Jun 6th

        We headed back into town to get fuel at a 24hr station before leaving. After filling up we turned south and headed for Valdez. The route was 249 miles but the road looked to be smoother than we had been experiencing of late. There were some patches of gravel but no long stretches. We passed through Slana where we had originally thought we would have been spending the last couple of nights. Basically no town, no stores and not much of a campground. We were glad we had changed our plans and stopped in Tok. This route has the most beautiful scenery we have seen to date. I know I said that before but really this was even better. Snow capped mountains, sheer rock walls and natural water falls right along the road. Thompson Pass and the nearby glacier were fantastic sites. After working our way through Old Valdez we got to the actual Valdez. We almost drove right past the campground but at the last moment we saw their sign. A very nice open park and the staff seems nice as well. Cable TV is available and it has 54 channels including some pay TV. They have a wireless internet service available throughout the park but the rates are a bit high. I managed to find an un-secured wireless network in the area and have so far avoided paying for any internet. During unhook and setup we discovered that the auxiliary braking system in the Jeep had self destructed. We even found a couple of broken plastic parts. The paint on the Jeep is even worse than before and the TV managed to break loose from it’s mounting again. Not good news. Since this only impacts the Jeep when we are towing we headed downtown to checkout the city. Not a very big place but unusually confusing to drive around it. Being Sunday a couple of places we thought we would go to were closed. We ended up at a place called Sea More Fish. The menu prices were higher than I like but we found a very good halibut sandwich that was reasonable. Before going back to the camper we drove back along the route about 20 miles to take pictures of  two waterfalls (Bridal Veil and Horse Tail) we had passed on the way into town. After returning to the camper and the cats we proceeded to drown our Jeep sorrows in a couple of beers and watch some great cable TV before turning in.
 

Jun 7th

        Oh boy, a project day! I took some pictures around the campsite while I waited for Rita to finish getting ready. The Mexican restaurant (Ernesto’s Taqueria) that we wanted to go to yesterday was open today and we sat down for lunch. The food was very good and the prices were reasonable. From here we went to Radio Shack, the grocery store and the liquor store before returning home. Finding anything to do before doing the projects I managed to use my hijacked internet access to update a website and do some email. After running out of fun stuff I started the work part of the day. Dumping the black tank went smoothly and the flushing process was every bit as smelly as it usually is. That may explain why it only gets flushed once a month. I called a number of RV places looking to get information on purchasing a replacement auxiliary braking unit for the Jeep. After getting transferred from person to person and waiting on hold I would call the next place. When I ran out of places I called the 24hr ‘Hotline’ for the manufacture of the original system. They didn’t answer. Fixing the existing unit myself seemed to be the only option. A little research showed the broken plastic pieces to have come from a small light mounted under the dash. The light had been in the way of the braking cylinder when it flew off the braking piston during the self destruction phase. Good news – now all I have I worry about is a broken belt-like piece. After a bit of work I managed to reassemble the unit. The true test comes when we hit the brakes on the camper during the light test we do before pulling out of the campgrounds. The TV project is put off until tomorrow and I take a moment to catch up on the NHL while updating my diary. Tomorrow we plan to walk around town and do a little souvenir shopping.
 

