Airstreaming to Alaska – Chapter 1: San Diego to Malibu

Posted April 13, 2022 – Narrated by Carmen
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On our way at last!

Airstreaming to Alaska

Since the moment we met Beauty in 2015, our thoughts turned to an overland journey to Alaska, a place we’ve never been. But, as new inductees to RV travel, we took a four-year pause for research and outfitting before daring the challenge.

“In due time” was our motto.

With many advisors and consultants on hand, in the end it is Jim’s determination, forecasting and exquisite attention to detail which keeps our Alaska vision and progress on course.


Preparations began in 2019 when the Airstream Factory, (The Mothership), installed new axles and a lift kit.

Then, while in position for a mid-winter 2020 departure to Alaska from San Diego, the pandemic forced a detour. Setting northward ambitions aside, we retreated to the east into the familiar comforts of the California and Arizona deserts, then up to see the majesties of Colorado and Utah.

In 2021, we set out for The Maritimes hoping the Canadian border would open for Summer tourism. It did not, but we discovered the exotic barrier islands in the Carolinas, and Virginia, before crossing north-east into Upper Michigan.

Last August, when the Canada-US border reopened, we returned to San Diego with the goal, “Denali or Bust!”

airstreaming to alaska
Photo of Mt. Denali courtesy of The World Mountain Database

As we hug the Pacific coast in true 4-3-2 style we project a Canada entry in the late-spring thaw.

Every two weeks we will report the high points, mishaps and discoveries.

Thus far, all is well despite a beating Beauty suffered from a ghost tree in Oregon (more about that in a future report), but our Alaska hope remains steadfast. We signed up for adventure and the hail marks, bumps and bruises go proudly before us as we slowly ascend toward North America’s last frontier.

Our health is good. The cool climate fortifies our appetite for outdoor exercise. The salty coastal air mates with the tang of the winter forest floor and every whiff reminds us that we are not in the desert anymore.

Each day we waken to the glories of the rugged California and Oregon coastlines and gape in awe at the dramatic promontories and verdant wetlands teeming with wildlife and shorebirds. The wet conditions – coastal fog, low temperatures, wind, rain, hail, rain again, hail again and the occasional snow – give us an excuse to bundle up with a steaming cup of Mexican cocoa and burrow into a good book, or sit fireside with freshly drawn pints of frothy porter in the local public houses.

Our Journey Song

Before a long sojourn away from home, some indigenous American families sing the travelers on their way. The mysterious rhythms of these ceremonial songs heave with longing for the familiar, and with wailings for the sad specter of a permanent departure.

The custom is wise. If these last two years have taught us anything, the truth of our mortality is an ever-present cognition. There are no guarantees. Still, our senses hunger for signs of a safe journey ahead. And on that mid-January night before pulling out of San Diego, we felt the heavens had tossed us a blessing.

The next morning, snowcapped mountains flanked by palm trees escorted us all the way to The City of Angels.

We stopped in Riverside to lunch with dear friends, Margie and Uly Pabon from high school …

… before continuing the surreal journey through Los Angeles

to Highway 1, The Pacific Coast Highway, (PCH) …

and, finally, to our home for seven days in…


malibu beach rv park
Malibu is named for the Ventureño Chumash settlement of Humaliwo, which translates to “The Surf Sounds Loudly.” This pre-colonial village was situated next to Malibu Lagoon and is now part of the State Park – Wikipedia

where we settled into our perch on the hillside with an ospry’s eye view of Escondido Beach and Paradise Cove

As if the public beaches are not enough …

we arrived with tickets for the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa Museum.

The recently re-opened museums are L.A.’s best kept secret. If they charged $50 entrance it would still be the best thing in town, but it costs nothing other than a bit of planning and a small parking fee.

The Getty Center

The following morning we left Pico to enjoy the view …

and drove 24 miles on the 405 ….

to a secure lot …

and rode the Getty tram up to the museum grounds …

The entrance features a boy presenting a perfectly naked frog to a woman who is apparently so overcome by the spectacle that she loses her footing and tumbles down the stairs.

Score #1 for Art. We were all eyes.

