Friday, August 11, 2017

Road Trip Summary

Some basic trip stats:
  • 92 days on the road
  • 89 days outside of Alaska
  • 12 days in Canada
One of the limiting factors for our trip was I couldn't be out of the state for more than 90 days according to the state retirement system.

Here are some camping statistics.
  • 50 nights in private RV parks
  • 17 nights in public campgrounds with and without hookups
  • 6 Nights in family/friends home (Whitehorse, Woodland, Corvallis)
  • 6 nights driveway surfing (Helena, Sun River)
  • 4 nights using Harvest Hosts
  • 3 nights in motels (Fort Nelson, Prince George, Merrit)
  • 2 nights at Walmart
  • 1 night camping w/tent (Hood River)
  • 1 night casino camping
Most of the camping had some sort of hookup including one of the Harvest Host sites. The hot temperatures forced us to look for campsites with power so we could run the air conditioner. I only used the generators once at one of the Harvest Host sites to run the air conditioner for a couple of hours. Most of the public campgrounds had generator restrictions as does Walmart.

The leaking black tank valve really limited our ability to boondock. The fresh water tank overflow was not connected to the overflow on the fill so anytime we were off camber, such as at a rest area, we would lose water from the fresh water tank. Even if we started out full in the morning, by the afternoon we lost some percentage of our fresh water. We ran out of water once after only 2 days of dry camping. It should've lasted much longer than that since we weren't using it for cooking or showers.

The battery bank and solar panels worked great. No issues. The lowest we ran the batteries down was 65% of capacity or about 150 amp-hours. We never had a day when the batteries weren't at 100% by evening. The converter was never used to charge the batteries. We never had to "ration" the power and regularly used the induction cooktop, rice cooker, Keurig coffee maker, electric fans, computers, microwave, TV, furnace, CPAP machine, etc. all off of the battery bank. We did have to try and remember to switch the refrigerator from "auto" to "gas" when the inverter is on. Otherwise, the refrigerator would be a continuous 350 watt load on the battery bank. It may be an idea to add four more solar panels just to power the refrigerator while traveling. I think that 90% or our cooking was on the induction burner and only 10% was on the stove. The oven was only used to store frying pans.

The Ubiquity network setup worked well. I needed to downgrade the Ubiquity firmware at the one campground that was still using WEP. Having the Nano allowed us to connect to almost all of the campground wifi including the Google wifi available at one of the Starbucks next to the Rock Springs Walmart. Where campground wifi wasn't available, I could connect the Ubiquity to either my AT&T iPhone or Verizon iPad. The iPad service was more for emergency use only as I only have 1GB of capacity available. We did not use a cellular booster.

The Berkey water purifier was probably the best addition we made. We were never out of great tasting water and we never bothered to sanitize the fresh water tank as we did not use it of cooking or drinking. I do have to come up with a way to secure the Berkey for travel in the trailer. For this trip, we always moved it onto the floor of the back seat of the truck for travel.

The air conditioner was nice to have since it was so hot. But it struggled to keep the temperature in the trailer much more than 10°F cooler than the outside temperature. An option is to rewire the trailer for 50 amp service (new electrical panel, new cord, new surge protector) and add a second air conditioner. In Moab, we picked up some Reflectix bubble pack insulation and put it on some of the windows. It really did help. We needed to add some to the other windows especially the picture window on the rear of the trailer. For moderate temperatures, a second fan for the living room vent would help. Though, due to the height of the ceiling, the model with the remote control would be needed.

One addition needed before the next trip are new tank level sensors. The SeeLevel II system can be retrofitted without drilling into the tanks and uses the existing wiring.

We used five 30# tanks of propane during the trip. The furnace is, by far, the largest consumer of propane. During the +100°F days, one tank would last a month. On the way back through Canada, maybe 10 days. 


  1. Interesting to read all the stats from the trip. Do you think overall it was a way better value than the Prius and using hotels or tent camping with a hotel every few days? It certainly seems more convenient to have all the homey comforts with you.

    1. If we were travelling the same distance over the same amount of time with the Prius, we would've spent a lot more. The gas savings would be around $2000. The private RV parks probably averaged about $35/night where a motel would've been 2-3x that or more. Plus, we had maybe 95% of our meals in the trailer and didn't need to bother with an ice chest. Being able to make Costco grocery trips and have enough room to put the stuff was pretty nice. I don't think that Bridget would've agreed to a 3 month trip if it involved tent camping. It was really convenient to not have to pack/unpack every day. We would see people digging through their cars in gas stations and rest stops trying to find stuff. We never needed to do that during the entire trip.

  2. So, every 90 days you have to prove you were inside Alaskan borders eh? Curious. Great set of stats, not sure I would have been as zealous in keeping records.

    1. The "record keeping" amounted to looking through my blog titles and counting. Then seeing if it added up to 90. The fuel records came from, the free service that I've been using for years. What we don't have is convenient records on campsite and food costs.

  3. Next time I will start with a planner where I can document how much was spent for overnights and how much was spent on food-groceries and eating out. I was actually proud of my spending habits for souvenirs. Living without clutter helped in that way. I would have busted the budget in Whitehorse if they had the native hummingbird cape in my size. $110.00, but it was gorgeous!

  4. Wow, what a trip! Interesting that the state retirement system limits the days you can be gone. That solar is definitely the way to go, especially if you are not in the brutal heat. Also I need to check out Ubiquity, it sounds very flexible.