with a broken window.


Boondocking from Whitehorse to Kelowna, would you do it?

Driving from the Yukon to Southern British Columbia can be daunting enough with road condition worries, no signal and where to find gas without throwing boondocking in the mix. We really don’t like to pay for camping though when we are literally just making dinner and going to sleep. We also keep trying to up the ante with more boondocking and less campsites the longer we are on this adventure. So FREE won and we went boondocking for 3 nights on our way to Kelowna, BC.

The best thing about these remote areas along the Alaskan Highway is that there are plenty of spots to park your RV along the drive down. You can park at any turnout along the highway as long as there are no signs posted for no camping. If you prefer a tested spot, we have our go to resources below!

Our Resources

We find our best boondocking sites on Campendium, This site is super helpful for us because we rely on our fellow travellers reviews of the road conditions to get to the site, the spot itself since we are 43 feet long and the cell signal.

We also look at for more reviews of off the beaten-path camping spots by fellow travellers as well. Sometimes we do find spots here that we were unable to find on Campendium or Allstays.

The Milepost. Yes it’s not just for Alaska! It covers all the highways from Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon and Northwest Territories as well.

Where we stayed


Have you ever camped somewhere so remote without cell signal and nothing around for miles? We used to camp in Algonquin, Ontario where we took all of our camping gear in a canoe and paddled out on the lake to our campsite. We still saw people around and it still felt like we weren’t alone. This was the first time I felt alone with no signal and no one around minus the few cars that came to checkout our spot and then drive away.

We stayed in Northern British Columbia GPS 58.8240035, -125.1353573 off the Alaska Highway near a tranquil river the colour of a brilliant light blue. I put my worries aside and we enjoyed checking out the river and relaxing for a bit before bed where we got an excellent nights sleep before heading off again the next morning. We even got rid of our garbage at the cans off the turnout.


Walmart is definitely always our go to “lot boondocking” spot when we are in a city. It is perfect for us to pick up our groceries while getting a safe place to park overnight. This Walmart was a bit noisy and busy with lots of RVs when we stayed but still a great stop!


We found this spot in the Milepost GPS 53.9245632, -118.8142969. It was incredibly helpful as Highway 40 in Alberta had limited markers and few signs not to mention, limited cell signal. This location however did have cell signal though! Highly recommend the Milepost for this leg of the journey.

With only a few other campers, we enjoyed having our rig parked right along the river and listening to the sounds of the water flowing all night. I truly did not want to leave the next day it was so relaxing! There is a 14 day limit here as is the norm for most places, with this scenery and fishing in the river, I can see why it would be a popular camping spot around here!

We were far enough away from the blazing forest fire smoke, but you could still see the haze in the distance when we put the drone up. If you travel back down from Alaska in August, you will most likely be caught up in the smoke. We had friends that travelled down in September and it was a more pleasant drive with spectacular views. After we left this spot, we drove through Jasper and couldn’t see much past the road instead of the magnificent views we had anticipated.

Lessons learned

Was boondocking in the remote North really that scary? Well no, not after getting over my fear the first night of feeling alone with no ability to even make a phone call if we were in trouble. Sometimes I feel that the unknown is always scary until you face your fear, in my case, boondocking with unknown wildlife in the remote North. I’m so glad we did and spent $0 on camping!

Whitehorse, Yukon

We were very excited for our drive from Fairbanks and to take the Alaska Highway this time around. Mainly excited for less frost heaves and road deterioration!  I think we have done enough damage to our rig! The drive was just beautiful with mountains and scenery along with the welcomed sunshine the whole drive. I knew I was missing sunshine and being back in the Yukon with it, and realized how much I needed it. Only need to throw in some temperatures above 60 and I will be good! We did however run into a sandstorm going through the Kluane National Park, we had no idea how much sand can be found in the Yukon and Alaska.  That was sure on our what surprised us list!

After bypassing Whitehorse on our way up to Alaska, I was excited to spend some time here before our long journey to Jasper. We enjoyed walking around downtown and looking at the cute shops and well kept trail along the Yukon River. Temperatures were starting to drop having us take out our winter jackets….winter is coming to the Yukon and it’s only the middle of August!


