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Old 07-16-2013, 10:30 PM   #41
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Re: Alaska in a Nissan SMB

Installment 21 (6/10-11/13)

If it hadn't been raining, we would have walked to the view point of Hagwilget Canyon and Bridge. You cross this one lane bridge to get in and out of Old Hazelton.

We resumed travel on route 16 toward Prince George, but turned onto route 97 before Prince George. The roads were much improved, and we drove 344 miles before stopping at 10 Mile Lake Provincial campground. Another watch for bears sign. According to the camp host there was a timid, young black bear in the area. This campground primarily was for boaters and fishermen.

The next day, we continued on route 97, stopping at the visitor center in Williams Lake. Another must stop to get even more brochures. No need to get road info. Another place to stop is 108 Mile Ranch, a heritage site of turn of the century log buildings. (Ironically, not far away is a building yard for new, huge log buildings. They dry fit them in the yard, then transport them to the site.) We plan to return to this area.

At the junction of routes 97 and 1, we headed for Kamloops. At route 5, a true interstate, we headed south, getting off at Merritt to stay at Monck Provincial campground on Nicola Lake. According to the camp ground description, there was a "First People" archeological site at this park. It turned out that the pictographs were on private property with no access.
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Old 07-17-2013, 08:45 AM   #42
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Re: Alaska in a Nissan SMB

Great report, and sounds like you had a good time despite the challenging weather you came across.

Sorry you missed out on McCarthy and Kennicott in Wrangell-St Elias NP. They are definitely worth visiting, and the road back from Chitna is pretty cool, too. We lived in Glennallen for a few summers in the late 80s and early 90s and got back there a number of times. In the 80s it was really cool because the old buildings in Kennicott were still open and you could wander through them. Also, the only way to cross over into McCarthy was via a two-person, hand-powered tram on a cable across the river.
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Old 07-18-2013, 04:51 PM   #43
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Re: Alaska in a Nissan SMB

Thanks. Whether it is van camping, backpacking or cycling races, we seem to get unexpected swings in weather.

Installment 22 (6/12-14/13)

We returned to Merritt and route 5, where we picked up route 97C to see Kelowna, BC. A cycling friend lives there when not racing. Although we knew the population was 115,000, it seemed much larger. We had lunch, re-crossed the bridge over Okanagan Lake and drove south on route 97 to North Okanagan Provincial Campground; there also is a south campground, but the north one is much nicer. The showers were not working, and you had to drive or walk to the south campground. We just decided to stay south. (There is a service road that connects the 2 campgrounds and a dog beach at the midway point. Worth the walk.) That afternoon, there were heavy thunderstorms in Kelowna; the outflow winds headed south along the lake and lasted most of the night. There were tent campers and RVs in all the shore sites and everything was blown around. (Ever since our high wind experiences and having to pull the ph top down in Goblin State Park and Arches National Park, Utah, we look for sheltered sites when we don't know the area. You have to experience trying to pull the top down in high wind. You always need to open windows and/or doors to let the air out; however, the wind just bellowed out the top, and I ended up doing pull ups. It took awhile to get the right window etc. combination.)

We continued south on route 97 through wine country. Beautiful area. Normally, you would exit Canada through Osoyoos, but we had to go to Libby, MT. No good way to get there crossing into Washington. We decided to take route 3 to Creston, BC, passing through Grand Forks, Castlegar and Nelson, the latter being a detour of our choosing. Between every town is a mountain range, so you climb only to descend to the next town on a river. Spectacular country and lots of farm/fruit stands. We want to go back.

We stopped in Creston and stayed at Scotties RV Park. Later that night, I kept smelling "stale" beer. Turns out we were right across the street from Columbia Brewery.

When we crossed the nearby border, we had an apple purchased in Canada, grown in the US. We ended up in another lane to meet the agriculture inspector. The apple still had its sticker, so we consumed it later in the day. Tomatoes will also get you into this lane. We didn't have any, but the tomatoes we bought in Canada were from Mexico, the same brand available in Tucson. Don't know how they would handle this.

Libby was less than 80 miles away. We stayed in a small municipal park while there.
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Old 07-19-2013, 03:38 PM   #44
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Re: Alaska in a Nissan SMB

Installment 23 Washington (6/15-19/13)

While in Libby, MT, we briefly considered heading south to Wyoming and return home via Colorado and New Mexico. We decided this will be another trip by itself.

