The Alaska Bucket List Part 1 and 2 – Things To Do in Southcentral Alaska

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I try to keep a close eye on what people search for on this blog so that we can provide you with things you are looking for. Recently, a reader was searching for “Things to Do In Alaska In July.”

What a great opportunity! I love to make films, and this gives me the opportunity to make some films I may not get to make again. For the most part, I’m going to be filming new footage of my bucket list. These are places in Alaska that Dan and I feel you just cannot miss in southcentral Alaska. This is the area around Anchorage, Wasilla, the Kenai and Seward.

Enjoy!
Here’s Part 1 – the Introduction..

Lynne

Here’s Part 2: Eklutna Tailrace

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You’ve Got To Test It and Yourself First

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I’ve been hearing a lot about people buying an RV one week and then setting out on their RV full-timing trip the next week. Now, this is just my opinion, but this might just be the worst idea ever. It doesn’t matter if your “new” RV is new or used, it is probably going to have some little things that need to be fixed. Setting out on your trip right away before making sure your systems are working is really risky.

After RVing for about 4 years total, we have gotten the chance to get used to all the systems in both of the RVs we’ve owned and were able to get it to the repair shop to get everything tuned up.

For the first year after you buy a new RV, you will have a 1 year warranty to get everything fixed. In the first year, you should camp more than any other time, and it is the best time to prepare you, your family, and your RV for the full-timing life.

This is just a little video I made talking about that. It is from our new series of Full-Timing videos as we get ready to take off for our new life. Hope it helps you in some way.
Greetings from Alaska!
Lynne

Mad At Me – Getting Your Pets Ready For Your Full-Timing Adventure

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When you’re getting ready to go out on the road permanently as an RV full-timer, it is good to really have a lot of time to think things through and plan everything as much as possible.

We have been planning this really intensely for about 7 months, and we still have so many things we haven’t even thought of.

This especially includes your pets.

Pets can run into hundreds of things out on the road that could hurt them or kill them. This video is about being prepared by planning ahead for one of those things.

Starring my chihuahua “Hope” or “Hopie”

Other things that are good to plan for your pets are things like shots they may need (they’ll be around a lot of other dogs in campgrounds). Tags for their collars. Getting them chipped. Their health certificate if you’re going to cross back into the U.S. after being in Canada. These are just some of the things.

What I realized about full-timing, retirement and being together

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Fall on Turnagain Arm, Alaska

My husband Dan and I have always been very independent. We always had our own vehicles and our own computer rooms and computers that we called ours.

We realized something today that I never thought about before. Full-timing in your RV and/or retirement from a career is a huge change for a couple. This is something I’ve talked to my counselor at the VA about because I am not sure exactly what to expect. It is starting to kind of sink in what it really means.

This weekend, we traded in two huge trucks for a small car that is going to be our “toad” (tow vehicle). See the previous post about dinghy towing. In the 12 years we’ve been married, we always had our own trucks or cars. We always used the expression of “My..this…or my that.”

I have noticed that when I see old married couples at RV parks how so in tune they seem to be. They are a quiet, comfortable pair of people who have merged their lives together and look in the same direction. You see them puttering around their campsite, taking care of little tasks. They just seem to know exactly what the other one is going to do.

This is HUGE step to take for a couple who has always been very independent and had their own careers. You suddenly (or gradually) put it all aside and merge as one person. How is this done? I have no earthly idea, but I am sure it is a process that develops as you go along.

If you’re considering full-timing, have you thought about how much time you’re really going to be spending together? What habits or idiosyncrasies are you willing to let go of in order to do that?

I’m still mulling this over a lot these days. I really look forward to finding out just how to do this. Though I’ve already been retired for 8 years because of an injury I got during my service in the military, I still have not completely retired with my spouse.

I am sure it is going to be interesting to find out what that will be like.

Happy Motoring!

Lynne

What we learned about towing, dinghies, and living simple

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As I mentioned before in a previous post, we are working on the 100 thing challenge. You can find that post here: https://rvfulltimers.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/what-are-your-100-things/

After doing a bunch of research, we learned so much about dinghy towing and living simply, we wanted to share with you. This was a true eye-opener.

