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March 29, 2011

Good Sam Member Kathi Kopyn and Husband Alaska Camping

Entering Alaska!

by Good Sam Club Member Kathi Kopyn

Having taken two cruises through the Inland Passage of Alaska, we decided to see the interior of Alaska. We tried to make reservations on the ferry, only to be told that ferries were booked until the end of July. Not wanting to sleep in the car, we started our search for an RV. We finally settled on a used, well taken care of 2002, fifth-wheel from a private party. This also necessitated buying a pickup with which to tow it. We went to a local campground for two nights to learn what we needed to know about setting up, dumping, etc.

We were on the road approximately three hours, having stopped twice for a compartment door which kept opening, when we stopped at a rest stop and noticed that our roof was coming off. So I called Good Sam Emergency Road Service. They could have towed us to Yuba City, but we opted to drive on to Corning to an RV repair shop. Because replacing the roof would take one week and $5,000  we asked them to cut off all the loose parts of the roof (cost close to $400.00) and we headed on to Oregon. We stayed with friends while the RV was fixed and prepared for our trip…

Bear - Alaska RV CampingWe spent three nights in lovely Okanagan Valley, B.C. and played golf with a nice couple who told us about many places in Canada and Alaska, and Pink Mountain on the Alaska Highway. We went on from there to Cache Creek where my husband barbecued hamburgers for dinner. I was preparing salad in the RV when my husband came into the rig and asked me to bring water. I looked outside and the picnic table was on fire. Seems he forgot to put the stand under the barbecue. Now we paid more for that table than it was worth!

Preparing for our trip the following day, Jerry managed to put two dents in our truck when he got too close to the hookups and the diesel pump.

Later that day an eagle (or some other huge bird) decided to make his droppings on our windshield…over half of it! In spite of directions from the manager at the RV park, we decided not to go to Dawson Creek, take the shortcut, which was prettier along a river. We ended up going to Pink Mountain, having remembered the conversation with people we met earlier in the trip.

Once we got to Pink Mountain, Jerry had his first experience backing up into a space. A very nice man next door offered to guide him in, which he did. Finally parked, we noticed there was smoke coming from the emergency cable connected to the trailer (brakes!).  Seems that cable got caught in the hitch and released so the trailer brakes were on while backing up. A bunch of black, goopy stuff came out after it was disconnected.

We checked out of Pink Mountain and stopped for fuel. I went in to pay and when I came out I asked Jerry why he was putting gasoline in our diesel truck. He was sick — knowing the truck wouldn’t run on gasoline. But

Sunset on Chena River in Fairbanks Camping

Sunset on Chena River in Fairbanks

we didn’t worry because the truck was equipped with On Star. However, On Star didn’t work. That’s when I discovered that my cell phone didn’t work either. I went into the store to buy a phone card, but when I went to the pay phone, it had an “Out of Order” sign. The manager of the store contacted a friend of his and we were towed two hours to Fort St. John, which was the nearest city with a Chevrolet repair center.

After an eventful night in Fort St. John where Jerry discovered he only packed two left shoes, we picked up our truck and headed out toPink Mountainm picked up the fifth-wheel (which we had left at the gas pump) and on to Fort Nelson to have the brake line replaced.  After that we enjoyed an event-free four weeks driving through Canada and into Alaska. No more problems and now we are enjoying a trip whenever we can get away.

Share your story with the Club! Photos too! We always like to hear and see what’s happening out on those camping adventures.

Leave a Reply


  1. David Cheatwood

    It appears you two lacked a little know-how on your first trip out. Guess what, we all did. And that can be gained along the way. What you didn’t lack was the perseverance and adventurous attitudes which are required for RV travel. Glad you stuck with it. Check out the “Standby SAMS” in your travel area next time and you may find some friendly help along the way. I’ve gotten a few calls over the years and was glad to help.

  2. David Cheatwood

    While you two may have lacked a little “know-how” which can be learned along the way, you definately have the wanderlust and adventurous spirit which are both required for Rv traveling. God bless you for sticking it out. Perhaps you should look up the names of Stand-by Sams in the area you’ll be traveling. I’ve gotten several calls over the last few years and was glad to help.

  3. Ray Ingram

    OMGosh, you two are so brave & determined. Hope our 1st trip isn’t so “challenging”.