Journals, Photos and Videos

A Great Weekend

We just spend a super w/e with our kids and grandkids as they stopped in and stayed to have a fun time and say goodbyes. Geoffrey and Colette came down on Thursday (it nice to be self-employed) and stayed in the RV until Sunday. Andi, Ellie and Sammie joined us on Friday evening and also stayed through Sunday. Greg, Gwenan, George and Vera joined us on Saturday and Sunday as did Doug, Catherine, Luke and Liam. Matt, Tanja, Izabel, Bridget and Abigail we unable to make it.

Saturday evening we feasted on some excellent ribs that Greg brought and BBQ’ed as well as the last of our 2009 Alaska salmon. It was a great meal and a great time.

As you might guess, not a whole lot got done in the RV but that fell way down on our priority list.


That was an emergency warning bell!

We went down to the camper to see if we made it through a miserable overnight cold snap. What could an 11° morning do to an empty but un-winterized RV?

Well - it could freeze and snap the plastic elbows on the bypass valve. The floor of the basement had a significant puddle of water that necessitated taking all of our goodies out. We had to remove a panel to gain access to the plumbing area and do some trouble-shooting that was easier than I expected. It turned out that all 3 elbows broke and one snapped off leaving nothing to grab to unscrew it from the valve.

After much diligence, we determined that we had to replace, not only the elbows, but alsothe valve. We couldn’t track down Heartland’s specific valve, but we found a good brass alternative and installed it. The basement is still dry and we are ready to reload and organize the basement.

The Transfer Tank

Big day. We picked up our Dodge Ram from Ranch Hand in Colorado Springs after they installed a 50 gallon fuel transfer tank from Transfer Flow. For those of you unfamiliar with the transfer tank, it is an auxiliary fuel tank to provide more range and security when driving through unpopulated areas like those we encounter on our trek to Alaska. As you can see from the photo, in is very unobtrusive and even allows us to keep the tonneau cover.

The gauge installed on the dash provides us with available fuel info in both the main tank as well as the auxiliary. One of the advantages is that we will be able to locate the least expensive fuel as we proceed north.

Another is that we will avoid having to get fuel where it is particularly expensive and we're unsure about our ability to make it to a more acceptable fuel stop. This is especially true in Canada. We want to reduce out fuel purchases as much as possible in Canada since their fuel costs are even higher than those in the US.

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Our range with this tank should approach 900 miles - not bad.

What a day

It was a great day weather-wise and this allowed us to get back into the preparations groove. We were able to reload the goodies that we had removed to make the plumbing repairs. It fact, we were able to do it much more systematically which resulted in a much more efficient load. img_0021

We also got the drawers and cabinets in the kitchen lined and reorganized. This allowed us to get some more miscellaneous kitchen item put away.

We got the tires uncovered and the tire pressure checked. While under the slide, we also sprayed silicon on the slides for a smoother operation.

One of the more challenging tasks is the load the bicycles on the bike rack on the ladder. This sounds easy but it always presents weird issues. Today was no exception. The biggest challenge was to enclose the bikes in a cover. It stubbornly refused to be zipped. We finally overpowered the cover and succeeded in securing them after about 45 minutes.

As we were wrapping it up for the day, Dimas (our way too thoughtful neighbor) came over and volunteered to “help” us put “Roadwrap” on the front cap of the RV. This is a thick Saran Wrap like material that adheres to the cap to protect it from bug and other road junk. Then when we arrive at our destination, we remove the Roadwrap and end up with a pristine Bighorn logo.

Dimas has LOTS of experience applying vinyl logos and his expertise was evident in the way that he was able work with the Roadwrap. Last summer we used it on our return trip from Maine and, although the job we did paled in comparison to Dimas’ efforts, it still worked very well.

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A bit of a delay but we're ready

After our 2009 drive to Alaska, we have become very weather sensitive. So we have been constantly studying the weather for our various route alternatives.

We kept pushing back our departure based on weather in and around our Rockies passes. Just to get started, we have to cross 1 or 2 10-11,000 foot passes depending on the route. And after encountering snow on a couple of “minor” passes in British Columbia while pulling a 38 ft RV we’ve opted to delay our departure until everything looked perfect for the first few days.

So, call it chicken or call it expedient, this time we are choosing a route that minimizes exposure to the whims of high country/northern weather and instead choosing a western route that takes us to the Alaska Highway west of those yucky experiences or 2009.

We do expect to encounter other challenges but hopefully snow won’t be one of them. Road conditions will be the most likely unpleasantness. And, if we are lucky, the sights that we experienced in 2004 on this route will more than compensate for the challenges.

Tomorrow is the big day!
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