BC RVing: Summit Lake to Dawson Creek

Part of the decision to stop for Thursday night at Summit Lake, thus adding an extra 140 km to Friday’s drive, was that if there’s any part of the Alaska Highway that I’m willing to power through, it’s the 370-km (230-mi) section from Fort Nelson to Fort St. John. Although I’ve taken a lot of nice photos through there when the light is great, there are no “must-stops” along the way. So, on day 3 of the trip, we had just under 600 km (373 mi) to cover to reach our campground at Dawson Creek. After editing, I only have 25 photos from the day, and they’re mostly of highway construction.

It took Molly and Bella a while to figure each other out, but they are so cute when they play together now. I shot this during our middle-of-the-night awake timeout, about 01:00 Friday morning :)

Cat and husky playing in an RV
Sue and Steve were up and away while I was still enjoying a pot of coffee and getting some writing done, but before leaving, Sue popped over to see how Monty is doing, as our 6:30 bedtime Thursday evening hadn’t allowed for much visiting.

RV at Summit Lake, BC
This was the view from the front door of the motorhome as I stepped out to move the Tracker to a place where I could hook it up to the rig again. Yes, another day or 2 here would be nice…

Summit Lake, Stone Mountain Park, BC
In less than an hour, we’d reached the first major highway construction of the day, a long section just north of Steamboat Mountain. I noticed that road contractor Sid Sidhu from Whitehorse is getting most of the big jobs on the BC section of the Alaska Highway (which is maintained by the federal government, not the provincial). This was a fairly lengthy wait for the pilot car – 20 minutes or so.

Major re-building of the Alaska Highway in BC
The old highway has/had such character! Having watched much of the reconstruction since 1990, I do occasionally have little pangs of regret for the loss of that character. Is going faster through this country better? Well, obviously it is if you’re a trucker, but for the rest of us?

Trucking on the Alaska Highway in BC
This particular contract “for the improvement of the Highway from km 555.64 to km 560.78 and km 563.1 to km 570.2”, was awarded in April 2014, was for just over $10 million. In late July this year, the feds awarded another $53 million in Alaska Highway contracts for the BC section.

Major re-building of the Alaska Highway in BC

Major re-building of the Alaska Highway in BC
Just past that construction, the climb up to Steamboat Summit was beautiful. This was a piece of highway that I’m sure everybody was glad to see rebuilt. It was notorious for its steep hills and tight curves that took a few lives – I still remember a couple of particularly bad winter crossings driving buses in the early ’90s.

Climbing to Steamboat Summit on the Alaska Highway in the Fall

I made a lengthy stop in Fort Nelson, for a chat with the people at the visitor centre, a partial load of gas (keeping the fill-up for cheaper places further south), and an A&W lunch which all the kids were happy to help me with :) .

The downturn in the oil and gas industry is very evident in the Peace country, and I’m very happy about the greatly reduced traffic. The government is finally building more passing lanes on the hills that back traffic up and make some people crazy.

Passing lane under construction on the Alaska Highway

We arrived at the Mile 0 RV Park in Dawson Creek just before 6:00, and for $47 per night got a nice grassy site with full services for 2 nights. The location of the park would be perfect for Saturday’s exploring in the area.

BC RVing: Liard River to Summit Lake

Day 2 of the trip, Thursday, September 10th, was so busy that by the end of it, it took me a while to figure out that it actually had been just one day :) I was going to make 2 or possible even 3 posts about it, but it’s probably easier reading to have it all in one, even though there are 53 photos.

Dawn at our parking spot for the night, a large gravel pullout at Km 749.5, about 15 km (10 miles) south of Liard River Hot Springs. I shot this at 07:47, as we were about to unhook the Tracker and go up the road a bit to take some photos of the thick fog in the Liard River valley far below us.

RV camped along the Alaska Highway in the Fall
The sun peeking over the mountains at 08:08.

A Fall sunrise along the Alaska Highway
The fog didn’t really offer the photo ops that I’d hoped for, so I continued on to Smith River Falls, mostly for my next post at Destination BC. From Km 792.6 of the highway, a narrow, winding gravel road leads 2.5 km (1.5 mi) to a parking area where a trail leads to the falls. A couple of hundred feet before getting to the parking area, this is the view from the road.

Smith River Falls, BC
There used to be an impressive series of stairs to get down to the falls, but they were all destroyed in a forest fire in 2009 and haven’t been rebuilt. It doesn’t show in the photo, but the first drop from the parking lot is very steep.

Smith River Falls, BC
At the bottom of the drop seen above, there are 2 trails to choose from. The one to the right is new since I was last here, so we went that way first. The trail is very rough, but offers a relatively easy route to the river below the falls. The kids never pass up an opportunity to drink cold, natural Northern waters.

Husky drinking below Smith River Falls, BC
The trail continues up the river (either through the brush or along the bank), but at this point, further access is blocked by a cliff – the river is too deep and fast to wade even if I was so inclined on a warm day :)

Smith River Falls, BC
Back up to the other trail, the original trail to the base of the fall. Some of the Fall colours on the forest floor are lovely.

