North to Alaska (again) – Part 1

We went to Alaska in 2019. It was a kind of ‘spur of the moment’ thing. We saw the RV’ing to Alaska group was having a 4th of July get-together near Anchorage. We signed up and made that a target for our initial travels.

Our friends, the Chen’s wanted to go to Alaska so we decided to go with them this year. We made a decision on a specific date to be at Denali National Park and used that as our target for this trip.

We left our place in Arizona on May 26 and had scheduled to leave Great Falls, MT with the Chen’s on June 19. This gave us time to head to California to visit family. The first stop was to see our youngest grandchild and her family (we also got to see our oldest grandchild here also). Here is Roxie taking Charlee out for a walk in her trike.

The next stop was the middle grandchild, Atlas, and his family. When Hannah and Roxie were doing something, we boys (me, Lukas, and Atlas) went to a park to wait and could overlook San Francisco.

As our whirlwind tour continued, we saw Roxie’s sister (Desiree) and her daughter (Tiarah). We were there for Tiarah’s high school graduation. She graduated from Central Valley High School which, ironically, is the same high school I graduated from 45 years previously. It was still held in the same venue.

After all this California ‘love’ we headed north. The first stop was Collier State Park in Oregon. It was by a beautiful creek.

We headed to Washington and stayed at Charbonneau Park, an Army Corp of Engineers campground. We spent a couple of nights there and did the ubiquitous laundry loads. Here is Roxie telling me something.

We turned east to get into Montana and eventually to Great Falls. We also stopped a few nights to see a family friend and his family, Jared.

Unfortunately, Jared’s family had to leave before we got there to attend to an ill relative. We are sorry we missed them but are glad they were able to go. Jared lives next to Post Falls, so we went to see the falls.

One more travel night and we made it to Great Falls and met up with the Chen’s. They had an extra passenger, their daughter Maya. We knew she was coming along on the trip for half of it. She would fly back home midway through the trip. Great Falls also has many waterfalls around the area.

George is king of the selfies.

We were off the try to get into Canada. I took a shotgun with me the last time and decided to do so again this time. You should declare, on the US side, that you are the owner of the shotgun and use a form that states such. This took a bit of time as the border agent came out to our trailer and verified it, but the longest time was waiting until an agent asked us what we needed.

Now the Canadian side. The initial questioning went easy. The agent did ask about guns and I had already said I needed to get a permit for the shotgun so she never asked about any other guns, which I did not have. Pull over to the side and come into the office.

I got a great agent for my shotgun permitting. All went smoothly and it took some time also. But we were in Alberta.

There was a caribou farm of some type on the side of the road and Roxie had an interest in them as they had a curiosity with her.

We headed north to get to Dawson Creek, stayed in small campgrounds (municipal ones if we could) and avoided large towns as we could. We did make a stop in a Calgary Costco and saw something very Canadian.

We stayed for a few nights in Morinville, AB, just north of Edmonton.

We went to Edmonton for a few days to see the sights. At the University we were able to do some solar observations (sunspots, corona, etc.).

A large replica Stanley Cup.

The city skyline.

And, of course, the largest mall in North America.

Back on the road and after a few more nights we made it where all Alaska travellers want to take a photo. Mile 0.

As mentioned previously, Roxie and I were in Alaska in 2019. However, I went to Alaska with my family in 1964. It was my dad, mom, sister and me. We drove from Southern California and had a total of 9 flat tires. Some of that 1964 story is here. I tried to recreate many of the 1964 photos that I have found. Here is the Mile 0 photo from 1964 (I am the short one).

Some trailer maintenance

After the fall trip, I knew that I had at least a water leak to find, remember this picture?

This was an obvious leak, other clues were the water pump cycling on and off (losing pressure). I wasn’t too concerned since I didn’t see any water inside the trailer, coming under the wall where the pump is. One time I saw liquid coming from under the wall, we were traveling east to Klamath Falls, OR. We stopped at a pull off and I saw it. I was not happy. When we got to our nightly stop, I investigated. There were no other symptoms. I pulled up the closet floor (you will see more later) and found an old potato that had gone so bad, it was liquified. That was NOT the issue this time.

We were headed to California for our holiday visits with family and I wanted to fix it by then. So I removed the floor in the closet and found the leak. The blue arrow shows the water drops and the red arrow shows where it was going, then out the bottom of the trailer:

I made a replacement segment of pipe and replaced the bad section:

Airstream, in its’ infinite wisdom, pretty much must have placed the floor of the closet on top of all the components underneath. I guess they thought no one would put any weight on the floor, even if it is the largest storage area in the trailer! Once replaced there was no leakage but the floor still rested on the pipes, even more so now since I made it just a hare longer. I stopped the leak but did not address the cause. Since we were leaving later on a short trip, that didn’t need too much in the closet, I just did a quick and dirty fix, with the plan to do a better fix later. I put a small vertical support piece and two 2x4s to elevate the floor over the pipes.

Our holiday trip came and went without event. Well, a minor event. Pulling out the trailer from our son’s backyard, the gate was not secured well enough and the latch introduced itself to the back panel.

Ouch! Oh well, it is just cosmetic and shows we do use our trailer.

We had an upcoming trip starting in June and I had a few projects to get going on. Here we go.

