Recap Alaska!

I think mine is the last 2016 AK recap to get posted!  We were the last ones out!  We were a bit concerned leaving so late – hit some snow – but all is well!


Everyone travels to AK and does their recap and summary of that trip differently – here are some links to friends of ours that came this summer: Steve & Linda – (who we traveled up with – they didn’t work, did a lot of boondocking, drive a Class A with a small toad) The Chouters part 1 and  The Chouters part 2; Tracy & Lee – (they also Workamped like Bill & I, travel in a 40′ 5th Wheel, didn’t boondock a whole lot)  Camper Chronicles; Les & Sue – (travel in a 40’ish’ 5th wheel towed by a medium-duty truck, didn’t work, traveled with another couple, did some boondocking)  Rambling RV Rat AK recap and Rambling RV Rat – AK retrospect; and Jim & Barb – (put their 5er in storage and purchased a truck camper for this trip, didn’t work, boondocked and fished a lot, travel with their dog, Daisy Jim and Barb Great Adventure AK recap).   I am including these links b/c to show there is many ways to see AK, many ways to divide your budget to suit your lifestyle, I believe it’s important to see as many perspectives as possible before heading up.

Let’s dig in on OUR way!   We travel with our 40′ 2014 Heartland Landmark 5th Wheel, which weighs in at +/- 16,500lbs.  We tow it with our 2011 Ford F-350 DRW 4×4 pick-up.  I am reminding you of our set-up so when I report our mileage and other rig related items, you are aware of what I am referring to.

We crossed into Canada on May 4 at Sumas, WA, with no issues at all, easy peezy. We arrived at our Seward workamping destination, Renfros Lakeside Retreat, on May 25. You can read the details of our drive up here:   Getting to AK

from our trip on the way up - taken in Haines

from our trip on the way up – taken in Haines

Our stayed at our home base (minus 4 side trips) through 9/27 – a total of 127 days.  Our side trips took us away 18 days – 3 nights to Homer, 6 nights to Denali, 5 nights to Glennallen/Valdez, and back to Homer for 4 nights.  Let’s break those down to see what the costs were.

First Homer trip:  miles from Renfros (towing) –  309 (round trip), miles exploring – 50, 3 nights at Fishing Hole CG –  @$15 (dry camping) per night = $45.  Entertainment this trip – $43.50 (dining out) $25 (brewery). You can read all about it here:  Home in Homer

Homer Small Boat Harbor

Homer Small Boat Harbor

Denali trip:  miles from Renfros – 706 (round trip), miles exploring – 182, nights at Trapper Creek CG – 2 @ $34.65 (FHU, Good Sam discount) per night = $69.30, 3 nights at Riley Creek CG – @ $28 (dry camping) per night = $84, 1 night at Wasilla Elks Club – @ $15 (charged us the member rate) per night = $15 ; $137 (dining out and shuttle bus trip into Denali) entertainment.  Details of this trip: Trapper Creek and Talkeetna and  Denali


Valdez trip:  miles from Renfros – 826, miles exploring – 77, nights at Northern Nights CG (Glennallen) – 1 (on the way there) , 1 (on the way home) @ $37.80 (FHU w/Good Sam) per night = $75.60, 3 nights at Valdez Glacier CG @ $30 (dry camping) per night = $90; $232 (glacier cruise, museum, dining out) entertainement.  All you need to know is here: Valdez


Second Homer trip: miles from Renfros – 309, miles exploring – 132, 4 nights at Mariner CG @ $15 (dry camping) per night = $60, $332 (fishing trip, fishing license, Seldovia trip, dining out, drinks out) entertainment.   Want to know more?  Here it is:  Second time in Homer


It may also be of interest that we put 2,542 miles on the truck doing day trips from Renfros to Anchorage, Whittier, Kenai/Soldotna, Palmer and also back/forth to Seward.  The miles listed above with each side trip are not included here.

As far as fuel cost and mileage is concerned – while in AK we paid an average of $2.55 per gallon.  Prices for fuel were much more reasonable in larger towns, like Anchorage vs Seward, Seward prices were better than Homer or Valdez.  The most we paid was $2.91 in Glennallen; the lowest was $2.27 in Anchorage. Believe it or not, those were both on the same day!  We averaged 9.6 mpg towing – which Bill was happy about considering the terrain (I also might mention he uses an additive in the fuel  Ford Motorcraft Cetane Booser $8.50 per bottle at the Ford Dealer – Bill says it adds $.07 a gallon but he believes he gets all that back and more with increased fuel mileage, plus the added lubricity – which prolongs the life of the injection pump and fuel injectors) and 17 mpg not towing (the 2542 miles mentioned above).

Most people, in their recaps, also talk about grocery costs and entertainment costs, since these items can be a good bit higher than “usual” on a trip to AK.

Groceries:  we generally spend about $423 on groceries (average – not including alcohol) per month – here in AK that amount was $469 .  The way we arrived at these amounts is we took 6 months prior to arriving in Washington State as our pre-AK baseline – once we arrived in Washington State, we stocked up on some items, such as coffee, paper products, etc. and things that were on sale in anticipation of these things being more expensive.  I’d like to mention here that there were times we got food items as “tips” (things guests left in the cabins) – I don’t think it added up to too much, but as a few examples we got eggs several times, ketchup, milk a few times, sugar, bacon 3 different times (once 2 lbs!), the biggest thing was 3 lbs of Alaskan sausage, which we saw for sale in Safeway for $18!  We only took unopened items and we did share some with our co-workers and put some in the lodge (how much ketchup can we use?). Actually I misspoke – the largest food tip was fresh caught halibut and salmon a guest left in the lodge freezer.  There were several large bags, some of which was used for AK family dinners and 2 times we shared it with friends.

Entertainement:  one of the first things we did after arriving in Seward was purchase a TourSaver app, which could also have been purchased as a hard copy book.  It is basically a BOGO FREE coupon book, and it saved us a bunch of money.  The cost to purchase the TourSaver app $85.

Summary of things we did using TourSaver: $9 Reindeer Farm, $77 Alaska Railroad Whistlestop train ride, $130 Glacier Cruise from Valdez, $14 Valdez Museum, $24 Seward SeaLife Center, $210 Halibut Fishing trip (this is actually half of one ticket b/c we split the coupon with Ben), $32.50 Ferry to Seldovia from Homer (also half of one ticket b/c we split it with Jo), $12.50 Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center – for a grand total of $495 spent/saved – $85 we spent on the app = $410.  The question is would we have done all these things without having the app?  I’d like to say yes, but honestly can’t be 100% sure.


Things we did not using the TourSaver: $142 ferry to Skagway from Haines, $42 Soapy Smith Show in Skagway,  $69 Seavey Dog Sled Tour, $68 Denali National Park Shuttle Bus tour.  The grand total for these items is $321.


Neither of the above lists include our “gift” from our boss, Gary – a Kenai Fjords National Park Wildlife and Glacier Tour.


Our total for dining out while traveling in Canada and in AK was $928.  This number does not include Bill stopping in a brewery and having a beer or two – he puts that under the “booze” line item.