We decided to head west and take route 101 down the coast. We backtracked on route 2 to Idaho and took route 2 and 95 south to I-90. Since we got a late start, we stayed in a RV park in Ritzville, WA. Ritzville is a small farming town off the interstate; the RV park is just off I-90, located behind a motel and gas station next to the cemetery. Second campground in a row, we were next to a cemetery. A guy, washing a big RV, asked about NV and our discussion turned to why he was there. His wife and daughter had just opened a restaurant, "Memories Diner," in Ritzville. He and his wife lived and worked in Spokane, but were living in the RV park until the restaurant was established. I asked if they served pie, and he asked what type did we want, as his wife would be returning soon. We had cherry pie and ice cream on the house. (I know, a long story about pie...)

We bi-passed Seattle and Tacoma by taking route 18 to I-5 to get to Olympia and route 101, a very narrow and twisty road. Pay attention to the "5 car rule" and pull over when you have a 5 car caravan behind you; there were plenty of marked pull outs. (We had never been to Washington or Oregon, so this was all new to us.) We stayed at Dosewallips State Park, which is one of the nicest campgrounds (grass at each site and very clean) we have visited. Go under route 101 to get to the dry camping area. Even though this was the first weekend after school let out and the campground was crowded, there were plenty of spaces. Our area had pit toilets, and we walked to the showers etc. in the other area. We walked the trails to the shore (clam and oyster season had just opened) and the trails climbing into the forest. Our site was on the river.

Washington parks received a big budget hit and introduced the Discovery Pass. This is required for everyone and everything to see. The daily $10 discovery pass fee is included in the camping fee and covers everything for that day and the next. Keep your receipt on your dashboard.

The rangers recommended Fort Worden State Park at nearby Port Townsend. If you like military history and tourist towns, this is ok. We chose the beach campground, which also is day use. A better choice would be the campground in the woods near/in the fort it self. You can also stay in the officers' quarters (6 bedroom Victorian duplexes). We did walk around the grounds.

Since it was supposed to rain, we figured why not stay at Hoh Rain Forest, part of Olympic National Park. They get up to 12' of rain a year, and rain it did. With the National Park senior pass, entry is free and camping was $6. Lots of hiking trails, but no dogs on any of the trails. We chose a site on a meadow because it was open and you could watch the mist and clouds float down from the mountains. Worth a visit.

We next stayed at Cape Disappointment. Even more crowded, but they still had plenty of dry camping spaces. Short walk to the beach through the campground. This park's budget twist was no garbage pick up and no bins; you were expected to pack it out. We did find some bins near the camp host site. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, in the park, marks the Pacific terminus of their trip.There is a separate entrance fee but your campground receipt covers parking in the lot, where no RVs are allowed due to no space to turn around. Since we are a camper van, we parked there.
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Old 07-20-2013, 06:32 PM   #45
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Re: Alaska in a Nissan SMB

Installment 24 Oregon (6/20-23/13)

Continued on route 101 across the Columbia River to Oregon. Another late start due to spending the morning at the Lewis and Clark center. Stayed at Cape Lookout, less than 100 miles away. The campground is on the beach, but behind a berm. Sites vary from parking lot sites close to the berm to sites in the forest and in between. There are full hookups, but not for those without reservations. There are showers. It rained the majority of the time were there. Nevertheless, we enjoyed walking along the beach, sometime in the rain and other times with the rain in the distance.

A much nicer campground is Humbug Mountain State Park, 226 miles south on route 101. The name suggests a mountain campground, but it actually is close sea level. It is a short walk, under the bridge on 101, to get to the beach. There also is a 6 mile hike to the summit (1756') of Humbug Mountain, and you can walk or bike a 3 mile portion of "old" 101. This is a ranger-less entry park with no maps; we were only able to get general information from the ranger checking on fee payments. The hike is steep in places and the summit is a meadow with a view of the coast to the south. There were still plenty of spring flowers, mostly on the east trail. Some hookups were available, depending on how many days you planned to stay. There are showers. We spent 2 nights here and enjoyed the warm, sunny weather. When we left it was foggy; this was the only time during the whole trip we used our head lights, not the day time running lights.

