We began our third-year journey to Alaska from Parker, Colorado where we said good-bye to our hosts for two months, our son, Jesse, and our daughter-in-law, Sarah. From there we spent three nights in Fort Collins where we spent a few days with our youngest daughter. We were a bit sad to leave her because in three weeks she graduates from college with a para-legal degree and we will miss it. Though she isn’t walking to receive her diploma, we still say, “Congratulations, Jemima!”
While in Fort Collins, we found that the exterior door didn’t close properly after having new MorRyde steps put in so we had a mobile RV man come fix the problem. We had no idea that this would be the beginning of meeting a lot of mobile RV men on our journey to Alaska.
From Fort Collins we traveled north to Sheridan, Wyoming where we stayed at Peter D’s RV Park for the third year in a row. It’s a small, clean park and Peter is friendly. His claim is that his park has nutritional value: “If you don’t stay here, Pete don’t eat!” At Pete’s we met a gentleman from Valdez! We’re already meeting people heading the same direction – north!
We often discuss the idea of me driving Sadie. Our very first trip three years ago, a woman in her 80s told me to learn how to drive ‘just in case.’ I have driven the trailer twice: once in Texas on a long stretch of highway and another time in Wyoming on the Interstate. I decided this morning was the day to begin my ‘women’s empowerment.’ (Thank you Melanie!) I asked my husband how he was feeling and when he said, ‘good,’ I offered to pull out of the site, drive out of the campground, turn on a city street and get back on the Interstate. I have been a passenger for a very long time so I knew the idea of what I had to do. Wide turns, break early, and watch for fools who don’t understand a big rig and its abilities and non-abilities. I drove 3 hours and stopped at two rest stops. For a ‘real’ first time, I was successful! I drove through Wyoming and Montana!
With the weather looking like it could bring a lot of snow, we stopped for the Shabbat in Missoula, Montana. We have found throughout the years of keeping the Biblical Shabbat how important it is to rest. It is even more important when you drive, drive, drive to take the Shabbat and refresh. We stayed at Jim and Mary’s RV Park west of town – a park it seems my brother stayed in many years ago after being kicked out of Jellystone across the street. Apparently Jellystone doesn’t like tenters and Jim and Mary do – especially ones who are CEOs, have Doctorates and run major companies!
At this park, we met our second mobile RV man when our furnace stopped working again! In two years, we have had two boards, igniters, and everything else imaginable happen with this furnace. So, while I was listening to Burt Yellin discourse at Roeh Israel and texting a dancer in Viet Nam while freezing my you know what off, my husband met with another RV dude until we had heat once again. Apparently it was something simple, but simply wouldn’t let the furnace start up and put out heat!
After sleeping in a bit on Saturday, we dressed warmly and headed to the Carousel in downtown Missoula. We had ridden it when our children were young and I wanted to ride it again for ole times’ sake. There was also a huge fly-fishing event going on in town so we were able to vender shop boats, clothes and artwork all involving fly-fishing. Imagine Rainbow Trout leggings! It seems we’re being primed to be back in Cooper Landing! With Missoula reminding us of Boulder, Colorado, what better thing to do than find a coffee shop and get something warm? I ordered a cinnamon hot chocolate that went down smoothly!
We also stopped to weigh our truck and trailer as we wanted to make sure we were within the limits that Forest River requires. We were not wanting more issues of cracking or bent leaf springs. We only have a 90-day Warranty and the days were counting down. Our weights were well within the margins listed for a 42-foot Crusader Fifth-wheel. We knew it would be since we had lost a lot of weight taking things out – like a sofa!
From Missoula, I didn’t drive. It was snowing and I trust my husband more than my newly-found empowerment! We drove through Montana into Idaho and stopped at a sunny Coeur d’Alene rest stop where we met Darryl – another nomad heading north to Seward, Alaska for the summer. He is a fishing tour guide and fillets fish. He really wants to camp host and said he’ll stop by Cooper Creek for more information on ARM on one of his trips to Homer! We continued west until it was time to go north through Spokane. A minor hiccup in directions and we went out of our way about 20 miles, but it was a different route than we had ever taken before and the scenery had gorgeous green rolling hills, meadows and horses – lots of horses.
