Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Week in Wasilla


The evening before we left Teklanika campground, we strolled around the two loops making note of the largest sites that were currently available. The Rambling RV Rat gang were due at Teklanika the same day we left, and our goal was to get this information to them. As we were driving out the next morning, we spied them heading our way. With a flash of our lights, we both glided to a stop, opened our driver's side windows and I slipped them the list like it was state secrets. :)

Before leaving the park we wandered through the Visitors Center spending time viewing the exhibits and watching the film. That's my favorite thing to do in a National Park, and we also made sure to stamp our N.P. Passport. We rarely remember to do that, sadly.

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One of the few times we remembered to get our passport stamped, yay!

Our new friends Bryce and Christine had told us about a great boondocking spot on the way to Wasilla that we thought would make a perfect overnight and help break up the trip. They raved about the view, so we had high expectations. The pullout is about a third of a mile off the Parks Highway, and just beyond it is the McKinley Princess Lodge. Yeah, all those cruise passengers stay there during their land excursions. Needing to turn Scoopy 180 degrees to get the optimal view, we had to get in line with the endless Princess Cruise buses and circle the lodge. It was like driving Scoopy through the drop-off lane at an airport. When we finally got ourselves properly situated and settled down for the night, we kicked back and enjoyed our freebie campspot, yes, with the fantastic view!

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Our perfect little hideaway with a great view near the McKinley Princess Lodge.

The following day we continued our journey to Wasilla, where we stayed at the Elks Lodge. We happened to snag what we thought was the best site of all, giving us a nice lake view. Our stop in Wasilla was mostly utilitarian in nature. Toadie's engine light came on just as we parked her alone the previous week in Denali, so we wanted to get that checked out. She was running sluggishly and our key kept getting stuck in the ignition. We'd had that issue before and they had to replace the whole shebang, so we hoped that part was still under warranty.

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Cloud drama from our side window at the Wasilla Elks Lodge.

While the Elks Lodge RV park was empty when we got there. It got a little cramped towards the end!

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This little kitty almost came with us one day. We opened the door and she jumped right in!

In the end, Toadie needed a new computer - hers had gone wonky. Thankfully, that spendy item was still covered under warranty. She also needed new brake pads on the front and a new ignition. It was a lot of work, but we got out of there for under $300, which we were happy about.

Scoopy also needed some attention. The issues with Travel Supreme windshields are well-documented and like many, we mostly travel with a fairly decent crack on the driver’s side. We've had it replaced once before only to have it crack again, so we've learned to live with it. Unfortunately, sometimes leveling causes such torque that the windshield just gives way and cracks further. This happened in Muncho Lake, BC at the start of our Alaskan adventure. We had hoped to get by without having to replace the glass until we returned to the lower 48, but there is now such spidering and cracking that moisture has found its way in.

For the most part, Scoopy's windshield looks like it is held in place with duct tape, though that is more to mitigate the noise than to secure it. We pay no attention to it, but while we were at Teklanika, people would literally stop and point. (Why do they do that, as though no one is inside? Hello! We can see you! We can hear you!) It finally occurred to us they were looking at our travel map, not our windshield. With the glass as is, we might have been able to finish out our Alaska trip, but we decided we'd feel safer getting it taken care of, so we got that ordered and will return to Wasilla in August to get the replacement windshield installed.

Duct tape, cracks in the windshield and our little US map in the distance.

The next appointment we set up was for Steven. He has been suffering some neck pain for the past few months and he finally decided it wasn't going to get better until he got some medical attention. We couldn't have been in a better place for this. Wasilla, for some reason, is like a medical Mecca. There is some kind of medical facility on every street corner. Steven went to the Back & Neck Center and saw Dr. Patrick Collins, who was amazing. Dr. Collins did that thing where he twists and snaps your neck and instantly relieves pressure. Except in the movies, when they do that move, it kills you. But somehow chiropractors seem to be able to do it properly and not sever your spinal chord. Afterward, the good doctor called in one of the physical therapists to work on Steven's neck and teach him exercises to help him prevent future injury. All in all it was a fantastic experience and pretty darn affordable at $60 for the entire visit!

A pain in the neck brought us here (I’m not talking about Steven)  :)

We also took the opportunity to travel into Anchorage. Our goal was a trip to Costco and Fred Meyer, but prior to that, we drove by the condo I lived in when I moved to Anchorage with my BFF Cindy in 1980. Yep, 36 years later, I still remembered our address on Nathan Drive. Our condo had floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room that looked out onto a beautiful creek. I loved when the trees were heavy with snow and the creek would flow around the horseshow bend outside our windows. The condo building has been remodeled and it's the nicest place on the block. I don't recall having a carport in 1980, but I do remember having to plug our cars in at night during the winter. I have a lot of fond memories of that place.

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Linda’s former abode and river view on Nathan Drive, Anchorage.

We did manage to take a day trip to Talkeetna, essentially a base camp for climbers and flight seeing tours, where we enjoyed browsing the gift stores and exploring the museum.


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Scenes from downtown Talkeetna.

Steven also managed an early morning photoshoot at Independence Mine State Park at Hatcher Pass. He indulged in his latest passion, pinhole photography. I'll link to his blog and let him explain that one. :)

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The views from Hatcher Pass were worth the trip even without seeing the mine!

Independence Mine State Park during a desolate early morning photoshoot.

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The remainder of Independence Mine appeared as eye candy to Steven :)

Click here for more on Steven’s adventure to Independence Mine.

Although a week of chores doesn't make for an exciting blog post, it sure feels good to get stuff done. It isn't always easy, or easy on the pocket book, to get repairs done while traveling, but we did pretty good. Now, it’s time to go play!

Next up: Kenai Peninsula!


  1. It is so nice traveling behind you guys! We get to see what we should be looking for, where the good campsite/boondocking is and where to eat!

    Thanks for the information, we cannot wait to visit these areas!

    1. Happy we finally crossed paths! It would have been terrible to come all the way to Alaska and miss each other completely!

  2. Sometimes you need a week to get stuff done. It's boring but necessary. Great pics as always!

    1. It is boring! But once it's all done, it feels good!

  3. You are having just the perfect adventure up there. Even repairs and med appointments are getting dispatched quickly and at a reasonable cost - in Alaska! The mountains from the Elks campsite are amazing. Love the little town with the Airstream (coffee?) - it looks like I expect everything would (not so much the Costco, etc). Glad Steve is all fixed up, and Toadie too!

    1. It's funny - there are lots of things up here that cost the same as we've seen in the lower 48, but then there are some things, in small communities, that cost an arm and a leg. Like that $6 loaf of plain ol' white bread we didn't buy. :)

  4. Glad you were in a place where everything could be taken care of, and not stuck out in the wild backcountry! Were you tempted to take that cute kitty on as a stowaway? :-) (p.s. What is spinach bread?)

    1. Yes, Steven is always on the lookout for a kitty! As much as I would love to have one, I just can't. Scoopy is too small. :( Spinach bread is the name of that cute little airstream food vendor. I didn't know what spinach bread was until I looked at photos from their menu. Looked delish! We brought a picnic, so no food in town for us!