Sunday, August 26, 2012

We Have Retired!

We have retired! Retired from presenting RV seminars; retired from writing and selling RV books; retired from writing RV articles and columns.

Our RV seminar business went first. The recession hit the RV industry hard and our seminars were easy to eliminate from the promotional budgets. We adjusted by retiring from the seminar business.

Our RVbook business also changed. Since 90% of our book sales occurred at the end of our seminars we allowed our paperback books to go out of print. All of our books, however were recently revised, updated and converted to e-books. They can be ordered on our website.

Our monthly column “RV Insight” that appeared in the Good Sam Club’s Highways magazine for the past 15 years was canceled. The final column appeared in the May 2011 issue.

Our monthly column “Life On The Road” that has been appearing in Motorhome magazine was recently canceled by us. The final column will appear in the December, 2012 issue.

We have had a good run. We taught our first community college RV class in 1989; presented our first RV seminar in 1992; wrote our first RV column in 1993; published our first RV book in 1997. When people asked what we did for a living we responded by telling them “We travel around the country in a motorhome, getting paid to tell people how much fun it is to travel around the country in a motorhome”. We presented RV seminars at up to twenty or more RV shows and educational events every year; putting twenty thousand miles a year on our motorhome. We worked and became good friends with legendary RV educators like Bill Farlow, Joe and Kay Peterson, Bill and Jan Moeller, Gaylord Maxwell and Bob Livingston.

Finally, we will continue the “whimsical irregularity” of this blog. Check in with us periodically to see what we are up to.

Our RV related domain names are for sale. You can see them on our website

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Mobile RV Repair at Home

I’ve found an alternative to taking my motorhome to a repair shop for service. I called a mobile RV service technician to come to my motorhome.

The burners in my 15-year old motorhome’s water heater and refrigerator were not igniting as they should. And, the rear roof air conditioner had stopped working. It was not even showing up on the control panel. I also had four fluorescent lights that were not working. I really was not looking forward to taking my motorhome out of storage, driving it to a repair facility and leaving it there for the service techs to “get to it when they could” and then waiting for them to receive parts.

I turned on my computer and went to South Coast RV Repair, owned and operated by Bret Loudenback, had 16 excellent-rated reviews by customers. And, best of all, he was located within 10 miles of my location.

I called to make an appointment. It was the middle of July. Bret was booked solid for almost two weeks. He said he would try to squeeze me in if it was an emergency. Fortunately, I was not in a rush.

Bret showed up on time. I fully expected him to replace the thermocouples in the water heater and refrigerator. Bret simply cleaned the existing thermocouples and then cleaned and adjusted both appliances. The air conditioner problem took some diagnostic time. I was half-way expecting a major repair job on the rear air conditioner. The problem was solved when Bret finally located a faulty communication wire. As I understand Bret’s explanation, the Comfort Control Center talks to the front air conditioner and the front air conditioner then passes along the messages to the rear air conditioner. The rear air conditioner was simply not getting any messages from the front air conditioner.

Bret diagnosed the faulty fluorescent lights as needing new ballasts. He would order them and return to install them. A few days later he showed up on time and replaced the ballasts in the fluorescent lights.

Will I use Bret again? You bet! He is prompt, clean, conscientious, knowledgeable, competent, honest and a pleasure to deal with.

Bret is based in Fountain Valley, CA. His website is

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mail On The Road

Our column in the July 2012 issue of Motorhome magazine discusses the use of priority mail for receiving mail on the road. A reader had this important point to add;

Dear Joe and Vicki,

I read your article in the Motor Home 2012 issue about using Priority Mail to have your mail forwarded to your destination and wanted to let you know I liked it. As a Letter Carrier of the US Postal service I too offer ideas as to how to get people’s mail to them when they are away while at the same time promoting Postal Products and Services.

While I am not the official spokesperson for the US Postal Service, I did want to clarify a statement in your article about handing an envelope to a postal employee that weighs over 13oz. You are correct that anything over 13oz bearing stamps as postage cannot be dropped in any mailbox for pick up. However, it cannot be handed to just any postal employee. According to the US Postal Service, any piece of mail weighing over 13oz, and bearing stamps for postage, it must be taken to a window clerk at any US Post Office, or an authorized entry point for the US Postal Service. City Letter Carriers and Rural Carriers are no longer allowed to pick up these items. I wish it weren’t that way. There’s nothing worse than telling your customer you’ve known for years that you cannot take their mail because of this postal regulation.