We crossed the Canadian border at a very small port – Laurier Port of Entry. Each year we are generally asked the same questions. Where are you going? Alaska for the summer to camp host for the National Forest Service. Do you have any alcohol? Yes, a couple of bottles of wine for our consumption. Do you have any firearms? No. How will you protect yourself from bears? That was a new one. Bear spray. We have four cans. You want to see them? No. We were on our way within a few minutes.
As for the firearms, we decided to ship them this year to avoid any and all searches and seizures. Shipping them is supposed to be easy, but of course, nothing is easy for us. Both of the people to whom we needed to ship in Cooper Landing were not on top of their game and never returned phone calls. After nearly three weeks – we left them a the shipping place before we went to Indiana – we finally had to ship them to a retailer in Soldotna. For the first time when it comes to bears, we will have real protection.
As for the bear spray, we hand them out to campers who have no clue about bears and want to hike in the area. They bring them back unused, thankfully, so another clueless couple can use the can. As for clueless, two summers ago there was a tourist who sprayed his entire family with bear spray because he thought it was like mosquito repellent. They all ended up in the hospital. Bear spray is for bears, not people!
We spent the night in Kettle River RV Park. It was green, lush, and the Kettle River rolled lazily by the shores of the campground. A light dusting of snow covered the hills in the brisk morning chill. I wanted to drive, but decided to let my husband rock and roll today. We headed west up and over mountains to the resort town of Osoyoos.
From the snow-covered peaks surrounding the lake to the vineyards and swim beaches and fruit stands lining the roadway, it appears as a miniature Paradise. It actually reminded me of Israel with its multiple ecosystems in one place: desert, vineyards, mountains, lakes, rivers. Though it was chilly at 40 degrees F, the highest temperature recorded in Canada was in Osoyoos at 109 degrees F. Summers must be hot with thousands of tourists and those locals who need a weekend away from the rat race. As we meandered the road around this delightful place, we couldn’t stop commenting at its beauty and fruitfulness – cherries, grapes, apricots, peaches, and maybe almonds?
The only downside to taking this route was the towns. We went through town after town after town with stoplights: Peachland, Oliver, Summerland to Kelowna and onto Kamloops. How do you say Kelowna and Kamloops in Canadian, eh?
What may have taken only a couple of hours on a different route, took us more than 4. Wanting to drive only 6, maybe 7 hours per day, made this an 11-hour day to reach our destination – a quiet campground north of Williams Lake run by a First Nation called Whispering Pines. We were so ready to be there after 11 hours – me driving 3. However, when we arrived at the entrance it was closed with a huge chain and large tree stump! These are the moments we have to remember that we are ‘living THE dream.’ Right?
One of our stops during the day for lunch was in the parking lot of a Curling Club. How many giggle at the curling events in the Olympics? Well, our family does and so this added photo. We joked that one day we will hear of a curling team winning gold from Falkland Curling Club. And, we were there!
My husband checks out the internet on his phone and we find a resort on Lake McLeese. We also learn that I have no international calling, texting or data. How fun is that? Verizon gave us an international plan while AT&T doesn’t include it in my son’s. It’s an add-on. Now, as the navigator, I have no access to the internet for researching a travel plan.
The campground was small. We were the only ones in it and we had a beautiful view of the lake. However, the sites are also small and we took up two that allowed us to drive through. In reality, they are short back-in sites. In the future if there are campers in these sites, we wouldn’t be able to stay.
We headed north, not able to avoid it this year, to where the momentous event of our lives took place two years ago: Quesnel, British Columbia. For those who want to know, here’s the story. For those who know, here are photos of the infamous Walmart and Tim Hortons. Strangely enough, as we were driving toward Quesnel and around the city, neither of us remembered much. It all seemed unfamiliar. Apparently shock does that to a person.