We both owned very large trucks the 9 years we’ve lived here because of the challenges of driving on the snow here. We always felt safe. I originally had a Honda Accord when we first got here, but it rode too low to the ground and kept getting caught in snow drifts and snow berms (large hills of soft snow that make a car like that just go nowhere)

Now that we’re leaving, we both had to give up something huge. Two trucks we both really loved. We both realized it is just dumb to love a thing. Someday it will just be a pile of rust. People are more important.

This is when we started investigating what it means when you talk about dinghy towing. Everywhere you look in Alaska in the summer, you see these large 40 foot RVs pulling small cars behind them. They use a variety of methods.

You can do one of the following: (these are not all the choices, but they are the main ones)

Scissor-type towbars:

Use a scissor-type towbar that leaves all 4 wheels of the vehicle you are towing on the ground. You have to install some electronics in your tow vehicle (called a dinghy in the RV world) to connect the braking system of your RV with the braking system in your tow car.

Pros: Easy connect and disconnect

Cons: Fairly expensive, or so I thought. The towbars themselves tended to be around $1,000.00 for a good one, and the braking systems were fairly expensive, too – if you want one that is quality. You wear out your tires pretty good on the tow vehicle with this method. You cannot back up the RV and the tow vehicle with this method, if you get stuck somewhere. You have to get out, unhook it, and get your RV where you want it, then hook up the tow vehicle again.

Tow Dolly: You put the front wheels of your vehicle on a tow dolly, which looks like this:

Towdolly - put your car's front wheels on and strap in

You can read everything you ever wanted to know about a tow dolly and the laws governing them in Canada and the 50 states here:

http://towbartowdolly.com/blog/

This manufacturer provides customs documents for Canada as well, as he sells 40% of his tow dollies to our neighbors to the north.

Full Trailer:

Pros: You can back these up while backing your RV. They keep rocks and other road debris from damaging your tow vehicle. They also put no wear and tear on your tow vehicle (also called a toad). Some road damage can still occur, as these are open air type trailers. They can be just a frame or they can be a flat surface, like the ones you tow 4 wheelers and snow machines with.

Cons: Pricey, in the tens of thousands of dollars, at least here in Alaska. Tend to be heavy, which can really put a damper on your RV’s gas mileage.

Fully covered trailer: All the pros of the full trailer mentioned above, but no road damage would occur to your ‘toad.’ They would have the same cons of being very pricey and heavy, but for some people who are towing a classic car or pricey vehicle, it would be well worth it. You have probably seen these pulling Nascar race cars before.

I mainly wrote this article because we ran into a situation when we were looking at a Hyundai dealer to find a toad vehicle. We were looking at their crossovers and SUVs and had decided on one after reading the Official towing guide. We found out later that the Towing Guide was inaccurate on all accounts when it came to the Hyundai vehicle section. You can find the official towing guide here: (there’s also a really good article there about dinghy towing overall).

http://www.motorhomemagazine.com/dinghytowingguide/

I’m still not going to say which method is better for you. I am just outlining the different methods you could choose from. It is always best, if you are going to have a braking system and a scissor tow type of towbar installed, to have it done by an expert. Many RVers use Camping World or a dealer specializing in just towing. Just having your local mechanic install it all or doing it yourself might miss some very important steps. There are strict regulations for safety when it comes to towing a vehicle behind.

So, instead of using the towing guide to choose a toad, go to the dealership and look around. Ask questions in the service department. Read the owner’s manuals of cars you are interested in.

The Durango was one big machine we traded in

We chose a 2011 Hyundai Elantra Touring Coupe for our Toad

We are going to tow our Elantra using a tow dolly, as that is the recommended method in the owner’s manual because it is a front wheel drive.

So, by trading in two huge trucks, we’re saving $1,300.00 + a month on car payments, insurance, gas. We also don’t have to spend $3,000.00 + to ship them to Wyoming. Not to mention storage costs and not being able to tow either one. Talk about living simple!

Be safe and make the right choice for you!

A Lion’s Head, A Glacier, Dall Sheep, and No Rain!

