Summer 2017 RVing Recap: California

Day 57:

Of all 50 states, we have undoubtedly spent the most time RVing in our sister state of California. It’s “our” beach and vacation-land away from home. San Diego is about 6 hours from where we live so it makes it an easy place to head, even if you only have a few days. I could plan a whole separate post all about California RVing – best places to stay, RV friendly beaches and coastal routes, national parks, theme parks…you name it! Message me if that’s something you’d like to see!

For now our trip through California was going to be a short one. We were quickly approaching the end of summer and our kids were due back at the end of the week for meet the teacher open house at their school, followed by placement assessments and their first day back the following Wednesday. Where did summer go?? Since we’ve done California a dozen times we decided as a family that we wanted to make use of our annual fun passes at Seaworld San Diego and take a day there and then take a beach day before we crossed back into Arizona.

On Day 56, we had crossed from Oregon into California and then drove right up until it started to get dark to arrive in one of our favorite places to stay in northern California – The Avenue of the Giants!

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The Avenue of the Giants is a scenic drive off of old Highway 101, which parallels Freeway 101 with its 51,222 acres of redwood groves. It is surrounded by Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which has the largest remaining stand of virgin redwoods in the world. Some fun facts about it (courtesy of the Save the Redwoods League):

  • The Coast Redwoods grow only in a small coastal range from Southern Oregon, to the Big Sur coastline in Northern California.
  • The tallest redwood, Hyperion, is 379 feet tall – the height of a 37 story building!  It is estimated to be 700 to 800 years old.
  • The widest redwood is 27 feet across at its base – equivalent to two VW bugs parked bumper-to-bumper.
  • The oldest Coast Redwoods are over 2,000 years old.  Some of the redwoods alive today sprouted in the days of the Roman Empire.

A few trips back we discovered this full service RV park right in the heart of The Avenue of the Giants, just steps away from the Immortal Tree (which is 950 years old)! We were lucky when we called as we were driving in that they had one spot open for the night. It was nestled against the forest lined with blackberry bushes!

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The girls had so much fun picking through and finding a few ripe ones. We were still early in the season and most of them had a few weeks to go before they were ready.

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We walked over to the Immortal Tree for some photos. A portion of it lays beside it and the kids all climbed up for a photo.

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We took a drive to a few of the nearby groves for some photos.

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The wide angle lens is doing some freaky stretching with our legs here, but we were trying to get some perspective on these trees!

We took our chalkboard photo and then we were back on the road, south bound! Today we decided to just push it as late as we could so we could cover a lot of miles.

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So many vineyards!! And then we passed right by San Francisco and it was really hard to not to stop and take a few days. Skyline and bridges from a distance are all we get on this trip!

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We ended up making it all the way to Lebec, somewhere between Bakersfield and LA, dry camping in a dirt lot off of the Flying J Travel Center. It was late and we just needed to get some sleep so we could pick up and make it to San Diego in the morning!

Day 58:

Since it was dark when we got in last night, we didn’t realize what a glamorous location we had chosen for the night! Hello, Lebec!

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And then it was a short drive that morning on congested Los Angeles freeways to make our way to one of our favorite spots in all of California.

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Traffic? Eh. Couldn’t care less.

Before we knew it, we were breathing in the clean San Diego air and turning off the I-5 onto the 75, otherwise known as the Coronado Bay Bridge that leads to Coronado Island.

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Coronado has fantastic RV camping on Silver Strand State Beach! You park right against the sand with the ocean just steps away. They have water and electric hook-ups, a dump station on site, and although the sites are very close together, the view and proximity to the ocean is unbeatable! We come here several times a year just to spend full days on the beach. The direct oceanfront sites book up as much as a year in advance on popular holidays, so make sure you make reservations early!

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This is one of those occasions when we didn’t make advance reservations and there were no RV spaces available. Fortunately there is plenty of day parking available so we were still able to pull right up along the sand and set up day camp for playtime on the beach!

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After being in such cold places all summer, the kids were dying to get into some warmer water and do a little body surfing!

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Silver Strand State Beach is such a good one for families! The waves are small, it is shallow quite a ways out, and it’s rarely busy compared to other San Diego beaches.

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We stayed until the sun set over the Pacific ocean!

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Then we drove the RV over to our home for the next few days, the Mission Bay RV Resort! This park is in a great location on the bay and just around the block from Seaworld, so it’s a favorite of ours when we know we’ll be visiting the theme park.

It’s also close to a lot of great restaurants near Pacific Beach. Tonight we decided we were craving some fish tacos – so the Pacific Beach Fish Shop was where we stopped in for a late dinner.

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They have a delicious and fresh menu – and my fish taco and chowder were amazing! We also loved the casual vibe and being able to eat outside on the patio since we still had sea salty hair and sand in our toes!

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Our day ended with late night fro-yo across the street from the fish restaurant before we returned to the RV for the night.

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Day 59:

Our last full day of vacation was upon us! We wanted to end things on a fun note, so we headed over to Seaworld for the day!

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To say Charlotte was amazed with the sea life would be an understatement. She was entranced by these big beautiful creatures of the sea!

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We love that Seaworld doesn’t have the crowds of the bigger theme parks, and we are always able to get right on all of the coasters. That drop in Journey to Atlantis gets me every time!

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While the big kids and I ride Manta, Avery loves to feed the mantra rays with Daddy. She could spend hours talking to and petting these guys!

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When it got dark, Seaworld transformed into a glow world with their Electric Ocean festival. There was live music and dancing, and black lights and glow sticks everywhere! So much fun!

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We stayed until close, unwilling the end the night….our last night of vacation.

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Day 60:

On the road again, this time home bound! For the first time in 60 days, we crossed state lines back into our home state of Arizona!

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We were home late afternoon, exhausted, and feeling ‘jet lagged’ a bit as strange as that may sound. But when you’ve been away from home for so long, and then you are suddenly back, there is this strange sensation of “was that all a dream?” We actually had a meet the teacher event at the kid’s school just several hours after coming in so we were immediately thrust back into a bit of normal life with no time to come down from all of our traveling.

Coming back to normal routine was hard. We missed being so close together, and yet we were happy to have our own space as well, as strange as that paradox sounds. I missed my large bathroom and was relishing in the thought of a bubble bath. It was nice having Charlotte sleeping upstairs in her own bedroom after sharing our room for so long. And it was nice to not have to watch how much water we were using as you do when you are watching your tank capacity all summer, and to have dishwashers again after hand washing for months!

I jumped head first into planning because my type A personality requires that I am always planning for something. And we were of course discussing our next trip because we already missed our life on the road!

Fast forward to present day- as it is already MAY 2018 in several days and writing these updates has been a slow going process. It is strange to think this was nearly a year ago, and it has felt like the fastest moving year yet! We are already packing up to leave in less than 3 weeks for our next summer of traveling! The kids have grown so much! Seeing how fast it all goes, we feel so incredibly blessed to be fortunate enough to do this with our children while they are young. This concept is not lost on us.