Fall colours at Smith River Falls, BC
This view is wonderful, and I thought about ending the hike here. I’ve been down to the base of the falls before, both on the stairs and down the slope without stairs. The first drop was steep, this one is even steeper, and somebody has installed 3 ropes to help.Monty was my big concern, but after some thought I decided that if he had trouble, I could get him up.

Smith River Falls, BC
Superdog and I viewing the reward :)

Murray and his husky at Smith River Falls, BC
Again, steepness doesn’t show in photos like this, but the ropes come in very handy, and the climb is long as well as steep. I had to give Monty a hand at one point, but he powered up. A handrail from the stairs still stands, but offers no help.

Climbing a very steep trail at Smith River Falls, BC
The road out. The Milepost says that the road isn’t recommended for large RVs or trailers or in wet weather. While the parking area would be large enough to turn my rig around in (barely), there’s certainly no room for 2 vehicles to pass except at 3 or 4 small spots along the road. We spent a total of an hour, from the time we left the highway to the time we got back to it.

Smith River Falls, BC
We spent a while with the bison on the way back. Monty was particularly intrigued by them this time, perhaps because he was energized by the morning hike.

Bison along the Alaska Highway

Bison along the Alaska Highway
Bison do occasionally get killed by vehicles – virtually all semis that run the Alaska Highway have massive “bison catchers” to protect their front ends. At the end of this fairly recent skid is the remains of a bison, with ravens cleaning up what the Highways people didn’t cart away.

Bison kill on the Alaska Highway
I went in to the old Liard River Lodge property to get some more photos of it, and was very surprised to see its burnt remains. It smelled like the fire had been fairly recently, but when I went back to the hot springs campground office, the woman on duty didn’t know when it was. The lodge closed in the late 1990s. My son and I actually spent a night there when it had already closed – a guy rented us a room anyway. It was in rough shape, to say the least.

Burnt remains of the Liard River Lodge
The Liard River Bridge as seen from the lodge property. This 1,143-foot-long suspension bridge was built in 1943, and is the last remaining suspension bridge on the Alaska Highway.

Liard River Bridge, Alaska Highway
I was starting to feel a bit guilty that I hadn’t even given the kids breakfast before we left – I was only going to be gone a few minutes to get some fog photos! But just one more little side trip, driving down a 4×4 trail to the river under the bridge.

Liard River Bridge, Alaska Highway
At 11:30, we were finally fed and ready to continue the Adventure. All those years of driving tour bus gave me some really useful experience for our new life :)

Cleaning an RV windshield along the Alaska Highway
Just 10 minutes down the road, a mountain of gravel that forced a tight corner in the highway is finally being tackled.

Construction of a new section of the Alaska Highway
As well as eliminating that bad corner, that gravel is being put to very good use, on several kilometers of new road just beyond.

Construction of a new section of the Alaska Highway

Construction of a new section of the Alaska Highway
Just before 1:00, it was time to go for a walk at Muncho Lake. I decided to have a look at one of the fascinating valleys that pump trillions of tons of gravel down towards the lake. This particularly large one at Km 704.4 has a large pullout with information panels about Stone sheep. The creeks from all of these valleys have been dyked, though most only flow for a few weeks each year.

Canyon and aluvial fan along Muncho Lake, BC
A Cat was rebuilding the dyke below us.

Something about this valley intrigued me, so we crossed to the other side, where I was very surprised to find the remains of several buildings. I initially thought it was a mine, but I found enough to suggest that it was a lumber camp from 1942-43, the original highway construction days.

A lumber camp from 1942-43, the original Alaska Highway construction days
By 1:15, we found a creek that goes underground long before reaching the lake. The kids, of course, were happy for a drink.

Huskies drinking from a creek along Muncho Lake
This hike had been a great choice. The valley has plenty of variety, some interesting history, and some awesome cliffs!

Spectacular cliffs in a valley along Muncho Lake

Spectacular cliffs in a canyon along Muncho Lake
There’s even a coal seam!

Coal seam in a canyon along Muncho Lake
This is where the stream goes underground, never to be seen again.

Stream going underground before reaching Muncho Lake
There are several very impressive hoodoos – a.k.a. erosion pillars, fairy chimneys, etc). This one is about 30 meters high (100 feet).

Hoodoo, or erosion pillar, along Muncho Lake
Just before 2:00, we were back on the road. The original highway was built above these cliffs along Muncho Lake, and is a very good hiking trail now (fairly recently signed as the Old Alaska Highway Trail).

Alaska Highway along Muncho Lake, BC
My co-pilot. He spends a lot of time cuddled up beside me, and no amount of encouragement will get him to lay down.

My husky Monty - my RV co-pilot
Peterson Hill at about Km 685 offers some wonderful views for southbound traffic.

Mountain view at Peterson Hill on the Alaska Highway
The first caribou of the trip – I had expected to see more this time of year. These two were not at all interested in getting off the road as I inched towards them

Caribou on the Alaska Highway
I always enjoy seeing the very few farms along this part of the highway. This one at the Racing River has recently opened a horse-friendly B&B.

The mountain behind the Racing River Bridge was particularly nicely lit up with Fall colours.

Fall colours at the Racing River Bridge, Alaska Highway
We reached Summit Lake just after 3:30 and decided to call it quits for the day. I love this area, and nothing in Fort Nelson gave me any cause to continue. For $18, I got site #11 in the BC Parks campground, right on the lake. There may be pull-though sites elsewhere in the 28-site campground, but since I was unhooking to go exploring anyway, it didn’t matter.