Another frequent topic for an Alaskan summary is the writers fav place or fav thing about their trip.

Our fav place was Renfros – by far!  Loved the location, loved the beauty of the property, surrounding mountains and lake, love, love, love the owner/host/boss Gary.  He, along with Bob & Marna, will forever be our AK family!


the view out our front door when we first arrived at Renfros back in late May

the view out our front door when we first arrived at Renfros back in late May


Considering that might be too obvious – our fav location aside from Renfros would have to be Haines.  So much so that the 5 nights we spent on the way up were not enough, so we went back on the way out and stayed 3 more nights!  We loved the drive down, one of the best roads on the whole trip, it is just spectacular!  The views from Oceanside RV Park can’t be beat!  We really liked the whole vibe of the town – some touristy stuff without being annoying, a few restaurants, a brewery for Bill and THE VIEWS!  Also of note is we saw lots of bald eagles there – A LOT!  And – on our second trip – bears and the Aurora Borealis!


We also really loved the town of Seward.  It was a great place to live for the summer.  It’s large enough to have 90% of what you need, yet small enough that it doesn’t have a Walmart or Home Depot.  Plenty of restaurants, some touristy stuff, amazing views and also some community events to take advantage of (remember 4th of July?).



There will not be a least fav or not liked category in this post!

Workamping related info:

We arrived at Renfros on May 25, but our first day of work was May 28.  For June (including the 4 days in May), July and August we worked every other week for a total of 7 weeks, we also did 6 extra days for a total of  54 days.  In Sept we worked a 5 days on/2 days off schedule for a total of 18 days.   Total hours worked (for the 2 of us) is: 988.50.  Our average hours per day we worked was 6.86.  Our pay rate was $10 per hour. The first 25 hours per month each paid for our site, $500 per month total, total for season $2000.  We were paid a total of $7,885.00 gross after paying for our site.

We also received cash bonuses and tips.  Over the course of the summer we were given $500 each in cash as performance bonuses.  We were also given $300 each in cash as an end of season completion bonus. We also had a tip jar that all tips, from weeks we worked plus the weeks of our co-workers, went into and were divided by 4 and distributed – we earned $196.50 each in cash.  Total in cash for the season (for both if us) $1993.00!   Not too shabby!

I believe it is fair to say if we had not worked that we definitely would have spent more money.  More money on campground fees for sure – maybe or maybe not on fuel.  I say that b/c most people make a big loop when they come to AK, while we did our exploring going in/out from Seward.  I’m not sure if that saved us or cost us miles/fuel.  I’d also assume we would have spent more on groceries and dining out.  Probably would have spent more on entertainment, although there’s no way to be sure.

Having said all that – we most probably would not have stayed 4 months if it weren’t for the jobs.  We would probably have headed out a month or more ago, like everyone else, so that would have been less time to spend up here.  There isn’t any way to know how it it would have played out.

Bottom line:  we enjoyed an awesome summer – we do not feel as though we didn’t have enough “play” time, the week on/week off schedule was perfect.  We didn’t see all there is to see – didn’t get near Fairbanks or Delta Junction area at all.  If visiting those areas had been of huge importance I may have asked Gary about combining 2 of our weeks off and gone up there, but we decided it wasn’t that big a deal.  I would have loved to have seen Denali in its full glory, but it was not to be!  We spent time working – as long as it doesn’t get in the way too much – that isn’t a bad thing!  We spent plenty of time with friends and seeing new sights and doing new things!

licking a piece of glacier ice!

licking a piece of glacier ice!

tasting reindeer sausage

tasting reindeer sausage for the first time

Happy Hour overlooking the water in Haines!

Happy Hour overlooking the water in Haines!

kayaking on Muncho Lake

kayaking on Muncho Lake

lunch at Trail Lake Lodge

lunch at Trail Lake Lodge, Moose Pass, during the Summer Solstice Festival

4th of July in Seward

4th of July in Seward

Reindeer Farm in Palmer

Reindeer Farm in Palmer

dinner in the lodge at Renfros

dinner in the lodge at Renfros

puppy love at Seaveys Ididaride, Seward

puppy love at Seaveys Ididaride, Seward

lunch in Talkeetna

lunch in Talkeetna



moose cow in Denali

where else but in Alaska would you see this sign?

where else but in Alaska would you see this sign?


otter enjoying a halibut carcass in Seward Small Boat Harbor


Lee – wishing he had some ice cream of his own


Spencer Glacier with Tracy & Lee


Blueberry picking on Victor Creek Trail


in front of Bridal Veil Falls on the way to Valdez


on glacier cruise


Exit Glacier


Kenai Lake at sunset


at Salty Dawg, Homer Spit




strawberry shortcake


last day at Renfros


newly fallen snow on the mountain


We began our trip out on Tues 9/27 and 2,863 miles and 12 days later, we pulled into Great Falls, MT.

On the way out we stopped at the following places:  Eagle River Fred Meyer – one night cost $0, Tok Chevron – one night – cost $0, Oceanside RV Park, Haines AK – 3 nights @ $36 ((FHU, Good Sam rate) per night = $108, Whitehorse Walmart – 1 night – cost $0, Watson Lake gravel lot – 1 night – cost $0, Fort Nelson gravel lot – 1 night – cost $0, Dawson Creek – Walmart – 1 night – cost $0, Whitecourt – Walmart – 1 night – cost $0, Edmonton – Glowing Embers CG – 1 night – cost $36, Calgary – Helen & Pats house – 1 night – cost $0.  Total nights: 12 nights – cost – $144

Fuel on the way out:   9.9 mpg on the way out – all towing.  Bill is actually pretty happy about this considering the grades and wind conditions we drove in, and that he used 4 wheel drive for awhile.  Highest cost per gallon $3.45 in Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Canada ; lowest price $2.59 in Eagle River, Alaska.  I already converted liters to gallons and Canadian to USD.

I also wanted to talk about propane use.  Out of the 12 night we took to get from Seward AK to Great Falls, MT, we boondocked 8 of them.  Because we decided to boondock so much instead of use CG’s more, we used a lot of propane for heating, as well as cooking. Bill figured out that we used an average of 8.5 pounds per night.  We didn’t have the heat on while driving, but once we arrived for the night, the rig was around 40 degrees inside, compared to outside temps in the 30’s during the day and in the 20’s at night. The thermostat was set to 65 degrees while we were awake and turned down to 60 while sleeping. We also use propane for heating our water for showers and dishes.  The cost of the 68 pounds of propane was about $5 per day.  Bill paid an average of $0.60 per pound.

We also used some gasoline for the generator, which had to be run daily since there was little to no sun most days.  Only one day had enough sun to make enough solar, but the gennie still had to be run in the morning, since heavy cloud cover had returned.  We used a total of 4 gallons.  Our one Honda EU2000i runs about 3.5 hours per gallon under high load and 8 hours on quarter load.  He was generally running it about 2 hours in the morning and 1.5 hours in the evenings.  The average we burned was half a gallon of gas per day for a cost of $1.25.

Using the above numbers, it cost us about $6.25 per day to boondock in the colder temps we had to deal with.  We had checked CG prices, most were at least $40 per night, so we figure we saved about $270 by not staying in CG’s.