I hope I have added some beneficial information to you. I do so enjoy reading your articles even though I do not have an RV yet. I am still a travel trailer kinda guy. Though I can’t wait to upgrade to a Class A motor coach.


Tom C

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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Zion, Bryce,and North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Our RVs have taken us from Newfoundland to Puerto Vallarta, from the Florida Keys to Fairbanks Alaska, and many points in between. But, even though they are only a few hundred miles from our home, we have never been to Zion, Bryce, and the Grand Canyon’s north rim. The 45 mile road to the north rim of the Grand Canyon does not open until May 15 so the timing of our trip had to take that into consideration. We knew it would be warm in Zion but we did not anticipate daytime temperatures in the other parks would reach into the 90s during mid-May.

Our observations leave the flora and fauna photos and descriptions to the tour books.

Las Vegas, Nevada - We left our southern California home on Sunday, May 12th. We drove about 270 miles to Las Vegas, Nevada and checked into the Oasis RV Resort for the evening. The Oasis is on the outskirts of the city. It measures up to the “resort” description with paved roads and sites, 50-amp, water, sewer and cable TV connections. But fee Wi-Fi. The Silverton Casino is just across the highway so we took advantage of their dinner buffet and, for dessert, Vicki won enough at the $5.00 blackjack tables to pay for our meals. Later that evening we drove down Las Vegas Blvd. (aka “The Strip”) and into the “Downtown” area. Both areas were bumper to bumper traffic and wall to wall humanity! Daytime temperature reached 100 degrees.

Zion Canyon National Park - Monday morning, after a leisurely breakfast buffet at the Point South Casino/Hotel we drove about 150 miles to Virgin, Utah. The drive covers the same desolate, never-ending desert terrain we crossed from Barstow, CA to Las Vegas. Temps were in the very high 90s all the way to the Zion RV Resort in Virgin. This is one of the best RV parks we have ever stayed in. Paved roads, concrete pads with 50-amp electricity, water, sewer, cable and telephone hookups. Sites are separated by about 15 feet of lawn, each containing a large shade tree. Unfortunately, there was no Verizon cell signal but the telephone hookup at the site allowed us to make free 800-calls with the hard-wired phone we carry in our motorhome.

Monday afternoon we drove 10 miles to the Zion Nat’l Park Visitor Center. Our Golden Age Passport saved us from paying the $25 per car entrance fee. The area around the visitor center was a mass of cars and people. It was 5:00 pm and there were only a few parking spaces available. According to signs posted along the approach road, the parking lots at the visitor center fill up by 9:00 am and remain that way until after 4:00 pm.

To handle the crowds and traffic, the National Park service has instituted a shuttle bus system for visiting Zion Canyon. Free shuttle service is available from the parking lots in the nearby town of Springdale to the visitor center. Then, because cars and other private vehicles are not allowed into the canyon itself, another free shuttle service busses visitors into Zion Canyon. The shuttles stop to allow passengers on and off at the scenic view points. Visitors can get off one bus and get on another. The busses run about every ten minutes.

We came up with a plan to avoid the parking hassle and minimize the shuttle crowds. Zion River Resort offers an accommodating shuttle service for a very nominal fee. We got into their van at 9:00 am and were driven to the Zion Nat’l Park Visitor Center. An empty shuttle bus arrived just a few minutes after our arrival. We remained in our seats throughout the entire 80 minute round trip into and out of Zion Canyon. Other passengers, mostly photographers and hikers (we are not either) got on and off the bus as it moved from one spot to another. We and a few others simply used the shuttle like a tour bus. After returning to the visitor center there was time to visit the gift shop before we were picked up by the Zion River Resort van at 12:00 noon.