RV with toad at Summit Lake campground.
Our first destination in the Tracker was Summit Lake Lodge, which has been closed for almost 25 years – I vaguely remember it being open the first year or two that I ran the highway (1990-91).

Summit Lake Lodge, Alaska Highway

Summit Lake Lodge, Alaska Highway
I had planned on driving up to the microwave tower above Summit Lake – there was no gate the last time I looked at it :( It’s a 12-km, 4-hour hike, far more than we were up to this late in the day.

Gate across Summit Tower Road in Stone Mountain Park, BC
There are several hikes that look good nearby, so we headed north again, along the lake.

Summit :ake, Alaska Highway
Erosion Pillar Trail at Km 601.5 looked interesting, though I quickly realized that with the Tracker we could have driven most of it. It’s only 1 km return, though – a nice easy walk unless you climb up beside and/or above the main erosion pillar (“hoodoo”).

Erosion Pillar Trail, Stone Mountain Park, Alaska Highway
When the road ends, the short trail through the forest is very pleasant.

Erosion Pillar Trail, Stone Mountain Park, Alaska Highway
The hoodoo is quite impressive – Bella is standing at the lower left on the very steep and loose trail.

Hoodoo at Erosion Pillar Trail, Stone Mountain Park, Alaska Highway
The view from near the top of the hoodoo.

Hoodoo at Erosion Pillar Trail, Stone Mountain Park, Alaska Highway
The trail that I really wanted to see was the “Cut” Trail, a section of the original highway far above this dramatic section of the current road at about Km 604.

The Cut on the Alaska Highway
Looking north from about Km 603, with the new highway on the left, the old one on the right. The old road has been cut with a ditch, but some vehicles with very high clearance have gotten across it. The entire trail is 6 km long but I only planned to walk the first kilometer or so to a viewpoint above the new highway.

The Cut Trail, Alaska Highway
It’s a very nice walk.

The Cut Trail, Alaska Highway
Seeing this, all I could think of was what it would do to the highway below at peak flow, as it looks like it ends in a waterfall. When I went down later, it actually drops a manageable distance from the road and just flows through a culvert.

Dry creek on the Cut Trail, Alaska Highway
The only artifact I saw along the trail intrigued Bella in both directions of the walk. I didn’t check to see what attracted her.

Tire along the Cut Trail, Alaska Highway
This is the view that I came for, looking north on the highway to the MacDonald River valley. The entire hike only took us half an hour.

View from The Cut Trail, Alaska Highway
This is the hoodoo we had hiked up to an hour before, seen from the highway.

Hoodoo along the Alaska Highway, accessed by the Erosion Pillar Trail
A wonderful palette of colour just below Summit Lake.

Fall colours near Summit Lake on the Alaska Highway

We got back to the campground at 6:00, and I was a bit surprised to see the only other RV there had parked in the site right beside mine. I was much more surprised to find that it belonged to friends from Whitehorse! I didn’t know that they were travelling, and I hadn’t planned to stop here, so it was a pretty amazing coincidence.

Monty, Bella and I were all exhausted from what had turned into an extremely busy day. I fed Molly dinner, and we were all in bed by 6:30 :)

I got everybody up at midnight, though, and we all had dinner and a couple of hours of quiet family time before going back to bed until a more reasonable hour. Stopping short had added another hour and a half to the next day’s drive to Dawson Creek, but as well as all the exploring we’d done, seeing Sue and Steve was great.

Alaska Highway RVing: Whitehorse to Liard River

I’m posting this from Dawson Creek, Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway, on day 3 of what will be about a month-long trip. So far, we’ve had good weather, very good Fall colours, and decent wildlife sightings.

This will be my route – basically a figure-8 through much of BC, and a bit of the Alberta Rockies.

Map of my 30-day RV trip through BC

I took all the fur-kids to the vet on Tuesday to get flea/tick/heartworm protection, and for an assessment of Montys condition. Although he has some bad days, he has many more good days and he loves motorhome trips, so it looks good.

A few hours before I left Whitehorse on Wednesday (September 9th), we had a very good aurora display for several hours. At 04:35, we had about 5 minutes of the most incredible Northern Lights I’ve ever seen – a tight display directly overhead, mostly red and so fast-moving it made me think of fireworks. Late in the morning, the aurora was joined by a very large meteorite that split into 2 – although my camera’s shutter was open and I thought that I might have caught it, it was a couple of degrees outside the camera’s angle of view.

Aurora swirl at Whitehorse, Yukon
Well energized by the aurora, I did some reading – these will be my main research books for the first 10 days or so.

Northern trip planning books
As the sun came up, more wonderful colours were added the the day’s palette (I shot this from the living room window at 07:02). Almost packed and ready to hit the road! After loading more groceries and attending to few other chores, we were away just before 09:00.

Sunrise over the RV at Whitehorse, Yukon
My draft itinerary called for us to be at Liard Hot Springs the first night, 630 km from home, but I wasn’t particularly focussed to do that, so we stopped often. I was surprised to find that the highway between Jake’s Corner and Teslin, normally in really good condition, had a lot of very large, very deep potholes, and I really needed to keep my eyes on the road. The viewpoint at Teslin, looking over the Nisutlin Bay Bridge, is a must-stop in any season – we got here a couple of minutes past 11:00.

