“Exit, Stage Left”
We were glad to be leaving the RV park in Chitina. We even woke up early and were ready to roll by 8AM, probably a record for us. Until the toilet stopped flushing. Our Bounder is equipped with a SeaLand Vacu-flush toilet. When you step on the pedal/lever, the vacuum pump starts to run and sucks all the waste into a tube that leads to the black tank. One very large advantage of this system is no black tank smell. We don’t have the problem many RVers face who happen to have a direct drop to their black tanks. Because the vacuum pump seals the path between the tank and the toilet, odors don’t rise when the toilet is flushed. However, a large drawback of these systems is they require electrical power to run. And ours was no longer running. We checked the fuses first – no problem. We had plenty of battery so we knew that wasn’t it either. There are only two possibilities left: the pump died or there was something stuck. Mike got a stick. A long stick. And poked it down the hole. After two or three tries, the pump started pumping again! Something must have gotten hung up in the tube leading to the tank. We were very happy it started to work again.
So, by 9AM we were ready to leave. Our goal for the day was to make it back to the Richardson Highway then take a left towards Anchorage. We would find somewhere along the route to over night.
We stopped at Matanuska Glacier and thought about staying there but the campground was full and the rest area was too slanted for our bus. We made coffee and pressed on.
We stopped at half a dozen pull offs, an old defunct campground, and next to a creek. But someone was being picky and none of the places suited.
We made it to Palmer, AK. I had my laptop out on the dash searching for places we might be able to camp for the night. It was Saturday and most campgrounds were full. We hit a construction site on the highway; my laptop bounced. We hit more construction: more bouncing. And then it stopped. The laptop that is.
Just before the laptop quit I found a reference to Old Glenn Highway and some boondocking along there. We crossed the Matanuska Bridge and there was a large gravel area with a few cars parked. We stopped there. We practically went down a cliff to get a spot by the river (okay, it felt like a cliff in the bus – I didn’t know they could bend that way).
I fought with the laptop for about an hour before I realized it was futile. With a sigh, I pressed the button to “refresh.” While this is better than a complete reload, which wipes EVERYTHING off the drive, refresh just re-installs Windows and wipes out any program you may have installed that isn’t the operating system. My files were saved; my programs were toast.
During the two additional hours this took, we watched what was going on down by the river and took an exploratory walk to find the easiest way out. There was a houseless convention of tents down at the end and, closer to us in the woods, a gathering of teens complete with an upholstered sofa. At about 7PM, my laptop limping along, we decided to move. We had hours of daylight left (an advantage of summertime Alaska) and so continued toward Anchorage. There is a second boondocking location on Old Glenn Highway at the Knik Bridge. But it was Saturday and all the locals were out and parked there (about 50 Rvs and atvs). It would be a great place to overnight otherwise. So we ended up at the Cabela’s in Anchorage. This is one of the few places in town that Rvs can overnight and it has a dump station and potable water. It is right next to a target and down the street from a Safeway. All in all, it wasn’t a bad spot. The next morning, we got our resupplies and headed south.