The CoolRVers are actually a couple of retirees, Judy and Luke Rinehimer and our 5 year old German Shepherd Dog, Miss Shady Lady. We are "extended-time" travelers with a home in Cool, California. Thanks for following along with us as we travel North America in our "rolling condo", enjoying the RV lifestyle. Your comments are always welcomed.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Valdez to Tok to Kluane Lake to Whitehorse, YT

Actually, perhaps a better name for this blog would be “STUFF HAPPENS…”

As our RVing friends know, stuff happens all the time. Water leaks, awning problems, and inoperative waste tank sensors are common conversation topics at any “Happy Hour”.  RVing friends who have traveled to Alaska know other “stuff” happens.  So Alaska travelers talk about windshield rock dings, frost heaves, and construction zones.  It is all a part of the adventure.

For us, however, we had a few new things happen just over the past couple of days that qualify as “stuff” to write about. 


Valdez was actually our last extended stop in Alaska. We actually had not planned to stay as long, but STUFF HAPPENS…

Our last blog reported on our glacier tour and all the wildlife encounters we had with bears and sea lions while in Valdez..  What I didn’t mention were a couple of things that happened to the Kings. First, their camera took an unexpected tumble and needed to be replaced at a local Radio Shack. Then the alternator died on Frank and Gloria King’s truck.  Luckily, we were in a town large enough to have a NAPA Auto Parts Store.  Frank removed the alternator, had it tested, and they determined it was bad. While they didn’t have one in stock, the were able to overnight it from Anchorage. No problem, we are on a flexible schedule, so Frank was able to replace it the next day.  DOUBLE-STUFF HAPPENS…

IMG_6282In the meantime, Luke used the extra day to do projects, including resealing the roof seams.  Unfortunately, the beautiful, sunshiny day turned to light rain.  So out came the duct tape to cover the exposed seams and he crossed his fingers he could finish the job the next morning. He did. STUFF HAPPENS…


Tok, Alaska is a unique little crossroads village located 90 miles north of the Canadian border that almost everyone visits twice – going INTO Alaska, and EXITING Alaska.  Our drive from Valdez had us repeating part of the Richardson and Glenn Highways before continuing to the Tok Cutoff.  We were thankful that the weather had been great going to Valdez, because the drive out was cloudy and the rains eventually caught us.

Here are a few scenes from out our window on different legs of the trip: 

Matanuska Glacier and the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in the distance.


Wrangell Range and the Copper River Valley Overlook going towards McCarthy and Kennecott.


Keystone Canyon and Worthington Glacier


Horseshoe Falls and Anderson Falls (seen from tour boat)

Unwanted Scenes

While Alaska is a beautiful state, the weather takes its toll on the roads.  Like most places with severe weather, fixing potholes is a summer activity.  In Northern Canada and everywhere in Alaska, fixing the damage caused by the “frost heaves” is a  never-ending job.


Flat Tire Time

Thank goodness for our Tire-SafeGuard tire pressure monitoring system.  While we were driving a long stretch of “fixed” graveled road, our monitor alarm sounded and indicated we had only 11 lbs. of pressure on one of the towed car tires.  We found a wide shoulder, pulled over to confirm the flat (and not just a sensor issue), and then backed down onto a side road and a safe place to change the tire.  It took more time to remove the bikes and the bike rack from the spare tire carrier than to actually change the tire.

“Star” was on bear watch while Luke changed the tire.



We were good to go and met up with the Kings at the Chevron Station in Tok where we had planned to park for the night.  The tire was repaired and replaced the next morning. STUFF HAPPENS…


As I said earlier, this leg has seen different types of “stuff” happen. After we got our tire fixed and the motorhome filled with fuel, we had a quick farewell visit from Judi and Gene Curp.  We knew they were in the area so we said our good-byes after everyone was hooked up to go.  The Kings had placed their dog Shadow in their truck while they said their good-byes but Shadow had other ideas.  She stepped on the door lock and successfully locked out Gloria and Frank. Gloria’s  purse, all their keys, phone, and their Coach-Net Road Assistance Card were out of reach.  Gene offered his cell phone while Gloria sought help at the gas station.  An AT&T service guy became the savior and got the door unlocked before further help was needed.  Shadow apparently just wanted to be part of the good-byes.  It took a while, however, to get out of the dog house.  STUFF HAPPENS…

Kluane Lake

Our destination for the remainder of the day’s drive was Kluane Lake, a beautiful lake surrounded by spectacular mountain ranges.  This was another place we saw in great weather heading north. This day we had cloudy and raining weather that obscured the scenery.