Viewpoint at Teslin, Yukon
The Swan Lake Rest Area at Km 1152 offered a scenic spot for lunch.

View from the Swan Lake Rest Area at Alaska Highway Km 1152
The deck on the bridge over Partridge Creek (Km 1140.9) is being replaced, and we were stopped for a few minutes. I see the economics of using an automated stop light, but a flag person would have let us go, as there was no oncoming traffic for the 5 minutes we sat there. The very narrow space left for traffic must have some people driving large RVs with little experience puckered right up! :)

Bridge deck replacement at Partridge Creek, Alaska Highway Km 1140.9
Not much of a MacGyver, but it was a quick way to stop the freezer door from flying open. It must need a new catch with more tension. I need to install a rear-view mirror so I can see what’s going on in the rig behind me.

Duct tape holding an RV freezer door shut.
There’s very little traffic, especially tourist traffic, on the Alaska Highway now. And very few of the type of bugs that make a mess of the windshield, either – perfect :)

The wide open Alaska Highway
Rancheria Falls Recreation Site at Km 1112.8 seemed like a good spot to stretch our legs. A trail, about half of which is elevated boardwalk, runs 500 meters (1/3 of a mile) to a pair of lovely waterfalls. The highway crosses the Yukon/BC border 6 times in this area so it’s hard to keep track of where you are, but Yukon Parks is responsible for this excellent little site.

Rancheria Falls Recreation Site, Yukon

Rancheria Falls Recreation Site, Yukon
There are some really cool rock formations hanging over the highway in many places. This is the edge of a particularly impressive butte (unique in this area, too).

Cliffs over the Alaska Highway
I decided at about 3:00 that we should have an afternoon nap – one of Monty’s favourite “activities”, and one that the girls both approve of as well :) This was the view when we woke up an hour and a half later. I still marvel at how wonderful it is to be able to stop anywhere you want and have your home there to enjoy as you wish, whether that be a nap, a shower, a meal, or just a cozy place to read.

The view along the Alaska Highway near Rancheria
It was after 6:30 when we finally reached Watson Lake, where I stopped to fuel up. Right at 7:00, we made the “official” entry into British Columbia – meaning that the highway is all in BC past this point.

Welcome to BC on the Alaska Highway
Monty was having a hard time getting comfortable – even tried squishing into this tiny spot a few times, then on the passenger seat, which didn’t work either. I may need to get another dog bed, since Bella keeps taking his.

We’d seen 4 black bears during the afternoon, but even the dogs weren’t too interested in them. Bison are much better, perhaps because they’re bigger and closer. Within a few miles, we saw 60-70 of them.

Bison along the Alaska Highway
Cranberry Rapids on the Liard River, at Km 840.3 just north of Fireside, often stops me. One of these days, I need to hike down to the river’s edge. It would be a rough climb from here, but the Fireside RV park has a good trail to the river.

Cranberry Rapids on the Liard River
I misjudged my time a bit – it was 9:30 when I shot this and we were still a few miles from Liard River Hot Springs where I’d planned to spend the night.

Liard River at dusk

It was pitch dark when we got to the hot springs, and for a few reasons, I decided to continue on a few miles. I parked on a high ridge that would give us great Northern Lights viewing if they returned! The plan for the next day was to disconnect the Tracker and drive it back to Smith River Falls, then return to the rig, re-hook, and continue on to Fort Nelson.

Fall rains and a taste of Winter in August

Except for a spectacular May, this was a sad excuse for summer in the Yukon, and now it’s gone, replaced by a bit of winter in August. The Whitehorse area typically gets about 262 mm (10.3 inches) of precipitation per year (21.8 mm per month), but this year we got 35 mm in July, and a record 65mm of rain in August. Mushrooms are usually the first sign of Fall’s arrival, but our property has had lots of them growing since late July.

The thing that I like most about Fall is the colours. Not just the yellow and red leaves, but the colours of everything that are made vibrant by the rain. This photo shows Monty on one of his walks on the trail around our property. Despite some bad days, he’s still enthusiastic about his walks – when that stops, we know that things are very bad for him.

Our husky Monty on a Yukon forest trail
Mushrooms are one of my favourite Fall photo subjects. The variety is quite incredible, from delicate ones a tiny fraction of an inch across, to massive ones that are several inches across. I’d like to be able to put names to them, but have given up. Environment Yukon’s mushroom brochure says that “Learning to identify mushrooms can be a daunting task”, that there are thousands of species of mushrooms here, and that many are poisonous. Yes, it sure can be daunting, so I’m just going to enjoy photographing them without worrying about what type they are :)

Mushrooms in the Yukon
I’m often amazed by the power of mushrooms as they force their way to the surface.

Mushrooms in the Yukon
Moose nuggets must make a great home for a mushroom.

Mushroom in a bed of moose nuggets in the Yukon
Beyond mushrooms, the rains bring other things to life – even a ragged spider web can take on a special beauty.

Wet spider web in the Yukon
Looking closer at things like this lodgepole pine branch is easier when the mountains are hidden in clouds day after day.