Back in our house-poor days we would bring our own lunch and picnic on the lawn before perusing the galleries. Celebrating the end of a two-year museum fast, we made reservations for The Restaurant at the Getty Center.

then we toured the exterior …

For decades The Getty has served as our special place, our thinking place, where we come to unwind after a crisis or gird up for a challenge.

The management limits the crowd, so it’s always a relaxing atmosphere. We come for the views …

the galleries …

getty center

to see old friends …

and to view the gardens.

Something different always captures our attention.

Before the pandemic we would stay after closing for a concert, film or play, but the event calendar had not resumed so we settled for a bottle of wine on the patio.

In a small way, we carry the Getty with us. The used street banners make gorgeous weather-durable outdoor table covers, floor cloths and wall coverings, indoors or out. We’ve used the same banner for ten years now. The used street and exhibition banners are available at The Getty Store and can be ordered online.

Santa Monica

The next day we drove into Santa Monica to have lunch at The Curious Palate

where we met a friend from our distant past, Chuck Martinez. In the early 70’s Chuck was the owner of the magic shop on 30th Street in San Diego. His expertise in the art of prestidigitation served as a godsend for local magicians. In 1976, his mother, Mary, found our first house and kindly waived her fee giving us a head start in San Diego real estate. Today, Chuck is president of the illustrious and legendary Magic Castle.

The next day we returned to Santa Monica on business. The Bike Shop had a Dolphin eBike in stock to replace the bike I lost in Chula Vista.

The Journey Song continued …

when our forever-buddies, Sam and Jim Pascarella drove up from San Diego for a day at the Getty Villa …

Samantha Pascarella is an artist, writer and illustrator.

The Getty Villa

We met at the Villa Cafe for a bite …

before diving into the galleries …

Sam is a recently retired middle-school art teacher …

so we tried to be good.

At least we stayed out of the water features.

Later, we met at Beauty in The Bu for a sunset view.

Douglas Jacobs, my writing teacher, joined us the following day. We exchanged salt and chocolate, and shared a pot of Jim’s pork chili verde.

Solstice Canyon

On the seventh day we hiked Solstice Canyon, right off PCH. The trailhead is a short drive and an easy walk from the campground.

This trail – if you will excuse the expression – has Energy. Everything glows with a singular Presence …

Right away, Pico picked up on the excellent vibe …

We connected to this place where the stream lays low …

parrots rule the sky.

Voices seem to murmur from the old homestead.

The wind stirred a mournful howl from the fire hollowed oak …

the final note of our Journey Song …

setting us free to go over the mountains to see what we can see.

