Gypsies at last and troubles on the road

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June 10th 2017
Published: June 10th 2017
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Leaving Alaska and entering the Yukon
Travel Blog 4-29 to 5-25

All is packed and our belongings have been shipped to a location in Washington, some place secure but accessible whenever we need to get into it. Julie retired on a Friday and we set off on becoming full time RVers that Monday. The cats loaded up weeks earlier, had become accustom to the big downsizing and settled in to traveling. Sleeping in the back while I drove and perching on the dash when we stop for the night.We crossed into Canada without incident, having done it many times before we knew what we needed and what not to bring. Be sure to check the Canadian travel website for restrictions on pets, firearms, wood, etc. Traveling with cats, we knew all we needed was current rabies tags and we were good. Great people at the boarder stations, always remember to be polite, shut off the engine when you get to the window and have your documents ready.

After crossing into Canada, we camped out along a creek in the Yukon just inside Canada, near Beaver, a quiet and primitive pullout but it was a very peaceful night sleep. I awoke in the morning and felt

Entering the Yukon
the RV shaking a little bit, first time I have felt the RV shake with no one moving. Yep, earthquake.... I found out later when we arriving in Whitehorse that there had been several in the Anchorage Alaska area since we had left. Having lived there for decades, we were accustomed to them but these apparently were a little larger and caught peoples attention. Julie if not having slept through it would have been clapping and giddy about feeling them, don't ask me why because she hates roller-coasters (go figure).

First big stop was at Liard Hot Springs Providential Park, where we spent several days relaxing and enjoying the warm waters and peaceful setting. We met people going to Alaska for summer jobs, a couple driving south that knew our Realtor. We soon became friends with some that were headed north to Alaska. The Hot Springs has been developed with a board walk that leads from the parking/camping area and is about 600 meters long. Wildlife can sometimes be seen as you walk past the shallow pools created by the hot springs run off. Moose, Buffalo, geese and ducks frequent the area, but please remember that they are WILD,
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Beautiful scenic picture
do not approach or feed them. It is bad for the animals and could be very bad for you financially and physically. The springs average 120 degrees at the top and were a pleasant 104 at the benches that they placed in the water which is about 3 and a half feet deep. There are changing rooms and plenty of seating when you need to cool off. No restrooms at the pool, so do your business before the journey to the water. And it is advisable to take water to drink, don't want to get dehydrated while back in there. All of the sites we seen were back in, no pull through and although the camp is clean, there are no hook ups. You can get to water near the entrance for filling containers or your PW tank as long as you do not block the road.

Be sure to stop at Watson Lake where you can take a few minutes to check out the acre of signs and license plates that have been placed there over the years. It is amazing to see what some people have left behind. Top off your fuel tanks here too, it can
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Snowy Mountain
be a long distance from fuel stop to fuel stop. Triple G RV just west of Ft Nelson is a good place to pull into. Full hook ups, RV wash and a nice restaurant / gift shop. The people were very friendly and will go the distance to help with any issues. Pioneer Village on the outskirts for Dawson Creek was another nice place to pull into, full hookups available, level pull through sites with easy in and out drives. A small historical site and friendly staff, plus it is a short drive to some great restaurants and saloons. Take a little time to check out the tourist shops and take some pictures, the town is full of history, Dawson Creek is a cross road town, from here you choose which destination. South West to Prince George and down to Vancouver, South to Jasper and Banff national parks, East to Edmonton and Calgary. We chose to head to Jasper which is in the rocky mountains of British Columbia. There is a nice camp area just south of the town on Whistler road, watch for Elk here, they wander all over town and can take there time crossing the road. Jasper
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Wild river in wild country
itself is a ski resort town and offers some fine dining and gift shops with trail you can walk to enjoy while you stay. Be aware of the wild life, there are large animals here that are not friendly. Seen some black bear and Grizzly in the park, not your typical zoo animal, these bruins will eat you and your lunch so stay clear and do not leave food out.