We’ve made some RV modifications in the last few weeks in preparation for another summer with slightly older kids. Charlotte will be 2 in several months and is quickly outgrowing her pack and play set-up, so Adam decided to build a third bunk bed for her to transition into this summer! I’m working on a post about how we did that, and I’m looking forward to sharing our journey this summer in real time! Join us for a summer in New York City, the outer banks of North Carolina, beautiful southern cities of Charleston and Savannah, and a festive fourth of July in our nation’s capital – Washington D.C.!! We can’t wait!

Summer 2017 RVing Recap: Coastal Oregon

Day 51:

Today we left Vancouver and Canada and crossed back into the lower 48.

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The Port of Entry into Blaine, WA was crowded, but border patrol moved the cars through quickly and efficiently. The hardest part was driving through the very narrow lanes with our rv!

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We had planned on spending a few days here in Washington and visiting with some of our friends who live in the Seattle area… but as luck would have it, they were vacationing in Arizona – in our home state while we were in theirs!

So we decided since we’ve done the Seattle area several times before we would pass right on through and get to Oregon. There is so much more we want to do in Washington that we decided we would plan another trip up here and really take our time at the national parks and beautiful and charming coastal towns.

The only stop we made was for lunch in Issaquah at the RAM restaurant & brewery. I had a Santa Fe burger with roasted green chilies and a hometown blonde ale to wash it down. It ended up being one of the top 5 burgers of the trip, and the beer was pretty great, too!

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Also, Charlotte discovered ranch dressing at this lunch and it kept her happy enough that we could enjoy our entire lunch! (Don’t judge. If it means a quiet lunch for us and the rest of the restaurant, we’ll take it!)

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We drove into the night, and ended up crossing into Oregon over the long Astoria bridge, and then trying to find a spot at four different rv parks before finally ending up in a Petco parking lot north of Seaside. The only thing about traveling without a schedule is running a risk of popular destinations being fully booked, but we always make it work! Tomorrow kicks off our week along the coast of beautiful Oregon!

Day 52:

We woke up in the strip mall of a Petco and called around to all the nearby rv parks. July is their busy season, so most places were booked, but we were able to find space in Rockaway Beach, just south of Cannon Beach and Seaside, where we knew we would be spending our next few days.

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There was also a drive-thru truck wash on the way, which gave us the opportunity to wash some of the grime that remained from our trek down from Alaska.

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After parking the rv in it’s home for the next few days we headed to the stores to do some back to school shopping for the kids, knowing that we would be arriving home several days before the start of the new school year.

By the time we were done with our shopping haul, it was dinner time, so we hit up the new Seaside Brewing Company.

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We were seated on the top deck overlooking the main strip of Seaside. The weather was perfect! We are slowly thawing out a bit from the great north.

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We ordered oyster shooters, fish tacos, and tried one of their made-on-site beers. The kids were not sure what to think about the oysters. Instead of shot glasses of Bloody Mary’s with oysters in them, these shooters were just cocktail sauce, horseradish, and lemon.

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Everything was delicious and it was a great experience!

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On the way back to the rv, we stopped for our chalkboard photo at a viewing stop along the 101 (we were still a day off on our chalkboard count and didn’t figure it out until we returned from our trip and I sorted through the photos). I’m telling, there isn’t a bad view from anywhere along this coast! Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous!

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Day 53:

Today we started off our day with breakfast in Seaside at our favorite breakfast stop when we are in Oregon – Pig ‘N Pancake! We actually had breakfast here for the next couple of days. It’s a tradition every time we come through the state.

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Then I took my older girls for a morning of some pampering while the boys (and Charlotte) went to get spiffy at the barbers and then hit up the Costco to do some grocery shopping!

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We had our nails done for family photos on the beach that evening at Beyond Nails in Astoria and they did a wonderful job! The girls loved the big massage chairs!

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Then it was down to Cannon Beach to kill some time at Haystack Rock before it was time to go back to the rv and clean up for photos.

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The beaches of Oregon are beautiful and pristine with miles of smooth sand and impressive rock formations! Too bad the water is always so cold!

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That evening we were very grateful to have the amazing Coleen Hodges from home on vacation at the same time as us so we could have our yearly family photos taken on the beautiful setting of Arcadia Beach! I loved the opportunity to encapsulate our summer with these photos that we would treasure forever.

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I could go on and on about these photos. They are a treasure. We love you, Coleen!

Day 54:

Today we had the whole day to relax in the Cannon Beach area. We started our day with some antiquing at Wheeler Station Antiques by our rv park. It was a very large string of connecting shops with a great selection of items.

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I was thrilled to find some vintage luggage that I planned to use for decor for the vintage travel/hot air balloon themed birthday party I was planning on having for Charlotte’s 1st and Aubrey’s 9th once we returned home. It feels like a fitting party theme for our well-traveled girls!

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We picked another brewery for lunch in downtown Cannon Beach after our morning of shopping…the Public Coast Brewing Company!

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We were sold by the atmosphere immediately and we hadn’t even tried the food!

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Of course, it was delicious! They have a simple menu of gourmet burgers and fish tacos. I can vouch for the Forager being absolutely delicious, but I don’t think you can go wrong with anything on the menu here. The relaxed atmosphere where you order at the window and seat yourself makes this the perfect place to stop in after a day at the beach!

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Needing to walk after stuffing our faces with all the food…we headed out to the beach after lunch.

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After the kids were sufficiently dirty, we walked downtown Cannon Beach so they could dry out. We played at the park, browsed the toy store, and ended up (naturally) in the candy shop filling bags of fresh salt water taffy.

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We decided to head north of Cannon Beach to Seaside for dessert. We parked at the end of the main strip of shops and restaurants where the road dies into the beach. There was an ice cream shop and a bench with the view of the ocean, so what more could you ask for?

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Then we headed back south toward the rv park, but decided to stop at Arcadia Beach just south of Cannon Beach so we could watch the sunset and fly the drone.

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Day 55:

We were back in the rv today, traveling south on the 101. Our first stop was Tillamook for lunch at the cheese factory!

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Cheese samples, amazing grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup, and every flavor or ice cream imaginable??!! How can you NOT make this stop if you are in the area?

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I make this face when I eat cheese, too, Charlee. Cheese is life.

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I ordered “The Piglet” grilled cheese (sharp white cheddar, ham, caramelized onions, dijon mustard and apple butter on sourdough) and tomato basil soup. So good…

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After lunch, we went into the creamery inside to pick out our ice cream flavor choices. Caramel toffee crunch for me, but Charlotte took her share!

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Whenever there is ice cream involved, there are happy kids!

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Stuffed from our large lunch, we were back on the road, traveling our way down the coast! Our view was pretty much gorgeous ocean the entire drive.

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We drove much further than we anticipated today. The weather was beautiful, we had the windows open and the sea breeze blowing in, but when we finally decided we might be ready to stop, we couldn’t find a park or campground with vacancy because it was a Saturday night. After our third attempt at stopping for the night, we had a nice camp host let us in on a little insider spot in Port Orford, so we headed that way.

It was late and very dark by the time we arrived in Port Orford, and but we followed the directions off the 101 onto Harbor Drive, which curves into Dock Road – where there was a large vacant lot with a handful of rvs parked on it. It had a view that overlooked the ocean that was better than some campgrounds! The lot is owned by a local who keeps a mailbox on the lot and asks for $10 to stay the night on the honor system. We parked as quietly as possible, paid our rent, and immediately went to bed.