The National Park’s shuttle service makes sense. Zion Canyon has been carved deep and narrow by the Virgin River. The floor of the canyon is just wide enough for the river and the two-lane dead-end road. Space to turn around or get off the road is at a premium. The canyon simply could not handle the chaotic crush of cars if they were allowed into the canyon. By the way, when we arrived at the visitor center at 9:30 in the morning there were still parking spaces available. Also, our shuttle bus into the canyon was only half full. When our bus returned to the visitor center a little before 11:00, however, there were lines of people waiting to board the busses and the parking lots looked full. Arriving early might be the trick to avoiding the crowds.

There are two entrances to Zion National Park. We arrived at the south entrance via Highway 9 off of I-15. Easy hills (predominantly uphill into the park) and gentle curves make this a relatively easy route for RVs. The east entrance from Highway 89 has a number of steep grades (predominantly downhill into the park) and switchback curves. It also has a two-lane, one-mile long tunnel with a low, curved ceiling. RVs have to straddle the centerline in order to pass through the tunnel without damaging their roofs. That means stopping oncoming traffic which the rangers are happy to do for a $15.00 fee. Lots of large RVs go both ways through the tunnel. So eastbound and westbound traffic take turns getting stopped and waiting for RVs to pass through the tunnel. Driving our car, we followed large RVs both ways through the tunnel. Headlights and a few windows to the outside were the only illumination. I would consider this portion of the drive one of the more memorable for an RVer. We didn’t stop to investigate but it appeared the rangers were simply letting a long string of eastbound traffic (including one or more RVs) through the tunnel and then letting a long string of westbound traffic through. Our wait in both directions was about ten to fifteen minutes. We decided to avoid the tunnel when we left Zion.

Shuttle Bus - Zion Nat'l Park

North Rim - Grand Canyon. Thursday we drove about 100 miles to Jacob Lake, Arizona. Our route took us through the towns of Hurricane, UT and Fredonia, Arizona on Highways 59 and 389. In Fredonia we turned south on Highway 89A and climbed a series of long grades to the town of Jacob Lake and the Kaibab Camper Village. The campground is in a dense forest of pine trees and has long, pull-thru sites with 30-amp electricity, water and sewer hookups. No cable TV available and satellite TV was blocked by the tall trees. The campground does not offer a Wi-Fi connection but we had good Verizon cell service and our cellphone’s “Personal Hot Spot” put us on the internet. Kaibab Camper Village is at an elevation of 8,900 feet. The cool mountain air was a refreshing break from the four previous days of oppressive 90-plus degree desert heat. We spent the rest of the day kicking back and enjoying the luxury of having our windows open. It was 75 degrees with a soft breeze blowing through the tall pine trees. That night the temperature dropped to 29 degrees.

Friday morning we drove our car 45 miles to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The drive surprised us. A wide, gently rolling, two-lane, nicely paved highway crossed wide meadows dotted with ponds and surrounded by pine trees and aspens. We saw deer grazing in the open. We showed our Golden Age pass and entered the park. The entrance station of the park had a sign saying “All Campgrounds Full”. We drove through one of them. Lots of empty sites - probably reserved for the weekend. The campground and sites are really nice. Located in a pine forest with wide, level sites; a lot of them pull-thrus. No hookups but water and dump station available. The parking lot of the visitor center was pretty crowded and there were a lot of people considering the park had only been open for three days. We wandered around to some of the viewing spots but were not overly impressed. Views from the south rim are much more spectacular.

We drove through a National Forest campground located at the intersection of highways 89A and 67. Lots of empty long, wide and level campsites in a pine tree setting. No hookups at the National Forest campground was the reason we made reservations at Kaibab Camper Village. We thought we would want an electrical hookup to run our air conditioner. But we never turned it on.

Vicki - North Rim of  Grand Canyon

Bryce Canyon - Saturday we followed Highways 89A, 89, 12 and 63 to Ruby’s RV Park in Bryce Canyon. It was only about 120 miles. Ruby’s is a small community in itself with a lodge, full-service restaurant, fast food restaurants, grocery store/gift shop and two fuel stations. That evening we celebrated our 52nd anniversary by enjoying a very good meal in the main restaurant.