Our Escapees’ Club “Days End” files (places to stay for little or no cost) indicated we could boondock (dry camp) at the Kluane Lake Scenic Overlook parking lot so we were home for the night.  (By morning there about 7-8 RVs also parked in the lot.)


No Water

To the King’s surprise when they turned on their water faucet, the tank was empty.  Apparently the rough roads or an object had broken the drain plug on their 5th wheel’s water tank.  Frank was able to gerry-rig a new plug and we were able to pump water from our tank to theirs so they were set until they could get a replacement plug in Whitehorse.  STUFF HAPPENS…

No Wipers

The final mechanical glitch on this leg of the trip happened just as we were arriving at Pioneer Campground in Whitehorse, Yukon.  We had been driving almost all day in the rain and Luke had noticed the motorhome’s windshield wipers were sounding different.  Well, they quit right in front of the campground. Luke and Frank spent a lot of time troubleshooting the problem and the wipers are “sort of” working.

In addition to praying for decent driving weather, Luke has put Rain-X on the windshield so we hope any wet stuff will roll off until we get the problem solved when we get down to the lower-48.  STUFF HAPPENS…


Body Revolts

While not mechanical set-backs, a cold or flu bug is working its way through our foursome.  It started with Gloria, then I got it, and now Luke has it.  We all have slightly different ailments and it appears that rest is the best cure.  We’ve slowed down this weekend and hope Frank stays healthy.  We won’t travel when sick.  BODY STUFF HAPPENS…

Good Stuff Happens, Too

Meeting friends along the way can do a lot for dealing with “stuff.”  RVers love to tell their own stuff stories.  On Saturday we caught up with Dennis/Carol Hill and Marilyn/Larry Forbes for Happy Hour. Sunday, the Hills moved out and Sharon/Don Del Rosario moved in for another Happy Hour.  Saturday night we also had another visit from Judi and Gene Curp who were parked at a nearby campground.  We are all headed south so the connections will continue.

IMAG0471 - CopyIMAG0474

We also had dinner in Whitehorse at the highly recommended IMAG0465IMAG0466Klondike Rib and Salmon.  The restaurant is directly across the street from the popular “Frantic Follies Vaudeville Revue” so our timing could not have been worse. 

IMAG0467The hostess said it would be a 20 minute wait – but it was more like 50 minutes, so we were grumpy ol’ campers.  The food WAS good.



There were just a few wildlife sighting the last few IMG_6338days. 

One brown bear ran across the Alaskan Highway between the Kings and us.  By the time I got the camera ready, the little guy was moving up a hill that folks use to write messages with white rocks. He’s the black blur past the signpost.

Gloria spotted this moose having lunch on our drive into Valdez last week.




On our return trip we spotted a different (?) moose who was too intent on bottom grazing to raise her head for a photograph.




Sue and Doug said...

Stuff surely does happen..that is quite the list!...thanks for sharing the ups and downs..trials and tribulations of life on the road in Alaska!!

Sharon Del Rosario said...

Yep, Stuff sure does happen, and we try not to let it spoil our adventures. You've had more than your share. Let's hope things run more smoothly now.

Phil and Cynthia Devonshire said...

Yep, we know. It is all part of the memories. Paula and Tom Nankivell are in Dease Lake on the Cassiar Highway waiting for a new radiator! Heard of another RV that broke the drive train of their MH on a frost heave, had to wait for Tuesday for a tow because of the holiday!