Day 56:

Today we left the rv in the lot for the morning and headed slightly north to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse. We have done the Oregon coast twice before while traveling. Our first time up was in 2005 before we had children. Adam and I flew one way from Phoenix to Reno, NV, where we rented a car and drove to Lake Tahoe. From there, we drove to San Francisco and then up the coast from there all the way to Seattle! It was one of those adventures that solidified how much we love being on the road. The Oregon coast is a perfect example that it isn’t just getting from point A to the point B that makes a good trip because there is so much to be seen in between. We knew we wanted to visit friends in Seattle, but if we had just flown directly there- we never would have experienced Oregon. RV travel is not for everyone, but it is a staple in our family. When they look back at their childhoods, I know these trips are going to stand out as some of the most amazing time we spent together as a family.

During our initial time in Oregon in ’05, we did the full lighthouse tour of the coast. There are 11 lighthouses in Oregon and most of them are very accessible. If you ever have the opportunity, we highly recommend this! Each one holds it’s own beauty and romantic charm.

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Cape Blanco is the most southern of Oregon’s lighthouses, and is the westernmost point in Oregon. We were lucky that members of the Lighthouse Historical Society were there on this day to give tours up to the top for a small fee.

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Erected in 1870, this lighthouse stands on Oregon’s farthest west point of land and is the oldest one continually operating in Oregon. It holds the record for longest service at one lighthouse too: James Langlois worked here for 42 years. Our tour guide from the historical society told us several stories about those 42 years of James Langlois’ service.

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We left the lighthouse and drove directly down onto the beach. There are a handful of beaches that vehicles are allowed onto, and this is one of them. It’s a very narrow driftwood-lined road down, and was tricky to navigate with our RAM, but was absolutely worth it! What a beautiful beach!

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We would have stayed longer if the winds hadn’t been so crazy! We were getting sandblasted! We drove a few laps back and forth along the ocean before heading back.

At the end of Dock Road where we were stayed for the night was the Port of Port Orford and a tiny seafood shack called Griff’s On the Dock. It’s where to go to buy fresh-from-the-boat fish caught that day, fishing and gift shop items, and there is a tiny eating area for seafood rolls and fried fish.

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We had a quick seafood lunch and then we were back on the road, California bound!

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The remainder of our drive looked like this with endless ocean and blue skies. Before we knew it, we were crossing into the state of California!

We try to make it a point to stop and have a laugh at goofy roadside attractions whenever we can, and Klamath, CA has a big one! It’s the largest Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Ox, you will ever see! The draw here is the “Trees of Mystery” tour that they advertise on billboards for 100 miles in each direction along the road. Apparently it’s a vortex in the forest, or some tourist trap like that, but we’ve never wanted to pay the money to do it.

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The day was coming to a close as we approached our stop for the night – The Avenue of the Giants! Our final week of our summer adventure was upon us! My California post and journey home is coming next! Have a great weekend!!

 

We’re still here and we’ve got a BIG summer planned!

Happy ALMOST spring, friends!! We’re still here- busy as can be- and can’t believe it’s been almost 3 months since an update! With three kids in endless school activities, after school clubs, and the bustle of the holidays, time has been in fast forward lately. And we’ve put SUMMER 2018 in the books and it’s going to be an exciting one! We are traveling east this year and have huge cities and amazing beaches on the itinerary, so we are SO excited to share our journey with you all in a few months when we hit the road again!

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In the off time we do have, we’ve been keeping busy with smaller trips around our home state and getting out and enjoying the outdoors as much as we can! We can never stay still for long!

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We took a trip to New Mexico and Texas as well! I’m putting together a post on that fun, as well of finishing up our summer 2017 series with our adventures in Oregon and California!

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Here’s to a 2018 filled with adventure!!

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Summer 2017 RVing Recap: Vancouver, BC

This is a little of week 7 and the beginning of our 8th week on the road together in one post because it seemed easier to just do one big post about one of my favorite cities in Canada…Vancouver!

Day 48: The sky seemed to be more clear today as we hit the road. We made it to Vancouver mid afternoon after fighting a reasonable amount of city traffic. We have been to Vancouver once before in our RV and decided to stay in the same park, the Burnaby Caribou RV park. We committed to three days here because there is so much to see and do in this beautiful city! We also had a big milestone to celebrate as our baby girl would be celebrating her 1st birthday while we were here!

We got settled into our RV park and then immediately hopped into our truck and headed downtown!

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It was Friday night, so we weren’t the only ones with the same idea as we fought traffic into Granville Island.

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Immediately upon entering Granville Island, under the bridge, is the Granville Island Brewery. I hopped out to put our name in for a table while Adam circled around to find us a parking spot.

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It was packed and we had to wait about 40 minutes for a table, but it was worth it!

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We were given a nice table in the back corner and ordered their tasting flight, which turned out to be a little bigger than we expected!

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I ordered the grilled veggie sandwich with a side salad, which was so good.

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Adam went with a burger, and the kids had delicious flatbread pizzas. This place is definitely worth a stop if you are on Granville Island!

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After dinner, we spent some time walking around and exploring this fun hub of the city.

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We made our way to the indoor public market. Inside was a beautiful assortment of colorful food, baked goods, meats, and handcrafted products!

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Markets are always one of my favorite things about traveling! I especially can’t resist fresh produce!

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We told the kids they could pick out a dessert for us to go eat out on the deck by the water. Their eyes lit up as they gazed over the 100s of possibilities.

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The doors to the market lead directly out to a large deck overlooking the water and marina. There were street performers doing magic tricks and tables where you can sit and enjoy the delicious selections from the market.

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I shared the most amazing carrot cake mini with Charlotte.

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Her foot was up in her happy eating position and it’s safe to say she loved every bite!

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After our dessert, we walked through the other section of the market, where they have a food court full of amazing restaurants and fresh flowers.

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We stopped to play at the playground before we went back to the truck for our next destination.

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We crossed the bridge back into downtown, headed for Stanley Park.

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We brought our chalkboard and a frisbee, and the kids ran wild! Even Charlotte was having the time of her life watching the kids play as she relaxed in her stroller and took in all the fresh 70 degree weather!

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The skyline from the park is beautiful!

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We wondered over to the totem poles, which are actually the most visited attraction in all of British Columbia.

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We stayed in Stanley park for the sunset before heading back to Burnaby to turn in for the night.

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Day 49: Today was a very exciting day for me! I am going to fly my nerd flag high here and say that I have been the biggest fan of the TV show, “The X-Files,” since I was a kid and it premiered in 1993. It was a huge part of my teen years and still my favorite television show today. The excitement over it’s recent return with a 10th and now 11th season (which begins January 3rd…I am counting down!!) had me all pumped up, so when Adam suggested we take a day to visit a bunch of filming locations (the show filmed here for it’s 1st through 5th seasons, as well as the 10th season revival) – I was stoked! He knows the way to my heart. I printed up a list online and we set off!

We drove east to Langley to start our tour. We were impressed with the architecture of The Port Mann Bridge on the way out.

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Our first stop was Blieberger Farm, aka Mulder and Scully’s house from the second movie, “I Want to Believe,” and sadly, just Mulder’s house in the season 10 revival. Scully did make a few visits, though. ♥

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Screen grabs from Season 10’s “Babylon”

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I wanted to trespass SO badly.