Our long, level, pull-thru site in Ruby’s RV Park had 50-amp electricity, water and sewer hookup. There was no cable TV but we were able to use our satellite TV. There was excellent free Wi-Fi and fair Verizon cell service. It was a good thing we made reservations because the RV park was sold out for the weekend. Our visit coincided with the solar eclipse that occurred on May 20th. A large number of astrology groups added to the usual number of National Park visitors.

Bryce Canyon also offers a free jump-on jump-off shuttle service. It begins at the entrance to Ruby’s RV Park and travels the 20-mile road to the end of the view points along the way. The shuttle also stops at the visitor center and lodge inside the park. The shuttle is optional. We drove our SUV to the end of the road, turned around and stopped at all of the viewpoints as we returned to the RV park. This put all of the viewpoints on the right side of the road and we avoided having to cross oncoming traffic to get into them. All of the viewpoints were very busy but we found parking spaces available. I suspect traffic must build up as the season progresses.

Bryce Canyon

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Check Your Battery Box

The Country Coach Owner’s Forum has had a couple of entries describing serious rust problems in the steel framework that supports the battery tray. The fiberglass tray contains the 8D starter battery and the two 8D house batteries. At least two owners reported that their trays literally dropped to the ground as a result of rust corrosion.

I have replaced the starter battery and changed over to four 6-volt deep-cycle batteries but, in thirteen years of ownership, I have never had all of the batteries out of the tray at the same time. So the battery tray has never been removed and the framework inspected.

On occasion, I have viewed the underside of the framework; even tapped it with a hammer but, other than a rust-colored appearance, it appeared to be in decent condition.

Recently, I noticed heavy rust stains on the concrete pad below the battery bay. The bottom of the framework appeared solid. Hammer tapping did not reveal any weakness.

I decided that it was time to pull all the batteries, lift the battery tray and, if nothing else, sandblast and paint the framework. I took my motorhome to Orange Coast Auto Body/RV in Fountain Valley, CA. Two hours after I dropped it off I received a call: “Come take a look at the rust damage.”

The corrosion was extensive. I doubt if the framework would have supported the batteries for another trip. Interestingly, the damage was most severe in places that were in contact with the tray. I am in the habit of hosing off the batteries when I wash the motorhome. Moisture also gets splashed up by the rear tires located in front of the open-floored battery compartment. Could the cause be moisture making its way between the framework and the tray and then not drying out? The areas of the framework exposed to view (and dry air) had little, if any, corrosion.

Anyway, the remnants of the old frame were cut away, a new framework fabricated and welded into place. All of the surrounding framework was reinforced, sandblasted and everything coated with corrosion resistant paint. I feel confident the battery compartment framework will last another 14 years.

The battery tray and a piece of 2x4 are on the pavement under the rusted framework.

Better than new framework.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Creeping Window Seals

Do any of your RV’s dual-pane windows have creeping window seals? Creeping window seals occur when the spacing material between the panes of a dual-pane window begins to creep from the outside edge of the glass towards the center of the pane.

Dual-pane windows have a spacer and sealant between the two panes of glass. The spacer and sealant are located at the edge of the glass and create an airtight barrier that prevents ambient air from getting between the two panes.

The air space between the panes of glass is subjected to expansion and contraction caused by the changes in temperatures and elevations that an RV encounters. Apparently, over time, a seal can fail just enough to allow heated or expanding air to escape but, when the glass cools, prevents outside air from entering the space between the panes. The resulting vacuum slowly but surely sucks the seals from the outside edge of the glass towards the center of the window. Hence the descriptive term: "creeping window seals". Eventually the seal allows moist outside air to enter the air space. This results in condensation or fogging on the interior side of the glass. The remedy is to replace or repair the windows.

Over the years, our 1998 Country Coach developed creeping window seals in a number of windows. We finally decided to bite the financial bullet and have them repaired or replaced. A little research revealed that repairing would cost significantly less than replacement. We live on the west coast and had heard a lot of positive comments about Dave Root RV Glass Repair. Dave is based in Bend Oregon but travels and works in Southern California and Arizona during the winter months. We corresponded by e-mail. He gave us an estimate for the repair of 12 windows. We made an appointment for a time when our motorhome would be on a friend’s lot in Yuma, Arizona.