This is also the place where things started to go wrong for us.... Main Slide-out decided not to slide out anymore, thankfully it jammed retracted and not extended. I tried resetting, but the motor said “not doin it bud” so we lost some of our living room space. Thank the Lord it is just the two of us and we are used to smaller spaces. Plan to get it fixed when we get to the states, Canada is too expensive when it comes to repairs and it is some thing we can live with for a while. ( little did I know it would be a while too). A land slide blocked the road to the east and the town filled up with trucks hauling freight, so we headed
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Upper Rocky Mountains
south toward Lake Louise where I planned a few days stay to celebrate our 33 year anniversary. What is that saying about best laid plans and intentions? We were re-routed by the Highway department whom had done some avalanche control and blocked the highway south for 3 days. Leaving us with no choice but to drive almost to Calgary (150 miles out of our way) to get headed south again. And then turning west toward Banff, we ran into heavy rain, which actually helped clean most of the bugs off the front. So we kept moving and pulled into Spruce Grove RV in Fairmont BC. It was a welcome rest after a long day of driving.

After breakfast, it was south bound for the Boarder crossing at Kingsgate and into the US where we planned to head down to the Spokane area and have the RV looked at. It is a pretty drive with lots of scenic views but do watch for wild life, I had several deer alongside the roadway give me pause as I past them. Arriving at Kingsgate, we were greeted by a pretty and friendly Customs Agent that grilled us with the standard list of
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Entering Alberta again
questions. Obviously there is a list of questions that they have to read off and we were welcomed back to the US of A. A few more miles down the road near Bonner Ferry, there was a landslide that partially blocked the road, still down to one lane of traffic but just a short stop before we were allowed past. Just a few more miles away, a train derailment that dumped tons of wheat next to highway, clean up crews were in the highway, cleaning it up the yellow mess with heavy equipment. The box cars that derailed were pretty well damaged and looked like crumpled toys. Definitely not the typical drive I expected, but it did break up the day and added to our road journal we call ”RV there yet?” A great way to keep track of your travels, expenses, places of interest and mileage. I recommend all RVers track their travels in a journal.

Arriving in Coeur d' Alene Idaho we were alerted by a motorist that our ATV we were towing was bouncing around on the trailer. A quick check on the side street and I found that my cable and straps holding down the
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Old plane being used for wind vane in Whitehorse.
front end of it had broken. I was prepared for this and dug out a heavy strap from a basement compartment. “If it might be an issue, always carry backup, whether it is fluids, hardware or toilet paper, you always carry something in reserve. It is amazing what little things you can forget that can make the difference in a road trip. Be as prepared as you can for the little things because they can put the brakes on a road trip real fast if you need it and it is a week to have it shipped to you. I called my Cousin in Washington and let him know we were running ahead of schedule but were stopping to have the Slide-out looked at before we got there. Just inside the state of Washington is camping world of Liberty Lake. Although Camping World as a company might be a great place, I cannot recommend this particular business. I waited for 25 minutes before anyone from the service department could give me the time of day. I explained the situation with our slide-out being jammed and was told to bring it back in a few days to drop it off. I

If you see this sign, be alert because it is no joke.
guess they don't have to many full timers drop in. I got a funny look when I told him that if we were dropping it off for a few days, he was going to have house guest or pay for the hotel. Once we got that issue and the need for speeding repairs explained, we headed for our destination 100 miles down the road where a relative was expecting us.

The weather was great and we were welcomed with cheer as we rolled in and parked, “Ronnie” had a spot cleared for us and we leveled up, got the power tied in and made up a great dinner which we enjoyed while sitting around the campfire. That was when I started to hear stories about Camping World in Liberty Lake that gave me some concern. Looking back, I should have listened and done some shopping around for another service center. As Monday arrived I made a phone call to them, “ well it will be Tuesday before we can look at it” I was told. Okay, I have other business I can take care of and we loaded up into Ronnie's car, making the drive to Dave Smith motors

Big Road hazard
in Kellogg Idaho where were supposed to pick up the car we ordered to tow behind the RV. First glitch with that, the car did not have the sun/panoramic sun roof my wife wanted. But we talked and agreed to take a look at the vehicle I had bought from them on-line. It was a great car, the Jeep Cherokee Latitude (True North Addition) and the accessories department had installed the tow brackets and wiring we needed. We sat in the car with the sale person and were going over the features when I noticed something missing. Something ESSENTCIAL to any person looking to flat tow a car and was the main reason I chose to buy this model of vehicle. It was missing a tiny button near the console that you press to disengage the transmission and put it into neutral. The Acu-track II transmission is specifically designed for flat towing and this rig did not have it. Now being that it was a “full time all wheel drive” this meant the transmission would be totaled before I could tow it to the street. So for the next few hours we haggled with the sale department, accessories department, management

Big Road hazard
and financing department. You see, I was already making payments on this car and it was not what was ordered.