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This is the gate Scully opens in “I Want to Believe,” located right off the road at the front of the property.

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As much as I wanted to skip through the golden fields humming the theme song, my family had to pull me out of my fan girl stupor to continue on. Our next stop was Riverview hospital.

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This location alone screams “X-Files” and about a dozen horror films. It’s an abandoned mental facility. Yup. There are dozens of different buildings on the property, and quite a few films and TV shows have been filmed here. Even on this bright and sunny day, this place had a spooky feeling to it!

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Screen grab from Season 1’s “Pilot”

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Our next stop was supposed to be Buntzen Lake, but after driving all the way up there, we were greeted by police cars blocking off the entrance. When the lake reaches capacity, they close it off to the public and seeing as though it was a beautiful, sunny, Saturday, I guess that’s where local Vancouver was!

We moved on to Cate’s Park in North Vancouver. This was a beautiful park on the water and the kids loved that they also got to fit in some play time!

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Screen grab from Season 10’s “Home Again”

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We enjoyed some time at the park, and made some furry friends.

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Then we moved onto Old Marine Drive…

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And The Wellington (Mulder’s Apartment)…

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Followed by Scully’s apartment.

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We had worked up quite an appetite during our scene location tour, so we decided to head downtown to grab some dinner!

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We decided to park in the Gastown district and catch the hour changing on the famous Gastown Steam Clock.

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We walked over to the Steamworks Brewing Company for dinner. This place is awesome. There are several levels of eating areas, from casual outside eating overlooking Gastown and the water, to the inside ground level with a sports bar atmosphere, to a lower level that has an underground speakeasy feel to it with exposed brick, pool tables, and a line of large beer fermenters for their brewery. They have the unique acclaim of brewing their beers using steam power!

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We sat on the ground level, tucked back in a quiet corner and ordered a flight of beer samplers and lobster ravioli. Everything was top notch!

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When we finished our dinner, we headed back to the steam clock to watch another hour change, hear the whistle blow, and take our chalkboard photo.

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Then walked around in search of dessert, which came in the form of delicious gelato that we took on cones to go as we strolled the cobblestone streets of Vancouver.

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The Gastown district at night is fun and the most perfect date night location with romantic white lights in the trees, jazz music playing the from the pubs, cozy restaurants, and character that oozes from every corner. Made me want to put on some fun heels and hit the town! If only we had a traveling babysitter…

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Although it was way past the kid’s bedtimes, we couldn’t help but make one last drive through Stanley park to view the skyline at night before we drove back to Burnaby. Gorgeous!

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Goodnight, Vancouver.

Day 50: Today was our baby girl’s 1st birthday! We decided to head out for lunch on Granville Island again, so we could take the birthday girl to the kid’s market after lunch.

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We walked around, checking out various restaurants and shops along the way, but ultimately settled on going back to the public market and each getting something different from the food court and eating out on the deck overlooking the water again.

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After lunch, we walked over to the kids market to pick up a few gifts for the birthday girl!

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The kids market is a series of tiny little stores and boutiques selling toys, books, and clothing for children. There is a fun costume shop here and we found a selection of unique toys. There is an arcade upstairs and a playground out back by the water.

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Our new ONE YEAR OLD was super happy today!

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We left Granville Island a bit later and managed to make a few more X-Files film location stops on our way to pick up a smash cake. We saw The Orpheum and Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver before heading out of the city center.

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We took the Port Mann bridge again and ended up back in Langley in my search for a supermarket…hm, wonder how my phone directed us here? One last look at the Mulder house before we leave!

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Back at the RV that evening, we had a little celebration for our baby girl. She wasn’t thrilled about us singing “Happy Birthday” to her, but once the candle was blown out and the cake was in front of her, she was pretty happy!

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What did I tell ya about that left foot?!

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She was smitten with her cake and gifts! I think it turned out to be a pretty good birthday and a great time in Vancouver! Tomorrow we leave Canada and return to the lower 48 on our journey back home. Two more posts left of our summer RV adventures with a big post on coastal Oregon next. Happy Holidays to everyone!

Summer 2017 RVing Recap: Week 7

Day 43: We awoke excited to be in Skagway, and ready to explore more of the surrounding areas! We thought a good way to live like a local would be to travel like a local – by ferry! Many cities on the west side of Alaska are faster to reach by water, so ferry transportation has become a common method of traveling. The waterway is actually called the Alaska Marine Highway and covers 3,500 miles, with routes that go as far south as Bellingham, Washington and as far west as Unalaska/Dutch Harbor. There are 32 terminals throughout Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington. It’s even a part of the National Highway System and receives federal highway funding. We chose to do a one day excursion to Haines so we could get out on the water and see another Alaskan city!

Since our boat didn’t depart until 2pm, we first went to the Klondike Visitor Center in Skagway so the kids could pick up some junior ranger booklets. We watched a movie on the Klondike Gold Rush and learned all about the treacherous conditions that people endured in the late 1800’s in hopes of striking it rich in this wild land called Alaska! The movie put Charlotte right to sleep! Guess all this traveling has been wearing her out.

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Then we headed down to the harbor to wait for our ferry.

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The trip was a 45 minute narrated tour, through a channel between mountains with waterfalls and eagles.

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And then Haines came into view, with white colonial style homes on green hills, and snow-capped mountain ranges as a backdrop.

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We decided to walk along the waterfront and then up the main street in search of a good place for lunch.

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Although we didn’t go inside, Haines is home to the world’s first hammer museum. It features over 1,400 hammers and related tools, ranging from ancient times through the colonial days to the industrial era.

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With it being a Sunday and no cruise ships docked in town, we were lucky to find a place that was open for lunch. We walked to the Chilkat Restaurant and Bakery, and when we arrived the signage showed that they were closed for the transition between lunch and dinner (it was about 3pm). We were about to walk away when a nice lady unlocked the door for us and ushered us in. I’m not sure if they were actually open or they just felt sorry for us huddled on the patio in the cold and decided to let us in and feed us, but we were grateful! The kids ordered hot coco to warm up and then we had some delicious Thai food!

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We grabbed some desserts from the bakery to eat while we went shopping. There were a few gift shops selling Alaskan made goods and art that were still open on this quiet Sunday, as well as a store selling sporting goods where we were able to pick up some hiking boots and new gloves for the kids.

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Just a 10-minute walk from downtown along the waterfront is Fort William H. Seward. This fort was built by the U.S. Army starting in 1902, then purchased by Army veterans in 1947. Today many of the buildings have been converted into cultural centers and bed and breakfasts.

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And then it was time to reboard our ferry for the return trip back to Skagway. Chilled from our freezing walk through Haines, we enjoyed the complimentary hot coco and coffee! It has definitely been one of the coldest days we have had so far!

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Back in Skagway, we were greeted with the Skagway Fish Company, right on the harbor and decided to have dinner here tonight.

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Alaskan King crab legs with rice and grilled veggies that Charlotte kept trying to steal from us!

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We walked the quiet, deserted streets of Skagway and took our chalkboard photo before turning in for the night.