Dave and his assistant, Nathan, arrived a few minutes early. They were towing a trailer workshop with two work stations inside. They immediately set to work removing the window cornices and blinds. The cornices were removed in one piece leaving the blinds intact inside of them. Next, the window frames were taken out and then the dual panes removed from the frames. It was obvious from the way Dave and Nathan worked they knew what they were doing and had done this a number of times before.

The windows were taken inside the trailer and secured to a special work platform. Separating the panes of glass on a dual-pane window is not an easy chore. Part of the task involves hammering wedges between the panes as the sealant is cut away. The strength of the glass and the skill of the person wielding the hammer and wedges is the only thing that prevents the glass from shattering.

Once the panes are separated they are meticulously cleaned and prepped. Sealant and a spacer are applied to one pane of glass and then the second pane is carefully mated to the first. More sealant is then applied to the outside edge of the window.

The dual-pane is returned to its original frame. Sealant is applied to the frame. The window frame replaced on the RV. More sealant applied to the outside edges of the window frames and the cornice replaced inside the RV. Twelve of our windows were removed, repaired and replaced in twelve hours time.

Dave and Nathan were professional, super competent, conscientious and pleasant to have around. I would highly recommend Dave Root RV Glass Repair to anyone whose RV is suffering from creeping window seals. Contact Dave at or 1-541-280-3612.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Going To Alaska?

Going To Alaska?

Be prepared for this awesome journey.

Here are three daily log entries from our e-book “RVing Alaska


The Beginning of Our Alaska Trip –
July 25 - Wednesday - Seattle to Cache Creek

Brookside Campground - $28.00
Pull-thru, 30-amp, water, sewer, Wi-Fi ($)
301 miles - 7 hours

We are on an Alaska RV trip. We'll try to update you at least once a week about our adventures.

It has been a few years since we last drove north on I-5 from Portland, Oregon. So, we were sort of surprised when we encountered very heavy traffic all the way from Portland, through Seattle and into Everett, Washington. Especially around Seattle.

Our first day's journey (on a clear, sunny day) took us from the Seattle/Tacoma KOA to the Brookside Campground in Cache Creek, British Columbia. We left I-5 at Exit 256 and followed Highways 539, 546 and 9 to the border crossing at Sumas, WA.

There was only one car in line when we arrived at Canadian Customs at 1:00 pm. The courteous officer wrote down our license plate numbers and entered them into a computer. Then he asked for identification (we gave him our passports). A number of questions followed: "Where do you live, How long will you be in Canada? Are you carrying any firearms? How much tobacco and alcohol are aboard? Any commercial products? Gifts for Canadians? Surprisingly he did not ask about food products, nor did he enter our RV.

We continued north a short distance and turned east onto Trans-Canadian Highway 1. Highway 1 is a pleasure to drive. As it leaves Abbottsford it crosses relatively level farmland, moves into tree-covered hills, and then through mountainous terrain with many curves and a number of brief 6 and 7 percent grades. The route follows the Fraser and Thompson Rivers. This is a spectacular scenic drive. The Fraser Valley is better described as a canyon with vertical, tree-covered cliffs. Building the highway and two railroad tracks along this route is an engineering marvel. Traffic on the highway was extremely light.

We arrived at the 97-site Brookside Campground in Cache Creek at 4:00 pm. There were only a few vacant sites when we arrived. The campground owner said we would take the last big-rig site he had available. A level pull-through site with 30-amp electric, water and sewer hookup cost $28.00. WiFi was also available for an additional $2.00. There were a lot of rental RVs in the campground. Most, if not all, were occupied by Europeans. All the Americans we spoke with were heading south. There were mixed reports about the condition of the Cassiar Highway.


August 28 - Tuesday
Sunny - 68 degrees -

Tok to Haines Junction
Alaska Highway 1
290 miles - 8 hours

Kluane RV Park ($30.00)
Pull-thru, 30-amp, water, sewer, cable

After a breakfast that included sourdough pancakes and reindeer sausage we headed southeast from Tok on Alaska Highway 1. The 2-lane highway crosses rolling terrain with easy grades and curves. It is nicely paved for the 90 miles to the Canadian border. The next 90 miles or so, however, is frost-heave alley. This has got to be the roughest section of the Alaska Highway. There were times when our speed was reduced to 20 miles per hour and we never exceeded 40 miles per hour. Once we reached Destruction Bay on Kluane Lake the road surface calmed down. There was serious road construction going on at the south end of the lake but after that the road became real civilized. The good news was the scenery we enjoyed during the entire trip.

