Picture Title

Smokey Mountain National Park, Newfound Gap

Number of Visitors

Friday, July 27, 2012

Well That’s not Good (Whitehorse, YT)


Murphy’s Law:  If something can go wrong, it will.

Here we sit in beautiful downtown Whitehorse waiting for the brake hoses to come in.  Last night I checked the UPS web site and found out that the part was stuck in Kansas waiting for a Commercial Invoice which is needed for international shipments.  Of course it was too late to call the factory, so this morning we set the alarm for 6AM and called the factory (8 AM in Kansas). They said they knew there had to be an invoice so they just put a standard invoice in the package, but they would look into it.

Long story short, they faxed over the paperwork, but because it is going to Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada it could not go overnight.  The soonest we could get it would be next Thursday.

So here we sit, in the parking lot of the repair shop until next Thursday.

On the bright side, we do not have to pay for the campsite and time is not a big factor.  There is electric, water to fill the tank, and a dump station.  We even have internet.  Just no TV. We do have the truck to get around.

Are we having fun yet? 

Life is still good on the Roan Road…

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Look Ma, No Brakes (Whitehorse, YT)


We left Skagway Tuesday morning.  The first 15 miles were the hardest.  A constant uphill climb. We went from sea level to 3300 feet.  It is a well paved and maintained road with a lot of traffic, but still very steep.  We had to pull over twice to let things cool down. 

When we reached the top, first we crossed the US boarder we did not have to stop.  When we crossed into Canada, we had to stop, but it was quick and painless.

Then coming down the mountain I had to stop at a pull out.  It seemed like it took longer to stop and required more braking pressure than usual.  I checked the hydraulic break reservoir and it was empty.  I said to myself, “self, this is not good”.  I had a small amount of fluid in a bottle, so I poured it in.  It didn’t even make a dent.  Having no choice I proceeded slowly using the “tow/haul “ feature that Ford has to slow the truck down using the transmission and engine.  We finally reached a gas station in some town that is only a dot on the map.  Of course, it was closed. So we trucked on, SLOWLY.  Then we reached Jakes Corner.  Jake had brake fluid at $9.00 a pint.  That filled up the reservoir.  Just in case, I bought another one for the road.

About half way to Johnson’s Crossing (where we knew their was a campground, restaurant and gas station) the breaks still did not feel right. Sure enough the reservoir was empty.  Again, I said to myself, “self, this is really not good”. Then I crawled under the trailer to see if there was anything wrong.  Sure enough, one of the brake lines was rubbing against the chassis and was leaking.  We SLOWLY took off for Johnson’s Crossing to see if anyone could fix it.  I guess I could fix it myself , if I had to, but I would rather leave it to the experts.

At Johnson’s Crossing they said there was no one who could fix it and did not advise going south because there was no one for many miles that could do the work.  He suggested to go back north to Whitehorse, where there were plenty of repair facilities.  We decided to stay the night and go back to the Whitehorse in the morning, only about 2 hours away. 

We pulled into Whitehorse.  They took a look at the breaks.   They found two bad brake hoses.  Now what.  We could try to find the proper hoses (fat chance of that). We could plug up the front two brakes and just leave the other four in operation. Or I could wait until the next day, today, and contact the factory for the proper part.  I did not want to go over any more mountains unless I have all the stopping power I can get.  Since time in not a problem I decided to go with plan “B” and get the proper part.  We are now parked in the parking lot of the garage with a 20 amp power hookup.

I emailed Ken, the service manager, at New Horizons with my problem last night. I new he would get into work early and as predicted, there was an email waiting when we got up at 6 AM (don’t forget the time difference).  He had the part and suggested some alternate places to try to get the part.  Of course, no one had them.  They are now being shipped overnight.  We have the tracking number and if the UPS Gods are in our favor we should have them tomorrow.

As long as we are here I am having them change the transmission and rear end oil, as per the manual.  This poor little truck has been working SO hard and I do not want the people at Ford to have any excuse to deny a warranty claim.