Wet lodgepole pine
There aren’t many really vibrant colours yet, but the show of some fireweed is worthy of note, and many of the high country berry bushes are at their peak.

Fall colors of fireweed
Fall is always an extremely busy time, but I got most of my winter firewood supply in many weeks ago. I only have another 2 or 3 cords to split and stack, and it’s not a high priority. That thermometer has hit “0” and lower a few times already.

A winter firewood supply in the Yukon
It was rather a shock to wake up on August 31st to find the back yard looking like this!

August snow in Whitehorse, Yukon
The snow melted within a few hours, but it got me into a higher gear to get a few projects taken care of. The motorhome will be back on the road on Wednesday (September 9), taking me south on a month-long tour of BC and Alberta to visit family.

August snow in Whitehorse, Yukon
It’s a little disconcerting to see that snow is already hitting a few of the areas I’ll be going to, notably the Banff and Jasper areas. I’m not ready to spend $2,000 on snow tires for the motorhome, but I’m looking for a set of chains for possible emergency use. Chains for 19.5-inch tires seem to be hard to come by, though.

August snow west of Calgary
This map shows my route over the next month, heading south on the Alaska Highway and returning on the Stewart-Cassiar. The next time I post on the blog will probably be in Dawson Creek, a week from now.

Map of 30-day RV route through the Yukon, BC, and Alberta

Takin’ it Off in Texas: Beaches Where You Can Sunbathe in the Buff

 This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on August 26, 2015.
 Texas may be known as the epicenter of the conservative movement, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sunbathe in the buff. While Texas law doesn’t prohibit toplessness on any beach, you need to know precisely what the rules are and where to head to avoid getting arrested for indecent exposure, public lewdness or disorderly conduct.

Officially Sanctioned Nudity

There’s only one official nudist beach in the state. Hippie Hollow at Lake Travis in Austin boasts slabs of rock for soaking up the sun and sliding into the lake for a swim. This site has restrooms, garbage bins and drinking water conveniently located near the lake.

Need to Know: The clothes-free option doesn’t extend to the parking lot, so keep yourself under wraps until you enter the park. You must pay an entrance fee to use the facility.

Stay Nearby: Stay downtown at an Austin hotel to be within a 30-minute drive of Hippie Hollow Park. Sheraton, Hyatt, Hilton and Radisson are just a few of the national chains you can choose from. If golf is your game, Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa has four 18-hole courses just 16 miles southwest of the lake.

Most Popular Nude Beach

Join the party on UFO Beach on South Padre Island — the area got its moniker when an emergency evacuation pod that looked like a UFO washed onshore. The sandy beach is the state’s most popular unofficial nudist beach, especially during spring break. The beach lies 10 to 12 miles north of Beach Access No. 6. Since you’ll be driving on wet sand, access the site in a street-legal four-wheel drive vehicle. ATVs not licensed for street use aren’t allowed.

Need to Know: The last chance for a porta-potty is at Beach Access No. 5, 3 miles south of Beach Access 6. There is a fee to access the beach.

Stay Nearby: South Padre Island is a four-hour drive from hotels in Houston, or you can stay closer to the beach on South Padre Island. The Hilton Garden Inn South Padre is less than a 10-minute drive from Beach Access No. 6. The hotel has rooms with ocean views, refrigerators and microwaves. You have direct access to a clothing-required public beach and can enjoy amenities such as a beach-side pool and whirlpool tubs.

Away From It All

Explore 60 miles of remote shoreline along Padre Island National Seashore. To access the beach, drive south from the Malaquite Visitor’s Center until you run out of pavement. While nude sunbathing isn’t officially permitted, it’s practiced discreetly. The remote and open nature of the shoreline lets you see a vehicle approaching long before it’s close enough to notice whether you’re naked.

Need to Know: Texas nudity law specifies illegal nudity as intentionally exposing your anus or genitals without regard for whether someone present will be alarmed or offended. Throwing a towel around your lower half while people are within viewing distance is sufficient to comply with the law.

Stay Nearby: Corpus Christi hotels put you within a 30-minute drive from the Malaquite Visitor’s Center. You can find national chains such as Best Western Fairfield Inn, Embassy Suites and Courtyard by Marriott in the area. Stay on the edge of Corpus Christi Bay at Hotel Corpus Christ Bayfront, a hotel with views of the marina and within walking distance of restaurants and city nightlife.

15 Little-known Places in New England Every Tourist Should Visit

 This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on August 10, 2015.

New England isn’t just Boston or Portland, Maine as some might think – but so many other places like Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and Vermont. This beautiful area boasts pine trees, rocky beaches and the cold Atlantic Ocean, and so many other great places to visit and here are the top 10 little-known places in New England that you won’t want to miss.

1. Green Street Grill; Cambridge, Massachusetts

Nestled in Central Square between Harvard and M.I.T. is the Green Street Grill restaurant featuring delectable dishes like baby artichokes and gnocchi, its famed Wellfleet clam stew and traditional chicken schnitzel. Check out their website before your trip to Cambridge to see their full menu: Green Street Grill Dinner Menu

2. Adams National Historical Park; Boston, Massachusetts

Located in the South Boston neighborhood filled with classic Boston hotels, this New England historical park tells the story of the John Quincy Adams family and features two main sites to tour: the Old House, where four generations of the famous family called home, and the Stone Library. After the tour, relax at the Seaport Boston Hotel for a great view of the harbor.