We were given a loaner car to use after we settled on a Jeep Trail Hawk and another long wait for everyone to get it right. The sales manager did buy us dinner while we waited, nice little restaurant called the Broken Wheel only a block away. A little mom and pop operation with GREAT steaks and friendly staff. If you ever have the chance, it is well worth the time to dine there. I ordered the Rib-eye, taking advantage of the free dinner, WOW I was impressed. The dinner came with a salad bar, mashed potatoes and a gravy that was delicious. I made it a point to compliment the owner for buying great meat and the old lady (I can only assume was his wife) working the kitchen for a great meal. I checked the menu, prices were very reasonable and we made it a point to mark this place in our book of great eats.

Okay, we traveled back 100 plus miles to the RV in our loaner car, stopping for a late lunch in
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Liard Hot Springs Provential Park
Airway Heights at a place called Longhorn BBQ. It struck me as a family run business with casual and clean environment. Buffet and salad bar are available until 2 pm, with chicken, ribs all the fixings to make a meal that satisfies. I saw that there was a full service bar and the menu was full of very enticing items to salivate over. We managed to gorge ourselves with good tasting food and then finished our journey home to settle down for the evening around the fire, drinking scotch and looking forward to getting the car and RV issues resolved. Julie and I missed out on having our Anniversary dinner in Lake Louise BC, so we combined it with Mother's Day, went out with Ronnie to a little up scale restaurant called the Rusty Moose in Airway Heights. After a short wait we grabbed a table in the bar area near a large gas fireplace and ordered. I found that the prices were just a touch high but the food was of a quality and portion that made it acceptable. I had the rib-eye which turned out to be a 20 oz tomahawk cut with grilled asparagus and was so
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Most camps were closed this early in the year.
big it was served on it's own plate. Ronnie had the Salmon and Julie had a smaller 8 oz sirloin, All the food was exceptional and the service was great. All in all a worth while experience.

Tuesday rolls around and we headed back to Camping World hoping to have the use of our full living room by the end of the day. 6 hours later.... “Well it is the motor and we will have to locate one” we were told, frustrated we drove back the two hours to our spot with our loaner car being driven behind us and waited for a call from the service department the following day. A call next morning did not brighten our spirits, “no parts in town, it will have to be ordered from Winnebago the following day.” Not good news when you have a short on living space. But we did manage to get back to Kellogg and pick up our car from Dave Smith motors. I will say that in spite of the foul up with ordering the car, they did make it right with us by getting us into a nice car (still no sun / panoramic roof), towing

Signs in Watson Lake BC
brackets included and for less per month than the original deal. So we enjoyed another meal at Broken Wheel (which I paid for this time) and headed back to the RV.

I assisted Ronnie with a water issue he had, seems the well on his property was going dry because Lake Roosevelt was so low and he had been packing water to the house for drinking and dishes. Using rain water for flushing toilets and driving into town for laundry or showers. As a bachelor and being self sufficient that made sense for him as he had spent $4500 the previous year to find out that fixing the issue was drilling a very deep and expensive well. I designed a cistern system consisting of a 650 gallon tank for a reservoir and a 350 gallon tank for the back of the truck that he could haul water with. We installed check valves, filters, a pump tied to the pressure switch and check valves to prevent water from back feeding into the tank. A little plumbing and some water from the neighbor, we were adjusting pressures and he was able to finally use the plumbing in his own home for

Entering Alberta
a change. Should the ground water table rise, he can seamlessly switch over and draw from the well. He is very happy and I am grateful that I could help. Calculating his water usage, he should be able to go a month or more before he needs to get a tank filled.

