Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015!

And wishing peace and prosperity for all
in the coming new year.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Z is for Zzzzzs

Getting enough sleep (aka Zzzzzs – aren’t I clever?) is key to enjoying your trip, and noise and light can both interfere with a good night’s rest while car camping. To ensure you get the sleep you need:
  • Use earplugs if noise bothers you (I prefer SAS Safety 6100)
  • Consider an eye mask if light is a problem (or you can just wear a hooded sweatshirt to bed and pull the hood down over your eyes)
Temperature control may be your biggest concern, however, and heat is likely to present more of a challenge than cold. You can always layer on more blankets but what do you do if it’s just too blasted hot to sleep comfortably?

Well, it’s usually cooler – a LOT cooler – at higher elevations so plan your stops accordingly. After we spent one uncomfortable night in the Utah desert in late June, we resolved not to repeat that mistake. Beings it’s about 3.5 degrees cooler per 1,000 feet of elevation, the next night we headed for the hills. At 10,000 feet, the sleeping temperature was just right!

NOTE: Amazon links, if any, are affiliate. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

F is for Food

In addition to apples, other fresh fruit makes great car camping food. Bananas, for example, each come individually packaged by nature in an easy-to-remove wrapper! A few other suggestions include:
  • Fresh produce – especially baby carrots and cherry tomatoes
  • Dried fruit/nuts (trail mix) – but be careful, this is a very calorie dense snack option!
  • Juice boxes – may cost more but convenience usually comes at a price
  • Powdered milk – good staple to have on hand and available in small packets
  • Uncle Ben’s rice or Stove Top stuffing – sometimes you may choose to compromise for convenience
  • Peanut butter – individual servings or in a jar (kept upright to avoid oil leakage)
  • Eggs – boiled eggs can’t be beat as an easy protein source when it comes to convenience, nutrition and cost
  • Prepackaged, frozen steaks – individually wrapped, these beauties are great on the grill and keep several days in an ice chest

Just remember that the purpose of food is to fuel your body. When spending long hours sitting in the car, you don’t require as much fuel so choose your food wisely. And if you must have candy, buy “fun size” and put the extra out of reach – way out of reach! Also, you can share meals eaten out, which avoids waste, saves money and prevents weight gain. Happy travels!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

K is for Kitchen Stuff

Although it’s important to travel light due to limited space, you’ll need to pack a certain amount of kitchen stuff for car camping, depending on how long you’ll be gone and what meals you plan to make. At a minimum, be sure to remember:
  • Frying pan and spatula (unless you’ll do all cooking in your Jetboil)
  • Drinking cup, eating utensils and plate and/or bowl for each person
  • Dish soap
  • Towels (cloth and/or paper)
We also made good use of a couple lidded, plastic containers (which we also used as bowls) but probably could have gotten by without them.

So… What must-have kitchen stuff do you take camping?

Friday, November 13, 2015

E is for Essential Equipment

In addition to a tire repair kit and air pump(s) (see T is for Tires and B is for Bedding), essential equipment for car camping includes:
  • First aid kit – you can buy one or make your own
  • Car jump starter – super important and the one thing we almost needed that we didn’t have
  • Flashlight (and/or headlamp and/or battery lantern), with extra batteries
  • Weather-resistant, foolproof fire starter, such as a butane lighter
  • Duct tape
  • Bungee cord(s)

I know this is by no means an exhaustive list. What have I forgotten?

NOTE: Amazon links, if any, are affiliate.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

R is for Rope

Envisioning me stuck in the middle of a creek crossing on the Nebesna Road in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park during our Alaskan adventure, Joel bought 100 feet of 13,000-pound-test Dyneema 5/16-inch “blue steel” rope (similar to AMSTEEL BLUE ) and a bunch of rigging so he could pull our Subaru out by himself if need be. I’m happy to say that the rope and rigging came home unused but it was nice to be prepared.