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Day 44: We were back downtown first thing this morning so the kids could turn their ranger booklets into the visitor center. Today was the complete opposite of yesterday as a cruise ship was docked and the town was filled with people. The kids had an audience while they were sworn in.

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We had lunch at Northern Lights Pizzeria, where, strangely enough, we ordered Mexican food. When you are from Arizona, you know good Mexican food, so perhaps ordering it in Alaska wasn’t the best move. It wasn’t bad, just not what we were craving.

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We did some more shopping, and took in the busy street scene all around us before deciding it was time to move on. We hit the road, on the only road out of Skagway, the 2 north, out of the United States and into British Columbia. Back through the alien landscape with another impending storm upon us.

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And then out of British Columbia and back to the Yukon, toward Whitehorse. When we got to the intersection at the Yukon Highway 1, we turned east and retraced our steps from weeks ago in the direction of Watson Lake, where the sign post forest was. The highway jogs back and forth between the Yukon Territory and British Columbia a few times.

Our oldest daughter Aubrey had been begging me to let her cook a full dinner for us, so we pulled over when evening hit and I taught her my recipe for homemade chicken noodle soup. Warm comfort food was just what we needed with all of this cold July weather!

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After dinner, Charlotte passed out in her carseat so we just kept driving. At about midnight, it was getting dark so we stopped in a large dirt pull off in an area called Nugget City, just before our turnoff south. Tomorrow would be new scenery as we take a different route back toward the lower 48.

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Day 45: After a fuel up at the J37 junction, we were headed back south! We decided to take the Cassiar Highway home. I wasn’t completely sure until about a month before we left on our trip if this was an acceptable motorhome route. It’s the smaller of the two main highways to Alaska, with the Alcan being the more widely traveled route, and I was worried that there would be low clearance bridges or that the roads would be too winding. After seeing that The Wynns took this route back down through Canada, we decided we would give it a try so we wouldn’t have to retrace the route that we came in on. The highway is more narrow, and at first we were questioning this decision.

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It was curvy and slow for the first hour. Then things evened out a bit and we decided to stop and take in some of the recommended sights along the way. When we saw the signs for Boya Lake, we knew we needed some play time!

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There was a park with a fun “bowl swing” that the kids all fit on together and the lake was a beautiful, clear aqua!

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There were toys in the sand for the kids to play with and canoes on the shore for public use that you could take out on the lake! All the more reason to love British Columbia!

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There was no cell signal the majority of the day and little to no services along this route. We were shocked to see it start to get dark around 10:30pm. It changes so quickly!

We fueled up at the turnoff that would take us either to Hyder and Stewart, or continue further south toward Prince George. We decided against the last Alaska town because we wanted to have some extra time in Vancouver. We had a timeline we were now working with. We had family photos scheduled in Oregon in just over a week so we wanted to make sure we were planning our days efficiently so we would have time to see what we wanted to see before we had to be in Canon Beach.

We drove in the dark until about midnight, simply because we had a hard time finding a large enough pull off to safely sleep for the night. We ended up at an oversized rest area that had an 8 hour parking limit.

Day 46: More driving today as we drove the Cassiar Highway all the way until it’s end where it T’s into the 16. We took the 16 east to the “northern hub of British Columbia,” Prince George. What we didn’t know coming in was that there were a total of 200 fires active across British Columbia with 4,000 evacuees registered in Prince George. The university was housing people and the RV parks were even filled up. We managed to find the last space available at a park just outside the city center, but it was a sad situation to witness so many people just sitting and waiting as they were unexpectedly forced from their homes. The smell of the fires were heavy in the air.

We needed to get out of the RV for a bit, so we headed out to dinner at the Crossroads Brewing Company.

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Wood fired pizzas and beer samplers were the perfect end to a long stretch of driving!

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We managed to sneak in a quick chalkboard photo before it got dark and then we turned in to rest up for another day of driving tomorrow!

Day 47: Today was going to be a simple drive toward Vancouver, but as we started on our way we were quickly alerted by emergency roadside signage that the fires were so bad that they had to completely close the route we were taking – Highway 97. We found a pull off large enough to allow us to turn around and returned to Prince George to take a different, longer, route down. There was a declaration of a provincial state of emergency by the Government of British Columbia, as they stated that “no other fire season has had the breadth of large fires across the province as this one.” It was a very sad thing to witness.

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Our day took us through Valemount and Kamloops as we traveled down the 5 south. We found a pretty place for lunch, away from the smoke, and learned a little about inland temperate rainforests.

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I didn’t take out my camera much, saddened to see so much damage occurring to such beautiful forests. We found a quiet place to stop for the night and hoped the situation would improve. We spent some family time in the RV, building with LEGOs.

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Day 48: The sky seemed to be more clear today as we hit the road. We made it to Vancouver mid afternoon after fighting a reasonable amount of city traffic. We have been to Vancouver once before in our RV and decided to stay in the same park, the Burnaby Caribou RV park. We committed to three days here because there is so much to see and do in this beautiful city! We also had a big milestone to celebrate as our baby girl would be celebrating her 1st birthday while we were here!

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I’ve decided to cut this week 7 short and make my next update fully about Vancouver because there is so much to cover! Happy Veteran’s Day and a happy weekend, friends!!

Week 7 map:

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Summer 2017 RVing Recap: Week 6

Day 36: We woke up in one of the most beautiful campgrounds we’ve ever stayed. Williwaw is surrounded by gorgeous mountains and glaciers!

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We wanted to take the time today to see all the things in this area that we passed the first time around in our RV because it’s easier to get in and out of places with just the truck. There is a large road sign at the entrance of the Kenai Peninsula that we missed on our original journey in, so we returned to that turn off today so we could get a photo in front of the sign.

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Then we followed the turnagain arm to a couple of adorable little ski towns that we missed coming in – Girdwood and Alyeska. We stopped for lunch at a small place called the Silvertip Grill. An amazing bacon and bleu cheese burger for the win! (Isn’t that always a great combo?) Then we took in the amazing green hills as we drove up to the Copper Creek Mine.

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These mountains made me feel like I was in the hills of Switzerland! With the low clouds and waterfalls streaming down the mountains, it was magic! We drove all the way up to the top where it connects to a portion of the Crow Pass trail. It’s considered to be one of the best hikes in all of the Chugach Mountains, following a portion of the original Iditarod Trail, including its highest point. End to end, it’s a 21-mile trail through glaciers, waterfalls, wildflowers, wildlife, mine ruins, and wild berries!

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As we drove back down we had a handful of bear sightings.

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We returned to camp and decided to make the hike to the glacier within our campground. It starts on the Trail of Blue Ice, and then our camp host directed us off the trail to cut through the forest so we could walk to the base of a glacier and several waterfalls.

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Just like mommy – all she wanted for her 5th birthday was her own camera!

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And then we cut away from the trail, into the rain forest, bear spray and mosquito mister in hand!

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We had to scale a few rocks along the creek, and then we were there.

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At this point, we had been gone for so long that we forgot what day we were on, so our chalkboard days are messed up from here on out, haha. I lost a day somewhere in my mind because I have Day 35 here, on Day 36 of our trip.

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We took some time to sit and enjoy our surroundings and reveled in the fact that we were trying our best to keep warm here, with ice all around us, and back home in Phoenix they were experiencing 118 degree temperatures. Not missing that one bit!