The only thing we really did (other than drive) on the way out was our time in Haines, going to the mall in Edmonton, and meeting Helen & Pat.  You can see more pics and get a detailed accounting of the driving out here:  Going OUT!Back in the Lower 48!  For the record, I do not recommend driving out the way we did.  It was just crazy, but we did what we felt to.

So there you have it – our trip to AK in a nutshell.  It is my sincere hope at least some of you found this info useful and maybe even a bit entertaining!  Hope you continue to follow along with us!


Staying Ahead of the Weather

Ok – so I already typed out half this post – then I have no idea how but I deleted it.  Seriously, no idea how I did it.  May have had something to do with the fact that I was typing on my phone at 4:12am when I couldn’t sleep – maybe.  What do you all think?  I’ll try to reconstruct it as best I can.

One would never guess, based on my last few posts, that I actually posted in my first year end summary back in Aug 2015, that Bill and I actually prefer to stay in a place 2 weeks, up to a month.  We’ve traveled over 3,300 miles in 2 weeks!  We left Seward AK on Tues 9/27 and arrived in Boulder County, CO yesterday, Tues 10/11.  How completely crazy is that?  Well, the first 2 installments about this trip talk about getting out of AK and through Canada and back into the USA, this one will tell you about getting from our first USA stop in Great Falls, MT to here.  Hang on tight – it was a rough ride!

We arrived in Great Falls, MT with the intent of staying at the Walmart, but we spied a Sam’s Club as we were on our way, and decided to stop there instead.  The store was already closed and there were 2 other rigs parked and clearly settled in for the night.

The impending snow wasn’t supposed to start (based on checking 3 different apps/sites) til noon’ish – we were up about 7:30 and flurries had started already!  Checked my 3 sources again and now was going to be in full force in about an hour.   UGH!  Bill set up the gennie and went to get fuel and propane.  We needed to charge the batteries b/c we hadn’t had any sun for the solar.  We emptied one 40lb tank of propane running the furnace; no electric heaters running while boondocking.
Bill returned and hitched back up and we talked about our options.  There was a CG nearby we could wait it out, but it would be at least 2 days, as it was getting worse before it got better.  It was supposed to be much better where we were going.  We checked the MT DOT website, which said the roads were wet but no ice.  So, we decided to push on before it got worse and we would drive out of it.

We did eventually drive out of it, but not before finding out that even though the MT DOT website said it was recently updated – they lie!  About half hour into our ride – the roads started to become snow covered.  Bill didn’t notice any slipperiness but I was not liking it at all.  Bill put the truck in 4 wheel drive, just in case.

Thankfully, we made it to Billings without incident and filled up with fuel.  Since the predictions for that area had deteriorated over the course of the day, we decided to head further south to Sheridan WY, where hopefully we could stay in front of the worst of it.

That plan did pay off, as there were only a few flurries in the morning, and predictions were still saying it would be ok til later that afternoon.  Bill decided we didn’t even need to fuel up – we would wait til Casper where prices were lower.  Our final destination for the day: Cheyenne!

We fueled up in Casper and the ride was actually good.  No snow, not even rain.  We listened to some Bruce and were actually enjoying the ride.  Then, not too far from Cheyenne, maybe 40 miles or so, it started clouding up – or I should say the existing clouds were getting darker, and filling in the spots of blue that were peaking out.  Next thing you know – Bill sees lightening off to the west!  Then rain was coming down in buckets!  Like barely can see kind of rain!  Oh!  Can’t forget – there was also some hail mixed in!   Couldn’t believe it!   We couldn’t seem to catch a break!

As we approached the exit in Cheyenne for the Walmart (where we were planning to stay), Bill asked how far til we got to Quynn?  I quickly used GoogleMaps to answer – 79 miles!  YAY!  Let’s keep going! It was still early – barely 4pm!  We had driven out of the storm, but it was right behind us!   We didn’t feel like hanging around for a second dose of it!
I texted Quynn to let her know we would be arriving a day early!  She was very excited, as was I!  She was working, but we would see her in the morning!

you can see in the mirror what we were leaving behind us!

So, here we are – set up for a WEEK! at Boulder County Fairgrounds CG!  Callie will be so happy to not be in her crate!   She doesn’t even know yet that she is free for a week!

Stay tuned for details on our time in the Boulder CO area.


Back in the Lower 48!

My last post had us parked in Whitehorse at the Walmart, along with a bunch of other RVers.  We watched some TV and got some sleep.   Since there wasn’t a lot of sun, Bill ran the gennie for awhile before we took off in the morning.  

It was an easy drive to Watson Lake.  Road conditions were better and we made good time.  We arrived at the familiar gravel lot where we stayed with Linda & Steven on the way up by about 4:30pm – not too bad at all.  We thought we might go check out the Visitor Center but it was closed, as was the Northern Lights Center.  So – after a short walk through Sign Post Forest (found our friend PoPo’s sign!), I worked on my blog and Bill took a walk to check gas prices since GasBuddy wasn’t registering any recent updates.  We made dinner of left over beef stew and settled in for a mini Merlin marathon.  

At some point, I think while waiting for the stew to get hot, Bill said he thought he would like to make a sign.  He remembered that he had a long skinny piece of cedar we could use.  Ok – let’s make a sign!  

We were up by 7:30am and Bill went out to start the gennie.  Between the lack of sun and us being so far north, we aren’t making a lot of solar.  

He found the piece of wood fairly easily and I wrote (lightly) with a pen what we decided to put on it.  He then took the sharpie and wrote over it – making it permanent.  He then got the ladder and screws and the cordless drill and went to hang the sign.  

So – we have left our mark in the World Famous Sign Post Forest!  Joining (literally) thousands of others leaving evidence of their passing through!  

We headed out toward Fort Nelson – it was going to be a long day!

We weren’t far outside town when we had our first wildlife sighting!  Bison!  

As we got nearer to our planned lunch stop at Muncho Lake (one of our fav places!) we spotted some caribou!

We started seeing snow shortly after lunch.  At first it was just on the closer mountains (you see on further away distant mountains all summer), but soon was getting closer to the road.  It sure was pretty!  Then we saw a second herd of caribou!   

Just a little while later – around the Summit Lake area – a grizzly was moosying along the side of the road!  He/she even posed for me!

We did run into some snow showers at the highest elevation, causing me a bit of worry.  Bill slowed down and we had no issues at all.  He assured me if it started to stick to the road and/or he felt like it was getting slippery at all, he would find a place to pull over, but we had been watching the weather and we knew we would drive right back out – which we did.  While the snow did make me nervous, it sure was pretty to see!  First time we’ve seen it since winter 2014!  

That same section of road was where we had some of the best animal sightings on the way up and this trip didn’t disappoint either!

In Fort Nelson, the first order of business was to use their free community dump/water station. Next up – fuel!  As we pulled into the station and up to the pump – the little alarm sounded we were low on fuel – perfect timing!  (We had been monitoring and have the 10 gallons of “peace of mind” in the back of the truck!).  The gas attendant told us about parking across the street in the parking lot – truckers do it all the time!  Ok – where to park – box checked!  