3. Robert’s Maine Grill; Kittery, Maine

Lobster rolls are the quintessential New England food favorite, and Robert’s Maine Grill in Kittery has been ranked as one of the best places to sample this delicious dish.

4. Nantucket Vineyard, Cisco Brewery and Triple Eight Distillery; Nantucket, Massachusetts

This combination winery, brewery and distillery in the quaint New England town of Nantucket features plenty of outside seating for sampling a glass of local wine or beer, and regularly has live bands playing for guests to enjoy. Check out their website here: Nantucket Vineyard .

5. Los Andes Restaurant; Providence, Rhode Island

Featuring Peruvian cuisine, Los Andes in the seaside city of Providence serves up local favorites like a ceviche martini, parrilada andina and paella.

6. Long Wharf Theatre; New Haven, Connecticut

This is a Tony Award-winning regional theater in the Connecticut town of New Haven, which has productions of both new and old plays, including “Macbeth,” “Guys and Dolls,” and “The Fantasticks.” Check out the Long Wharf Theatre website for upcoming productions and other shows.

7. Stoneacre Pantry; Newport, Rhode Island

A favorite among locals, the Stoneacre Pantry in Newport features seasonal and locally grown dishes, including a delicious nettle risotto with wild mushrooms and Parmesan, roasted sea scallops, smoke-roasted chicken, and a wildly popular hazelnut-chocolate mousse with cocoa streusel and crème fraiche.

8. The Mark Twain House and Museum; Hartford, Connecticut

Visit the Connecticut city of Hartford and explore the restored home of famed writer Mark Twain.

9. Inn at the Oaks; Eastham, Massachusetts

This historic inn located in the quaint village of Eastham has been recently updated but still keeps its antique feel.

10. Larsen’s Fish Market; Menemsha, Martha’s Vineyard

This lesser-known fish market and restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard offers delectable fresh seafood, including dishes like lobster rolls, clam chowder, stuffed quahogs and freshly steamed lobster. Check out their full menu here.

Traveling With Pets: Making Your Pet’s Hotel Stay Purrfect

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on August 3, 2015.

When it comes to traveling with pets on vacation, a little research can go a long way. It can be easier than one might expect to bring furry friends along on your trip and keep them happy and comfortable.

Before Arrival

Hipmunk has your back, as always, with your hotel search. Filter your results by amenities offered, or check out our Pet-Friendly Hotels Index to get a good sense of which cities and destinations offer the most pet-friendly options.

Communication with the hotel is essential for an easy and stress-free trip, and much of it can take place before arrival. When investigating a possible hotel, keep in mind that not all hotels accept pets, and that some may charge extra fees per night for furry companions. On the other hand, many hotels offer amazing pet perks for a small per stay fee. The Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego, for example, charges $100 per stay for pet-walking and pet-sitting services and a room service menu for cats and dogs, as well as helpful items such as bedding, litter boxes, and leashes.

When making a reservation, requesting a ground floor room is a good idea for dogs — it will enable easy walks and potty breaks, and will avoid disturbing downstairs neighbors with scurrying. For cats, a handicapped accessible room is ideal because of the larger bathroom, which offers easy clean up for a litter box.

What to Bring

There are a few essential things to bring along when traveling with pets. Identification tags and medical records are particularly important, especially if traveling by air. Bringing pets’ favorite toys will help them feel more at home in the new environment, and chewing toys for dogs and scratching toys for cats especially will distract them from chewing or scratching any hotel furniture. To make pets comfortable and avoid GI distress, keep them hydrated with bottled water and bring some of their normal food from home.

Many hotels require that pets be kept in a crate when left alone in the room, and even if it isn’t required, it’s a good idea for the happiness of travelers, pets, and hotel staff. It will avoid unwanted accidents in the room and prevent animals from rushing out the door if housekeeping visits the room.

Helpful Tips

Just in case, it’s a good idea to leave a cell phone number with the front desk staff of the hotel so that they can alert pet owners to any complaints or mishaps. For the general well-being of pets and owners, making sure that pets get a little exercise before arriving at the hotel can make them much happier and calmer once in the room. Maintaining a steady routine on the trip can also help make them more relaxed in a new atmosphere. A little advance preparation and communication with hotel staff can make traveling with pets an easier than expected experience for everyone involved, and can ensure a happy trip for both humans and animals.

Syndicated Travel Articles Coming

Some new material is going to be appearing on the blog, and I wanted to give my regular readers a heads-up. Starting later today, I’m going to be posting travel articles from the Tailwind Blog at Hipmunk.com.

Syndicated travel articles from the Tailwind blog

I get offers/requests to post material from other authors/companies often, and usually just delete the emails, despite some fairly generous compensation offers. I’ve looked at a few such offers in detail, but have never proceeded with any for various reasons, usually because I don’t like the material they’ve offered. While Hipmunk doesn’t pay a lot, they do have many informative travel articles that I think will appeal to my audience in general, so I’m going to do a trial run of a month or so. I’ll be posting 3 articles over the weekend, and then about 1 each week.

