2nd quarter 2023: WheRV we been?

The trip from Mile 0 (Dawson Creek YT, June 5) to Historic Mile 1422 (Delta Junction AK, June 18) of the Alaska Highway is the most famous stretch, but only a fraction of what we’ll cover this summer, from TX to AK to WA.

First quarter this year we stayed in one place.

From the end of April to the end of June? We became quite promiscuous, spending the night in 44 places in 90 days, as we went from TX to WA with the BFT and Tex (our 41′ 5th wheel), from WA back to TX in just the BFT, from TX back to WA with BFT + Road Island (our truck camper) and Tim the Tool Man’s Traveling Tool Trailer, and finally from WA to AK in the BFT-RI combo, for a total of 9766 miles. So far. And only as measured directly between overnight stops.

Map represents the TX-WA-AK trajectory, and isn’t completely accurate, but I managed to swing the route through most of our actual stops.

I thought about composing a chronological recounting of the wonders along the way, but it felt too daunting and sounded too boring, so I’m going with broader brushstrokes and an intentional lack of chatter. We’re busy. Places to explore and rarities to find!

You’ll notice from our attire that like us, the weather was all over the map, and you can’t count on the tank tops appearing farther south or later in the season than the fleece jackets. Luckily, we’ve remained unperturbed by wildfire smoke, snow, or heavy rain.

The all-night light hasn’t interfered with our sleep, but we do tend to stay up later than usual because it just doesn’t feel right to climb into bed when the sun is still high in the sky — at 10 pm.


All aboard! We took the White Pass & Yukon Route from Fraser BC to Skagway AK.


Cow moose near Chena Hot Springs, AK, gettin’ herself fed.
Her babies had been spotted with her earlier, by friends who’d passed by the pond before we did.


People (mostly us)

Argh! Sorry about the multiple photo sizes in the slide shows. I tried something new to keep that from happening, and I failed. Already planning a new strategy for my next update.

But what about all those logistical challenges?

In my last update, I left loose ends on multiple ropes that required tying off before Tim reports to the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in October for his yearlong program of study. Specifically…

Are we going to book an RV site for a year? Rent a furnished place? We’ve rented a furnished cottage within a couple miles of the school.

Sell or store Tex (5th wheel) or Road Island (truck camper)? As luck would have it, some family members in WA ended up selling their house earlier than planned and needed temporary lodging exactly when we’d have needed to find storage for Tex, so they’re living in it for about a year, and all of us are relieved to have found an ideal solution. Road Island will be able to bunk right next to us in our rental cottage’s driveway, so that worked out too.

What about the cargo trailer with all Tim’s tools in it? It landed in a safe place in WA, on property belonging to friends who have a lengthy list of projects to tackle at their freshly built home, and who are of course free to use the Tool Man’s tools as part of the “rental agreement.” Again, everybody wins.

There it is beside the house, all cozy until we return to WA to hitch it back on in September.

What am I going to do while Tim’s in class every weekday from 8-5 for a year? If I get a job, won’t we need a second vehicle? I’m planning to pick up a part-time job and/or a regular volunteer gig to keep me feeling busy and useful. And since we’ll be living within a couple miles of the boat school, we won’t need a second vehicle because Tim can easily walk, bike, or be dropped off and picked up. Another win.

Where to next?

Everywhere we can reasonably get to in Alaska and western Canada over the next two months.

Already planned: Escapees Hangouts in Seward and Valdez

On the list, but lacking specifics: Lake Clark NP, Anchorage, various towns on the Kenai Peninsula, the Arctic Ocean, Top of the World Highway, Chicken, Northwest Territories

Not on the list, but not off it either: Whatever/wherever strikes our fancy between the various places above. There just aren’t that many highways up here, so locations that haven’t actually made our list are likely to become stops somewhere along the route between others.

Let us know if you’ve got an Alaskan “can’t miss it,” and check our socials for more frequent updates. Maybe we’ll pop up in a place you’ve visited! FacebookInstagramTwitter

We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format.

1st quarter 2023: Big change. BIG.