Jun 8th

        Had lunch today at the same Mexican place as yesterday. Why change it if it works? From there we toured a few junk (souvenir) stores. We managed to resist all efforts to have us purchase something. A quick tour of the harbor area convinced me there was nothing there in need of having it’s picture taken. Clouds have settled into the mountains around the town so even they are not available. We then spend about 45 minutes driving around town trying to figure out where the wireless network I could get at the camper was coming from. I had been unable to connect all morning and so I had brought the laptop along in the Jeep and we were basically ‘war driving’ (hunting for unsecured wireless networks). No luck. The local library offers internet access on their computers in 30min increments that you can sign up for once per day. Can’t have the locals overdosing on internet! I signed up for the next available slot and returned to the camper to await my turn. Checking the email at the library and doing a little web searching for a car shield chewed up my timeslot very quickly. Returning to the camper I take a moment to modify the existing rock shield in an attempt to prevent further damage to the Jeep. There is so much damage already that I don’t think more damage will actually change the repair bill. The car shield I found on the internet is about 260.00 plus shipping. Surely less than the cost of repairing the existing damage – I should have had this from the beginning. I can’t order it yet as we have no address to ship to. I am hoping to have this solved in Hope. Checking one last time for my hijacked internet I find I can get on again. It seems to be related to the door of the camper being open or closed. Possibly the signal is being reflected by the door when it is open and the network is located behind us instead of ahead of us. This may be why we could not find it during our driving around. We have supper in the camper and settle down to TV watching. I take advantage of the available internet and update the website. Tomorrow we head 262 miles down the road to Palmer. The next five travel days after this one are all less than 200 miles each and I am looking forward to the easy days.
 

Jun 9th

        One last check of the email this morning before packing up the PC. Nothing of interest. Fuel today was the most expensive it has been so far this trip – 2.39. Luckily I only needed 37 gallons or I would have had to take out a loan! Out of the campground and back down the same highway that brought us here. It was foggy this morning so the views were not as spectacular and the driving was more difficult. About 120 miles out we turned west on Hwy 1. The first section of the road was scenic like the last road but then it got narrow and winding. There was even extensive road construction to give the trip that extra something special. The repaired braking system in the Jeep performed flawlessly but the improvements to the rock shield did little to prevent further paint damage. The campground was difficult to find like most of them and as usual we saw the sign at the last moment. Little a bit of a place and full of trees. We picked a site and got setup. The people in the office told us about a theater in the next town that was showing Harry Potter so we jumped in the Jeep to check the schedule. The theater was that in name only. It was the size of a shoe box and almost without a parking lot. We decided to try again tomorrow when we visit Anchorage to check out campgrounds. We then hit a Taco Bell, my first one in over a month, and continued on to the Headquarters of the Iditarod. After watching an interesting video on the history of the race we returned to the camper. On the way into the park we noticed that the campground across the way was offering Wi-Fi. A quick check with the PC assured me it was a pay access network just like the last place. 1hr for $5.50, 1day for $11, 1week for $27 or 1month for $44 – way too expensive for my tastes. I guess it is back to dialup for email and no surfing for a while. A little taped TV and a couple of beers to end the night. Tomorrow we head out to find Harry Potter once again.
 

Jun 10th

        The day turned into a scouting mission. There are four campgrounds in Anchorage that we were considering staying in when we pass back through the area in about 2 weeks. We decided we would visit each of them in person to see what their rates were and what each park was like. We targeted leaving the camper for the trip at 9:30. It was 10:15 when we actually got in the Jeep. The first campground, Anchorage RV Park, was very nice. The rates were a little high but they had everything except wireless internet. The other three campgrounds ranged from ‘no way’ to ‘only if everywhere else is full’. So after careful consideration we decided to stay with our original choice. We then headed off to a Mexican restaurant we had found on the map that was relatively close to the theater where Harry Potter was showing. Unfortunately, it was easier to find on the map than it was on the street. After a bit of searching we found it tucked in the corner of a strip mall. Not exactly what we were expecting. Lunch was had at Pizza Hut. From there we headed south to the theater. An older six screen theater but it seemed to be well cared for. No stadium seating – it has been quite a while since I have been to theater without it. It also has been quite a while since I have been to a movie where the ushers walk up and down the aisles during the movie! Oh well, the movie was worth all the odd things about the theater. Back at the camper I called the next several campgrounds to make reservations. Now that the season is heating up we no longer feel comfortable with making them one day in advance. The next two weeks are all setup. I took some pictures around the campground and we watched some TV over supper. Later tonight I plan to buy some internet access so I can check my email and update JoJo’s website with this weeks volleyball stats. With any luck I can finish within the one hour limit. Tomorrow we head south through Anchorage to Seward.
P.S. - If you checked the website tonight you already know that the wireless access worked great and everything got updated in a timely fashion.

Pictures