We purchased tires for the truck at Canadian Tire as we couldn’t wait on doing the maintenance work until the lower 48.  Annalise and I decided to go to the Starbucks right by it while Jason took care of getting the truck in. I was not successful in any downloads and just felt like I was crawling on the internet. This is an ongoing occurrence on this leg of the trip! You will not find free good fast speed WiFi at any place around here! Annalise got some of her YouTube videos downloaded although very painful. Realizing an hour later that Canadian Tire has WiFi, we ventured over there to join Jason and to find their WiFi at a slow but decent speed. So should you find yourself in Whitehorse needing WiFi, go to Canadian Tire!

Where we stayed

After long-hauling it from Fairbanks, we were tired and ready to call it a night. Our plan was to stay at the Wolf Creek government campground just outside of town. At only $12 a night, we wanted to stay there to keep our expenses low.  After circling the campground twice, no campsites were to be found that would fit us and the majority were taken, so we decided to move on. Hoping to be at a lower cost campsite, we decided on Pioneer RV campground. Gone with the Wynns had stayed here and although it was not the most attractive campground, it was $35 a night with full hook-ups. We also got a discount being Good Sam members so not bad at all for 3 nights. Full signal here along with 1GB of WiFi from the campground. You can purchase more but we did not. They have gas, propane, car wash and even a dog wash.


What we did


S.S. Klondike sits right at the edge of town by the river. Being one of the top rated things to do on tripadvisor we had to check it out. It is free for a self-guided tour and $6 adult, $2 for children if you want a 45 minute tour. We love free but, all proceeds go to the restoration of the S.S. Klondike so we opted for the tour. It was awesome! We had Greg as our tour guide and he was so informative and engaging! Lucky for us, we were the only ones on this tour giving us the opportunity to monopolize Greg’s time with our questions. One interesting fact we found was that everyone on board was given an axe, with approximately 70 on board. The theory is that there was an axe per person to cut yourself out of the boat should there be an accident. Opt for the tour and ask for Greg if you go!


A hiking venture was in order while we were here! Miles Canyon looked so majestic we had to check it out along with it’s suspension bridge. The access point was only a few minutes away from our campground. The trail itself is a 15 km loop, we made it out a short distance and turned around. Beautiful scenery even if you wanted to just check out the bridge and take some pictures. I challenge myself to do the whole loop when I return to Whitehorse!

What we missed

Next time we are here, I would love to set aside a week to paddle up the Yukon river to Dawson City. Maybe at the beginning of the season when temperatures are a little warmer!

Fairbanks, Alaska

Fairbanks almost didn’t make this Alaskan trip.  Going back in forth near Anchorage due to RV repairs, messed with our original systematic loop that we were going to do.  Better roads and going through Denali brought it back into the plans as well as the need to get some packages delivered.


This was the last stop on our Alaskan adventure.  I think with being newbie full time RVers, trying to deal with the new lifestyle as well as all of the nuances that pop up with traveling full time in your RV, we were ready to start heading back south.  We were excited to get back to bigger cities where we had more access to get repairs done or, have the ability to go pick up parts to fix it ourselves.  It was a gamble going to Alaska for the first leg of our journey with the rough roads, no cell service areas and quite desolate areas in not just Alaska but, Northern British Columbia and the Yukon.  I am so glad we did and got to experience Alaska.  I know a lot of full time RVers say this, you don’t really know what your travel style is going to be like until you get out there.   You also are not going to know how your lifestyle is going to change until you give it some time and really get into your new day to day.  It can be very overwhelming and although there are some YouTube videos or other Blogs that show the not so glamorous life of RVing, you really need to go into it yourself and experience it.  I think if we were a little more seasoned full time RVers, we may have dealt with all of the surprises differently.  Maybe, we would not have let repairs that we dealt with in Alaska dictate our journey or get consumed by too much planning that got changed anyway.  In the beginning, we would spend 1 hour or more planning what to do next, where to stay, and all of the activities we were going to do.  All this planning and most of the time, it got changed anyway.  We needed to stop so much planning and start more adventuring!  It is all part of the travel journey and understanding how to move forward and learn from our mistakes only prepares us for our adventures to come.  We still saw Alaska and all of it’s glory!  Personally, I was definitely excited to see some more sunshine in the near future too after a lot of rain here!