I will let you know how all this works out in the next installment.

And this too shall pass.

Life is good on the Roan Road…

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tourists, Tourists, Everywhere (Skagway, AK)!!!!!


We took the Ferry from Haines to Skagway.  We lined up about 2 hours before boarding.  We were the first on line. But the last to board because we were the Big Boy on the block.  We were the longest rig on the ferry.  But we were almost the first off.   The crew did a great job guiding us on and off.

Here comes the boat, or ship.  The ferry is part of the Alaska Marine Ferry system that covers the entire coast of Alaska.

Haines to Skagway (1 of 19)Haines to Skagway (2 of 19)

This is to show that Ann is still with me.

Haines to Skagway (3 of 19)

There was plenty of room to spare.  Once you park your rig you must leave it until the ferry docks.

Haines to Skagway (8 of 19)Haines to Skagway (9 of 19)

See Big Boy on the Block.

We went up the Lynn Canal to Skagway with great scenery on both sides.  I can’t say it enough, you just have to see it for yourselves to really realize the scope of the mountain vistas.

Haines to Skagway (4 of 19)Haines to Skagway (5 of 19)Haines to Skagway (6 of 19)

And then there was Skagway.  With two cruise ships already at anchor at the dock.

Haines to Skagway (7 of 19)

We exited the ferry, and went up State street and pulled into an RV Park.

The next day we walked into town.  Then there were three. 

Haines to Skagway (18 of 19)

The Amsterdam had docked during the night.  The town and the many, many Jewelry shops were very crowded. 

Haines to Skagway (19 of 19)

The National Park Service has a Visitors center in the center of town.  Skagway is actually a NP. This is the NP Visitor center.

Haines to Skagway (14 of 19)

The NP also owns a Saloon, The Mascot.  It is not actually an operating saloon but a recreation of a 1900 Skagway saloon.

Haines to Skagway (11 of 19)

We took a walking tour with a park ranger around town.   We did not go into the Jewelry shops or the T-shirt stores thought, we saved that for later.  We did buy two Alaska hats for $1.99 each.  I gave one to Ann.  Big spender.

That day we met a great couple from Denver, Larry and Meggie.  We spent the evening with them and had a great time. 

In out travels, so far, we have met some really great couples.  We hope to see them along the Roan Road.

Tomorrow we leave,  heading back to the lower 48.  Up, back into Canada, Yukon Territory, British Columbia and back to the US.

Life is good on the Roan Road...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wash the RV, for What? (Haines, AK)


We left Valdez around 10AM.  After a very long hard climb over the mountains, we had to pull over twice to let the engine and transmission cool down, we made it across the boarder to Haines Junction. To get to Haines Alaska you have to go back to the Yukon Territory, then down to British Columbia and back into Alaska.

Ann loved this scene along the highway from Valdez to Haines Junction that we are naming it “Ann’s Lake” .  Of course, I liked the float plane.

Valdez blog (39 of 41)Valdez blog (40 of 41)Valdez blog (41 of 41)

The trip from Valdez to Haines Junction has the worst roads we have come across yet.  And that includes the Cross Bronx Expressway.  The roads in Canada are by far the worst.  There is construction everywhere and the roads are all dirt and mud.  When we pulled into Haines Junction the RV was covered in a fine coat of mud.  Both truck and camper.

One dirty Rig (1 of 1)

We stayed an extra day in Haines Junction to rest up and put everything back in its place in the camper.  Other than that there is absolutely nothing to do there.  As the name states it is the Junction between two roads. Period. 

So I did some minor repairs and washed the truck.  As we pulled out this morning we washed the camper.  Guess what, 1 mile down the road to Haines, “Construction”, there is now more mud than before.  You know what, it will stay there until we get to the lower 48.

EXTRA, EXTRA.  I read in a local newspaper in Valdez, that said that at the airport they pumped 10 gallons of fuel into a plane that landed before they noticed it was a Mosquito.   That shows you how big the Alaska Mosquito can get.  This report was from the only Mechanic at the airport who refused to give his name.