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Ice in July?!

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Then we retraced our path through the forest, back to the boardwalk of the trail.

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We crossed the bridge over North Williwaw Creek, watching for the salmon running in the water. We didn’t see too many as the peak season for the salmon to run begins at the end of July.

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Such a beautiful forest!

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We returned to our campsite to grill up some dinner and enjoyed another passing storm.

Day 37: We had kept our schedule open for the last few days, waiting to see if all the thick clouds and rainy weather would clear up so we could do a glacier cruise and see a handful of glaciers up close from the water. However, we awoke to another dreary day and decided it was not worth the expense to spend all day on a boat and not get the full glacier experience. We also figured it would be hard on Charlotte to be happy on a boat for 6 hours, especially with how cold and windy it has been. Ultimately, it just wasn’t worth it to us, but if you do happen to be traveling to Whittier on a sunny day, I hear the 26 Glacier cruise is incredible! Another time!

So we chose to leave Whittier and start driving in hopes of finding some sort of July 4th festivities. We had to back track around the turnagain arm and up to Anchorage again on the 1 North. We looked at a few RV park options north of Anchorage in Palmer, but with the holiday just tomorrow, many places were filled to capacity. We just decided to keep driving.

The 1 turned east past Palmer and we continued driving through farmland and then mountains. We found a great spot in an area called Glacier View at the Grand View Cafe and RV park. We decided to take an afternoon to catch up on some laundry and eat at their restaurant. Using both of the units at the RV park laundrymat, as well as the washer/dryer combo in our motorhome, we were able to get through the 7 loads of laundry that have been calling to me.

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We had homemade pizza and carrot cake at the restaurant, and returned to the RV where Charlotte could work on her new tricks and we could all enjoy a family movie night as we watched the fog move in all around us. We took our chalkboard photo at midnight and it was still light outside.

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Day 38: Happy 4th of July! Today we headed to Glennallen because we had heard they hold an Independence Day parade. However, we got a late start and by the time we reached the town, the events were mostly over. We decided to turn south onto the 4 toward Valdez. We planned on adding another national park to our list. In fact, the largest national park in the country at 13.2 million acres… Wrangell-St. Elias!

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This national park has three visitor centers in a wide spread because this is not an easy national park to access. Copper Center is the main visitor center, and was right along our route, at the Richardson and Edgerton Highways. Access to the national park from here requires flying or at least a one hour drive, one-way. We picked up some junior ranger booklets, watched the park movie and learned a little about the park from the rangers and exhibits.

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Then we were back on the highway, southbound, to Kenny Lake. There were a few RV parks closer to the park entrance, but I read reviews about the roads being rough for an RV, so we chose to stay here and make the drive in with the truck the following day.

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The park we chose was the Kenny Lake Mercantile & RV Park, about 20 miles before the park entrance in Chitina. It’s a no frills park, as you can see from our drone photo below, with our RV just lined up with the others along the roadside, but it was clean and had a large grass area for the kids to play in.

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We played frisbee and horseshoe in the grass and celebrated our 4th of July by grilling out and enjoying being outdoors in beautiful weather!

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Avery hunted for four leaf clovers and Charlotte was VERY excited to have her turn to hold the chalkboard sign!

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There may have been some Snapchatting fun while we waited for dinner.

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We had s’mores and Bomb Pops, told spooky stories around a campfire, and enjoyed the daylight until well past our bedtimes!

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Happy 4th of July, America!

Day 39: Today we took an adventure out to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park! From our RV park in Kenny Lake, it was about a 20 minute drive to Chitina, where the road becomes very rough. This is where we begin our journey – a full 60 miles on rough dirt roads to the town of McCarthy.  We were warned to be prepared for anything! Much like the Dalton Highway, this is a true Alaska experience, but can be dangerous as there is no cell service once you get away from Chitina, and that also means no roadside assistance. We discovered the danger of the roads all too soon as we hit a very deep pothole coming in and it busted the bike rack on the back of the truck, taking my mountain bike with it! Half of it anyway. The frame was ripped in half and the poor thing horribly mangled. Guess there won’t be any more biking for me on this trip.

There are some interesting points along the way. The first being the Kuskulana River Bridge at Mile 17.2, a one-lane structure constructed during the frigid winter of 1910 and now one of a few jaw-dropping scenic vistas along the McCarthy Road.

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It took us nearly two hours to reach the end of the road- right before the footbridge into McCarthy. It was a decision of the town (with a population of about 40 people) to not allow vehicle traffic in, so all cars must park and walk the mile into town.

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The views along the way were beautiful! Look at that glacier!

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McCarthy was very small, but very charming! It was raining cotton again, as it was when we were in Talkeetna. I feel like it adds to the ambiance of the town!

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We found a cute little place that was serving up lunch and ate before we waited for our shuttle to take us the last 5 miles into the old mining town.

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We emerged from the shuttle at the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark. The mines were operated from 1911-1938 and were among the nation’s largest. They contained the last of the great high grade copper ore deposits discovered in the American West.

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The second of three visitor centers is located here, and our kids took the opportunity to turn in the junior ranger books that they completed on our long drive in. Another badge in the books for these experienced junior rangers!

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The scale of this place was impressive! I couldn’t imagine living and working here back in the 1920s though, especially in the deep snow of winter!

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We walked a little ways out of town to get a better viewpoint of Root Glacier. This glacier is about 4 miles roundtrip from Kennecott. It’s one of the few glaciers that you can walk right up to the base of and touch. However, we were at the end of the shuttle schedule for the day and didn’t have the extra hours to spare before we had to catch the last shuttle of the night.

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We returned to town and waited about 15 minutes to squeeze very tightly into the shuttle van with no AC.

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So blessed that this little gal is such a trooper through all of these adventures!

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This time the shuttle took us right through McCarthy and all the way to the footbridge. As we crossed, we saw a huge chunk of ice floating down the river from a glacier.

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And then we were back to the truck but we still had the long 60 mile trek on those hairy dirt roads back to Chitina and then another 20 miles to our RV park. It was a very long day, but worth every moment! We enjoyed the very long Alaskan sunset with the windows down!

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Day 40: Today we awoke with zero idea of where the day would take us! We considered going further south to Valdez, but after looking through photos and deciding it was so similar to Seward, we decided to head out of the state/country and come in through another access point in the Yukon, perhaps Skagway.

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Long driving days are restful for us (well maybe not the driver). We stay in our PJs, make snacks, play games, and watch movies. After a string of such busy days, we really need these recharge days that are still filled with beautiful scenery out of our windows.

We took the 4 north and ended up full circle through Alaska, back in Tok. We could have stopped here, but the sun was still up and we were rocking out to Pandora and so why not keep driving? We weren’t planning on it, but we actually ended up leaving Alaska completely early in the evening. We took our chalkboard photos back at the international boundary as we crossed back into Canada.

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We continued on until about 10pm, when we reached the Discovery Yukon Lodge, a full service RV park, just past Beaver Creek. We planned to continue onto Whitehorse the next day.

Day 41: We woke up and got right back at it today. We lost an hour of time crossing back into Canada, so our schedules are even more thrown off than they already have been with all the daylight!