In the morning after running the gennie for awhile, we were on our way to the next stop – Dawson Creek – the beginning – or end for us going out – of the Alaska Highway.  I was hoping it would be a better weather day – silly me!

We found our way to the Whitehorse Walmart easily and got parked.  We got Callie inside and got the heat on and headed in for a few things and to stretch our legs!  Too cold to walk around outside!  Last time we were here we stayed 2 nights – this time we will only be here one.  We still have a minimum of 3 more nights before getting to Montana, could be as many as 5.  Not sure yet!  

Here a couple of cute pics of Callie to make you smile!

Ok – just one more – couldn’t narrow it down to 2!

When we left Dawson Creek – we were heading for new territory!  We had come up through British Columbia from WA State, but are leaving through Alberta and Montana.  We had originally hoped to head down the Icefields Parkway (through the Canadian Rockies) but ultimately decided a quick exit was a better idea.  Considering how much snow we’ve already seen – I think that’s the best plan.  

Thankfully our drive to Whitecourt, Alberta Walmart was a piece of cake compared to the 2 previous days.  Sun shining and fairly flat – no massive mountain climbs or descents!  There were some bumps, but again, nothing compared to the previous days.   Lots and lots of farm land, a complete switch from the snow capped mountains we had gotten used to and love to see!  

This is what we woke to:

In case it’s hard to tell – it is only frost not snow – it had gotten down to 23 degrees!  Maybe we should have had the Heartland “Yeti” package added!

Our drive to Edmonton was a short one.  We had decided – ok mostly I had decided – to stay at a real FHU CG!  We were parked and set up by noon!  Ah!  I had originally wanted to stay 2 night, then one or two in the Calgary area before crossing back into the good ‘ole US of A.  The weather, however will not quit so instead we will be one night here and one night near Calgary.  

My friend, Tracy, had blogged about stopping at Glowing Embers CG and visiting West Edmonton Mall.  I haven’t been to a mall in – I’m not fully sure – over a year – too long!  West Esmonton Malls claim to fame is its North Americas largest mall.  Couldn’t pass that by could I?  What kind of woman could do that?  Not this one! 

It did not disappoint! 

I took these first 2 pics b/c this company “Garage Clothes” did a photo shoot right on Kenai Lake on Jan’s (Gary’s neighbor) property.  While we were there!  Our co-workers Beagle was in some of the pics!  The background in the photo is Kenai Lake – how cool is that?  

This mall has an indoor amusement park, an ice skating rink, a water park and so many places to eat I lost count.  There’s a HUGE food court with those “quick food” type places and also BRBN St with pub style, sports bar and comedy club type places.  Best mall ever! Oh! And a sea lion show!  I’m not a huge fan of captive wild animal shows – but when we went by – the audience full of kids with their parents were loving it!

Our last stop in the mall was dinner at Sherlock Holmes Pub in the BRBN St section.  It’s a local Edmonton eatery that has pub fare.  Was very yummy!  

Look what we saw as we exited the mall!

And back at the CG – wise decision to only stay one night!  

We enjoyed a leisurely morning, baked ziti is ready for the oven, black tank got rinsed, and there was no rushing around. We were hitched and leaving out around 1pm.  Our destination: Calgary.  3 1/2 hours – not too bad!

Unfortunately we hit some bumper to bumper traffic.  Took 45 mins to go 5 miles – this is why:

Our boondock site for the night was the driveway of a loyal blog followers and fellow RV Dreamers, Helen & Pat.  When they learned we would be going through their area – they generously extended an invitation to us, which we gratefully accepted.  We love meeting up with future full-timers.  

Helen & Pat have a beautiful home!  We enjoyed Happy Hour and dinner and talked way into the night!  We also met their daughter and son-in-law-to-be, Charlotte & Alex and their dog, a German Shepherd pup, Luna.  

We woke in the morning to a new dusting of snow. 

We chatted again while having our morning coffee – tea for Helen & Pat.  Check out this great view from their dining room

 Too soon it was time to lift our jacks and bid them farewell – til we meet again!  Thank you Helen & Pat for opening your home and hearts to us!  

This was a BIG day!  Crossing back into the lower 48!  Good ‘ole USA!  While we still have a lot of miles in front of us – it is a huge milestone!  We crossed into British Columbia, leaving the lower 48, on May 4 – over 5 months ago!  

last pic in Alberta, Canada

Thankfully the crossing went well – no glitches – for a total of 8!  I do feel the need to mention that the Border Patrol Customs Agent was pretty grumpy!  “Are you SURE you don’t have any fire arms?”  He also wanted to know about my produce – romaine lettuce, carrots and radishes.  No fruit – oops – strawberries!  

first pic in Montana!


I will get this posted and pick up next time leaving the Sam’s Club here in Great Falls, MT

I’ll leave you with this cool pic of a swam of some type of small birds.  Chat soon!


Going OUT!

Just as an FYI:  when Alaskans talk about going to the lower 48 – they will say they are “going out” – hence the title of this post!

I left off in Eagle River, AK.  We boondocked at the Fred Meyer (grocery store owned by Kroger).  We went in and spoke to the manager like we always do and bought a few items before watching some TV and getting some sleep.

The next day we made our way to Tok, AK.  We were just pulling into town when people started flashing their lights at us pointing at the rig.  Ut oh!  What now?  As far as we knew the trip was uneventful.   The pic says it all:

By the time we pulled into the Chevron, no less than 10 people had come by to say “you know your bikes are dragging!”  Needless to say, we are not happy about this at all.  The rack just broke.  Guess there will be a chat with Swagman in our future!  UGH!  The Tok Cut-Off was not a good road – bumpity bump – but didn’t think it was THAT bad!  I was literally scared to go inside, but thankfully all was well!

While getting settled, as happens often, Bill met a couple of guys, also staying at the Chevron.   One couple had driven all the way from Brazil!  Yes – the country!  Wow!  They had a very unusual set-up:
We settled in and had dinner and was getting ready for some TV, when there was a knock on our door.  Bill was in the restroom and I am yelling through the door (not wanting to open it) and someone replied but I couldn’t understand.  Bill came to the door and opened it and it was our neighbors from Brazil (don’t speak very good English) pointing at the sky – NORTHERN LIGHTS!  AURORA BOREALIS!  We had seen them in Homer, but had hoped to see them again – and there they were!  I had forgotten that the forecast (yes – there is a forecast) was a 6 out of 9 – so high probability of seeing them!  Only issue is there is no way to get a good pic with an iPhone!  Didn’t stop me from trying –

We left out of Tok with a tentative plan of getting to Haines Junction, Yukon and see if we wanted to continue down to Haines, AK.  The road was not so good, but not as bad as the day before.  We made good time to Haines Junction and pulled in to fill up with fuel.  The awning at the gas station said 13’6″, but I jumped out to watch, which thankfully I did, b/c he was not going to make it.  The ladies in the next lane started yelling at him before I did!  So he just pulled up far enough to fill and then backed out.   Sometimes you do what you’ve got to do!

