In the almost two months since we left the Los Angeles area, we’ve been on a steady march up the West Coast (see the map of where we’ve been this year at Our Travels). The longest we’ve stayed in any one place during that time was one week, and many of our stays have been only two or three nights. We knew that we needed to be near Seattle for a flight back to Dallas for a few days in early May; we chose that location so that after we returned, we’d be ready to cross the Canadian border for our summer trip to Alaska.

Our route up the West Coast
Our route up the West Coast (click for live map)

That’s quite a fast travel pace for us. We prefer to spend at least a week, if not longer, at each place that we stop. These longer stays allow us to mix sightseeing with work (for me at least), household chores like cooking, cleaning and laundry, and taking care of the constant maintenance and repairs on our home-on-wheels. We just don’t want the pressure of needing to pack in a bunch of activities that we used to feel when we were “on vacation” for a limited time.

As a result of our accelerated schedule, we were both feeling a little road-weary by the time we were ready to leave Portland. And, my list of “squawks” on our rig that needed attention had gotten rather long. We knew that once we started toward Alaska, the quick pace would resume: the summer in Alaska is short, and we’d have thousands of miles to cover. So we decided to skip going back to the Oregon coast (we’ve been there before), and instead head directly to someplace where we could lay low and catch up for a couple weeks.

The Evergreen Coho SKP RV Park in Chimacum, Washington, an Escapees co-op park in the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula, fit the bill. It was relatively inexpensive, and we also knew it would be a secure place to leave our rig while we were in Dallas. And, it turned out to be beautiful–a spacious and immaculately-kept park surrounded by tall conifers, with snow-capped mountains in the distance–exactly what we needed.

Evergreen Coho RV Park panoramic view
A panoramic view of the beautiful Escapees co-op park in Washington, as seen from the roof of our RV.

We managed to stay extremely busy during our first 10 days in Chimacum, even though we played tourist for only a couple afternoons. I was beginning to stress a little over our Alaska trip, because we’d done so little planning for it, so that occupied much of our time. I first worked out a rough 98-day, 6,500-mile route and itinerary; that’s much more advance planning than we usually do, but we knew that we would need to make reservations near Denali National Park and for the ferry from Homer to Kodiak Island (where we are staying with friends), so we had to lock down some dates.

Then Cheryl went to work learning about things to do and possible places to stay in British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska. Because internet access may be spotty or non-existent along many parts of our route, we wanted to have done more legwork ahead of time. We will have a couple of great reference books–Alaska Camping and The Milepost–with us, but we didn’t want to leave everything until the last minute, because there was so much to learn. At the same time, we haven’t locked ourselves into a firm itinerary, except for the few places we have reservations; we included some unallocated days at several points along the route, so that we can stay longer somewhere if we want.

Roof of our RV
Each penetration on our RV’s roof is sealed with a caulk-like lap sealant that needs to be replaced every couple of years. Instead, I covered all those joints with a permanent sealant tape (the white strips). But first, I had to scrub years of grime from the old sealant–the dark area around the skylight at the right is one I hadn’t cleaned yet when I took this). This little task took three afternoons, but man, my arms are RIPPED now! (click for larger image)

While she was reading up on our trip, I tackled some of the maintenance items that had been languishing on my to-do list for…well, let’s just say, for too long. An RV rolling down the road is like a house that gets hit by an earthquake every few days: things are constantly breaking and in need of repair. Our electric fireplace/space heater had died several weeks ago, and needed to be replaced; the joints and seams on our roof needed to be re-sealed; a couple tire pressure sensors on our truck needed replacement; a mud dauber screen on our furnace vent had come off and needed to be replaced; the freezer needed defrosting; wheel lug nuts needed to be re-torqued; various latches needed adjustment and lubrication; and so on.

As with internet service, cell connectivity is not guaranteed along our route. So there were also many phone calls to make: our RV insurance renewal, planning for the rally we’re hosting in central Oregon for the solar eclipse in August, ferry bookings, campground research, and more. And we took advantage of plentiful bandwidth to update our GPS database, sell some stuff on eBay that was left over from last summer’s purge, and research cell phone options for Canada, among other things.

Because groceries (like everything else) will be more expensive and with less selection in Alaska, we made a marathon Walmart run to stock up on non-perishable staples to take with us. And finally, I cooked several dishes that went into that now frost-free freezer, so that we have some easy meals to enjoy on our long travel days.

Our little freezer is stuffed with food for our trip up north.
Our little freezer is stuffed with food for long driving days when we don’t have time to cook. (click for larger image)

Being in one place for a while also allowed us to have some Amazon orders shipped to us: a new electric fireplace and trim kit, a propane-fueled campfire (because we’ve discovered that many campgrounds don’t allow wood fires), a heavy-duty emergency tire repair kit (a tip we learned from watching one of the many videos by Gone With the Wynns from their own Alaska adventure), and some other staple consumables that we knew would be harder to find up north.

So now, we feel much more prepared for our Canada and Alaska adventure. And after all of that work, I think we’re ready for a vacation!

Laying Low Before Heading North
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