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This past weekend, we took another dry run in the RV. As I have mentioned before, we have been going out as much as possible to test the systems in our rig and make sure all is well before we set out on our permanent journey.
It has rained for 4 months straight this summer, and we’ve just about had it. So, this past weekend we took off for high in the mountains north towards the Matanuska Glacier. This area we went to is one of my favorite places in Alaska. The Glenn Highway has been designated one of America’s scenic byways, and it never disappoints.

The park is set right in the middle of a reserve that protects Dall Sheep, and it gives you a 360 degree view of them all over the mountaintops.

If you’re ever in Alaska, visit them as you come off the Alaska Highway between Glenallen and Sutton.

When you walk along the trails behind the RV park at Grandview, you get a beautiful view from the bluff of the glacier, Mount Wickersham, and an ancient volcano called Lion’s Head.
Here’s some of what we saw. Thought you would enjoy it.

Lion's Head - the ancient volcano with Matanuska Glacier in background

Mount Wickersham

Fireweed was breathtaking along the trail and bees were busy

Sign for the bluff trail surrounded by fireweed

RVs parked at sunset at Grandview RV Park

RVs parked at sunset at Grandview

Grandview Cafe

Sissie, our doxie and my bear-bait dog (just kidding)

Views of Dall Sheep are 360 degrees all around you

The best part about staying there this weekend? Sun! Sun! Sun! No rain. Clear, dry air. It was a relief I cannot even begin to describe. I just wanted to stretch out on the ground outside and soak up as much as I could. We’ve been Vitamin D deficient lately, like you wouldn’t believe.

Low Bush Cranberry along the trail to the bluff

Matanuska Glacier

Here’s a tip from some fulltime RVers who no longer shampoo their hair. They use something called “NooPoo” and it is very effective and inexpensive:

http://www.technomadia.com/2009/07/two-years-shampoo-free/

http://babyslime.livejournal.com/174054.html

Here’s one of my all-time favorite videos…and one of my favorite actors on TV:

What are your 100 things?

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You may have heard about him from an article in Time magazine. Perhaps you have heard about the movement.

I consider this a really important point for full-timers in an RV. It is probably especially on your mind if you, like us, are just getting ready to drive off into the sunset.

And after reading the posts on the Facebook fan page of the guy I’m getting ready to tell you about, I think it is easier to do if you actually have a definite reason for doing it, such as moving or graduating from college or transitioning to a smaller living space like RVers.

I am very proud of the young people in this country who hear and see firsthand what living on credit can do to you. People homeless or going into foreclosure. Billions of dollars in real estate 2nd mortgages in default, with no hope of ever collecting. Then taxpayers foot the bill.

There are quite a few different branch-offs of this grassroots movement. Some are doing it slowly, such as getting rid of 5 pieces of stuff everyday until they own 100 items. Some are in a contest to see how low below 100 they can get. I keep thinking about Steve Martin in the movie “The Jerk” when he was just happy to have his thermos.

While reading a book on full-timing, the author talked about maintaining a small storage unit. When she buys something on the road, it goes into the storage unit. While that seems like a great choice, this woman has been full-timing it for over 12 years. Can you imagine how much stuff is in there? Then what do you when you decide to settle down somewhere? Put a bunch of old junk in your house?

Tell me, could you knock it down to 100 things (not counting your RV) ?

Here’s the guy who started it all: (yay for you, Dave!)

aguynameddave.com

Here is a fantastic article from the NY Times that explains it in detail and how the end result is to get people out of debt in a very short time. It seems that when you stop concentrating on things, it starts your life over.

http://nyti.ms/afw0ZE

Here’s another article about it:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1812048,00.html

You can also follow Dave on Facebook here:

http://touch.facebook.com/#100thingchallenge?w2m

You can see a great example of someone who is really committed to it here:

http://gypsytour.blogspot.com/2010_05_01_archive.html

Here’s a great post about wastefulness:
http://zenhabits.net/simple-wasteless/

I was feeling a little depressed today (we’ve had 4 months of constant overcast skies and rain, and it is driving me cuckoo). I have absolutely NOTHING TO WHINE ABOUT after watching this beautiful video:

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