While Dyneema may be overkill for your needs, rope can come in handy for lots of things when car camping, such as:
  • Clothesline
  • Tie downs
  • Hanging food
  • Towing (use multiple strands for strength)
  • Repairs (backpack strap, etc.)
  • Belt or suspenders
So, what other ways do you use rope when camping?

NOTE: Amazon links, if any, are affiliate. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

X is for Xtra Cash

Ok – so I cheated on the heading. Yes, I know how to spell extra. But do you know how hard it is to come up with a car camping related item that starts with X? And the letters C (cash) and M (money) were already taken, so…

Be sure to have some extra cash stashed separately from your credit/debit card(s) and in a place other than your purse or wallet. Why? Well, if your purse or wallet is stolen or lost, or if you can’t use a plastic means of payment (power outage, misplaced or damaged card, faulty card reader, etc.), you’ll be glad you have cash handy to get you through.

Suggestions for places you might stash cash include:
  • Money Belt – I have one that fits flat against my body under my clothes
  • Nooks and crannies in your car – look for spots that are relatively easy to access but not too obvious
  • Ice chest – in a zip-top bag taped securely inside the lid
  • Suitcase, duffel bag or backpack – securely tucked away
  • Pillow – attached at one end, inside the pillowcase

And how much cash should you have on hand? Whatever is reasonable based on your potential immediate needs and distance from home or relatives/friends who are able and willing to help. Just remember where you put it…

NOTE: Amazon links, if any, are affiliate.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I is for Ice Chest

Ice chests come in many sizes and types, from a simple insulated bag to a fancy 12-volt version that plugs into your car – the options seem nearly limitless! When choosing an ice chest, consider what will work best for you:
  • Hard side vs. soft side
  • Zipper closure vs. lock/latch
  • Size – Does it fit in the front seat? (often your only option when car camping)
  • Weight when full – Can you lift it?
We started out with a zippered insulated tote bag style cooler, which we love for bringing home groceries, but quickly determined a medium size freestanding hard-sided plastic ice chest was a better fit for our trip. We also discovered that zip-top bags DO NOT keep food dry in melting ice so bought leak proof containers to house items we didn’t want submerged in water (like butter and avocados).

Friday, October 30, 2015

U is for Umbrella

There’s no doubt about it – I’m an umbrella fan. For the most part, I don’t like hoods or hats and prefer to hold an umbrella instead. And I even bought Joel an umbrella hat to protect his camera when he's out taking pictures in the rain.

An umbrella can come in real handy when car camping, too. Not only will it protect you from rain, you can also use it as a personal sunshade (think old-fashioned parasol). And when not in use, you can just keep it tucked away in your car. Umbrellas are:
  • Affordable
  • Versatile
  • Readily available in many styles, colors and sizes

If you don’t already have an umbrella living in your car, be sure to pick one up before your next car-camping adventure.

Isn't this camo umbrella hat cute? Now if I could only get Joel to wear it...

NOTE: Amazon link is affiliate.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

H is for Hygiene

Proper hygiene is important to good health but how do you stay clean while car camping?

Well, I have a few suggestions:
  • Swimming – if regular swimming is included in your plans, you’ll be clean by default!
  • Baby wipes – or moist towelettes or whatever you call them, prepackaged wipes are a car camper’s best friend
  • Hand sanitizer – especially good after porta potty or pit toilet use (we used Purell)
  • Portable camp shower – the Cadillac of car camping cleanliness but not doable for everyone or every trip
You can also clean up in a public restroom or pay for a shower at many campgrounds and truck stops – I just didn’t include those options as suggestions because it’s not what we do. I prefer baby wipes for routine cleanliness and try to plan a motel/hotel stay every 3-4 days. Joel’s trying to stretch out the time between paid lodging so is thinking of ways to heat water while we’re driving that we can use for showering when we stop each night. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with!

NOTE: Above links are affiliate.