These articles will be tagged “Syndicated Travel Articles” and “Hipmunk” and will have bylines that reflect that, so they’ll be easy to identify and shouldn’t show up in the notifications that subscribers get unless they subscribe to them specifically.

Comments of any kind are always welcomed. Offering my readers posts that they want to read has always been my priority.

The final 4 days of the Yukon-Alaska RV journey

Day 14 of our trip (Friday, August 14th) saw us drive 375 km (233 mi) from Tok back to the Yukon, to Congden Creek Campground on Kluane Lake. MJ and Jim had to drive home the next day to return their rental RV, but Cathy and I stayed to enjoy our favourite location for another 2 full days and a bit before making the final 267-km (166-mi) drive.

Before leaving Tok, we started the day off right with a very good breakfast at the Sourdough Campground. I had won mine in the previous night’s Pancake Toss, and with 3 breakfasts sold as a result, it worked out well for everyone :)

Breakfast at the Sourdough Campground in Tok, Alaska
We re-entered the Yukon early Friday afternoon.

Welcome to the Yukon, on the Alaska Highway
There was still a lot of gravel to navigate in several sections (this photo was shot near the White River), but the long bone-jarring section west of the Donjek River was in much better condition.

Road construction on the Alaska Highway near the White River
At Congden Creek, all the lakefront sites were occupied, as expected, so we took a site at the top of the campground that was large enough for both rigs. The total cost was $0, including free firewood – ahhhhh, there’s no place like home! :)

Dinner at Congden Creek Campground, Yukon

The next morning, I discovered that the Tracker was dead – I’d forgotten to turn the key off when we got to the campground, and the radio was on. I towed it to a spot where Jim could get beside me with his rig, and jump-starting it solved that little problem.

Cathy and I watched as people left, and as soon as a lakefront site opened up, we grabbed it. It was a much nicer view from the new site (#6).

Congden Creek Campground, Yukon
Walking along the beach, it was great to get a fairly close look at a golden eagle.

Golden eagle at Kluane Lake, Yukon
I was surprised to find that recent heavy rains had caused Congden to move again, further into the forest closer to the campground.

Congden Creek, Yukon
After we were settled and our friends were on their way home, Cathy and I drove a mile west to a beach that we could drive onto, to give Bella some more water time, in the spiffy new pfd I bought for her before our first canoe outing.

Sheltie in a lifejacket
Monty just can’t figure out why any normal dog would go into the water! :)

Huskies at Kluane Lake, Yukon
Bella is still not completely sure than she likes the water, but she would follow me in a for a long way, walking and fully swimming, and was certainly proud of herself when she got back to the beach.

Our sheltie Bella swimming
I decided that this was a perfect place to clean Goldie up – it worked great!

Washing my car in Kluane Lake, Yukon

Washing my car in Kluane Lake, Yukon
This is a sight that makes me very, very happy – Monty in his chair in front of the fire, just as contented as a dog can be.

Husky in his camp chair in front of a fire
We had hoped to get a lot more water time on Sunday, but the forecast fabulous weather didn’t appear – it was cloudy and the wind was chilly. The beach was still wonderful, though.

On the beach with our dogs - Kluane Lake, Yukon
Our final day, Monday, August 17th, began appropriately with a wonderful sunrise at 07:20. The weather was still not warm enough to get back into the water, and just after noon, we started the easy drive home.

Sunrise at Kluane Lake, Yukon

It was an amazing trip with our best friends. Every day was good, but the highlights for me were:
– the cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park at Seward;
– the bus trip into Denali National Park; and
– the drive along the Denali Highway

The best commercial campground was the Talkeetna Camper Park (in fact the only one that I give top marks to);
– and we liked every one of the government campgrounds – Williwaw at Portage, Riley Creek at Denali, Tangle Lakes on the Denali Highway, and Congden Creek.

What would we change?
– have more time (much more!);
– use fewer commercial and more government campgrounds.

Alaska RVing: to Tok via the Denali Highway

On Day 12 of the trip, Wednesday, August 12th, we drove 224 km (139 mi) from Denali National Park to Tangle Lakes Campground on the Denali Highway. The next day was a long one, 476 km (296 mi) to Tok via Copper Center.

We left Riley Creek Campground just after 11:00, with the first stop being the sani-dump and fresh water refill station. This is the best facility like this I’ve seen – clean and efficient, with 2 islands for moving a lot of people through quickly.

Sani-dump and fresh water refill station at Riley Creek Campground, Denali Park
The last weather forecast I’d seen called for sunshine for what could be one of the most scenic days of the trip, but it started off with occasional showers that at least eliminated any dust on the long construction area just south of the park. The clouds were high enough that we were able to see the peaks of the Alaska Range as we passed through it, so it was all okay.

Construction on the Parks Highway, Alaska
It was 1:00 when we finally turned on to the Denali Highway – the first 3 miles and the last 21 miles are paved. This highway gets little use by tourists, as it’s notorious for being rough, and most vehicle rental companies don’t allow their cars and RVs on it.

Denali Highway, west end
It felt really good to be back on the Denali. Just 10 minutes from Cantwell, the views of endless wilderness begin. I’ve driven tours across it a few times, but my last drive across it had been many years before. The posted speed is 50 mph, and on the western part of the road the surface was smooth enough to get close to that.