I managed to get a decent price on a Roadmaster Falcon 2 tow bar from C.W. And was very disappointed when I opened the box to find that they had not included the adapter brackets for the Blue Ox tow pins. After hearing that the adapters would cost me another $175 + shipping and it would take two weeks, I let the wife shop for them and BINGO. Amazon Prime for $61 with free second day air shipping. So now I have all the parts needed and I dug out the Rvi3 braking system I had ordered out of Colorado. I had to spend a little time getting the adapter bracket installed on the floor which keeps the unit from going under the driver’s seat when braking. As advertised, I set it in place, put it on the brake pedal and plugged it into the 12 volt

Brown on the roadway
jack the Jeep provided in the console. One button, 3 times and you are set to tow. Simple, fast and wireless, just what I asked for. I linked it to the tablet they provide and we were set to roll. I rolled the RV forward and hooked it all up, I was impressed with its response and grateful that Dave Smith installed the wiring harness that handles the lights and charges the battery while towing. It sure made it easy to rig for towing and no worries about draining the battery or rigging external lights while towing. Some may ask why I chose this rigging and the answer is “simplicity, I want it to be as light and easy to use as possible so the wife could do it in a pinch if she had too. No heavy cross member to connect before hooking up to the tow bars, easy to adapt and can be use with Blue Ox or Roadmaster Falcon 2 tow systems Plus the price is low, which checks the boxes for me since we are retired now and money means miles and memories.

So three days have gone by and we return to C.W. in
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Entering Dawson Creek from Alaska Hwy
Liberty lake to get the slide-out fixed. A two hour drive from where we are staying, but I trusted that they could get to it and we could finally stretch out. After 40 minutes of waiting for the service desk to talk to me, we finally do the walk around and they take it back to the service bays. Where it stays for 4 hours and then we are finally given a diagnosis on what the problem is. A failed motor is preventing the slide from moving at all, thankfully I have the Good Sam's extended warranty which covers items like this because my first born child is as tall as I am and much faster. So now we return to our temporary residence 2 hours away and wait while the get approval from G.S. for the repairs. And later that evening we have company visiting that tells us of a bad experience with this particular Camping World. Not encouraging news at all when you live in the RV and can't just drop it off to wait for the repairs. In short they bought a new trailer there, service had miss-labeled hose fittings, water was connected up and the trailer
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Dawson Creek RV stop
was flooded with contents from the black water tank. Attorney was involved and by the end of summer, they had a new trailer. YIKES!

Another 4 days pass and we finally get the message to bring it in so it can be repaired, pack everything up and drive for 2 hours through Spokane lunch rush traffic. Ordinarily a challenge but construction was making it a grueling task with this large package and a car in tow. But we managed, locked the cats in the back room, disconnected the car and handed over the keys. Time to do some shopping with the wife while we wait so we ventured over to the Spokane Mall and did our best to entertain ourselves but be frugal. Julie found some baskets we needed for the cabinets and I found a few nice shirts at half price. And after about 5 hours, we returned to C.W. Of Liberty lake to find that they had the wrong motor, swearing that it was Winnebago that shipped the wrong part. It is now 5 p.m., Winnebago is long closed up for the day and everyone in the service department is heading for the door. Off we go again, in our UN-repaired Vista LX back through evening rush hour traffic and a two hour drive to await a call from them as to when the correct part would be in and when we could finally get it fixed.

We managed to have a good time with meeting friends of my Cousin and telling tales of our adventures in Alaska and our plans as full time vagabonds. Most of the time laughing and having a great time, yet when ever the subject of camping world came up there were not so funny stories about the service there. I have to say I am getting very concerned about this, 8 different people and not one of them had anything other than a bad experience with service. Okay time to see the country and take in some sites, get away from the issues of broken parts and crappy experiences. We spent some time driving around in the new Jeep Trailhawk, I found it to be a comfortable ride and it had plenty of zip when I asked it to. We drove around looking at vacant land that we might put an RV pad on and use during the summer. The
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Snow Caps in Jasper
tall pines and sweeping views are very appealing, with deer and turkey being abundant. We are finding that there are some nice lots at good prices so we may have to get an agent involved and get specific on possible summer sites. Have to see how the house sale goes and how much we get to walk away with.