Friday, October 23, 2015

L is for Laundry

Coin-operated washers and dryers are available in most towns and RV parks, so you can probably wash as often as you need to – if you want to spend the time to do so, which I don’t. My preference is to periodically include a hotel with coin-operated guest laundry in my plans (see Q is for Quality Inn).

A real bed…
A real bathroom…
Catching up the laundry…
Doesn’t that sound nice?

Between laundromat visits:
  • Keep your dirty clothes in a separate (closed) plastic bag
  • Stow your laundry wherever it’s least in the way
  • Be sure your dirty clothing is fully dry before bagging
  • Save your quarters for the washer and dryer

You can bring soap/dryer sheets from home to save money. And if you’re on a super-tight budget, you can keep your clothes reasonably clean on the cheap. Years ago when camping remotely for weeks at a time with two small children, I washed our clothes by hand and then draped them over bushes around camp to dry. It takes a little time but is effective and free. Weather permitting, you can also swim in your clothes and then dry off – just be sure not to get them dirty again while still wet!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

O is for Outdoor Furniture

Especially when car camping, you’ll want some lightweight folding furniture to make your out-of-the-car camp time more comfortable and convenient. At a minimum, I suggest:
  • A compact folding camp chair for each person
  • A nifty fold-up aluminum table
  • A sturdy folding step stool if you’re carrying anything on top of your car
You can leave these items outside the car at night and then slide them (folded) under your deflated mattress while traveling. How easy is that?

NOTE: Amazon affiliate links are to items similar to those we took on our trip.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Q is for Quality Inn

So what does Quality Inn have to do with car camping? Maybe nothing but if you find yourself in need of a room, my experience is you won’t go wrong with Quality Inn. During the 2-week Missouri leg of our 12,360-mile road trip, we paid for lodging five nights, four of which were at Quality/Comfort Inns. Not only was each one clean and comfortable, they all had guest laundry available and included a nice breakfast, as well!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Y is for Yield

Nothing will ruin your adventure faster than wrecking your car, so no matter whose turn it is, yield. Be patient and pay attention to other drivers.

And whether driving or on foot, also yield to wildlife, especially bears, moose and bison, all of which can do a lot of damage – to you and/or your stuff. We saw several signs in Alaska with the number of moose killed on a given stretch of highway and I’m pretty sure the dead moose tally also reflects the number of totaled vehicles.

Friday, October 9, 2015

S is for Storage

When car camping, space is at a premium. After all, you’re sleeping each night in the same small area that houses your stuff by day. Even if you have storage of some sort attached to the top of your vehicle, there will be a lot of stuff with you in your car.

Handy storage items we used on our 12,360-mile road trip include:
  • Visor organizer – great place for things such as passport cards, vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and National Park annual pass
  • Seat back organizer – perfect for things I wanted within easy reach from bed, such as my Cruz Reader, reading glasses, earplugs, and travel clock
  • Plastic tote boxes – kept food, kitchen stuff, clothing, etc. organized
  • Small ice chest – kept up front for snacks
  • Command™ hooks to keep trash bag at hand but out of the way
Ample storage makes car camping much more enjoyable so plan your storage well!

NOTE: I added Amazon affiliate links to show storage options similar to the ones I chose but be sure to read customer reviews and shop around for the best price.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

D is for Driving

I did most of the driving on our 12,360-mile road trip, which freed Joel up to take pictures. For the most part, this worked out well since I’m not much of a photographer but don’t mind driving except in cities or heavy traffic, neither of which was much of a problem in Alaska and Canada. The problem I did have in the far north, however, was driving too far and for too long.

For those who haven’t experienced it firsthand, the long daylight hours in the far north during late May and early June can cause you to totally lose track of time, which in turn can lead to extremely long days behind the wheel. Many mornings we started out around 4-5 am and didn’t call it quits until 10-11 pm. After a few days like that, the lack of sleep starts taking a toll!