Where we stayed

We parked at Rivers Edge RV Park and enjoyed some full hook-ups before our journey back south.  We were able to have some Amazon packages sent here … OK maybe a lot of Amazon packages before we left civilization for awhile!  I finally got some of my Instant Pot accessories including a steamer and cake pan.  Can’t wait to start making new creations with it!  We also got a screen protector for the door since Kenya has started to paw at it.  Our site had 30 amp and decent WiFi to enjoy before no service areas.  Annalise is downloading as we speak!  This is a beautiful RV Park, probably one of the best we have stayed in with friendly service, facilities, dog walk and a lovely path along the river just steps away from any site.  Along with package delivery, we would give this park a 5 Stars!!!


What we did


We met a couple in Valdez on our Lu-Lu Belle cruise that recommended we go to Pioneer Park.  When wanted to go do something fun when we arrived in Fairbanks that evening and decided to check it out. Not knowing much about it other than containing historic buildings and free admission… we like FREE!  It really exceeded all of our expectations and we could have spent a good half day there.   You can actually go into the majority of these historic buildings. They moved them from the city in order to preserve their heritage and just engulf yourself with their story inside and what it was like during that time.  We really enjoyed the museum there and they had more artifacts and information that you could get through in one day!  It was awesome and all running off of donations.  We even picked up some gifts for our nieces at one of the shops.  Just an all around cool place that is definitely worth a visit!


Trans-Alaska Pipeline Viewpoint just outside of Fairbanks allows you to come close-up to the pipeline.  We spent around 30 minutes looking at the information and learning more about it.  Definitely worth the visit!


We had gone back and forth about doing this museum but knew it would be a fun short activity for the afternoon.  We had seen that Keep your Daydream went there while visiting Fairbanks and they had mentioned a really interesting piece on display that peaked our interest.  Owning an electric car until recently, we found out that they had one of the first electric cars made in 1903 on display.  We had no idea that the history of the electric car went that far back! We all enjoyed our visit there and walked away with more knowledge of electric and steam cars as well as vintage fashion that they had on display.




Denali, Alaska


Rain, rain and more rain followed us on our journey.  It was turning into heavier rain which kept us from going to look-outs towards Denali and instead, turned into relaxing family time.  We played Annalise’s game Catan that we just bought and had a movie night.  Sometimes you just need those kind of days as well.  Once we got to Healy, we did get some welcomed sunshine that made is feel like it was time to head south soon for some warmer temperatures.  There is a reason we are planning on settling in Arizona for the sunshine and warmth!

Where we stayed

We stayed over at the Walmart in Wasilla from driving all day and arriving late.  We always love staying over at Walmart to stock up on supplies.  It was quiet with plenty of other RVers there.  It is a 24 hour Walmart so we were a little worried about the noise but it was a great stop.

We planned our next stop at K’esugi Campground just outside of the Denali National Park.  I had thought it was only $15 per night but was actually $30 per night with only electrical hook-ups.  It was also very confusing to get in and pick our spot as some were reserved for certain days and others (very few) were first come first serve.  It took us 3 rounds around the loop to get a spot and figure out the system.  Being it was a little expensive for us to only have electrical and also farther than we would like from Denali, we decided to only stay one night.

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Otto Lake in Healy was our ultimate score!  We marked out a few other free parking locations along the way but we decided to try and go for this one and we got it!  Just 10 minutes from Denali’s entrance there are about 3-4 spots on this BLM land with spectacular views of the mountains.  When we arrived, we parked the rig at the turn off to get in and scope out the area.  The first spot at the top was taken so we walked down to the next and it was free!  It was a very difficult spot to get in with our 43 foot rig but we got it in with patience of slowly backing in and out.  There was also another spot past us but it is only accessible by 4 x 4.  Kenya LOVED running around in that lower spot next to the open field.  These are the types of locations we live for.

