It is truly amazing how quickly the year has flown by. We had big plans for the year and fortunately we were able to pull them off. If you have been following our blog, you know that we sold our house and dispersed our belongings to travel full time in our RV. It was a great decision. We have now been “on the road” for one year and a half and we have no regrets. We have had many surprises, but none greater than to learn that thousands of people, young and old, are doing the same thing.
We stayed most of the winter in Arizona and enjoyed it much more than we thought we would. After getting used to everything being “brown” we took advantage of the wonderful weather last winter and completely understood why so many other RVers were doing the same thing.
We were parked for a while near the town of Casa Grande, AZ which is close enough to Phoenix and Tucson to be able to visit for the day. Several of our Phoenix highlights included the Musical Instrument Museum, the Heard Museum, and the Desert Botanical Garden. We also had a great surprise when our good friends Steve and Barb invited us over to celebrate Thanksgiving with them. It was great eating outside for Thanksgiving!
Unfortunately, getting items repaired on a RV especially in the busy season is challenging to say the least. We spent an extra six weeks in the Phoenix area waiting on repairs. The hydraulic pistons that push and retract our Bighorn slide outs failed on both sides. This was of course a showstopper and we had to remain parked until they were fixed. Some repair people who realized that the Bighorn was still under warranty refused to work on it to avoid the hassle of working with the manufacturers. That did not help.
We were able to make lemonade out of lemons and had a great winter. There were also several things we planned to do that we had to save for later. One, was to visit Quartzite, AZ in January for the huge gathering (they claim 2 million people arrive there in winter) of RVers who descend on this small town each year. You will need to google this to see how enormous this event is. Our friends who went had a great experience. Well, there’s always next time.
Other day trips included the Picacho Peak State Park with its iconic peak that can be seen from the highway for many miles when traveling from Tucson to Phoenix. Another fun afternoon is to visit the world’s largest skydiving center which is located in the very town we were parked.
With the Bighorn repaired, we headed toward Benson, AZ to an Escapees Park there. From this location we were able to visit Bisbee, Tombstone, San Xavier del Bac Mission, and the Titan II Missile Museum among other things. We really enjoyed the funky little town of Bisbee and thought that the “Bisbee 1000” was a great idea. We climbed as many of the steps through town as possible! This was another advantage of full-timing, as this “out of the way place” is one we would have probably skipped on a short vacation.
When it started to warm up in northern Arizona, we headed that way. We stayed in Prescott Valley, Cottonwood (near Sedona), Camp Verde (boondocking), and Lake Havasu. One of highlights was the “red rock” region around the Sedona area. It makes for some wonderful photos and has so many places to explore. I feel that you could make many trips to this area and have a new experience each time. Staying south in the Cottonwood and Camp Verde allows you to avoid the crowded area of Sedona. Regardless, you should expect to deal with a lot of traffic, as this region is in no way a secret. In addition, you should make reservations far ahead of time unless you plan on boondocking. During this time, we were also able to catch up with our new friends Sally and Peter, Glenn and Marsha, and John and Karen.
The Prescott and Prescott Valley areas were especially fun with the can’t miss day trip to Watson Lake Park. The tourist office on the Prescott downtown square was great and gave us tons of ideas of things to do. Since we are piddlin’ we had to put a bunch of them on our “return visit” list. We thought that April was a great time to go as it had warmed up considerably with just had a chill in the mornings.
One of the weeks that we had booked even before we had left our previous home base of Virginia was the RV Dreams Rally in Pahrump, NV. The event was located in the nicest RV park we have ever stayed in, the Nevada Treasure. To our big surprise, some new friends that we had made in Arizona this past winter were staying at the campground too. We were able to get together with Deb and Ce and renew our acquaintance. I know that you must be skeptical, but it is amazing how often we meet up with friends again and again full timing.
The rally was our jumping off point to accomplish a serious bucket list item, RVing to Alaska! We have always wanted to go to Alaska and now was the perfect time to go. We were able to spend the entire summer there. We did not want to have to rush from the lower 48 to Alaska and knew that the trip through Canada would be great trip within itself. We think we made the right decision. Being able to take our time and make frequent stops worked for us. We rarely traveled past three in the afternoon and took our time. Stopping early snagged us a campsite at any of the “first-come first-served” provincial campgrounds we visited.
Places in Canada, like Jasper National Park are worthy of an extended trip by themselves. We made several posts about this amazing area. Highlights include the Jasper Skytram and Maligne Lake. The entire “Icefields Parkway” is a Canadian beauty. We said to ourselves that if we did not journey any farther we would have had a great trip.
Much of the long highway though the Yukon Territory was amazingly isolated and peaceful, its solitude was only broken up by the city of Whitehorse. The entire journey, starting at “Mile Zero” at Dawson Creek, is a history lesson in the war-time construction of the Alaska Highway, with many locations having exhibits or even museums dedicated to it.
Planning a trip to Alaska by RV does not require extensive planning. We were advised not to make reservations far in advance and only did so for the Denali National Park and one Canadian holiday. We talked to folks that regretted having set reservations because this kept them from having the flexibility that they ended up wanting. Remember that you will probably want to make some changes depending on the weather. Denali NP is the one place that you really need to plan ahead. It can also be somewhat challenging to figure it out.
One of our most popular posts this summer was how to plan to visit the wonderful backcountry campground, Teklanika, in the Denali National Park. Reservations are required and you get the true feeling of being able to do something special. The ranger at the river checkpoint on the way to Teklanika exclaimed, “You Won the Golden Ticket.” We saw an abundance of wildlife and fortunately the enormous mountain itself.
One of the advantages of being able to RV to Alaska is being able to meet so many of the locals that make Alaska home year-round. I was amazed at how proud they are of their state and how much they enjoyed living there. We experienced multiple acts of kindness, such as the couple that have their own fish wheel giving us gifts of packaged salmon that they had produced. We just recently enjoyed the last of this present at Christmas with our family.
Coming soon, part two of our recap.