But the beauty of car camping is that you have everything you need with you at all times so you can stop anywhere safe that doesn’t prohibit overnight parking and/or camping. We just didn’t manage to stop at a reasonable time more than once or twice during the whole seven weeks…

Anyway, here are my Top 5 car-camping driving tips:
  • Dress comfortably for distance driving (stretchy clothes, slip-on shoes)
  • Limit your daily distance/drive time and pull off the road to nap if you become sleepy while driving
  • Look for a camp spot early, and when traveling in bear country, stop and cook dinner at a location other than where you’ll sleep
  • Keep unshelled sunflower seeds handy for a little pick-me-up while driving and chewing gum on hand to keep your ears clear during elevation changes
  • If you don’t need prescription glasses to drive, you might want to wear Sunreaders (magnified sunglasses) instead of regular sunglasses anyway - I find that the magnification compensates for the reduced vision due to darkened lenses

Friday, October 2, 2015

P is for pStyle

My life is changed! If you’re a guy, just skip this. But if you’re a gal (and especially if you’ve reached your middle years), read on.

The pStyle is a nifty device that lets us ladies pee standing up and fully clothed, which makes car camping out in the boonies much more comfortable and convenient. The pStyle also comes in handy in places you might rather not sit, such as pit toilets and port-a-potties.

The pStyle is:
  • Simple
  • Sturdy
  • Easy to use
  • Nearly foolproof
  • Easy to clean
  • Very affordable

Although there are many types of female urinary devices available, I chose the pStyle for its utter simplicity. Basically, it’s just a contoured plastic trough that fits against your body and directs the flow. It’s easy to use while clothed and can even eliminate the need for toilet paper (truly – it’s not perfect but pretty darn close!). And the one-piece smooth plastic design makes cleaning your pStyle easy. What's not to love?

Word of caution: Do not store your pStyle where it can be crushed. Although the plastic is sturdy, if you drop your heavily loaded backpack on the ground with the pStyle at the bottom, it can split. I found this out the hard way when I pulled mine out to use it the first time at a rather nasty roadside pit toilet halfway between Whitehorse and the Yukon/Alaska border. Fortunately it wasn’t split the full length and I was able to repair it with electrician’s tape, after which it worked fine the next six weeks of our trip. As soon as I got home, however, I ordered two more so that I’m prepared should I ever have another pStyle mishap.

NOTE: Amazon links are affiliate.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

N is for National Forest

Although all the National Parks we visited during our 12,360-mile road trip prohibited camping except in designated campgrounds (yes, even just sleeping in the car), you can camp free many places outside campgrounds ("dispersed camping") in many National Forests and on other public land.

In the eastern and middle US states, public land may be scarce, but west of the Rockies you can find thousands of acres just waiting for members of the public to happen by.

To find pubic land on which to camp:
  • Check official agency websites, specifically the US Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Stop by the local USFS or BLM office for maps and information
  • Ask the locals
“Dispersed camping” on public land usually allows stays of up to 14 days in one spot so you can stay a little while if you find a place you’d like to explore further. Just be polite and leave no trace.

Friday, September 25, 2015

W is for Water

Never assume there will be water where you camp! Have plenty with you and remember – you likely use more water than you think, so don’t skimp. Since water is essential for life and health, at a minimum you should carry:
  • 1 gallon per person per day for drinking and sanitation (per
  • Water filter in case you need to drink from a stream
During our epic car-camping adventure, the gallon water jugs we bought leaked (even before they were first opened) so we switched to buying smaller water bottles by the case and stashed them in all the door pockets and the crevice created with the back seat folded down flat for sleeping.

As for a water filter, many available nowadays are very effective, easy to use and compact. The one that came highly recommended from one of our super-outdoorsy sons is the Sawyer Mini, which "Removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera, and E.coli; removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium" according to the manufacturer. At under $20, how can you afford NOT to get one for your car camping adventures?