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What we did


Denali National Park we knew required time on a bus if we wanted to see the entire park.  It is a 12 hour bus ride for the day and we decided to only go to the visitor center and have a picnic.  The visitor center was fantastic and we were happy to just sight see around there.  With so much driving lately we were not keen on spending a whole day on a bus and leaving Kenya alone all day in the trailer.

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We got a tip from a few full time families camping here in the area that wild blueberry picking in Cantwell was fantastic right now.  We love these free activities because they seem to be the most memorable for us.  As a family, we drove towards Cantwell from Healy and it was almost like a scavenger hunt.  Stopping and hopping out of the truck in search for those Alaskan blueberries.  The cold crisp air of the day did not stop us from finding a spot and digging in to fill our bags with them.  We ventured out, explored and got 4 bags of wild blueberries.  I took in the scenery and my surroundings of mountains, wide open Alaska and blueberries ready for the picking and felt such happiness for these moments.  I will admit I was humming the whole time in hopes to ward off any bears wanting a snack nearby!  It was a fun trip for us and we want to make it a habit of trying to partake in the local foods as much as possible while we are in a spot.

Annalise and I had a lot of fun making a cake and crumble out of them.   Our little oven in the trailer baked the cake perfectly!  Alaskan blueberries are very tart and Annalise was not so found of them on their own.  It was perfect to bake with though and we had run into other travelers who added them to their pancakes too, yum!

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Starring out at our score of a spot, seriously we couldn’t believe that we got this spot and actually fit our rig here! It was nice to have some downtime, get a workout in and enjoy our surroundings.

Having this time to slow down and reflect on our journey really had me thinking about the impact we are having on Annalise’s life.  I hope that she always remembers these moments.  Moments of opening the door to a new view of the world whether it be the mountains in Denali, a glacier, a desert or a river flowing by.  Opening up the door to a new adventure wherever we go.

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What we missed

There was a part in everyone that would have loved to have taken the bus ride and seen Denali or at least get further into the park.  We just didn’t feel like going on the long bus ride and were happy with our decision to venture out more around the park instead and get a few things done in the RV.

Valdez, Alaska

Valdez we were told by a local is called little Switzerland.  It sure feels that way once you get about 30 miles away from it.  The majestic mountains surrounding you as you drive through with breathtaking waterfalls coming down.  Coming into Valdez you pass Bridal and Horsetail falls, which are just spectacular.  Jason said many times that this town felt magical to him.  We stayed for 3 nights and had rain for all of them.  It would be a breathtaking view from town had it been a clear day.

I have to admit, the rain was sure affecting my mood and wearing all of us down.  Up to this point, we only experienced 2 sunny days in Alaska and were starting to feel depressed by the rainy cold, damp weather.  3 nights we spent in Valdez and all of them had rained without any clearing.  A couple of times we thought, “should we just head south from here?”  As we say this with our furnace on, warm ski socks on and dressed for winter haha. With Jason getting over a cold and Annalise just starting one, we decided to cut our next plan to Chitna.  It would have been a 2 hour drive to McCarthy and then a long hike into the glacier in the rain that we just didn’t think our family was up for.  So with that, we decided to head on towards Denali after Valdez.  Fingers crossed for some sunshine!

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Where we stayed

Bear Paw RV Park in the middle of Valdez.  This was a great spot for us to be in walking distance of pretty much everything in town.  Right across from the water it was perfect.  It is a gravel side by side RV park but we had full hook-ups, super fast WiFi and you couldn’t beat the location.  We had full bars of LTE for our AT&T lines, this did however only occur within 8 miles of town.  There was no service for about an hour after leaving Valdez.   This was a gravel RV park and we did have to walk Kenya around the corner past the RV park to get some grass for her which was not ideal in this cold rainy weather.

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What we did


Gold Rush days happened to be going on the weekend we were there.  We just arrived when a wine walk was happening in town where we saw lots of participants dressed up in their festive gold rush attire.  We would have loved to partake in that! We did tour around the next day and went to the outdoor market to listen to some live music and have some pie.