I had both 30amp and 50amp outlets set up at home but they were on the same pole. We had a carport, for the trailer and truck, on order for quite a while, and in anticipation of that, I had to move the 50amp outlet close to the carport. The source of the electricity was south of our garage on the power pole next to the house. I had to get the wires to the back of the garage on the west side of it. Since it was 50amp, the wiring had to be 6/3 and I opted for direct burial. 6/3 wire is really thick and very stubborn. I knew our son was coming to visit so I needed to prepare it for him to help me.

The first stage was to get the wire from the power pole into the garage. Trenching ensues. Now I might not have buried it deep enough but shoveling is not fun.

I did use conduit to get into the garage and from the power panel.

Here you can see the conduit coming from the breaker box and the current 30amp outlet (for guests).

When our son showed up to visit, with his family, I put him to work. I got the wire into the garage but now we had to go up the inside wall (not sheetrocked), over the rafters, and down another inside wall. This was non-trivial with that stiff wire. Eventually, the 50amp outlet was in place.

We had a carport installation scheduled for right after we came home from the holidays, the first week of January. We got a call on the way home that the crew was sick and they needed to reschedule. OK. Everyone that they couldn’t get to would get pushed back a few days or a week. Nope, that is not how the company decided to do it. They pushed us back a full month! Not very fair for them to do that but what can we do? Eventually, it was installed, and here is a picture of it with its normal inhabitants.

Next! We had an air conditioner replaced a little while back and installed a Soft Start component to that A/C. This component allows the air conditioner to take less amperage to start up. Starting is the biggest electrical jolt when running an A/C. These devices should make an easier life for the A/C and allow operation on less amperage, possibly even with a generator.

I saved the Soft Start from the old A/C and purchased a new one for the second A/C we have. This way we are covered on both. The first installation on the 2nd A/C went perfectly and helped quite a bit (you can tell by the sound). The second one was going well until I had to remove a connector from an existing capacitor. I pulled off the soldered multi-connector on it. I was able to get a replacement from Amazon.

Here is the box that contains the Soft Start circuitry.

The next step was to get the A/C’s running on generators. I already had a Honda EU2000 but that wasn’t big enough. Sams Club had a bigger one for a good price, but it wasn’t big enough either. So we run them in parallel. You can connect two generators together to combine their power. It did work and we could run one A/C with them, I didn’t try two but that might work.

When you run two generators in parallel, you connect them together with a set of wires (you can get that a Harbor Freight) which is simple enough. However, you also have to connect to the separate ground connectors that are on each generator. Quick disconnects might have worked but the Honda had a difficult connector. I found, on YouTube, another way to connect the ground. By using a standard outlet connector and only connecting the ground wire, you can simply plug the ground into any of the available power outlets on each generator and it works just like the ground screws externally. This shows the parallel cables and the streamlined ground connector.

On to the next one. This had to do with stabilizing the floor that created the water leak. The temporary fix was OK but it didn’t allow me to put any weight on the floor. I needed to be able to use that area. I created a framework to support the floor. Under that framework, I supported it with 4 simple posts (down the middle), to support the cantilevered part (to the top), I secured it under the side wall (to the bottom). It is very sturdy.

To secure the floor to the new frame, I used some Tee Nuts and countersunk screws.

One thing we both like when traveling is ice for our drinks. Roxie really loves it. We don’t have enough room in our freezer in the trailer and it is inconvenient there so we carry a Yeti 45 with us. We purchased it in 2017 in Pennsylvania when we started full-timing. I normally put it on a couple of milk crates in the back of the truck which raises it where I can reach it over the truck tailgate. The issue is that it will fall over and slide around since nothing holds it there. I decided to build a platform for it. I wanted it the same height as the milk crates but with a lip around to hold the chest from tipping and sliding. I also wanted to ensure a toolbox or other item would fit under it. Here is the result:

We are preparing for a trip to Alaska with our friends, George and Marcia. On the last trip, we took in 2019, the only real issue we had was one of our winterizing valves cracking and leaking. The story is here. I thought I would do something to protect that part of our trailer, along with our freshwater drain. I also noticed I was missing part of the belly pan below. Here is the unprotected view:

I decided to get a piece of aluminum flat bar and make some protection.

I attached them with VHB tape and covered that with aluminum tape. I didn’t want to use screws or rivets due to putting a hole in one of the tanks under the belly pan OR having part of the belly pan ripped open if I hit something. This way if these hit, they would be ‘sacrificial’. I also covered the hole in the belly pan. We will see how it goes.

There were a couple more minor fixes. With our ’92 trailer, I put in a SHUB. This is a shower door that retracts into itself. It was much nicer than the accordion folding plastic door that was original. On this trailer, when the shower door broke (not under warranty) I replaced it with a SHUB also. It has worked great for 8-9 years. Recently it started leaking under the front edge. I solved it by recaulking it according to their instructions. The caulk was really old. Here it is cleaned before caulking:

One last one and then we will go. This trailer has a really nice storage area under the bed, accessible from the outside. However, since the trailer is now so old, the locks are no longer available for this door. Naturally, one of them started failing. There is, however, are kit that replaces the old locks with the new, readily available ones and fills in the gaps caused by the difference between the two.

As an aside, I was able to grind down all the Olympic rivets that I had replaced around the trailer so they look much nicer now, like above.

With that, we are on our way to Montana to meet our friends and start our trek.