There is a fuel station on the highway just before you reach the Canadian border. Diesel and gasoline was priced at $3.19 per gallon. The same as in Tok. We topped off our fuel tank. A few miles later, in Canada, fuel was priced at $1.26 per liter ($4.77 per gallon)

The border crossing was no problem. A few questions, a look at our passports, and we were on our way.

John and Jodie kept us busy videotaping various sections of highway. They would drive a good distance ahead of us scouting out a good location, setting up their camera, and then filming us as we traveled over that particular piece of road. We want our DVD to show the variety of road surfaces one encounters in, and on the way to, Alaska. There are places where the RVer must deal with dust, mud, gravel and frost-heaves but the majority of the roads are nicely surfaced with easy grades and alignment.

Our campground for the evening was the Kluane RV Kampground in Haines Junction. It offers 30-amp electric, water, sewer, cable TV and free WiFi. The gravel campsites will accommodate large RVs.

The Aspens have turned gold and other fall colors are beginning to show. Last night the temperature in Tok dropped to 36 degrees. Another sure sign of fall is number of RVs heading south along the highway


The end of our Alaska trip.

September 6 - Thursday
Overcast, 65 degrees

Cache Creek to Everett, Washington
Highways 1, Exit 92, 9, 546, 539, I-5
268 miles - 6 hours

Lakeside RV Park - $35.00
50-amp, water, sewer, cable, no Wi-Fi
Dial-up modem in laundry room

There is a convenient, easy in-and-out Petro station located on the east side of Highway 97 just north of its intersection with Highway 1. We began our day by filling our fuel tank with $1.04 per liter ($3.94 per gallon) diesel and driving south on Trans-Canadian Highway Highway 1. This is a spectacular scenic drive. At first it crosses mountainous terrain with many curves and a number of brief 6 and 7 percent grades. The mountains give way to tree-covered hills and then to relatively level farmland. The route follows the Thompson and Fraser Rivers. Traffic, compared to what we had become accustomed to, was somewhat busy with more than a few big trucks towing tandem trailers.

Just outside the community of Abbottsford, highway signs advise motorists that Exit 92 to Highway 11 (Sumas Way) would lead to the U.S./Canada border crossing. Once there, we waited in line for a half-hour to cross into the United States. Some of the vehicles in front of us were searched, others checked by dogs, we lucked out. A friendly Customs Officer asked us a couple questions ... "Where do you live?" ... "What kind of things did you buy in Canada?" ..., gave us a friendly smile, said "Welcome home" and waved us through.

Traffic was heavy on Interstate 5. Cars zoomed, trucks tailgated, travel lanes appeared and disappeared. We were back in the "lower 48" where every lane is the fast lane.

It had taken four hours to get from Cache Creek to the border crossing and a half hour to cross the border. One and one-half hours later we pulled into the Lakeside RV Park in Everett, Washington ($35.00). Our paved, pull-thru site had 50-amp electric, water, sewer and cable TV (with 99 stations). Our satellite TV antenna had good reception and our cellular phone had a strong signal. Surprisingly, the RV park did not have WiFi but there was a dial-up modem in the laundry room.

Our Alaska trip began in Seattle, WA and ended in Everett, WA. It had taken 44 days. We drove 6,744 miles, purchased $3089.79 of fuel, and had a great adventure.

Note: Had we put our motorhome and car on the ferry from Haines, Alaska to Bellingham, Washington and taken a cabin for the journey, it would have cost $4,400.00 plus the cost of meals purchased on board. But we took the ferry from Haines to Skagway and then drove to Everett, Washington. It cost us $233.00 for the ferry, $769.00 for fuel, and $133.00 for campgrounds, or a total of $1,135.00. We left Haines the same day the ferry departed. We arrived in Washington two days after the ferry.

Read a detailed journal of our Alaskan journey in "RVing Alaska: Insights and Observations"

Read our article: Alaska! The Ultimate RV Adventure

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