We knew what to expect from making this journey just a few weeks earlier, so we were prepared for the worst of the roads. It was clear that they had actually come a long way in repairing them in just the time we spent in Alaska.

Our first stop of the day was for some photos by the beautiful Kluane Lake!

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We stretched our legs for a bit and the kids hunted for pretty rocks.

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We drove another half hour and then found another beautiful lakeside spot to stop and grill up some lunch.

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Give them a little outdoor time and they are as quiet as can be, each in their own little world!

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We made it to Whitehorse today and stayed at the same Pioneer RV Park that we stayed at coming in. We had sprung a leak in our water pump from the rough roads so my handy husband was able to pick up some plumbing parts and fix that up after we ran some errands at Canadian Tire and the Real Canadian Superstore.

Day 42: We left Whitehorse today and took the Yukon-2 south, back to Alaska, but at a different point of entry. The 2 is an incredible drive! One of our favorite lakes of the trip turned out to be the amazing Emerald Lake.

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Shortly after, the landscape turned other-worldly. Boulder mountains rose from the ground and elfin trees grew on them with tiny waterways flowing in all directions. Low hanging clouds and fog made us feel like we were in a mystical land.

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And then we were at the international border crossing (excuse the dirty windshield photo, as it is the only one I took). Back in Alaska!

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The descent into Skagway was a narrow valley in between mountains, at an 11% grade for 11 miles! We worked our brakes good!

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And then we drove into the most picturesque railroad town ever! I immediately fell in love with Skagway!

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We parked to walk the town and grab some dinner at the Skagway Brewing Co.

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Charlotte had her first taste of pickles and loved them! And the same went for the rest of us. Everything was so delicious! My recommendations? Try the Spruce Tip Ale if you want an amazing, brewed on site beer. And I tried a burger with chili peppers and bacon, but I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong with any burger this place is serving up!

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After lunch, we strolled through the nearly empty streets. It was so nice to get the opportunity to see everything without the large crowds of tourists that are here on most days when the cruise ships are docked at the port just south of the train station.

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There are many original buildings still in place from the origin of the town during the Klondike Gold Rush. This is one of Skagway’s oldest buildings, from 1899.

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When the sun came out briefly for us, we had the pleasure of seeing a full rainbow over the train station!

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All of the events of the day wiped out Charlotte and she ended up falling asleep in Daddy’s arms as  we strolled down the streets back to where we parked the truck.

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From main street in town, we drove a short ways to the old Gold Rush cemetery at the edge of the woods. Famous historic figures from Skagway’s history, including Jefferson “Soapy” Smith, a legendary con man, and Frank Reid, the hero would ended up killing him in a shootout in 1898, are buried here.

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It is a very eerie place to walk through. Many of those buried are people who flocked to Skagway to strike it rich, but ended up dying from the harsh winter conditions.

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A short walk from the cemetery through the forest is the beautiful Lower Reid Falls.

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We were so grateful that we added this Skagway detour to our trip because it became our favorite town in all of Alaska! We planned a few more days here, including a ferry trip to the nearby town of Haines, AK!

Here is the our travel map from week 6:

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Next week we enjoy the last of our adventures in Alaska before heading south down the Cassiar Highway toward Vancouver!

Summer 2017 RVing Recap: Week 5

Day 29: It was late when we pulled off from the Turnagain Arm the night before. Alaska has very liberal camping laws. Basically, as long as there is no signage that states “No overnight parking” you are welcome to camp there. It’s a very RV friendly state. I woke up, opened the shade to the window above our headboard and this is what we saw…

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It was a perfectly clear day to go out and explore! We had passed a point along the water the night before that we knew we wanted to return to, Beluga Point! It was the first stop on our itinerary today!

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This amazing 180 degree view point on the Turnagain Arm is named for the beluga whales that are known to ride in the bore tides. A bore tide can be six to ten feet high as it rushes in. This is the most northerly bore tide in the world and the only one that is bordered by mountains, so it is described as “the most unique and geologically dramatic bore tide in the world.” We were right in the window where it was expected to come in, so we were hopeful to catch it!

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That’s me in my element. Camera in hand, so much beauty around me to capture.

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We enjoyed the hike around the rocks and the view was incredible, but no tide. We decided to continue along the Turnagain Arm, since we would be along the water for a long stretch of the way.

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There are random waterfalls everywhere along the mountains! We stopped at a few for some photos.

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Although there were hardly any services along this route, there was this one little place, The Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ, and the smell of the meat smoking and BBQ lured us in! We sat outside on a patio overlooking the water and had the most delicious pulled pork sandwiches with corn bread for lunch!

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The tide continued to move out further and we were hopeful to see a wall of water rushing in.

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Unfortunately, we did not get a show, although the views never disappointed us! It was a gorgeous day to drive around Alaska! As we curved along the Cook Inlet we turned onto the Kenai Peninsula, the southernmost part of Alaska that you can drive to and our adventure for the next week!

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And just like that, our sunny day turned stormy and cold again! The weather here is all over the place. And I love it.

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The drive was amazing. These images are from Moose Pass, in two different perspectives. The above photo was taken by me with my Canon while standing on that curved pedestrian path, which you can see in the aerial photo below that we shot with the drone.

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And for something new, here is a short video loop of this gorgeous area:

Then we were back on the road through snow-capped mountains until we came to a fork in the road where we could continue straight to Seward, or turn right and head toward the Homer Spit. We planned on doing both, but Homer was our first destination.

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We passed through an area I would like to spend more time in when we return to Alaska some day – Cooper Landing. Outdoor activities such as white water rafting and fly fishing bring people here. It was very crowded, as it was the weekend, and I think a lot of Anchorage residents come here to escape the bustle of the city and have a quiet weekend in the outdoors. We passed through with intentions of stopping for the night in Soldotna further ahead, but it was too commercialized for us (picture McDonald’s and Taco Bell on the corner of the RV park – not what we came to Alaska for). So we went a bit further to Kenai and found a park with farms and open space around us.

We had a family team clean up when we parked. The RV gets so dirty fast and it takes all of us to keep it clean! The boys “de-bugged” the windows and us girls washed the dishes (I miss my dishwasher so much), and cleaned the floors.

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We make a good team! Charlotte “helped” by crawling around and throwing all the toys back out of the toy box that we kept trying to clean up.

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Real life, y’all. The chores don’t end just because we’re on vacation!

Then we went out exploring in the truck! We drove up to Nikiski, and then to the Captain Cook State Recreation Area. It’s the end of the line….the road dies past the recreation area and turns into a rough dirt pipeline road. At this point, we were on the opposite side of the water from where we were this morning.

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There was a spot where we could drive all the way down onto the beach – so that made Adam’s day!

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Then we made the journey back to Kenai with plans to continue on to Homer the following day!

Day 30: We packed up this morning and hit the road, following the water south through Kalifornsky, Ninilchik, and then down to Anchor Point, where we planned to stay for a while. The views from our RV space on a cliff overlooking the water at the Baycrest RV Park were gorgeous, they had good wi-fi (finally!), and we were just 5 minutes from downtown Homer. RV park jackpot!

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We decided to check out Homer and then head down to the spit for dinner!

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It was so cold and windy, but we still managed to get out to check out Bishop’s Beach.