We then decided to continue down to Haines.  What an amazing ride!  It was just as beautiful as in May, but completely different – mostly due to less snow.

I had called Oceanside RV Park before leaving Haines Junction, just to verify what it said in the Milepost about them being open year-round – and they were!  When we arrived, just before sunset, they had 4 spots open for us to choose from.  Bill had a more difficult time than usual getting parked, which I blame on a long day of driving and his being tired.   And the poorly placed picnic table – yea – that’s it – the picnic table!

The next day, after sleeping in, we drove around exploring.  We went out to Chilkat State Park – glad we didn’t take the rig!  14% down hill!  On a gravel windy road!   Views from their were pretty amazing when we got to the end!

We also had to (ok – Bill had to – I just tagged along!) go back to Haines Brewery.  He just loved their beers.   His fav this trip was “The Devil Made Me Do It” which is 6.66% alcohol.  Ha!  Also it was originally released on Halloween (not planned that way – just worked out).   He enjoyed 2 pints and then filled his growler.

When we got back to the rig, Bill was outside and noticed one of the cars had PA license plates, so he went over to say hello.  Turns out the couple, Nancy & Ken, are from the Reading area, just like us!  What a small world!  Anyway, Bill mentioned to them we would be having a campfire later and invited them to join us!  They then told him about seeing bears down the road a bit.  Bill came into the rig and said “come on – lets go!”  I asked where we were going and he said “Bears!” So off we went!

We had been driven along Chilkoot River earlier that day but didn’t see any bears, but this time – there they were!  A Momma and 2 cubs!  I was so excited!  This was a large part of the reason we came back to Haines!

We watched for a while, but we were hungry, so headed back for dinner and campfire!

While soaking up the heat from the fire, (yes – it was COLD!) – we started to see a glow on the tops of the mountain across the bay.  Northern lights!   And what a show we got!  We watched for about 2 hours before letting the fire die down and heading inside to get warm!  I so wish i could have gotten some good pics – but they just don’t come out!   I must have tried taking at least 10 – but it was a waste of time and trying to take them was taking away from watching, so I gave up.  You know I don’t do that lightly or easily! I just decided to enjoy the time – and I did!

The next day we took care of some housekeeping stuff and relaxed.  We drove out to the Bald Eagle Preserve to watch for Eagles.  There were lots of them out there but not close enough for me to get a pic.  So, again, I just enjoyed the time.  We could see them flying around, and watch them with the binoculars.  Pics – not so much!

We also went back down to where we saw the bears but no luck seeing them again.  But just enjoying the nature and listening to the water flowing was very nice!

Nancy & Ken started a fire right at dark and after we gobbled up our buffalo chicken wings dinner, we went out to join them.  Sadly, the northern lights didn’t become more than a glow on the northern horizon, but after the show the night before – we are not complaining!

This morning, we weren’t in a hurry to leave and we pulled out right at the official check-out time of 11am.  Destination: Whitehorse!

We arrived here in Whitehorse at the Walmart around 5pm – we are parked here along with 15 others!   We’ve already been inside and had some Mac and cheese for dinner.  Time for some TV!  Tomorrow destination: Watson Lake!


Final weeks at Renfros

Our co-workers, Bob & Marna, left Renfros the day after we returned from our last full week off trip to Homer.  Gary had planned a goodbye dinner at the lodge on Thursday, so we all gathered at the lodge.  We were sad to know they were leaving, our AK family would no longer be complete!

Minar and Maddy

Gary pulled out the summers lost and found box and let us take anything we wanted from it.  Some stuff was pretty silly (one sock) but some was nice like this jacket Bob snatched

Marna loved modeling this hat!

Marna and Gary assembling our dessert – homemade strawberry shortcake!

We’ve been keeping busy – I’m sure you’ve all seen our post about running gear and changing the shackles – if not – it’s a comprehensive “how to” for taking care of these items!

We’ve also relaxed and visited some local places we hadn’t seen yet.  We headed north toward Anchorage – stopping at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.   It was a beautiful day!

We also finally got to Indian Valley Meats for some reindeer sausage.  Thankfully they have samples!

Next stop was Sam’s Club and Walmart in Anchorage.

view from Anchorage Walmart

On our way to dinner – we got a very special unexpected treat – we saw a bunch of people pulled over on Turnagain Arm, which is not unusual, but it seemed they were very focused on the water so we pulled in to see what they were seeing – BELUGAS!  A whole huge pod of them!  At least 20 – probably more – right near shore!  I started snapping away but they were moving on, so we had to move as well!  Off to the next pull-out!  We stopped 4 times – waiting for them to catch up – it was amazing to watch!  These are the best pics I could get!


no belugas here, but notice the rainbow!

Last, but not least, we went out to dinner! It was the day before our anniversary and Gary recommended a place in Girdwood – Double Musky.  It was highly rated on TripAdvisor also – so we decided to try it! They offered an eclectic menu with a Cajun focus.  For starters we had Scallop and Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms that were really good!  Bill ordered the Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya and I had to try the lamb.  Both were fantastic and we brought half of each home!  Dessert was delish as well, Bill devoured his Chocolate whip cream pie thing (can’t remember the name at all!) and I had my fav Creme  Brûlée.  A wonderful meal for sure!  And – bonus – interesting place with all kinds of Mardi Gras memorabilia all over the walls and ceiling.  Thanks Gary for suggesting it!

We’ve also been getting some things done here at Renfros.  Bill has trimmed some trees that were too close to the roof on a few cabins.  Speaking of a roof – he also fixed a leak on one – water was getting in!  He also had to fix (again) a septic tank clean-out b/c someone had hit it with their car.  The biggest project we’ve completed has been adding a pulley system to raise and lower the shade on the upper windows of the lakeside cabins.  The system was redesigned a couple of times before finding a way to get it to work.

As the weeks passed there were other things to do to get ready for Gary to close up for the season.   The last few days were especially busy.   We had all the cabins to clean and ready for the winter.  We also had to call 911 for one of our guests.  They were fine, thankfully.  It’s just a bit complicated because there isn’t any cell service here so one of the guests had to come find Gary (who was out working on the property) so he could go up to the lodge and call.   Then someone has to wait by the road to lead the EMT’s and next the ambulance to the cabin.  We all worked together so we could get the guest the help he needed.

boarding up the windows

draining the water heater tank

insulation to keep the cold out

We met a full-time wanna-be couple, Leslie and Matt from Anchorage.  We enjoyed campfires with them and shared our story of how we came to be living and traveling full-time in our RV.  One night they made yummy deserts!

Gary’s neighbors, Bonnie & Steve, own the local homemade fudge shop, Moose Drop, in Moose Pass.  We’ve been waiting til we were getting ready to leave to go visit them there and get some fudge.  It was worth the wait – and it’s probably good we waited – their fudge could be addictive!