NOTE: Amazon links are affiliate.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

G is for Gum

Chewing gum is a great car-camping companion for many reasons. Chewing gum:
  • Wards off boredom during long drives
  • Helps keep your ears clear during elevation changes
  • Freshens breath
  • Doesn’t cause weight gain
  • Comes in many flavors
  • Is just plain fun
And it’s cheap! At just pennies per piece, who doesn’t love chewing gum?

Friday, September 18, 2015

T is for Tires

Before heading out on a car camping adventure, be sure your tires are up for the trip. At a minimum, you should have:
  • Decent tires on all four wheels
  • Decent spare (preferably full size)
  • Tools to change a tire (and the know how to do so!)
  • Tire repair kit (and the know how to use it)
  • Tire pump
Also, check your tires periodically for uneven wear, especially when traveling unfamiliar rough roads – you can easily knock a wheel out of alignment and wear the edge of a tire bald (ask me about Durango, CO).

These Amazon affiliate links are to the exact items I bought, chosen based on customer reviews/ratings. Fortunately, we didn't have a need for either on our trip but they now live in my car and I sure feel better being prepared for a flat!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

J is for Jetboil

I’d never experienced a Jetboil prior to our big trip but have decided it’s a must have for any car camping adventure. Jetboil advantages include:
  • Fast, easy and efficient
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Versatile – heats water almost instantly and you can cook in it, too!
On our trip, I believe we had the Jetboil with the 1 liter cup but I think the larger one would have worked better for the two of us. There are also many accessories that we didn't have that would have been nice, like the Jetboil FluxRing Fry Pan, so I included several Jetboil links below.

Although a Jetboil might seem a little spendy, if you camp or hike, do yourself a favor and invest in one.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Time to Get Ready for Christmas!

I know it's only September but Christmas is fast approaching. Are you getting ready yet? I try to prepare throughout the year (with some success) but would like to be done before Halloween.

Did you realize that in less than week, there will only be 99 days until Christmas? So... I wanted to share an ebook by the same title - 99 Days Until Christmas - which is part of a 99 Tips for 99 Cents series. Another book in the series is 99 Affordable Gifts for Everyone on YOUR List .

So what are you waiting for? Let's get ready for Christmas!

(BTW - all links are affiliate.)

Friday, September 11, 2015

M is for Map

We have a GPS but I still prefer a good old-fashioned map. With a map, I can get the big picture and it doesn’t require power. Plus, I don’t really trust the GPS and like to verify whatever it tells me with a map.

Although you can often get maps free at visitor centers, consider buying a fold-up laminated map for your next trip. These durable beauties will likely last forever and they definitely take map ownership to a whole ‘nother level!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

C is for Clothing

When car camping, wear easy-care clothing layers.
The key to packing for a car-camping trip is to choose casual, multi-purpose, easy-care clothing that you can layer. I hate to admit it but I way over packed. I was doing well until I thought about the dramatic season change we’d experience during our 7-week road trip, starting in Alaska in mid-May and ending in the lower 48's southwestern states in late-June. So I added a bunch of clothes that took up valuable space and never even got worn.

Here’s what I’d take if I got a do over:
  • T-shirts – 5
  • Jeans – 3
  • Leggings – 2
  • Flannel shirt – 1
  • Jacket w/gloves – 1
  • Rain gear – 1
  • Hat w/brim – 1
  • Socks – 5
  • Hiking boots – 1
  • Slip-on shoes – 1
  • Tank tops – 3
  • Shorts – 2
  • Sandals – 1

This pared-down list would have easily gotten me through the whole trip just fine, despite changes in weather/climate. Next time I’ll pack lighter for sure! And in the meantime, clothing gets the third slot in my upcoming Car Camping ABCs guide.

Friday, September 4, 2015

B is for Bedding

My car-camping bedding goal was to mimic a real bed as closely as possible because I knew if I didn’t sleep well, neither of us would have any fun. Beings I didn’t have what I needed on hand, I bought the following:
  • Full-size air mattress (the 54-inch width fit nicely in the Outback and conformed to the wheel wells when inflated)
  • 12-volt air pump
  • Quilted cotton-top fitted mattress pad
  • Cotton flannel sheet sets (2)
  • Twin-size down alternative comforter (full size would have been too wide) 

I also packed several additional blankets/throws to give us individual control over our number of covers and we took our usual pillows from home.

