Kapow. Kapow. The sound of gunshots jolted me from my work. With Bob still snoozing, I knew the TV wasn’t on. Darting from window to window, I peered out in search of the source of the noise but saw nothing conclusive.
When you live in an RV and are parked in unfamiliar territory, gunfire can be quite sobering. We were camped completely on our own close to a lake about a third of a mile from the main highway near Tok, Alaska.
Noise travels fast in the vastness of Alaska. Just because I had heard what sounded like nearby gunshots didn’t mean the shooter was close by. Research confirmed bull moose hunting season open in the Tok area. I hope the hunter got his or her moose. We didn’t hear any more gunshots after that.
The incident was only one of many unusual happenings we encountered during our fourth year of RV travel. Here are some others:
Wacky Waterfill Station
We like to take advantage of boondocking and moochdocking opportunities whenever possible. Oftentimes, doing so means being strategic about filling our 75-gallon freshwater tank. We’re able to make the water last for a while, but there always comes a time when we need to refill our supply. Many dump stations offer potable water that can be used for this purpose.
After leaving our campsite in Valdez, Alaska, we headed into town to empty our black and gray wastewater tanks. We opted not to get freshwater there because we had to climb through a mountain pass on our way back to the main highway and didn’t want to tow the extra weight.
Beyond the pass en route to my cousin’s remote cabin and boondocking thereafter, we needed to fill our freshwater tank. We learned about a place near Glennallen where the locals got drinking water after a flood contaminated their regular source. It turned out to be quite an unusual fillup.
The first “spigot” we came to was an open pipe with no hose fitting nor the capacity to attach a hose. Using that “faucet” required turning a wheel nine times to get the water to come out.
Since we couldn’t figure out a way to connect a hose between that fixture and our trailer, we walked to the other side of the booth building to check for another option. Sure enough, we found a normal-size hose — but again with no capacity to attach another hose to it.
Getting water into our rig requires a screw-tight connection. Bob remembered he had picked up a Water Bandit hose fitting (paid link) for just such an occasion. After locating it, he fitted the adapter to the hose. We deposited four quarters for 3 minutes of filling, and Bob moved the valve to make the water flow while attempting to hold the hoses together. Cold water spurted everywhere, dousing the bottom of my jeans. Good thing I was wearing boots.
Bob backed off the water pressure, adjusted his grip, and succeeded at keeping the hoses connected. Three minutes of water filled our tank about 10%. We had started with about that much, so that brought us to 20%. We inserted another four quarters for 3 additional minutes with the same results. Clearly, we would need to do this about seven more times.
The water running through the hoses left Bob’s hands frigid, to the point that he didn’t think he’d be able to endure the process for much longer. I grabbed a mechanic’s glove from our trailer basement and a leather work glove from the truck. (Neither had a match.) Donning those, Bob changed his position on the hoses to use different muscles. My job was to deposit quarters and keep mosquitos off of Bob.
We continued the painstaking cycle until our tank was completely full — about 30 minutes and $10 later. By then, we had gained a greater appreciation for traditional water fills with a regular hose bibb, something we had previously taken for granted.
Plentiful Pasta Making
Not all unusual experiences are, or have to be, challenging. While visiting family in Oregon, we had a rare opportunity to make pasta from scratch, something we couldn’t pass up, as neither of us had ever done it before.
With all five of our kids in town for a family reunion, we needed a lot of pasta, so Bob’s brother Rick put us to work. We felt like we were on a TV cooking channel, breaking eggs into a well of flour on a countertop and mixing it with a fork.
After getting the dough to the desired consistency, we shifted to putting it through a pasta maker to press it thin enough to cut into spaghetti noodles. This involved many rounds of feeding the dough through the machine and adding flour in between, a backbreaking process.
We made more than enough spaghetti for everyone to eat their fill and combined it with marinara sauce Bob had made earlier following Alton Brown’s recipe.
Since then, we picked up an all-in-one pasta maker that mixes ingredients into dough and pushes out pasta as spaghetti or penne noodles. Making pasta is no longer novel, or backbreaking.
In addition to those incidents, we had plenty of other unusual encounters in our fourth year on the road, including getting snowed on, visiting an ice house, seeing the midnight sun, dealing with rodents, camping in fall foliage, and tracking dinosaurs. They’re all part of our amazing, adventurous RV life.
You might also like Our Most Unusual Experiences in Year 3 on the Road.
* As Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases.
This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.