We also made our way over to Soldotna and Kenai one day.  We wanted to say goodbye to Mary & Rollie (friends we met through RVillage) before heading out.  We met at St. Elias Brewery for lunch! We had all heard it was good – and the reviews were right!  We had pizza and Bill of course had beer! He liked it ok, but he and Mary also wanted to try another recommended place, Kassiks.  Friends of ours, Jim & Barb, visited a lot of breweries on their trip up here this past summer and Kassiks was their fav, so it was on the top of Bills list.  Turns out it was one of his fav’s also and he filled both growlers before we pulled out of the driveway.

interesting decor at St Elias

more St Elias

Bill chatting with the owner of Kassiks

The weather has certainly changed quite a bit over the last few weeks, since we’ve been back from Homer.  It’s getting very cold at night (in the 30’s) and we have not seen above 56 during the day for the past 2 weeks or so.  BRRRR!  Leaves on the birch and cottonwood trees have are yellow and are falling off at an alarming rate!  Earlier in the month, we woke to see snow on the mountain tops across the street!  Gary called it termination dust – the termination of hope for warmer temps!  It has proven true!  That first dusting of snow was gone within 24 hours.  Since then it has snowed a few more times and I believe it’s here to stay! It has not snowed down here YET and we are hoping that it doesn’t until we are on our way out!


Termination dust – this as taken Sept 8


this was taken 9/27

Our time here at Renfros Lakeside Retreat has been so wonderful!  We have loved every minute of it!  Gary is a great guy, very sincere and genuine, and has been awesome to work for. I would not hesitate to recommend working for him.  He is already on the hunt for 2017 Workampers!   We have grown to love this place and Gary along with it.  He has created this place that allows one to enjoy all the peacefulness and beauty of the mountains and Kenai Lake, and I’d say 90% or more of his reviews mention what an awesome host he is.  When we accepted his offer to work here – we didn’t know what to expect – but expectations were high!  They were met and more!  How often does one get to say that?!  Sadly, not very in my experience.   This summer will be hard to beat.

where else can you see a moose on the way to the recycling center?

Well, its official, we pulled out of Renfro’s Lakeside Retreat today, a little past 2pm.  We weren’t in a hurry to leave b/c we were only going about 130 miles, to Fred Meyer in Eagle River.  We’ve stayed here before, and wanted to get a few items before the LONG trek out!  We’ve said our goodbyes and exchanged hugs all around.  After getting in the truck, there was no stopping the tears.  We will have to return someday to our Alaskan home at Renfros!  Gary – thanks for everything – we love you and will miss you!



Getting Ready to GO! (the repacking wheel bearings and shackle report)

My featured pic this week has nothing to do with the rest of the post, it was taken by our friend, Ben Brilhart, while we were in Home, AK a few weeks ago.  Jo sent us a jump drive with a bunch of pics he took – he has an awesome camera with great lenses – and I decided to share this one since our Aurora Borealis  pic wasn’t very good.  Thanks Ben & Jo!

As I start this post, we have less than 3 weeks left til we lift our jacks for the last time at Renfros Lakeside Retreat.  The thought of that both saddens and excites me.  Sad to leave our beloved AK home, yet excited for what’s to come!


It’s been a quiet week this week.  Bob & Marna left last week, and we moved up into their spot.  We have a much larger side yard now!  Mostly we moved b/c Gary shut off the RV Park wifi and we can use the lodge wifi from this site.

Census in the cabins and RV Park are both slowing down now, after Labor Day.  Our work schedule has changed to accommodate Bob & Marna’s leaving, as well as the cabin schedule.  We will have off Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s and our last day will be Monday, Sept 26, and we will more than likely leave on the 27th.  Most of you will probably say – give yourself a day to rest, relax and leave the 28th – but I know myself well enough to know that anxiousness will take hold and we will hit the road the 27th.

So – the title of this post – Bill is taking care of replacing the shackles and doing another full inspection of the brakes and running gear.  He has already changed the oil in the truck also.

On the inside, I attempted to do some purging of clothes, while taking out some colder weather items.  Only half that was successful – winter clothes have been taken out and a lot of the short sleeves put away.  The purge part – well – that didn’t go quite as planned.  Seems I still like and/or feel the need to keep a lot of stuff.  UGH!

On to the details of the shackle changing and running gear maintenance – a subject my lady readers will more than likely skip or simply share with their spouse, and my gentlemen readers will be like – YES!

First let me tell you why Bill decided to tackle this job.  We have 2 friends of ours, Jim, of ExploRVistas , and Lee, of CamperChronicles , had theirs break.  So, he inspected ours and noticed a little bit of play.

He then did a bunch of research on the whole thing and decided to replace ours.  Getting these parts up here in AK has proven to be more difficult than it should be.  First he was going to order them from Amazon, as they had the best price, but they would NOT ship them up here – even after 2 lengthy phone calls we still don’t know why.  Then he looked on ETrailer, we’ve bought things from them in the past and they’ve always been great to deal with.  ETrailer would NOT ship them up here either.  Then he tried PPL and a few others, who would ship the parts but the cost for said shipping was crazy high – between $80 and $100 due to the weight.  Just the weight of the shackles wasn’t too bad, but you can’t buy just the shackles, you have to get a kit, which includes stuff he didn’t need.  Longer story shorter, he ended up buying from Amazon, using free shipping to send it to our home address in FL (my parents) and having them send it to us in a flat rate USPS box.  Took 4 days to get here, the medium box cost $13’ish to send.  Problem solved!  How crazy was that!?

We now have the parts!  Whew!

Parts and tool list:

Heavy duty shackles, bushings and wet bolts

Hi-Temp multi-purpose grease – Bill likes Mystik JT6 (this is one  recommended by Dexter)

Misc sockets, jack, torque wrench, screw driver, blocking, seal puller

Never Seize hi-temp brake grease

First thing to do is put wood under the trailer leveling jacks to give more lift so he could get the tires off the ground, as well as for extra stability.  Then he used the truck jack under the axle to take the axle weight off the shackles.

He then took the first wheel off.  He left the other wheel on just in case something happened, the tire could support the trailer.  Next step was removing the dust cap, locking clip (which he prefers over the sometimes used cotter pin), then off comes the ‘D’ washer.

The “D” style locking clip, way better the messing with a cotter pin!

Next remove the D ring and the small wheel bearing.

Then he pulled the hub off.

He purchased a special tool, a seal puller, to remove the grease seal, then the larger wheel bearing comes out.

The grease that looks black and muddy is worn and dirty and needs to be replaced.  Next he cleaned the bearings and races to remove the old grease so he could inspect them.  When looking at them, he was looking for scoring.

Inner bearing surfaces look pretty good other than some light scorching.

Races look perfect.

Next he repacked the bearings with grease, pushing the new grease in until all old grease comes out the other side.  Last time he cleaned them with solvent, which he did b/c he didn’t know what kind of grease they came from the factory with and he didn’t want to mix different kinds of grease, as they aren’t all compatible.

As a side story, Bill was telling me about how the technology used in these trailers is very old, the same that was used on his ’68 Mustang back in the day.  He also was commenting that young, new mechanics don’t even know how to repack bearings since new cars come with unserviceable bearings.

Bill then used brake cleaner spray to clean the dust off the drum/hub braking surfaces so he could inspect it.  He was looking for scoring, and checking the face of the drum for scoring also, as this is where the magnet travels.

