It was in Phoenix, Arizona that we decided to spend our summer in Alaska.

While it might have been a commentary on the heat, we were serious about the idea of driving over three thousand miles to spend some quality time among friends in a state that previously had seemed unreachable.

It took us ten days to get from Phoenix to Salt Lake City, where we rested a few days and let our Alaska-bound companions catch up with us.

On June 4th, we set out, determined to cross the border into Canada by June 11th. Here's where we went and what we did.

Malta, Idaho

In need of fuel after passing through beautiful but sparsely populated land, I pointed to a gas station in the distance. The gravel lot had ample space for us to park and easy access to the pumps.

We headed towards the door to stock up on snacks and were stopped short by what we saw.

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If you ever wondered what a shorn alpaca looks like...

With some feed by the door, Josh made friends with the other member of the pen before we headed inside. The place was full of kitschy decor. My favorite: a plaque reading "Grandpa's Two-Piece Swimsuit" describing two dirty white tube socks nailed to the wall.

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This gas station has more personality than any I've ever visited

Twin Falls, Idaho

We stopped for the night in Twin Falls, Idaho, a new state for both of us. Impressively, we saw nary a potato during our visit.

We only spent one evening here in an RV site at Rock Creek Park, a county park on the Snake River.

Here we walked the trails...

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Meandering path through the lush park

...and saw a variety of wildlife.

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Red-winged blackbird catching bugs

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Western kingbird on a wire

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Marmot sunning by the Snake River

The trail passed by what looked like an impressively difficult disc golf trail.

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Wonder how over-par I'd go on that one

Gabby loved sniffing around the river and exploring the new setting.

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So much to sniff, so little time

Our walk also took us through a nearby neighborhood, where several gardens caught our eye.

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Vibrant colors

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Purple, magenta and red abound

Under the recommendation of The Learning Banks, we headed to the Snake River Gorge to catch the sunset.

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We crossed the Perrine Bridge in the distance on our way out of town

Here we dined at Elevation 486, where we were joined by the Banks. Not a bad view to go with our super-tasty dinner.

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Seared ahi followed by chocolate cake with huckleberry ice cream

Pendleton, Oregon

Our next stop was Wildhorse Resort and Casino outside Pendleton, Oregon. This was another new state to me, but we only saw a glimpse of it.

Casinos often offer free overnight parking for RVers in the hopes they'll come inside to gamble and dine, and Wildhorse was no exception.

We headed into town long enough to grab dinner at Abby's Legendary Pizza, and then it was time to crash for the night.

Tulalip, Washington

The next day, we arrived at yet another casino, Tulalip Resort Casino just north of Seattle.

In three days, I had visited three entirely new states, and I was eager to have a chance to explore this last one.

On our first full day, we headed into Seattle with the Banks to grab brunch at Capitol Cider and meet up with old friends.

I told Josh we couldn't be so close to the Pacific Ocean without seeing it, so the next night we ordered fish and chips from the Ivar's in Everett and ate at Harborview Park.

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The park looks over Possession Sound

We ate in the truck to ward off the chilly Pacific wind and watched the sun set over the water. Even with such a simple pleasure, I felt like I had arrived.

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The tiny Hat Island in front of Whidbey Island

Ferndale, Washington

After three nights at Tulalip, we headed north towards our third casino: Silver Reef Casino in Ferndale. Here, we were less than 30 miles from the border crossing between Lynden, WA and Abbotsford, BC.

On the way, we stopped to dump our tanks and fill our fresh water at the Smokey Point Safety Rest Area, which featured the remains of this unbelievably large tree. It's quirky finds like these that ensure road trips never get old.

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This Western Redcedar was 1,000 years old and 20 feet in diameter when it was killed by a fire in 1893

We spent two days in Ferndale and Bellingham doing laundry, airing up our tires, getting our truck serviced and obtaining health certificates for our pets.

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We met the feisty mascot of the Megaswash laundromat in Bellingham

Before we knew it, it was sunset on the night of June 10th. We were going to Canada in the morning!

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Goodnight, USA

Have you visited these areas? What should we do when we return in the future and find ourselves not so time-crunched? We love recommendations.

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