We are now pulled off the side of the road, with a waterfall on one side and a gorgeous lake surrounded by mountains on the other.  We just filled up the fuel tank, it was the most expensive yet, $5.19/gal.  We will be taking the the ferry tomorrow to Skagway.

Pulled off in Haines (1 of 3)Pulled off in Haines (2 of 3)Pulled off in Haines (3 of 3)


Life is good on the Roan Road…

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Sun Came Out & OMG (Valdez, AK)


Just a note.  Some of the pictures in the blogs were taken by Ann.  They are too numerous to list.  Just to let everyone know Ann took them with her little Nikon Coolpix.  Thanks Ann, job well done!

Warning!!  This blog is long and contains many pictures.  If you get bored,  you can scroll through them fast.  If you do, I will know who you are and I will be watching you in the future.  So proceed at your own risk.

The trip down the Richardson Highway to Valdez was amazing.  It rained most of the way but the views were still unbelievable. 

On way Valdez (1 of 38)On way Valdez (4 of 38)On way Valdez (17 of 38)On way Valdez (21 of 38)On way Valdez (23 of 38)

Of coarse this is all over Alaska.  CONSRUCTION,

On way Valdez (25 of 38)

We finally arrived in Valdez and setup camp in an RV park right in the center of town, not that the town is that big.  It proceeded to rain through the night.  This morning the clouds finally broke and the Sun came out.

  Valdez blog (1 of 6)Valdez blog (2 of 6)Valdez blog (3 of 6)Valdez blog (4 of 6)Valdez blog (5 of 6)

This place has got to be the most beautiful place on Earth.  The pictures do not let you see the scope of the area.  The mountains are all around us, 360 degrees, with the deep blue of the sky and the low hanging clouds, the green of the mountains combined with the snow covered peaks. Mother Nature had a good time here.  Too bad Exxon had to spoil it.

We then took a walk around the fishing and small boat harbor.

The next day we took a boat tour of Prince William Sound.  It coved the harbor, wildlife and the Columbia Glacier.

Leaving the slip the boat passed the Oil docks, where the oil tankers are loaded.  Things have changed since that day in 1986 when the Exxon Valdez ran aground.  They now have a full time oil response team and all tankers are escorted by two Tugs.   Since 9-11 there is a “No Fly Zone” around the oil tanker docks.  The Coast Guard monitors all boats in the sound.

Valdez blog (15 of 41)

This is a picture of a Barley storage facility that was built by the town to store the Barley that was grown locally before shipping it to the lower 48.   They spent millions to build it. Only to find the local farmers could not grow enough Barley to fill it.  It has never been used.

Barley Blog (1 of 1)

Fishing in Prince William Sound.  There are many fishing boats in the mouth of Prince William Sound.

Valdez blog (19 of 41)

This is a picture of a fishing boat setting out his net.   They let out the net while turning in a circle. Then a small skiff keeps pulling the boat sideways as the boat pulls in the net.  This prevents the boat from moving into its own net when the net is pull back aboard.  Hopefully, with fish in the net.

Valdez blog (20 of 41)

Next the wildlife.

Sea Otters

Valdez blog (12 of 41)Valdez blog (14 of 41)

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Sea Lions resting on a buoy.

Valdez blog (16 of 41)

Hump Back Whale.  What we could see of them

Valdez blog (26 of 41)Valdez blog (28 of 41)Valdez blog (29 of 41)Valdez blog (30 of 41)Valdez blog (31 of 41)

A family of Mountain Goats (someone please tell Ann I need a bigger lens).

Prince William Sound (1 of 6)

Columbia Glacier.

This is one we pulled out of the sea. She’s a keeper.

Valdez blog (2 of 41)

Notice the saying on the T shirt.  Ann picked it up in a great museum in Valdez (Ann said the designer had her in mind when designing this  shirt!)

Next we leave Valdez back up the Richardson Highway to Tok, then back into Canada, back down to Alaska and Haines. So stay tuned.

Life is good on the Roan Road…