He also needed to clean, still using the spray brake cleaner, the brake shoes, hardware and backing plate.

Now it was time to check the brake shoes for wear/thickness.  Ours wore about 1mm in the last 10,000 miles since he’s checked them last, so they didn’t need to be replaced.  They are between 4 and 5mm – anything less than 2mm and he would have wanted to replace them.

The self-adjusting mechanism needs to be inspected and lubricated if necessary.  Basically you have to spin it and if it turns freely, it’s ok.  Next you have to lubricate it b/c you’ve cleaned all the grease off with brake cleaner to inspect it.  You also have to lubricate the 6 contact points between the brake shoe and backing plate.  These items need to be lubricated with a high temp brake lubricant such as Never Seize.  This step is often skipped and is necessary to keep your brakes quiet and protect the backing plate.

When reassembling, Bill was sure to torque the axle nut to 50 foot pounds while spinning the hub, this seats the bearing in the race.  Then, loosen the nut carefully and tighten finger right.

This is the new style Dexter seal that has the sealant already on the seal.  The last time he had to add the sealant separate.

Adding grease the the race before dropping the bearing in place.

Gently tap grease seal into place being careful not to bend it!

He now had completed this wheel position!  One down – 3 to go!

One of the remaining grease seals failed.  Grease just started to migrate onto the brakes.  Bill suspects this is from when he greased the wheel bearings in Bellingham.  With the EZ lube bearings you can add grease without taking the assembly apart BUT the wheels should be spinning when adding grease.  A small tidbit he learned after the fact.


Grease on top corner of brakes, NOT good.

Lots of grease where it does not belong

See the small hole in the upper left of the spindle.  This is where the grease goes with the EZ lube system.  If you are not rotating the tire while greasing the grease may find an easier path through the back of the grease seal.  Lesson learned, add grease slowly while rotating the wheel.


Next up was the shackles! Ready?

This shackle is worn.  See the small area on the bottom bolt near the top that is clean.  That is from bolt movement.  Not good.  You can inspect for wear by tapping the bolts with a hammer when the wheel is off the ground.  It should not move.  One of ours was moving 3/16″!


The first thing you do is raise the trailer the same way as above and place jack under axle and take the weight off the suspension.  Next loosen the bolts that attach the shackles to the leaf spring and equalizer.  You may have to lower or raise the jack to take off the pressure so you can tap out the bolts with a hammer.  Now you can remove them,


The new shackles are twice as thick as the old ones!


Next you have to remove the old nylon bushings by tapping them out with a socket or punch.  Some may have bronze already.  Either way they need to be inspected and replaced if necessary.  Our nylon bushings were toast!



Here is the old nylon bushing next to the new bronze bushing,

This is the bronze bushing in the equalizer.  It looks great after 22K miles and didn’t even have a wet bolt.  Bronze looks to be superior to Nylon.  Bill found out when researching the parts that our equalizer is rated for 8K pound axles, Awesome!

Next you tap in the new Bronze bushing carefully with a hammer of piece of wood.


Next you attach the shackles and install the bolts.  The bolts need to be torqued to 50 foot pounds.  NOTE:  Our axles have a wide spacing so we will be able to grease them easily with the wheels on.  Some units have narrow spacing.  The narrow spaced units will probably have an easier time putting the zerks facing the inside.


Now you can grease the bolts.  Make sure the grease hole in the bolt is NOT at 12 or 6 O’clock as the weight of the trailer may prevent the grease from entering the bolt.


Might as well grease the equalizer as well.


You can mark  the bolts where the grease hole is to install correctly.  Continuing the line onto the shackle you can have a reference point to make sure the captured bolt has not slipped.  This is a sign of early wear!  You can also use a punch to mark them.


Remember the 3/16″ of play.  This is what that looks like when removed!


You can see how the ribs have worn off the bolt on the left.  The bolt is normally captured in the shackle by these ribs and cannot move.


Job complete, just need to do the other side.


Running gear maintenance needs to be done at least every 10K miles or annually (This is what Dexter recommends), especially if your rig is anywhere near its GVWR.  Check your owners manual.

If you are not comfortable with this type of work you should pay someone to do it for you, its important!  A full running gear inspection with wheel bearing repack should cost around $100 to $200 per axle.  Labor to replace shackles should run about $100 per side.  The parts cost about $125.

Bottom line we saved at least $400 and learned what to watch for in the future.

Not sure if any of you noticed, but Bill ended up typing a good bit of this post, as it was becoming crazy, him trying to recite it to me what he did.  Not that it matters, but just wanted to mention it.  First time for that!

I will post again soon – with plenty of pretty pics of pretty vistas – like mountains and other things!


Our Last FULL Week Off!

It is hard to believe that as I type today it is 9/1!  Where has the time gone?  I have all my blog posts to look back on and remember – not that I need it – not yet anyway!

I already told you about our Saturday, getting chores done and finally seeing Exit Glacier – a great start to our time off!

The weather was predicted to be sunny and gorgeous the whole week and we were VERY excited!  Jo & Ben had gotten back from Kodiak Saturday night and would be waiting for us!

We were making our left turn out onto Seward Hwy by about 10am Sunday, pretty good for us!  We hadn’t planned any stops, except for fuel in Soldotna. We made good time down the Sterling Hwy and I was snapping pics at the overlook by 2:15!

taken from the overlook before you get into Homer – if you look close you can see the spit

Jo & Ben had checked out a few of the local Homer CG’s and decided on Mariner CG, a City of Homer CG.  It is at the base of the Homer Spit, close to things but far away enough that it was quiet!  Best part was the views!  They choose 2 spots and we got set up in no time!  Did I mention the views?

When Bill and I were in Homer in June, we had decided to wait to have the traditional drink at Salty Dog with Jo & Ben.  We generally don’t just go out for drinks on our own, we prefer to go with friends, so waiting for them was an easy choice.  Bill and Ben each had a beer, Jo preferred white wine and I opted for a rum & coke.  Of course, we had to hang up a personalized dollar bill!

After drinks, we walked down by the docks, hoping to get a look at a “Deadliest Catch” boat.  Didn’t take too long to spot these:

We had planned for meals together, we each brought some fresh fish – Bill & I had some halibut from Gary and Ben had caught a silver, Coho, salmon on Kodiak!  YUM and YUM!  We had salad and wine and the guys had beer and we sat outside to eat and watch the water!

Monday, Jo & I got dropped off at the ferry dock at 10:20am – we were heading to Seldovia!  We took advantage of the BOGO in the TourSaver book – and Jo was able to get an additional discount due to being a senior!  Two round trip tickets for $65!  Not too bad!  (Especially when I remember what Bill & I paid to go to Skagway from Haines – I think $70 per person!) The ferry ride was very nice, calm seas and little wind.  Sun was out – no clouds and temps were warm!

see you soon Homer!

