Our 50th State!
We decided it was time to see the 49th state. Andrew has wanted to see Alaska for a very long time. I was excited to spend a full month with Andrew without the distraction of his work. We decided to make this as unplanned as possible. So, this was the plan… we leave from Montana, we drive to Alaska through Canada (we didn’t even know what roads), we hang around and do whatever in Alaska for a couple weeks and head back to the lower 48 to enter in Washington State. Seriously. That was the extent of the planning we did for this trip.
All that follows was only possible because Andrew’s manager knows how important time off and getting away from the work grind is (especially for my workaholic husband) and granted him permission to use all his leave for this trip! So, thanks John!
Alaska Adventures: Part 1
We left Glacier National Park, Montana on Friday, June 16, 2017 and drove 30 minutes to the border. Our stay on the Blackfoot Reservation at Chewing Backbones RV Park was awesome. The space was beautiful and close to the Eastern entrance of the park. We had full hookups for laundry and a final house cleaning with water and sewer hookups is helpful!
Crossing the border into Canada was easy as the gentleman joked with us after asking several times about firearms. I guess having Texas plates makes us a little suspect.
Once we were a couple hours into Alberta we stopped at a Walmart for the night. Alberta felt a lot like the north western US with small communities and nice highways and secondary roads. Saturday we headed further on and crossed into British Columbia in the afternoon. We decided to spend the night in another Walmart parking lot. This is normal for us, we have slept in probably 100 different Walmart and Flying J lots. Although it was a quiet night sleep, someone “borrowed” Andrew’s bike! After realizing this in the morning we took the bike rack off the Jeep and left it on the side of the parking lot before we drove off.
British Columbia, CA
The drive through BC was beautiful. We saw loads of wildlife and stunning views all from our front window! This was the beginning of some pretty crazy, wavy, bumpy roads as we entered the official Alaskan Highway. Some of the wildlife we saw were black bears, moose, sheep, and rams (one ram attempted to ram the RV as we drove slowly past… it missed)! It rained or drizzled nearly all day every day for a week.
We stopped at Liard River Hot Spring for a quick dip. We both LOVE hot springs and since we have no bathtub, only a shower, we try and stay at RV parks with hot tubs and have started getting really proactive about finding hot springs. Really, nothing beats sitting in super hot water so natural and full of healthy minerals coming straight out of Mother Earth! If ever planning a trip through BC, go online to discovercamping.ca up to 48 hours in advance, and reserve a camping spot right at the hot spring. We didn’t know about this and when we arrived there were no spaces left. We were lucky to find space at the rest stop across the road from the entrance and we changed into our suits and took a dip! It was so worth it! After paying we wandered along a pretty long boardwalk through a natural marshy area. So many beautiful plants and bird calls that were new to us. Once arriving at the actual hot spring we deposited our towels and keys into a little cubbie and slowly got into the water. I’d guess it was well over 100 degrees and had a slight sulfur scent. Bright green moss covered the rocks and we wandered and knelt on the soft silty bottom. This was such a beautiful natural space.
That night we stayed an hour or so further down the road at Smith River Fort Halkett in a free dry camp area.
Monday morning we drove on and saw several black bears all along the roadway in addition to bison rolling in their mud pits right next to the highway! We stopped to watch one of the black bears for a while. So cute the way they nibble on grass and wild flowers.
Yukon Territory, Canada
That afternoon we pulled into a gas station when suddenly the RV exhaust light came on indicating it was overheating. As I walked the girls, Andrew first pumped gas and then inspected the exhaust area and saw no obvious issues. We decided there was not much else to do so we started up… the light was out and we didn’t have a problem with the exhaust for the rest of the trip. So weird!
That night we pulled into Whitehorse, Yukon to find the craziest Walmart parking lot yet. There were about 50 campervans/trucks, trailers, RVs and fifth wheels all over the small lot. It was obvious several were living there full time which is a no-no in the lower 48. We decided not to stay, but we did want some adult beverages (we polished all ours off before crossing the border so not to have duty issues) so we found a brewery in town, Yukon Brewing. The beer was great so Andrew filled a couple growlers and we found a nice spot on a pull off from the Alaskan Highway to have a beer, enjoy the trees and mountains before continuing on in the morning.
What is RV life without repairs and short-term pets? We woke to Gigi (6 year old dog) excitedly sniffing and hopping around. There was a squirrel in our RV (an improvement over the mice and rat we had previously). So, we spent a little time and were able to scare her out from under the slide/bump out and out the door. As Andrew fixed the refrigerator attachment again (it was coming loose but the fridge didn’t fall out this time) and I packed-up the silly squirrel sat on the motorcycle at the back of the RV and screamed, for over 20 minutes! She was not happy with us… we wondered when she got into the RV. She may have traveled over 500 miles from home!
Shortly before our arrival at the Alaskan border we saw elk on the side of the road! At the border to return to the USA we were again questioned about firearms and then we were welcomed back home! We were pretty tired after a couple long days of driving on some of the roughest and waviest roads we’ve ever seen, so we stopped at a viewing area on the side of the Alaskan Highway in the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge and slept. This area is beautiful and protected for the hundred plus types of birds that migrate through the Alaska every year including trumpeter swans and sandhill cranes.
This is one area where the Native Athabascans hunted, gathered, and lived. Throughout Alaska there is hunting and gathering allowed in the National Park/forest areas for those that live in Alaska full time, and off the land. Basically these are native people and more recent settlers that want to live without a lot of contact with other people. This special permit is not granted to everyone and is only allowed for these permanent residents to feed themselves and their immediate families. We did see a couple of these hunters on park land when we went off road in our Jeep in St. Elias Wrangell National Park.
We were excited to be in Alaska! We had no plans and decided to just follow some of the free guidebooks for ideas of places to visit and things to experience! We had no idea what might happen next…