Lu-Lu Belle Cruise came highly recommended by other travelers.  What we liked about it was that it had the wildlife viewing that Annalise loves and also the glacier  views up close and personal that Jason and I wanted to see.  It was a full day with puffin and whale sightings as well as some jellyfish and sea otters.  The highlight though was cruising right up to the glacier.  Just seeing it up close seemed unreal.  Chunks of ice floated around us like nothing we had ever seen.  It was freezing outside with the cold wind and rain but Jason braved it outside the full hour we were at the glacier.  Just taking in the beauty of the glacier, he talked about that moment for days. One of our best days for sure!


Worthington Glacier just outside of Valdez is free to go and hike or just go to see.  We went there on leaving Valdez excited to hike it!  We chose a strenuous hike with crampons in tow (which we thought would lead us to the glacier) up a steep ridge and panoramic views.  Making it through the ridge, overgrown bushes and then up a muddy hill (that I slide down!) we decided to call it and turn around as it was getting too dangerous to go on.  On the way back down, we were walking along the ridge and I stopped just to take in the view.  Seeing my hubby and daughter ahead of me with the sights of the glacier and mountains all around me I just felt in bliss.  It is these moments that I remember why we are doing this,  these phenomenal moments that make the hard times of RV life worth conquering for these moments.  Although we didn’t make it to the glacier, we had amazing views from a fantastic hike.  We realized after the majority of the hike that we took the wrong one to get to the glacier. I think the best way to get to the glacier would have been from the trail at the bottom that starts near the parking lot when we re-looked at AllTrails.  Lesson learned, before you go out on a hike into an area with no service, download the trail map and understand where you are going!


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What we missed

We had heard good things about the fish hatchery but ran out of time to do it.


Palmer, Alaska

We ended up in Palmer earlier than expected in our Alaskan journey due to our slide out woes.  This was our second attempt to get our slide outs fixed in Alaska but, this time at a RV repair center that was more specialized in Accuslides on Montanas.  This place had great service and thoroughly cleaned and attempted to repair the slides. Something appears to be wrong with the alignment which is going to require us to call Montana and see what the next steps are to get it fixed.  The slides have gotten worse since Dawson City and a repair shop that didn’t know how to fix them the first time, made the situation worse.  Along with incredible adventures comes the inevitable RV repairs, (lots of RV repairs) that come along with it.  We are learning to roll with it and remember it is all part of the journey!  It is not all an endless vacation as we tend to envision it will be. There will always be RV repairs and lots of travel decisions but oh, the sights we see and continue to see along the way with all of these special moments together.  We will see what Montana says and curious to know if it is just us or a manufacturing issue…we will keep you posted!

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Where we stayed

In need of some stress free time, we opted for full hook-ups at a newer RV Park in Palmer, Paradise Alaska RV Park.  Very small campground across from the golf course with beautiful views of the mountains and farmland surrounding it.  It was very quiet with friendly hosts.  It has good WiFi, free laundry if you stay 2 or more nights, LTE through AT&T and just minutes away from town.  We only had 1 neighbor so it felt like we had the place to ourselves!


What we did

Hatchers Pass has been on our list since arriving here in Alaska.  We met a lovely  local at the meet up in Anchorage with Less Junk < More Journey that recommended it to us. Since then, we have heard nothing but good things about it.  We drove from Palmer to Willow so that we could take the scenic route in.  There are tons of free camping along this route for smaller campers or tents which all have a fire pit.  Some are right on the water and we wished we had been more prepared and packed dinner and firewood to enjoy a campfire there too.  The roads are gravel and rough but we were fine in our truck.  Once you get to the Independence Mine the roads are paved to Palmer.

We really weren’t sure what to expect from Independence Mine State Historical Park. We ended up all loving it and wishing we had more time to spend there.  I get lost in reading what each building used to be and imaging what this abandoned place used to be like in its day full of miners blasting deep underground.  Some of the ruins have been restored, some have not which all adds to the uniqueness of the place.  They have put in hiking paths around the structures which allows you to view the scenery as well as the mines with stories of what used to be along the way.  For $8 we felt it was a bargain of an afternoon!

What we missed

We heard the Bodenburg Butte was a great short hike with a spectacular view that we would have loved to hike.