Unlimited data: Yes. Unlimited signal: No.
There's just something about us visiting places with no signal that fits our mantra. This whole trip is about living off the grid. Maybe it's a little too far out there sometimes. Now, in the effort of full disclosure I probably could have typed something up on day 61. We spent the day cruising through Port Townsend and eyeballing a place to sleep.
The town of 10,000 people has quite a bit to offer it's local residents and tourists. The downtown was bustling with activity and it still retained it's seaport charm. Heading over to Vintage Hardware & Lighting store revealed this little gem to us. The only art deco light museum in the world.
As useless as it sounds there is actually something to appreciate here. This time period ranged from the 1920's to the beginning of WW2 in 1939. Between those years the world suffered through the great depression. The fact that these lights remain in existence today is actually quite astonishing. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the downton streets looking at the buildings that were looming over us.
This actually turned out to be one of the few downtown's we have been to that remains historic. Typically you hear about "the great fire of xxxx" that destroyed a town. Not here. On the ocean and built of brick. Fire be damned.
Our nightly parking spot was a new experience. Katie popped open google and did a quick search for 24 hour street parking. We found a spot big enough, and more important level enough (RV fridges need to be level) to call home for the night. There was some trepidation sleeping on the street in an unknown town. Safety wasn't really a factor here. The dozen or so homeless people we saw were on the other side of town and I always carry a knife with me. No, it was the uneasiness of whether or not we would get booted off the street by the local authorities in the middle of the night. RV street parking is typically frowned upon by many communities. There are tons of older, broken jalopy RV's cruising around that give the rest of us a bad name. Like this this guy for example. You don't want this outside your house.
We made it through the night unscathed and headed for Fort Worden State park. A sprawling 433 acre park that consisted of concrete fortifications and original buidings on campus. By far the coolest part was that they let people climb in and around the old concrete structures. No safety railings, no ropes, no signs. Just make sure you're not stupid and have fun. Built in the early 1900's before the onset of WW1 this complex hosted a massive array of 41 artillery guns. The largest would launch a 12 inch projectile that weighed 1,000 pounds a staggering 8 miles.
The rest of the afternoon was spent looking for our next home of the night. Fifteen miles up the road lay this little slice of rock beach on the sound. Unfortunately there were no parking/no camping signs telling us to get our crap and leave. At least we took in a few hours of beach time before the next travel session.
Where to go, where to go.... How about a casino? Yeah, they usually have free parking. Another 15 miles and we land at seven cedars casino in Blyn, WA. This awesome place let us park for 3 days, and even provided us with a 30 amp hookup for the RV. Rock on.
Things you don't expect to be woken up by at a casino.
We took full advantage of it and left home base to explore the Dungeness Spit yesterday. Unfortunately upon our arrival there were the ominous signs of hate and racism. NO PETS. Time to turn tail and find something else we can do with pooch today. Another beach? Sure. Katie likes beaches. Myself on the other hand requires some sort of entertainment to keep my attention. It just so happens I packed a metal detector and really haven't had a chance to use it yet. The next couple of hours were all about finding treasure. Instead all I found was a bunch of rusty trash. Don't care. Still fun.
So now we're all caught up again. Its Thursday 8.31.17 and we are going back to the dungeness spit sans dog. It's the longest natural sand finger in the world that has a lighthouse at the end. It will be a nice 5.2 mile walk in the sand, one way. I'll let you know how it goes.
Turns out I was a day off pertaining to us being on the road. My bad. I typically am pretty happy with just knowing what day it is in general. Everything is starting to blend together. No alarm clock, no schedule, no reason to move on really starts to change the structure of your life. The last couple of days were spent out on Bainbridge Island just west of Seattle. Things are slower paced out here than the city and that's just the way we like it. But alas our time is up at the RV park and we must move on. We've been burning up our lodging budget around here. Parking on the side of the road just isn't going to happen in the Seattle metropolis. We did spend one night outside Mt. Rainier and another at a Walmart parking lot since being in Washington. The plan is to roll north today and find a free place to crash. Time to get back to doing what we do best. That means having no plan or any idea what the hell is going on.
Another week gone by and no updates for my people. That my friends is all about to change starting today. We made the phone call to verizon's *611 and upped our cell phone coverage to unlimited data that just doesn't stop. It was pricey... another $60 bucks to the phone bill each month. But let's be realistic, we need it. Constantly traveling on the road it's down right necessary to have cell data in order to function at a high level. We'll be making that money back by saving on diesel fuel (price apps), finding places to sleep (we love free), and working on this blog. The blog doesn't give us any money. That being said we have spent money in fuel and countless hours of our time trying to find a place where I can plunge away at the keys. We'll drive to visitor's centers, mcdonalds, starbucks, officemax parking lots, where ever we can find a free hotspot. This in turn burns fuel at the price of 9mpg. More often than not we have an obligation to spend a few bucks at mcdonalds in order to sit for an hour and crusie the WIFI. Even after all that effort we usually end up with a connection that is painfully slow and updating this is a problem. NO MORE I SAY! As long as we have a signal, the story will continue. So grab your belt and hold on, I've got some things to share with you.