One thing we did not expect when we stopped for fuel. Oregon is a "no self-service" state. When I got out to pump gas, I was surprised to see an "attendant." I thought I was at a full service pump.
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Old 07-21-2013, 02:59 PM   #46
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Re: Alaska in a Nissan SMB

Installment 25 California (6/23-27/13)

Continued on route 101 to California. Road was familiar at Eureka from our first trip in NV last October. This time we did not exit at the Avenue of the Giants or take route 1 just south of there. We stayed on route 101 and stopped after 349 miles at Dutcher RV Park in Cloverdale. This is a strange place, not so strange to be avoided, but almost all of the residents are permanent, as in years permanent. It is situated in the hills among scrub oaks with vineyards in the distance. It must have been a ranch at some point. The current owners have been there 11 years.

We exited route 101 at Geyserville and took route 128 through the vineyards to Calistoga. Just south of there is Bothe Napa State/County Park. Great location to explore the vineyards, but like many CA parks it is worn out and sites are not well maintained. An interesting feature is the shuttle bus to/from Calistoga. You just have to call them if you can find a spot where your phone will work.

At this point we began hearing about 110-120? in the in the central valleys and deserts. We changed our plans to stop by SMB west and drive through Sequoia National Park. Instead we stuck to the coast as much as possible.

We next stayed at El Chorro County Park, on route 1 in San Luis Obispo. This was once part of the fort there and is a large recreation area with a golf course, ball fields, trails and camp sites. Full hook ups and showers were available. The tent area was not particularly level. We made no attempt to stay on the coast, an area we have enjoyed since the late '60s.

We got back on route 101 toward Ventura. We planned to stay at McGrath State Beach, but it was still closed due to earlier flooding. We were told this is a chronic problem. Instead, we headed inland toward Ojai and stayed at Camp Comfort County Park. Very small campground with hook ups and showers.

In keeping with our stick by the coast, we decided to avoid the interstates, so we exited route 101 at Oxnard and took route 1 all the way to Dana Point. Last time we did this was in our VW camper. (You should do this once.) This section was the complete antithesis of what came before in our trip. It was an "experience" in a large vehicle. We stopped for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Walt's Wharf in Seal Beach. We had 2 possibilities where to stay. The first, which we drove by, was San Onofre State Beach, a long parking lot off I-5 on a bluff above the beach. The second, where we stayed, was Guajome County Park, 6 miles inland off I-5 on route 78 in Oceanside. Originally, it was a mission land grant, a working ranch, and a bird farm/zoo until sold to San Diego County in the '70s. The campground is small and has showers and partial hookups. When we arrived, there was a rolling black out due to the heat (85?) and ac demands in the area. We knew power was back on when all the RV generators turned off. It was warm enough for us to use the driver/passenger door and sliding door screens to keep the bugs out. Cell phone service was the best yet thanks to 2 towers disguised as trees.

The next day we drove to Tucson. Somewhere between Yuma and Gila Bend, it was 111?.
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Old 07-25-2013, 12:49 AM   #47
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Re: Alaska in a Nissan SMB

Next time you come to Oceanside,consider the pakinglot at Oceanside harbor.$28 a night for a parking lot but fun.
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Old 07-25-2013, 12:50 AM   #48
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Re: Alaska in a Nissan SMB

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 07-27-2013, 08:12 PM   #49
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Re: Alaska in a Nissan SMB

We know that exit. In the early '90s, we were getting off I-5, and the accelerator cable snapped on our '83 VW camper. We ran, ok rolled, the stop sign and were able to park it legally. We then took a city bus to get to a foreign auto parts store to buy a new cable. While I was replacing it, my wife walked our dog in the harbor area. Will check it out. San Onofre is only an alternative to sleeping in a rest area, which we had to do one time late at night after failing to find a site anywhere.

In looking at other trip reports, trip costs were provided. I keep a hand written diary, even now with a lap top with us, and take photos to supplement the diary. My wife keeps track of trip expenses.

Gasoline (42 fill ups) $2905 (16.5 mpg)
Campgrounds (53 nights) $1436
Groceries $1015

There were other "optional" expenses that will vary from camper to camper.

Next trip is in August to Salinas Pueblo Missions southeast of Albuquerque. Only 1 campground open there due to earlier flooding or some other environmental issue that closed the visitor center. We then will make our way north toward Colorado and west toward Mesa Verde. As usual with us, we'll have a general itinerary. We will expect the unexpected weather.
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