Chapters in the “Airstreaming to Alaska” series

  • Chapter 1 – San Diego to Malibu
    • Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay – Chula Vista, California
    • Malibu Beach RV Resort – Malibu, California
  • Chapter 2 – Malibu to Morro Bay
    • Morro Bay State Park – Morro Bay, California
  • Chapter 3 – Morro Bay to Santa Cruz
    • Santa Cruz Harbor RV Park – Santa Cruz, California
  • Chapter 4 – Santa Cruz to San Francisco
    • San Francisco RV Park – Pacifica, California
  • Chapter 5 – San Francisco to Eureka
    • Vinnie’s Northbay Airstream Repair – Wilton, California
    • High Water Brewery (Harvest Host location) – Lodi, California
    • Harmony Wynelands (Harvest Host location) – Lodi, California
    • Van Ruiten Family Vineyards (Harvest Host location) – Lodi, California
    • Four Fools Winery (Harvest Host location) – Rodeo, California
    • Lawson’s Landing – Dillon Beach, California
    • Mia Bea Wines (Harvest Host location) – Redwood Vally, California
    • Johnny’s at the  Beach – Eureka, California
  • Chapter 6 – The Oregon Coast
    • Harris Beach State Park – Brookings, Oregon
    • Bay Point Landing Resort – Coos Bay, Oregon
    • Blue Herron French Cheese (Harvest Host location) – Tillimook, Oregon
    • Seaside RV Resort – Seaside, Oregon
  • Chapter 7 – The Strait of Juan de Fuca
    • Washington Land Yacht Harbor Airstream Park – Olympia, Washington
    • Salt Creek Recreation Area – Port Angeles, Washington
  • Chapter 8 – Victoria, British Columbia
    • Weir’s Beach RV Resort – Victoria, British Columbia
  • Chapter 9 – Victoria to Mackenzie
    • Riverside RV Resort – Whistler, British Columbia
    • Big Bar Rest Area – Clinton, British Columbia
    • Walmart Parking Lot – Prince George, British Columbia
    • Alexander MacKenzie Landing – Mackenzie, British Columbia
  • Chapter 10 – The Alaska Highway
    • Northern Lights RV Park – Dawson Creek, British Columbia
    • Former Prophet River State Park – Peace River, British Columbia
    • Hay Lake – Fort Liard, Northwest Territories
    • Northern Rockies Lodge and RV Park – Muncho Lake, British Columbia
    • Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park – Liard River, British Columbia
  • Chapter 11 – Yukon
    • Watson Lake Visitors Center Parking Lot – Watson Lake, Yukon
    • Teslin Rest Area – Teslin, Yukon
    • Norsemen RV Park – Atlin, British Columbia
    • Hot Springs Campground – Whitehorse, Yukon
    • Real Canadian Superstore Parking Lot, Whitehorse, Yukon
    • Gold Rush Campground – Dawson City, Yukon
  • Chapter 12 – Top of the World Highway to Chicken, Alaska
    • Downtown Chicken Cafe and Saloon
  • Chapter 13 – Tok to Valdez
    • Tundra RV Park – Tok, Alaska
    • Gulkana River Rest Stop – Gulkana, Alaska
    • Bear Paw RV Park – Valdez, Alaska
  • Chapter 14 – Glacier View to Anchorage
    • Grand View Cafe and RV Park – Glacier View, Alaska
    • Alaska Raceway Park (Harvest Host location) – Palmer, Alaska
    • Ship Creek RV Park – Anchorage, Alaska
  • Chapter 15 – Kenai Peninsula
    • Heritage RV Park – Homer Spit, Alaska
    • Marathon RV Campground – Seward, Alaska
  • Chapter 16 – Whittier to Talkeetna
    • Williwaw Campground – Whittier, Alaska
    • Talkeenta Camper Park – Talkeetna, Alaska
  • Chapter 17 – Denali
    • Riley Creek Campground – Denali National Park, Alaska
  • Chapter 18 – North Pole to Chena Hot Springs
    • Riverview RV Park – North Pole, Alaska
    • Chena Hot Springs Campground – Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Chapter 19 – Tok to Haines
    • Fast Eddy’s Restaurant Parking Lot – Tok, Alaska
    • Gravel Turnout – Beaver Creek, Yukon
    • Gravel Turnout – Destruction Bay, Yukon
    • Haines Hitch-UP RV Park – Haines, Alaska
  • Chapter 20 – South to the Lower 48
    • Gravel Turnout – Haines Junction, Yukon
    • Teslin Rest Area – Teslin, Yukon
    • Jade City Parking Lot – Jade City, British Columbia
    • Mehan Lake Rest Area – Bell II, British Columbia
    • Fort Telkwa Riverfront RV Park – Telkwa, British Columbia
    • Walmart Parking Lot – Prince George, British Columbia
    • 100 Mile House Municipal Campground – 100 Mile House, British Columbia
    • Mt. Paul Golf Course (Harvest Host location) – Kamloops, British Columbia
    • Crowsnest Vineyards (Harvest Host location) – Cawston, British Columbia
  • Final Chapter – Lessons Learned
    • Philosophy
    • Preparation
    • Planning
    • Mileposts (the book)
    • Roads
    • Weather
    • Camping
    • Cash and Currency
    • Clothing
    • Food
    • Wildlife
    • Bugs
    • Fuel
    • Dump Stations and Potable Water
    • Pets
    • Internet Connectivity
    • Hiking
    • Cycling
    • Kayaking
    • Damage
    • Dangers
    • Canada Border Crossing
    • US Border Crossing
    • General Observations
    • Serendipity
    • Final Thoughts
    • Our Camp Sites

If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.