Denali Highway, Alaska
Lovely reflections at 1:20 pm – Joe Lake at Mile 126.2 (from Paxson, the east end), I think.

Denali Highway, Alaska
The Brushkana River bridge at Mile 104.6, at 2:10 pm. A 22-site campground to the left was filled to overflowing.

Brushkana River bridge, Denali Highway, Alaska
Just east of the Brushkana River, the views of the Alaska Range get dramatically better.

Spectacular mountains along the Denali Highway, Alaska
With caribou hunting season open, every possible camping spot along most of the highway was full.

Denali Highway, Alaska
A narrow, 1,036-foot-long bridge crosses the Susitna River at Mile 79.5, where a fire had recently burned the hillside on the far side of the river.

Susitna River bridge, Denali Highway, Alaska
Just before 4:00, we gave up on finding a nice place to stop for a late lunch (now an early dinner), and just pulled over to the side at a slightly wider spot on the road.

RVs parked along the Denali Highway, Alaska
Highway traffic was mostly Alaskans, mostly in pickups or smaller RVs. It would be a long dusty or muddy ride on a bike, even a motorized one. You can see on the right side of this photo how bad the washboarding was on some sections of the road.

Motorcycle on the Denali Highway, Alaska
The view east from Mile 48. The highway is almost constantly on, or beside a glacial feature of one sort or another – 2 miles ahead, it goes through a deep notch in a moraine known as Crazy Notch.

Denali Highway, Alaska
Just before 7:00, we reached our destination for the night, the Tangle Lakes BLM Campground at Mile 21.3. I was extremely pleased and a bit surprised to find a couple of the 45 sites available. For $12 per night for a site large enough for both rigs, it was perfect. Goldie had picked up quite a load of mud during the day! We had averaged a little under 25 mph during the day – for many long stretches, the best I could do was well under 20.

Tangle Lakes BLM Campground on the Denali Highway, Alaska
I stretched my legs a bit by climbing a hill to get this panoramic shot of the campground. Being late, we all had a simple supper, took the dogs for a longer walk down to the lake, and were in bed early.

Tangle Lakes BLM Campground on the Denali Highway, Alaska
The next morning (Thursday, August 13), started of with a fairly thick, cold fog.

Foggy morning at the Tangle Lakes BLM Campground on the Denali Highway, Alaska
The fog burned off fairly quickly, and just before 11:00, Cathy and I took the dogs on a long walk up a nice trail that climbed an esker towering over the campground.

Tangle Lakes BLM Campground on the Denali Highway, Alaska
We were back on the road just after 11:30. As spectacular as the scenery along the highway had been the previous day, it was even better this day. This photo was shot right at noon, at about Mile 9.

Denali Highway, Alaska
A large paved rest area at Mile 7 offers a stunning panoramic view of the Alaska Range, Fielding, Sevenmile and Summit Lakes, and the Gulkana Glacier.

Rest area at Mile 7 of the Denali Highway, Alaska
By 1:00 pm, we were on the Richardson Highway which runs between Fairbanks and Valdez, headed for Copper Center. The pickup truck in front of us in this photo (we were slowly following a pilot car through a construction area) had had a successful caribou hunt.

Richardson Highway, Alaska
A large pullout allowed for a good dog walk and this broad view of the Gulkana River valley.

View along the Richardson Highway, Alaska

In Copper Center, my plan to have an unannounced visit with a long-time friend who I’ve only talked with by email or on Facebook didn’t work out, but we had an excellent lunch a block away.

Back on the Tok Cutoff, we got stopped for 45 minutes by this project.

Road construction on the Tok Cutoff Highway, Alaska
An hour from Tok, we came across a very bad crash – a southbound pickup seems to have crossed the centre line, glanced off a pickup towing a large 5th wheel trailer, then hit the 5th wheel and destroyed it. The driver of the southbound pickup was extremely badly injured but I can’t find any information about it online. From the police accident-scene activity there, I think that he was expected to die. A woman we met at the campground later witnessed it close up and was traumatized :(

Accident on the Tok Cutoff, Alaska
We had originally planned to go back to the Tundra Lodge Campground in Tok (because we liked it), but decided at the last minute to try a new place, and the Sourdough Campground reviewed well. It was a good choice.

Sourdough Campground in Tok, Alaska
I rather reluctantly joined the others at the Pancake Toss, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. Being the only one who hit the bucket with both pancakes didn’t hurt the fun at all :)

Pancake Toss at the Sourdough Campground in Tok, Alaska
The owners are new this year, and have done a great deal of work to improve the property. There are still some minor rough edges, but nothing that detracted from the experience.

Laundry at the Sourdough Campground in Tok, Alaska
The quality of their open-air museum surprised me.

Open-air museum at the Sourdough Campground in Tok, Alaska
Our sites were large and almost level.

Camp site at Sourdough Campground in Tok, Alaska

The trip was almost over – the next day, we’d drive to Congden Creek Campground on Kluane Lake and spend our final night with MJ and Jim. They had to have their RV back to Fraserway on Saturday morning, but we’d spend the Discovery Day holiday weekend there and return home on Monday.