The weather improved with 80 degree sunny days, so pulled out the solar panels and controller I bought for the roof top of the RV. Two Zamp Solar 160 watt panels and the 30 amp controller. Made in the US of A, these panels were perfect for mounting on the center-line of the roof between the two heat pumps. I mounted the controller near the power distribution box at the steps. This seemed like the best place which afforded easy access and needed to be within 10 ft of the batteries. It is out of the way, but visible so I can see what is going on with our charge. A heavy 2 conductor wire then was ran down the vent for the refrigerator and through the front passenger basement wall into the coach. This brings the combined power of
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Snow Capped outcropping in Jasper
the panels down to the controller. And on the roof I mounted the junction box which has plugs for 3 panels next to the vent and placed the panels so that I could walk around or between if needed. I laid everything out where I wanted it and marked the places where I needed to drill for the mounting brackets. Using “Flex-Seal” I brushed on healthy coat of white rubber where I had made my marks, pressed the pieces into place and with the proper bit, drilled holes for the mounting screws. I checked to make sure all was snug and was careful not to over tighten and strip out the holes. This process was easy and then I coated all the footings and penetrations with another healthy coat of the white rubber compound. I let it cure for a few days and inspected each footing for any cracking that would allow rain to penetrate the roof seal. Watching the output of the cells over the next few days, we were seeing and average peak charge rate of 17.8 amps which was plenty of charge to recover from what we drew running the pump, fan and inverter. Over the Memorial
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cow Elk taking a stroll.
day weekend (actually 6 days stay) the one time I ran the generator was for Julie to blow dry her hair, the rest of those staying in the camp grounds were running theirs for hours ever day.

And the weather was great for Memorial day weekend, cooling down to 55-57 degrees at night and warming to 80 about 3 pm. We elected to camp at Fort Spokane just inside the Lake Roosevelt National Park. There is a nice grassy area for picnicking, boat launch and a camp ground with about 50 sites. Restrooms and potable water are available. The dump station can accommodate two travelers and has potable water for filling the RV. We located some nice pull through sites and set up camp, over the next few days the camp filled with the weekend warriors. The camp hosts were a friendly couple and did their best to keep order; to bad they could not do anything about the young folks that could not keep their darn dogs quiet. The park rangers came through on a regular basis and were good people; we took a walk to the visitors’ center at Ft. Spokane and chatted with a gent who

Elk near Jasper
worked in Alaska. Greg works during the winter in Alaska and the summer in Washington. Really nice guy, very helpful and informative, we met him again that evening for a star gazing event held by the N.P.S. He and a few others had set up a reflector telescope and were giving people a chance to see the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. The kids really liked the program, I sat back and just took in the open sky. About 10 pm, we noticed a band of light overhead, being from Alaska I made mention of the Northern lights. Sure enough it was a slow moving display of what has recently been announced as a secondary band of the Aurora Borealis. I wish I had thought to bring the camera and do a long exposure to capture it. Julie and our new friends took turns gazing through the eye piece of the telescope and I chatted with the rangers until the presentation was over and we packed our chairs back to the car.

We broke camp on Monday and headed back to our base camp outside Davenport, to make the drive to Liberty City one last time in an effort to
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Elk have the right-of-way
get Camping World to repair the main slide out. Short version, after 4 hours we have a working slide out again. It is surprising how much room we now are enjoying and thank the Lord it had the Good Sam's extended warrant, Saved us $$$ on the repairs, so it was well worth the investment. Fueled up, topped off propane and spent our last few days with our host before we venture on. And so ends this chapter of our journeys with more to come very soon as I get into detail about the solar panel system and tell of our new travel adventures.

Til next time

Bob and Julie

Additional photos below
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Long road

Headed back toward Banff
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Banff National Park
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Frozen Waterfall
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Mountains in Banff
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Mountains in Banff
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Majestic Peaks in Banff National Park
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Banff National Park
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Banff National Park
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Banff National Park

Banff National Park

climbing the hills
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Rock sheep in the road.
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Rock sheep in the road.
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Sullivan Lake

So blue and clear
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Inviting lake along the route.
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Westbound and heading out onto the Washington Wheat Plains
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300 year old tree in Davenport Washington

16th June 2017

Wmericaheels a rolling
Slideout working, time to get the wheels rolling again and see America. Enjoy the sunshine, showers, birds and flowers. And all the other sights in between.

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