What we did notice was that Quesnel is the logging capital of British Columbia, if not the world. It put a little more clarity on why the man did what he did, said what he said after President Trump raised the tariffs on hardwood only days before our event. Let it be known, I agree with what the President did and foreign countries need to pay tariffs if they are going to charge us tariffs, I just didn’t like being the culprit of his policies in Canada and reaping the ‘rewards’ of an angry logger.
From Quesnel we continued north toward the start of the Alcan in Dawson Creek. We encountered snow and rain and sun and rain and snow. And, we saw BEARS! We saw more bears on this little section of travel than we’ve seen in the three years we’ve driven up and back from Alaska! The first one turned out to be a beautiful black lab that someone either dropped off or it ran away. I was momentarily excited then sad for the poor dog chased us looking for someone who loved him. The next sighting was a REAL bear. I didn’t get any photos of it because it took me by such surprise. The second bear, I took several photos. The third bear, I glanced to my right down a cut in the trees where the railroad went and there sat a bear on the train tracks. Not sure what it found so exciting there – maybe food or maybe was told by momma to sit and wait for her to return?! Needless to say, I didn’t get its photo either. We saw a final bear running into the trees by the road and again, I tried to photograph it, but either we are driving too fast or these bears really book it to be out of sight. I tend to believe the latter.
One of our break stops was at Chetwynd. Chetwynd is known for its wood carving festival. People from all over the world come here to chain saw tree trunks like ice sculptures. When we passed through here two years ago, we were still reeling from Quesnel and didn’t stop. This time, we stopped to take photographs of the winners from last year’s contest.
From Quesnel, we had an hour drive to Dawson Creek where Mile 0 begins the start of the Alaska Highway. We stayed here last year at the Northern Lights Campground and pulled in again for the night. As we were checking in, the owner commented that our trailer seemed to be leaning. We didn’t think so, we told him it was his driveway. Nope. Not. A. Chance. With. Us.
The trailer really was leaning. We sort of noticed it leaning at our first stop in Montana. We had to put boards under the wheels to level it. We noticed it somewhat when we stopped for lunch and decided not to pull out the one slide. We thought the rest stop was just slanted. When we stopped at Chetwynd, my husband didn’t want to admit that it was actually leaning, but now he had to. We were leaning. One of the new leaf springs put on at Primetime Forest River in Indiana had broken.
As I sit in the laundry room of Northern Lights, my husband is out in the cold and snow with a third mobile tech man, fixing our leaf springs again. It turns out they were put on wrong, too loose. The plates with the U-bolts are too wide and the leaves were sliding all over the place. In fact, from the photos taken, it is only because of the grace of God that the one leaf that was doing all the work didn’t break and cause a blow out or something worse. Always in the care of angels. Yes. Read Psalm 91.
“For he will order his angels to care for you and guard you wherever you go. They will carry you in their hands, so that you won’t trip on a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12).
Last night my husband sent an email to Primetime Forest River. They wanted us to weigh ourselves. Right. In Dawson Creek! Nope. He sent them our papers from Montana that were all within the acceptable weight range. After he sent them photos of the condition of our springs, they wrote back their apologies. They asked if we were okay and told us they will cover all costs of getting the springs fixed. We are again grateful for their support, however, in reality, the work wasn’t done correctly and well, they are the manufacturers.
We are very thankful we are in a place where there is mobile RV service and a brake and leaf shop if need be. Once on the Alcan, the next big city is Whitehorse in the Yukon and that place is days away. The bad news is that there aren’t any plates the correct size in Dawson Creek. They made U-bolts specifically for us and showed my husband how to tighten them. So, now as we drive away, we know we have to watch the leaf springs until we get to Anchorage and a dealer that will fix it properly. Here’s hoping that we make it to … those who pray, please pray for us.
As the signs in the laundry room read, “Laundry Again! It’s a Never Ending Cycle!” and “Loads of Fun!” So, Miss Adventures continues popping in and out of our nomadic life bringing more challenging adventures to our otherwise boring life of bears, snow and broken furnaces.
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