These pics are from day 51. We were rolling through the canyons of southern british columbia when it was gripped by wildfires. The highway had been open for two days and we saw the carnage first hand.
Day 53: A quick trip through the city of Vancouver. Cool, eclectic, and clean. Nice place.
Day 57. Seattle, the grunge city. I can honestly say that thus far we've seen the strangest people in Seattle. A city full of flavor. My favorite experience was a homeless guy standing outside the Prada store telling everyone who walked past how ugly the shoes were. Priceless.
Day 59: Mount Rainier National Park. Amazing temperate rain forest that will make you rethink how trees are supposed to look. This was out in the Carbon River canyon. I was here 10 years ago with my old man and it is a place I've always wanted to come back too.
My my how the time has gone by. My apologies for those out there who actually check in on us to see where we are and what we are doing. Alaska was amazing, and Canada had some breathtaking scenery along the way. However.... cell phone signals and WIFI are not a thing the frozen land of the north has learned about yet. The update has taken so long because I literally couldn't work on this. Our phones rarely caught a signal in the last 2,049 miles we have traveled. Sure there has been some facebook updates but that doesn't fully display our lack of signal. Katie is able to slap those up while we drive, in between cities and hotspots. It wasn't uncommon for the update to take all day. Sadly even the couple of RV parks we stayed at had crap for WIFI due to it being satellite. You could open an e-mail and that was about it. The bandwidth just didn't support loading pictures and editing the site. Alas even now here in Washington state I used our "allotment" of data just uploading pictures to the computer and downloading one movie to my tablet.
When we do finally run into a place with decent WIFI I'll put a whole lot of things on here for your guys to scroll through. But for now, just a few choice teaser pictures since I'm sucking up our data plan from verizon.
Stay tuned for more.... I'll be keeping up.
Fairbanks is the largest inland city in Alaska. With the metro area it's right around 100,000 people. When we got into town it was time for our ever lingering decision; dump the tanks and go to the the laundromat, or pay for an RV park. We opted for two nights at a park in order to sit still for longer than 12 hours. Constantly being on the move and unsure of your environment gets tiring. Roo parked her fat ass at the Riverview RV park in North Pole AK so we could dump, fill, charge batteries, and hook up to the sweet WIFI. Ok, so the WIFI isn't sweet... it barely works. After parking and set up we took off to explore downtown Fairbanks.
The downtown was small and dare I say even a little rundown. There were only a few blocks of businesses that were open. Empty boarded up buildings and long overgrown lawns surrounded the area. It didn't' feel sketchy. I wouldn't have been afraid to walk the streets. However it definitely was lacking in it's ability to draw people in. Some money spent here by the city to make the streets appealing would be well advised. They had a small fountain which was nice and that was about it. The city museum was an upper level carpeted room in a failing strip mall. The place was old and weathered but was still clean. We had talked about grabbing an RV park for a week just to unwind and really settle in for a change. Boy am I glad we didn't do it near this town.
One thing for sure is that we still aren't use to the land of the midnight sun. This was around 2200 last night.
See the snow cap in the picture? That's Denali, or Mt Mckinley if your prefer. We never really got a good look at. They say only 1 out of 3 visitors ever gets to see it because it's usually surrounded by clouds. This proved true during our two previous days of travel when we should have been able to see it from scenic viewpoints on the road. Cool in person? Sure. Super impressed... we were not. The road into the park is 90 miles long and you can only drive to mile 14. Want to go further? Pony up some dough and pay the park to take you in on a bus. We opted not to spend $100 for the two of us to sit on a school bus full of sweaty bodies for 12 hours in order to get a better view.
It's not all bad though. We're here, we made it, let's do something. Perhaps a hike through bear infested woods. That always sounds like a good idea. Bears. Grizzly bears. They will eat your face off.
Four days behind on the updates. It turns out Alaska is a little tough on cell phone signals and even WIFI at the RV park. I had to wait until now, 0930 on a Monday for the crowd to die down enough here so this could be updated.
The picture above is from day 38. Yeah it's a crappy picture. I snapped it in the morning we woke up. Cold. Real Cold. It was 51° in the RV and it took a bit of work to get moving. Come to find out it just must of been the valley we slept in by the river.
The day was boring. We spent most of the day driving and looking for a spot to park. This old strip of highway was left for people to park on by the river. Pop out the slide and settle in for the night courtesy of the Alaskan DOT.
Today was one of our few planned days so far into the trip. The other night we sat down and looked up things to do. There was an Alaskan Transportation Museum with retired mining cars, planes, trains, and old trucks strewn across 20 acres of land. I love this stuff. Gears and levers make me more excited than a mouse snatching cheese from a mousetrap. Katie is not a fan of gears and levers. We planned a day apart which is exactly what we needed. Look, we love each other. That being said we also still need our time apart. Katie decided to venture off and go do some thrift shopping while I took in the grand visions of rust glory.