Although you likely won’t spend as much time in bed while traveling as you do at home, how much you enjoy car camping will depend on whether you’re getting decent sleep, so bedding gets the second slot in my upcoming Car Camping ABCs guide.

NOTE: I added Amazon affiliate links to show bedding options similar to the ones I chose but be sure to read customer reviews and shop around for the best price. And you may not even need to buy bedding; check if you've already got some that will work or if you can borrow what you need.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A is for Apple

During our epic road trip, we found apples to be the perfect car camping snack. Consider these awesome apple attributes:

  • Readily available
  • Come in many varieties
  • Wholesome and nutritious
  • Long shelf life without refrigeration
  • Affordable (i.e. cheap)
  • Easy to eat (one hand!)
  • Neat to eat (minimal drips/mess)
  • Zero prep except washing

I wasn’t much of an apple fan prior to the trip but I sure am now! So apples get the first slot in my upcoming Car Camping ABCs guide.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Smoke Season 2015

River Complex fire perimeter (gold) 8-26-2015
Well, we're nearly a month into smoke season here in the Trinity Alps. A multitude of lightning strikes started a series of fires in late July that have morphed into several complexes, the closest to us being the River Complex (see gold patch in the image).

According to a Record Searchlight headline (neighboring county's newspaper), about 10% of Trinity County has burned in the past few weeks. Not only is this devastating for the forests, many people have lost homes, as well.

As the smoke hangs heavy here in the canyon, my heart goes out to those who have lost so much to fire in the past few weeks, here in Trinity County as well as elsewhere in California and the Pacific Northwest.

NOTE: The image shows the River Complex fire perimeter as of this morning in gold with red dots/circles showing current activity, the 2006 burnout in green (we're somewhere in that area), the 2008 fire perimeter in purple, and a previous burn in blue. Sure not much left un-scorched around here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Visited States and Provinces Maps!

This is exactly what I've been looking for: A map that lets me see at a glance where all we've traveled - and where we still need to go. Isn't it cool? I'm so happy one of my Facebook friends shared it there. Now if it would just let me put in the year, I'd really be set! So if you want to get a visual on where you've been, visit the MapLoco site.

Create Your Own Visited States Map

Create Your Own Visited Provinces and Territories Map

Happy traveling!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Other Alaska Road Trip Expenses

Kennecott (I think Joel tilted the camera a little...)
To make trip planning and the math easy, we allocated 30% of our Alaska road trip budget to miscellaneous expenses. Since we only had four expense categories and the first three (food, fuel, lodging) were pretty easy to guesstimate and came to $7,000, throwing in another $3,000 for whatever else came up brought the total budget to a nice even $10,000. How much easier could the math be than that?

Even though we usually shy away from guided tours, one of the things I was dedicated to seeing was the old mill town of Kennecott in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and the only way to get into the 14-story mill building is on a guided tour through St. Elias Alpine Guides. I also knew Joel wanted to explore a glacier and figured doing so with a guide would save me from inadvertently stumbling into a crevasse. So our first planned misc. expenses were a half-day glacier tour and the Kennecott mill building tour. (Note: After talking to Gaia, however, we opted for the full-day glacier tour instead and I’m so glad we did!)