The town of Seldovia is very small, only about 250 year round residents.  The only way to get there is boat or plane – there aren’t any roads to get there.   We were hungry so decided to get some lunch first.  After looking at the menus for a few places and consulting TripAdvisor (comparing the 4 available choices), we decided on Linwood Bar and Grill. Jo wanted some pizza and theirs was supposed to be good.  I (even after having it for dinner the night before and planning it for dinner the upcoming night) choose the fish and chips, but substituted onion rings instead of fries.  The whole meal was very good and the prices weren’t awful, considering AK.  We relaxed as we ate and watched a few boats coming in and out of the very small boat harbor.

Our tour next took us to see the only local grocery store.  My co-worker, Marna, had told me about the mosaic work on their floor and I wanted to see it.   Very cool, especially considering the owners did it themselves.   The store was pretty small and had lots of  dust.   Made me glad I don’t have to shop there for groceries.

We also checked out the visitor center, which was small but included a small gift shop – I couldn’t resist some locally made Fireweed Jelly to add to the kids AK baskets.  I got a postcard for my cousin and then we walked down to the Post Office to mail it.  I’m curious to see how long it takes to get to PA.

We continued on, following the map to the “beach”.  It was not anything close to what I (raised on the Jersey Shore) would call a beach, but I guess it’s Seldovia’s version.  There was some dark colored sand and I have to admit the views were awesome!

loved the driftwood

We also found the Russian Church.  We were disappointed we could not go inside, but it looked like no one had been in it for years, as it was in bad repair.

this is a lodge – check out the elevator for luggage

The “Boardwalk” area was our next stop. We looked around the garden/gift shop a bit before moving on.

very cool homes along the waterfront

bet you’ve never seen such a colorful fire hydrant

We ended our tour of Seldovia with a scoop of ice cream and watching boats and birds in the harbor.  It was a very relaxed peaceful day and I’m glad we went.

while I appreciate these types of wood carvings, I’m not a huge fan, but I just loved this one of a new Momma Humpback whale pushing her newborn baby up to the surface for their first breath

Seldovia small boat harbor

Homer – we are back!

Coast Guard buoy tender

The guys were waiting for us when we got back and they had had a great day of fishing and going to one of the local breweries.

Tuesday was the guys big fishing trip day! We woke early to drive them to the dock by 6:00AM!  After getting there and finding no one there – Bill checked his email and found one letting them know the time and boat had changed.   They now didn’t need to be there til 6:30 – so the wait got a little longer!

Jo and I headed back to our homes on the beach and decided to try and get some additional sleep.  Thankfully we were both able to do just that.  My Dad called  and woke me at 8, which was fine.  We had a leisurely morning, enjoying our coffee outside with Peyton (Jo & Ben’s Malamute), taking a stroll along the waters edge.  After some brunch, we went to do some shopping at the shops along the spit.    We had a blast looking at all the local art and craft stuff for sale.  We got the guys t-shirts and I got one too!  Jo purchased herself a hoodie and new pair of bear earrings.   I picked up a new seasoning to use on the fish!

We were done shopping and found ourselves back in our chairs on the beach by about 3 – we didn’t need to pick up Bill and Ben til 4:30, so we hung out loving being outside in the sun, and I think we each dozed off a bit.

The guys were late getting back – but they brought halibut so we didn’t mind!  Neither caught a BIG one – but we got enough to have a few nice dinners!  They had a great time and even saw some whales, so a good day was had by all!

We were all pretty tired after dinner, so we called it a night early.

Wednesday we woke to another amazing weather day!  Clear and sunny!  We decided to have a big breakfast of pancakes and bacon!  And as a special bonus – AK picked blueberries!  Bill made the regular kind inside our rig and Ben made his fav, buckwheat, outside on the grill, after the bacon was done being cooked on it.

After filling our bellies, Bill and Ben went to pick up the previous day’s catch, which was cleaned, vacuum packaged and flash frozen.  It was all packed away in our freezer along with some cod Bill decided to get.

Jo and I dropped them off at Lands End with their fishing poles and a cooler, and off we went to the liquor store – Jo was out of wine!  Oh the horror!   We first place we stopped was next to Safeway b/c we needed a few things from there also, but they didn’t have anything we were interested in – so on to the next place, called the Grog Shop.  They had what we were looking for so we got to check “wine” off the list!   Our next stop was the Homer Farmer Market.  Bill & I had visited this when we were in Homer back in June and I was hoping there would be more fresh produce.  Well – there really wasn’t, but I did get some fresh homemade salsa – there were samples and it was delish!  Jo picked up some locally made jelly for Ben, again – it hard to not get something yummy after they offer samples!

Ben dressed for the occasion while Bill fished from shore

sadly this beauty was not large enough to be kept

Sitting outside, loving the view of Cook Inlet, had become our new fav pastime and we made sure we spent plenty of time doing that again!  The guys finally called a little while later and we went to pick them up.  There had been a few fish caught, but sadly none were keepers – oh well!  They had a nice afternoon – that’s all that matters, right?
I forget who sparked up a fire, but we sat out by it til past sunset.  We didn’t want our time in Homer to end, which it was going to do the next morning.  Each couple retreated into their home to get some sleep.

Bill was looking out his little window by his side of the bed and he says “There are some weird clouds” and then “That is strange how they are moving” so it hit me – they aren’t clouds – it must be northern lights!  The aurora borealis!  I ran outside, not waiting for Bill to get his jeans back on.  Sure enough – there was the northern lights – OMG!  MAJOR BUCKET LIST ITEM!  After a minute – I went over to Jo & Ben’s camper and called out “Jo!” – she answered “What?” I could barely keep from yelling – but whispered loudly – “hurry – get out here – northern lights!”  I could hear them scrambling to get up as Bill and I watched in awe!  I was very surprised – it is very fluid – doesn’t stay still – fades in and out and constantly moving.   We snapped a few pics – Bill did anyway then Ben got it his camera and tripod.   We stayed out for about half an hour watching.

Bill and Ben then went over to ask the people in the Class A a couple sites down to turn off their gennie.  It was way past 11pm at this point, which is when quiet hours start.   The guy was not very nice, but after a few minutes he shut it down.  Why do people have to be difficult?

We were up and headed north by 8:57am – 3 full minutes ahead of schedule!  After stopping at the dump station, our next stop was Moose is Loose Bakery in Soldotna.  OMG!  The options were many and the place was packed with people trying to make a decision.  I really didn’t want to walk out with a full box of baked goods – but between Bill & I – we couldn’t help it!  No really – before we knew it we had eaten our first selections – a chocolate covered donut for Bill and chocolate covered custard filled one for me!  I don’t remember now what Jo & Ben got, but they also walked out with a full box.  Our take home box had an apple bear claw, apple fritter, pecan sticky bun, 3 cinnamon buns with raisins, and a loaf of cinnamon bread.  I’ve got to tell you – I have no idea what any of it cost – dollars or calorie wise – but we just couldn’t resist!

Next up was a stop in Walmart for salad fixings and a few other items, before we shared final hugs and goodbyes with Jo & Ben.  They are heading back down to the lower 48 to pick up their 5th Wheel and their next travel nurse contracts.

What a great time we had in Homer with Jo & Ben!  It was the perfect blend of stuff to do and relaxing – and best of all – time with friends!  Hope our paths cross again in the not too distant future!