The road began to climb and twist not long after leaving Fort Nelson. It had been a relaxing stop, but we were eager to push on. It was still 1,138 miles until the official end of the Alaska Highway and even farther to Fairbanks.


Although our next stop, Laird Hot Springs, was only a mere 193 miles away, the drive took us all day. This part of the highway was one of the slowest moving; not because of the condition of the road, but because this is where the road passes through the Canadian Rockies.

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Is it August already? The summer is slowly winding down and school draws ever closer. We’re already starting to return to our everyday lives and getting back into the old routine. But don’t sell summer short, there are still a few weeks left for a spontaneous road trip or long weekend in the RV!

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Looking back on an eight-week summer RV excursion through 15 states, the grand encounters aren’t necessarily what remain most vivid in my memory. To be sure, for the two of us over the course of two months, there were many of those. We marveled at our nation’s natural wonders (Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks, Niagara Falls). We embraced our inner child (the Crayola Experience, Hershey Chocolate World). We explored various subcultures (Amish villages, coal-mining hamlets, the streets of Manhattan, the mansions of Newport). We visited a few halls of fame (basketball, tennis, rock and roll). We saw Fenway Park and Saratoga Race Course and the Norman Rockwell Museum and the September 11th Memorial.

But mostly I’ll remember the moments. The little moments. The ones that encapsulate what the best of the RV experience is all about.

Like WONDER. We live in an absolutely wondrous part of the country—California’s Monterey Peninsula. We see seals and whales and dolphins, but we don’t get fireflies. So when we returned from a hard day tasting chocolate in Hershey (somebody has to do it), the most delicious moment was watching my young niece and nephew chase fireflies as night descended on a campground in Elizabethtown, PA. There were THOUSANDS of them, lighting up the dusk like twinkling stars. Travel’s wonders come in all sizes. Awesome.

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Maybe the best way to start a summary of our visit to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is to begin at the beginning. According to some anonymous scribe from the U.P. (and embracing local dialect and lingo), the following is “Da Creation of Da Upper Peninsula”:

In the beginning dere was nuttin’.

Den on da FIRST Day, God created da U.P. On da SECOND day, He created da partridge, da deer, da bear, da fish, and da ducks. On da THIRD day, He said, “Let dere by Yoopers to roam da Upper Peninsula.” 

On da FOURTH day, God created da udder world down below. On da FIFTH day, He said, “Let dere be trolls to live in da udder world down below.” On da SIXTH day, He created da bridge, so da trolls would have a way to get to heaven.

God saw it was good, and on da SEVENTH day, He went huntin’.

Well, here’s my troll’s version of a trip to the U.P. It started with a trip over that bridge, the remarkable, 5-mile-long Mackinac Bridge, with Lake Michigan on one side of us and Lake Huron on the other.

First stop: Sault Ste. Marie, the uppermost U.P., a stone’s throw from Canada, and famous for another man-made wonder—the Soo Locks. It’s one of the world’s busiest lock systems, operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week and completing over 7,000 lockages during the 42-week-long navigation season. More than 11,000 vessels carrying some 90 million tons of cargo pass through the locks each year, some of them as much as 1,000 feet long.

We happened to time our arrival perfectly—nearly matching the arrival of a massive Dutch cargo ship called the Fortunagracht. Along with scores of other viewers, we watched a fascinating marvel of engineering that allows vessels to traverse the 21-foot drop in elevation of the St. Marys River between Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan and Huron.

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Tucked in the campsites, our little caravan of two found a “home” among the pines and aspens in Whistlers campground of Jasper National Park.


Most days were flexible, as our routine would naturally spring into action. On a nice evening, Brent often “manned” the grill while I chopped and diced vegetables picked up from the store or if we had been lucky, a local farmers market.

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