In addition to the guided tours at Kennecott, our miscellaneous expenditures also included:
  • Annual National Park pass purchased in April ($85 with shipping, but those 62+ can get a lifetime pass for just $10!)
  • Two camp chairs and step stool purchased before we left home ($40) 
    (NOTE: Above are affiliate links to similar items.)
  • Folding camp table we picked up at Big 5 on the way through Oregon ($30)
  • 100 feet of 13,000-pound-test rope ($155) that we bought at a specialty rope place in Bellingham, WA and a bunch of rigging in case Joel had to pull our car out of a creek crossing 
  • Dolly’s House and Tongass Historical Museum entrance fees in Ketchikan, AK during 6-hour ferry stop ($21) 
  • Currency exchange fees in Whitehorse, YT ($6) 
  • Tunnel fee going to Whittier, AK ($12) 

M/V Columbia - our transport to Alaska
On top of all that, I included the cost of the ferry ($2,191) under misc. beings it was an extra not originally in our budget. Good thing we allocated enough to this category!
  • Misc. budget = $3,000 
  • Actual misc. cost (inc. ferry) = $2,905 
  • Money left for another trip = $95

So now what? 

Beings we hadn’t run out of money, we decided to visit relatives in MO before we came home. An added bonus to that side trip was seeing a bunch of new country and visiting 10 more National Parks during our extra travels. And despite adding another 6,000+ miles and a few more weeks to our vacation, we still got home with about $2,700 to put toward future travel.

I wonder where we should go next… 

Any suggestions? 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

McCarthy B&B is a Great Place to Stay!

McCarthy B&B
Joel and I agree that the McCarthy B&B was our favorite lodging during our Alaska adventure. Located near the end of the 60-mile-long (mostly) gravel McCarthy Road, it’s a welcome sight after a lengthy drive. In addition, it’s the closest lodging to the footbridge that crosses the Kennicott River on the way to the towns of McCarthy and Kennecott (yes, the town is spelled differently than the river and glacier) unless you want to pay to dry camp on a gravel bar, which I didn’t.

I found the McCarthy B&B when researching lodging options for our multiple-day stay in the southern part of the Wrangell-St. Elias Wilderness. I knew I didn’t want to car camp during our time there so consulted my frequent friend, Google. While there are several places to stay in the area, McCarthy B&B was the most conveniently located, most reasonably priced and included a private bath with every room!

See? Our own bathroom!
Prior to our Alaska trip, I assumed indoor plumbing was a given but apparently some people are willing to pay for the “Alaskan experience” – we just don’t happen to be among them. The fact is that Joel has lived that experience and I don’t even want to. And I also don’t want to traipse off in the night to another building or share a bathroom down the hall, so the McCarthy B&B it was.

Making our reservations was easy and done all by email in January. Once scheduled in for our intended dates over Memorial weekend, I was simply asked to confirm around May 1 that our plans hadn’t changed. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

The McCarthy B&B has six stand-alone cabins situated for maximum privacy. It’s quiet and the owner/host is a friendly, unobtrusive fellow named John who seemed to be in constant motion. As the entire McCarthy/Kennecott area is off grid, the B&B runs on solar power with a diesel generator backup and has gas appliances – room heater, cook stove and (I assume) water heater.

McCarthy B&B guest kitchen
In addition to our oh-so-cute/comfy/clean room, McCarthy B&B has a lovely guest kitchen/dining room stocked with simple self-serve breakfast fare. Guests are also free to use the kitchen to store their own food and prepare other meals. How convenient is that? And there’s even a gas barbeque and fire pit out back!

We spent three nights at McCarthy B&B and enjoyed every minute there. I highly recommend it and if we ever get back up to that area, you can bet I’ll be contacting John again to make our reservations.

McCarthy B&B – 5 stars - Not fancy but clean, comfortable, reasonably priced and allowed us to really relax and save money and time by preparing all our own meals (well, except for a delicious lunch at the Kennicott Glacier Lodge the day we toured the mill building).

And here's more pictures from our stay:

Inside our cozy room
Another view inside our room

Complimentary toiletries await guests

Outside our cozy cabin

Moose track left right out front during our first night
Guest dining area

Guest kitchen/dining cabin

More info:

McCarthy B&B website
McCarthy-Kennecott Lodging Comparison - several years out of date and some broken links but good general comparison