http-equiv='refresh'/> Tin TeePee/Log Cabin: And One Last Alaska Post—Thoughts

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

And One Last Alaska Post—Thoughts

We sure have gotten a lot of blogging mileage out of this Alaska/Canada trip!  I will highlight some of our thoughts and a few of our “dislikes.”

The truck camper we purchased was the absolute best rig for this trip—our little dog house served us very well.  We had no trouble parking on the ferry and following the direction of the parking guys, even turning completely around on the parking deck of one of the ferries.  We fit in any campground and could almost park in a normal parking space.  

This Lance truck camper was eleven feet long and has a dry bath versus the wet bath many truck campers have.  Dry bath means there is a separate shower, wet bath means the entire bathroom including the toilet paper if you forget to put it away gets wet when you shower.  And don’t get me wrong, yes, we had a separate shower but “separate” is still very, very small in a truck camper—it got the job done! Smile

photo (18)-001Geri took this shot.

In a truck camper the bed is over the cab of the truck, there is a step and then you must leap, crawl, jump, scoot, etc. your way into bed.  Making a truck camper bed is without a doubt one of the worst things I’ve ever had to do!  One of the other various RV’s we bought and sold this summer had an almost brand new memory foam mattress which we removed and placed in the Lance truck camper.  That mattress made the head room about 4-6 inches less than it was with the original mattress—this increased the bed making difficulties!  But, we learned to cope after whacking our heads multiple times!  On the next to the last night of truck camper living I said as I was grunting my way into bed, “I can’t wait to sleep in a real bed!!”


We had to be very careful with weight—everything including the camper is going into the bed of a one ton pickup truck.  No extras of any kind—we were very careful with clothing, food items, etc.  The cowboy wasn’t able to bring the entire garage of tools as he does when we travel in the motorhome!  And I didn’t get to take my Kitchen Aid mixer, either!

I had plenty of cooking space, our refrigerator was of good size with a separate freezer, we had a stovetop with oven and all in all we had plenty of storage space for this type trip.  We kept reminding ourselves, “we aren’t “living” in these rigs, we are “camping.”   Groceries were enormously expensive in Alaska and Canada and it would have been great to take more food stuffs with us but it just wasn’t possible.  We also found the variety and quality of produce to be poor in those remote southeast Alaska communities—to be expected when everything arrives via boat or plane. 

We stayed in ferry parking lots and we even stealth camped in a parking lot in Skagway:

photo (17)Prince Rupert

In Alaska we stayed in state parks and private RV parks—there was only one state park where it would have been hard if not impossible to park a large motorhome or fifth wheel—that was in Ketchikan.  RV parks are expensive—$40-$50 per night.  In Juneau we stayed in a USFS campground which had full hookups—can you believe that!—and huge, gigantic sites, $26 per night with the cowboy’s US Senior Pass.  Larry and Geri were envious of our “old farts pass”!  In Canada we tried to stay in provincial parks and if we couldn’t find one when we were ready to stop, we used a private RV park. 

Traveling in mid to late August we had no problems finding a spot to camp without reservations.  Labor Day weekend was a little tricky but we managed.  We had no problems finding fuel stations—in either Alaska or Canada—but be ready to pay the price. 

We encountered road construction from Montana all the way back to Montana.  None of it was awful nor did it go on for miles and miles.  Some of the roads are rough with frost heaves making it a little dangerous to open cabinet and refrigerator doors at the end of the day. 

IMG_1399Another Geri shot—I think they got tired of looking at that other Lance camper in front of them!

We didn’t have many dislikes on this trip and if there was a dislike it was the cruise ship crowds.  If we traveled to southeast Alaska again, I would find cruise ship itineraries to try and avoid the busiest days.   We were told there were four cruise ships docking per day in Skagway and the Skagway Convention and Visitors Bureau cruise ship schedule I found confirms that fact!  It’s one of the reasons we liked Petersburg so much—no cruise ships travel there.  I understand the community’s need for the cruise ship passenger revenue but it sure does make for lots of crowds when four cruise ships disgorge thousands of passengers daily into communities.  Skagway has a year round population of around 900 people yet they have 900,000 summer visitors!!!!! 