So uh, remember last update when I said that pesky medical follow-ups were keeping us in TX, but at least none were serious? 

One got serious. 

And that’s why we’re still here, but that’s not the BIG change. I’ll get to that.

It’s a little bit about me, and a lot about Tim and boats.

I won’t leave you guessing about the medical thing. 

My doctors found that I have some precancerous endometrial lesions, and the treatment for someone my age and with my cancer history is a hysterectomy. I’m scheduled for the surgery in April, and we expect to begin our trek toward WA & AK in mid-May, assuming I get an all-clear from my medical team.

Quite honestly, it’s a relief — and also a good excuse for a heartfelt reminder to get your regular check-ups, and also your irregular ones, for symptoms and conditions that just don’t seem right. Don’t wait.

So yeah, other than a 10-day visit to Tim’s folks in Mexico, we’ve stayed put here on our friends’ property in Boerne, TX, and since I have no RV travels to report for this quarter, I’ll jump right into what’s happening later this year.

And now… for something completely different

If you were paying attention last summer, you might have noticed my somewhat cryptic caption on the photo of Tim at the WoodenBoat School in Maine.

It was here, in July, that we started seriously discussing the “what ifs” and “just maybes” of that rekindled flame.
(This is a screen cap of the slide show from the original post, not a new slide show, so don’t click the little arrow thingies because they don’t do anything.)

Tim loves wooden boats, and

… he once built a wooden boat, and

… our older son went to the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock, WA, ten years ago, and

… Tim’s been thinking about it ever since, and

… we knew we’d be returning from Alaska to Washington in September of this year, making it an ideal time to start school there, but

… Tim didn’t know what he’d do with the skills he’d learn and the degree he’d earn, so

… after a lot of drive-time discussions and no small amount of soul searching, he decided to let those wood shavings fall where they may, because life is short, and it’s time to fulfill this dream. A post-graduation plan will eventually reveal itself.

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tim applied in January, pretty much the second admissions opened for the 2023-24 school year, and – – – paperwork, interview, more paperwork – – – is now enrolled in their 12-month Boatbuilding AOS Degree program, starting in October!
It was in fact while we were living in WA 20 years ago that Tim built his first wooden boat, laying the keel after returning from a lengthy Navy deployment in 2003, and launching in 2004.
The 15’ solid wooden and fiberglass sailboat was based on Harold Payson’s Gypsy.
Tim modified it in 2005, refurbished it in 2015, and sold it in 2016, shortly after we took to full-time RV living.

We have what feels like a shipyard’s worth of logistics to plan before school starts. Are we going to book an RV site for a year? Rent a furnished place? Sell or store Tex (5th wheel) or Road Island (truck camper)? What about the cargo trailer with all Tim’s tools in it? What am I going to do while Tim’s in class every weekday from 8-5 for a year? If I get a job, won’t we need a second vehicle? And oh yeah, there’s this summer’s trip to Alaska in Road Island, for which we don’t even have the bare minimum of dinghies in a row yet. Ack!

And then… there’s the weather. We’ve visited family in western Washington countless times, plus we lived in Bremerton for a 2-year tour of duty, and it was the longest, coldest, darkest, wettest 6 winters I’ve ever experienced. Please send a sun lamp and other mood lifters. I’ve already bought the wildest pair of rain boots I could find.

The father will follow in the son’s footsteps, right through the doors of the boat school, 10 years later. It’s kind of like a legacy admission, only… backwards?
Plus, that boy of ours still lives in the area, and the prospect of more family time definitely puts some wind in this mama’s sails.
(Photo taken at the school, the weekend our son graduated)
And if I knew where to find this old license plate frame, which I had custom made for Tim when he finished the sailboat in 2004, and is now buried in a box in our storage unit, I’d definitely give it a shine and put it on the BFT.

As we muddle our way from springtime surgery in Texas, through an Alaskan summer road trip, to settling into student life in Washington in the fall, check in with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for brief updates on how it’s all going. Until the next long post here, I’ll leave you with a joke.

Question: What’s the biggest advantage of going back to school as a retiree?  
Answer: If you cut classes, no one calls your parents. 

We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format.