Our Alaska Trip Part XVII Going It Alone With the Group
This is the 17th in a continuing series about our trip to Alaska
Monday and Tuesday are free days for members of the caravan, a chance to drive or fly to the Arctic Circle or some other desolate spots, return to North Pole, Alaska, for a missed opportunity of hard-core shopping, or just resting. We’re not doing any of the above. Today we are catching up on routine RVing tasks, including laundry, rehabilitating our trailer and, of course, sitting at the computer. As the weather clears, we will head to town to see what’s left.
I’ll have some photos from a very busy day yesterday at the end of this article, but I want to digress in this issue to talk about caravanning as an unaccompanied driver.
Without a doubt the bravest of our tribe of RVers is Karen, who is driving almost alone with her bird Bobby at her side. Karen drives a Winnebago View, a 23.5-foot motor home without a “toad.” From my conversation with her, she seems to have five obstacles not faced by most of us, but all of these would apply whether she were in the Lower 48, Canada or Alaska:
1) She is single so she has to do everything herself, unless others volunteer to help
2) She is not retired – the rest of us are
3) She doesn’t have a separate vehicle to use on the road, like all but one other member of the group
4) She is slightly disabled, a situation which got much worse when she injured the sciatic nerve in her back.
5) She cares for Bobby.
Again, being on a trip to Alaska doesn’t pose many unique problems, except that our schedule is tiring. We drive, we see, we meet, we socialize, we sleep, we drive … Other than driving and sleeping, most of it is optional, but why spend the money for a caravan if you’re not going to participate with your fellow travelers?
Karen left Jacksonville, Florida, and drove 3,300 miles to Dawson Creek, British Columbia, stopping for a tire repair and when Bobby’s entry into Canada at Grand Forks, North Dakota, required the approval of an agent, who was on vacation for three days. Bobby has a real passport declaring that he is legal and a protected species.
“I think I chose the right way to do it,” she said, referring to signing on with the caravan. “I don’t regret my choice. The idea of being in Alaska or on the Top of the World Highway with no phones and very limited gas scared me.” She explained that she really joined for the safety of having the tailgunner following the RVers to make sure everything was okay.
Asked about the need to look at the Alaska Caravan Travel Log while driving, which outlines what’s on the road ahead, supplementing “Milepost,” she said she can glance down to see what’s ahead without a problem, and most of the roads and attractions are marked well enough.
Wildlife on the side of the road isn’t considerate enough to stand where there are places to stop for photos, so that’s a problem. She has stopped in the middle of a lonely stretch once (as have we all) to get a shot of Dahl Sheep.
The decision to make this long trip started when she and her husband began to talk about it. Her husband passed away, but she continued to think about the trip. Asked why go in an RV, she said that she doesn’t like the process of traveling – the packing and unpacking, eating out, etc. – but she did want to go to Alaska and see Denali.
As I said, she is the bravest of us all.
She actually started her Alaska trip with an earlier Adventure Caravan group, but the sciatica stopped her long enough to miss the next stops, so she waited for our team. Having joined us late, she was concerned about being accepted. Some offer to help, ask her to sit with them at restaurants or offer her rides. But since some travel with others and others don’t have space in their cars, she may have to ask.
As for the Winnebago View, she likes the comfort of traveling in her own house. “I’m an urban person. I want to go to cities, but I want to see Denali.” Since she is uncomfortable with the idea of towing a car, she’s considering other means of RVing. These include getting over that phobia; buying a toy-hauler in which to carry a SmartCar; getting a stable-lift truck camper that makes leveling easier; or buying a small Class B van conversion.
I will be glad to pass along your comments to Karen.
Now for some sights from yesterday … and believe me, the pictures I publish and the places I write about are only a sampling of what we are actually doing and seeing.
From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.