Pets are not allowed above the car deck on ferries—once the ferry is under way passengers are not allowed to go to the car deck except on the longer legs such as the one from Bellingham, WA to Prince Rupert, British Columbia—38 hours.  On the longer legs of travel passengers are escorted to the car deck and can take their pets out for a walk around the car deck.  We had one leg, Petersburg to Juneau which was scheduled for eight hours—it took us about nine hours as there was heavy fog.  We’ve never left Emmi alone for that long, six hours is about our max and we don’t like to do that.  She was alone in the camper for over nine hours and that really weighed on me as we traveled along. 

And then there was the internet issue or lack thereof!  We use Straight Talk for our cell phone service—doesn’t work outside the lower 48.  We use Millenicom for our internet when traveling—nope, doesn’t work in Alaska or Canada.  So, we were dependent upon public or campground wifi.  I will say this, the visitors centers in British Columbia and Alberta where we stopped had very fast, free wifi.  Next time we will know and make other provisions.  I was lucky that Geri and Larry had purchased Canadian cellphone coverage for the trip—I was able to use their phone and talk to my Mom following her total shoulder surgery she had to have as a result of her accident in July.  While in Alaska we used up some of Larry and Geri’s unlimited weekend minutes to talk to Nat, too.

And if you are traveling to southeast Alaska expect rain and clouds.  We experienced very little heavy rain but lots of clouds and mist.  We also had some gloriously sunny, beautiful days. 

IMG_1727 and another Geri photo!

All in all, we had a fabulous time and would do it again in a heartbeat, we are all ready planning our next summer’s trip so we must not have disliked too much!!! 


  1. We took our fifth wheel and drove where ever we went. I felt the ferries for us were way more than I wanted to pay. Also we had to drive slowly, but had plenty of time. Would I do it again? No doubt about it, It really was a good trip. I'm glad you enjoyed yourselves.

  2. We are seriously contemplating on a truck and camper like that to go up when we are ready for a summer... and selling it when we get back. No sense beating up our big motorhome and no need for the added expense of diesel fuel and finding long length camping spots. Would rather rig up a pickup camper with some solar and do some boondocking. Steve is already looking at the Craigslist ads and even considered some Class B units. hmmmmmm

    1. Karen--depending on the time of year you go to Alaska and where you go, solar won't do you much good. In Southeast Alaska we had way more cloudy than sunny days. Even coming back via British Columbia and Alberta we had very few sunny days. We looked at Class B units too but found them very expensive for what you were getting.

  3. It sounds like your Lance is well laid out to have all that inside! I feel your "pain" with the overhead bed - it was miserable even in my 30's! Thanks for this thoughtful summary of how your trip went. Alaska is a couple years "down the road" for us, but I sure think you've got the right idea with the smaller rig. Always good to know you'd do it again :-)

  4. That was a great recap of your trip to Alaska this summer, Janna. A lot of very good information about what to expect for those who've never made the trip (like me)!!

  5. Someday we may decide that we need to visit Alaska. I think you were very wise to do the truck camper thing. You must have really had lots of "likes" if you are going back next year:)

  6. Good recap. We've cruised to Alaska and I have flown in to a few places. We did motorcycle to the Prince Rupert area before taking the BC Ferries ship to northern Vancouver Island and riding south to Victoria before returning to the mainland. Stunning country up there.....and all the way back too.

  7. Janna - we just returned to the Lower 48 from our AK trip. We have a 38' moho pulling a jeep. Yes your set up was great for that kind of trip & thought of you guys several times.But we really didn't have any problems with parking. We were hoping to boondock more but it didn't turn out that way.And we are also planning our 2nd trip either in 2015 or 16. We really loved it, glad you & the cowboy did also. Becki


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