The rest of the awesome pictures from my day will be posted to the page of Random Awesomeness. For now, let's concentrate on the usual blog. Katie came back from the stores and I was done looking at old abandoned junk. I hooked up the jeep and we took off. Twenty miles down the road and something happens. What the hell is that? Roo loses power and suddenly I feel the change in the power. Roo can't pull, it's losing speed, and slows down instantly without throttle. I immediately go into troubleshoot mode and start going through the gauges and back off the throttle to slow down. What is it... what's going on? Katie looks over and asks if the jeep is ok. We pull over and I see a haze in the mirror. It's wafting up and coming from the rear of us. So I pop out of the RV and the front brakes of the jeep are SMOKING.
This is what I see when I back there. The towbar came unhooked and that activated the emergency brake system. Shirley locks her brakes up slows down the whole train. So remember back when I said Katie came back and I hooked the jeep up? Turns out I forgot to pin one of the hitch pin clips in before we left. Oops....
Thursday 8.3.17 was a lazy day. Leaving our home base at the base of Kenai Fjords was hard to do. It was a beautiful spot next to the river that makes boondocking dreams come true. Roo pointed north and hustled her fat ass towards Anchorage once more. We made it about half way there when we decided to call it a day. Between mile marker 58 and 59 there was a turnout on the west side of the highway that had a giant rock in the way. Rock= noise reducer. This would be perfect for the night. Limited highway noise and a chance to do a little work. Don't let the painted pavement fool you, this was a piece of old obsolete highway that was a designated parking spot.
Time to get down to bizz-nazz. Roo has a problem with leaking gravel dust into the bedroom over long stretches of dusty road. I pulled the rubber barrier around the radiator down and found some cracks between the metal structure and fiberglass. This was most likely the cause of the dust in the bedroom. Last week I bought two tubes of roofing tar in anticipation of this project. Why roofing tar? It sticks to everything even when it's dirty. It will flex with the RV and can stay pliable in all temperatures. We'll see how it goes....
My legs hurt. My calves hurt even more. Turns out that hiking 9 miles up and down a mountain was a bad idea. Even more stupid... we walked the dog another mile in the evening just to get him out of the house.
It was time to pack up our abode on wheels and point this thing back north. We left in the AM with intentions of hitting up Anchorage and doing some laundry. Just a hundred miles into our trip and I see a sign that points the opposite direction to Homer. Homer? I want to see Homer. We steer left instead of right and change our plan mid-day. It's just a small fishing village on the end of the peninsula. A little touristy... but not terrible. There are gift shops lining the end of the spit and more RV parks than you can shake a stick at.
We were smart enough to park the RV a few miles out of town for the night and drive the jeep. Down to the pier to snap some pictures and look for dinner.
Ah yes... dinner. The restaurants down here are going for $40 a plate. We are broke and have no income. A seafood market provided the means of substance for the night. Every once and a while we splurge. This self indulgence was in the form of fresh, never frozen alaskan sockeye salmon. Katie is a damn good cook so there is no reason for us to go out.
Hunkered down for the night we took in the view from our front yard. Life could be worse.
The time has come to break down and pay to spend the night somewhere. Out of water, full waste tanks, and laundry stacked up means we need hookups. Typically the hookup comes with WIFI, however this park and the last have proven to be minimal at best. The signal is slow and progress to update this blog becomes agonizing. Each picture takes literally minutes to load and streaming a movie is out of the question. So that leads us back to where you saw us last. After the mini hike in Kenai Fjords national park we took a day to explore some more.
A quick whistle for the dog and we set off down the river to get into the backwoods. We just barely got started when we were met by a group of people who were extremely excited to see a road. They were shouting " Re-supply!" as they walked past us. You see, there was a truck in the parking lot that said re-supply and had food and other items laid out across it's tables. These backpackers were most likely in the woods for at least a week with only the provisions they carried in. This really makes us look like a bunch of wimps.
About a mile into the trail the woods decided to dense up and the fun hike turned into pushing brush out of our way. No fun, no thanks. We turned around and headed back for the road.
The quick hike got us halfway through the day and we needed something to fill the need. We needed fun, excitement, maybe even some danger. A quick scouting run down the street turned up the perfect place for a kayak rendevous. What would you do? Launch the kayaks by the RV next to a swift moving glacial river with no knowledge of what lays ahead? Of course you would. So would we. Let's roll.
It's like I never catch up on this thing. Here I am pounding away at the keys drafting up what happend 3 days ago. The arduously slow WIFI cripples my drive to share our journey. I guess there are worse things.... I could have to go to work.
Our thirst for Alaska was unfulfilled and something needed to happen. We decided to tackle the Harding Ice Trail. This 9 mile round trip trail climbs 3,500 ft in elevation and ends up on top of the ice field. This glacier was 300 square miles of history and time. Thousands of feet thick, it locked it's mountains into a strangle hold. What lies beneath the ice? We may never know.
A hike we did a few years back with my buddy Eric in California has always been my trophy. Climbing to the top of half dome in Yosemite National Park was always something I've looked back on and felt proud of myself for accomplishing. I still do. This hike was different. It was shorter, easier and overall just a day trip experience. However the impact of looking at this glacier from a first person view left an impression. There's something about seeing things in real life that will change a man. We've been on the road a month and I've changed a little. Change is good, embrace it.