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And then we went down onto the spit, which I immediately fell in love with! It’s essentially a very picturesque pier, but a strip of land. Cute shops, lots of great eateries, gorgeous views, a marina, and bald eagles taking guard over everything!

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We had a seafood dinner at The Harbor Grill, overlooking the marina, and then we took a walk down to the boats to see them up close. This marina has the acclaim of being the home to the commercial crab fishing vessel Time Bandit. It is featured on the Discovery Channel series The Deadliest Catch.

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We made plans for exploring the spit some more on another day and drove back to mainland Homer to explore and drive East End Road. From here, there are three visible glaciers, seen across the bay at Halibut Cove: Grewingk, Portlock, and Dixon Glacier. Homer’s glaciers are alpine glaciers, unique in that they form in mountain valleys and create their own moraine lake.

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Day 31: Today we backtracked on the road we just took from Kenai so we could see some of the towns along the way that were too difficult to explore in the RV. We drove all the way to Kasilof and had lunch at this little place called Rocky’s Cafe. The service was friendly, the food was good, and we were able to view a moose eating grass out our window through much of the meal (and multiple people stop their cars to get out and walk right up to him for photos!).

Our next stop was the old Russian village of Ninilchik. The native Alaskan people and immigrants from Russia settled here in 1847. There is an old Russian Orthodox Church on the mountain here overlooking the village that I had read about and wanted to photograph.

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We drove down to the very tiny village on the water, with its own fishing boat marina and some original buildings.

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We’ve never seen as many Eagles in the wild as we have in the area around Homer, Alaska!

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This boat stood out because it was also the name of my grandmother!

We continued our exploration all the way back down through all the little towns until we ended up all the way back on the spit!

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Day 31 chalkboard: Kachemak Bay

Day 32: Today we spent the whole day in Homer. I always feel like you need to park and really walk through a place to get to know it. I’m so glad we included this area in our trip itinerary because it definitely made the top 5 list of our Alaskan destinations!

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We had lunch at Captain Pattie’s and then we went browsing through some of the gift shops.

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The infamous Salty Dawg Saloon is here on the spit. People sign dollar bills and tack them up on the walls when they visit. It’s your typical hole-in-wall bar!

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We walked past a bakery and an ice cream shop making homemade waffle cones. The smell was so amazing, we were lead by our noses directly into Flagship Creamery!

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On our way back to the RV that night we stopped at the lookout point near Anchor Point for our chalkboard photo as a storm blew through.

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That’s when Charlotte said she was DONE for the night!

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Day 33: We left Homer this morning and returned north up to Soldotna, where we took a right and retraced our steps back toward Moose Pass. On our drive back through Cooper Landing, I was casually looking out the window at all the fishermen in tiny boats and canoes in this small section of the river, and I noticed that a bunch of them had their phones out and pointed in the same direction. On the shore, no more than 20 feet from them was a large black bear, just starring at them like he was posing for the photos! The amount of wildlife we have seen on this trip has been unbelievable!

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When we arrived in Seward, we had planned on camping on the Seward Waterfront Park. What we didn’t expect was that apparently every person in the entire state of Alaska would appear to be in Seward for the upcoming 4th of July events! The waterfront is first come, first serve, and so even though it was only June 29th, a lot of people come and park their campers here so they can have a good spot for the Independence Day festivities. The big event is the Mount Marathon Race, a 3.1 mile run up to the top of mountain with an elevation gain of 3,022 feet, and then back down to the finish line on a steep and slippery slope. It’s pretty common for the runners to cross the finish line injured and bloody and it has become quite the spectator sport!

We tried several other RV parks until we finally found one that had availability! We didn’t realize what a tricky road we would endure to get there, though! First we had to drive practically into this waterfall along the side of the road…

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Then we had to follow this scary, wet road along the bay with no guard rails and two way traffic…

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And then we had to journey into the deep, mud and mosquito ridden forest…

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I suppose this is the reason behind the low reviews for Miller’s Landing on Lowell Point – it wasn’t easy access for RV camping! All of this, and we would only be staying one night because it is all they had available. If you are RVing to Seward, keep in mind there are very few RV park options, and if you plan to be here around a busy holiday such as Independence Day, be sure to make reservations.

We did manage to get out for a bit after we got settled. After Homer, I expected the same touristy scene at Seward, but they are actually quite different. There isn’t much of a main strip here or much to do in the town. The beauty is in the surrounding mountains and glaciers. It is also a point from which you enter Kenai Fjords National Park. I have heard that some cruise ship excursions only allow a trip to either Homer OR Seward, so if you are trying to decide between the two, it’s mostly a matter of what you are looking for. For the nature enthusiast, Seward would probably be a better choice, but seeing these areas requires a bigger time commitment because most of the national park can only be accessed by plane or boat. If you only have a portion of your day, I would pick Homer without question.

We had dinner at the Seward Brewing Company and it was quite delicious! Then we walked up and down the small main street area for a bit.

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The Resurrection Bay wraps around Seward and is gorgeous! The water has an alpine blue to it when the sun hits it, making it look like the Caribbean.

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Mile 0 of the Iditarod Trail, also known historically as the Seward-to-Nome Trail, refers to a thousand-plus mile historic and contemporary trail system in the US state of Alaska.

Before we headed back to the motorhome, we took a quick detour over to the only area of Kenai Fjords National Park accessible by vehicle (the others can only be reached by boat or plane). This is the site of Exit Glacier, a site we planned to visit in detail the next day!

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Day 34: Today was a busy day! We started out by moving the RV before our 11am check out at Miller’s Landing. We drove directly to the Seward Waterfront and while it was still full, there was some parking spaces in the baseball field next to it that they were allowing RV overflow, so we decided it was as good a place as any for us to stay for our last night.

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With our motorhome safely parked for the day, we headed over to the Alaska Sealife Center.

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It’s not very big so all of the attractions can be seen in just a few hours, but they have a variety of exhibits, art, and marine life from the area to view and interact with.

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We left the Sealife Center after lunch and decided our next adventure would be to hike Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park!

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Exit Glacier is a glacier derived from the Harding Icefield in the Kenai Mountains of Alaska. As we started along the trail to the glacier, there were posts indicating where the glacier was located during different points over the last hundred years, showing the recession of it. The rapid retreat of the glacier highlights the effects of climate change, the most notable being from 2013 to 2014 when it retreated approximately 187 feet. Park scientists continue to monitor and record is accelerating recession.

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We stopped for a snack break before continuing on, and I had a moment while watching my five year old. She sat there with her granola bar, quietly watching the glacier. She was taking it all in and so peaceful. When she finished her snack, she bounced up and eagerly asked us to continue on the strenuous last portion that would take us directly up to the glacier so we could touch it. This is the kid who was asking to be carried at the mall just six months ago because she was too tired and couldn’t take it anymore. And here she is, doing a hike that some adults wouldn’t tackle and rocking out! It’s moments like these when I know that travel as a family is one of the best gifts we could ever give our kids.

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We pushed through until we made it! Chalkboard photo – Exit Glacier!

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It is so hard to tell the scale of it from the photos. Below is a picture of just the tiny base of the glacier with people next to it so you can hopefully see the grandeur of it.

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And then it was time to make the journey back, paving our own trail as we went!

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