Chicken to Fairbanks- fun day!

Fairbanks Travel Blog

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7.24.08 Chicken to Fairbanks

 

It is amazing how productive a day can be with continuous sunlight!  The darkness in Eagle must have been due to the surrounding forest because it is twilight right now at midnight, Alaska time. 

 

This practically means that you can get up early, play all day, take forever to get where you are going, and still not worry about trying to find the campground in the dark- or worse, trying to back into your campsite in the dark. 

 

And then you can go for a 10pm walk along the river! 

 

Finally, because we must, we pull the blackout curtains, duct tape the bottom of the curtain to block the remaining light, put on eye masks and sleep.  Or play on the computer!

 

We are so thrilled to have cell phone service and Verizon air card today!  Hooray!  We used up our monthly minutes talking to Ned on the cell phone tonight, I’m sure.  We’re so excited to see him tomorrow and have planned to have a fun family vacation, relaxing mainly in Fairbanks.

 

Here are location highlights from stops on the route today to Fairbanks:

 

Chicken:

Great time visiting with our Adventure Caravan friends this morning.  I’d researched and finally chosen the Fairbanks Rivers Edge campground closest to the Fairbanks Airport for tonight and guess where they are staying for 5 nights beginning tomorrow night?  Rivers Edge Campground.  Since we met them in Dawson City, again in Chicken, and next in Fairbanks, they think we’re following them!  Haha!  I can definitely see where the social aspect of a Caravan is the real reason to attend.  They will really know each other well after 60 days together.  It sounds like Adventure Caravan’s excellent reputation is well-founded.  We’ll look forward to seeing them tomorrow!  (And they look forward to meeting Ned!)

 

The U.S. Post Office in Chicken:  is so small that the nice postmistress insisted on coming outside to take our picture with her noisy rubber chicken- hilarious!  She has a special “Chicken, Alaska” stamp that she’ll use on our postcards. 

 

Also, the Chicken postmistress said the Top of the World Highway can be really miserable when it rains- that an RV was towed out of the mud in the middle of it last week.  We were lucky it was so dry.  That is where “check road conditions” becomes critical. 

 

She also said that she learned the Dempster was basically shut down last week and that multiple families were doubling up in Eagle Plains Lodge (the Dempster halfway point) and they were running out of food!  I am sure that was on our last day when nobody passed us in our 12-hours or so of very slow driving.

 

Tok (pronounced with a long O):  Just over an hour down a *paved* road outside of Chicken!  Hooray for paved!  We washed Ciao and stopped at “J-Squared RV Service” which was excellent and just opened in May.  He was very helpful and conquered my long list of little things that needed work, so Ned can enjoy his vacation.  We also got an oil change with synthetic oil and the total bill was $128- very reasonable! 

 

We sailed on by the Tok Visitor’s Center, which was right there and I should have turned around, but I figured Fairbanks has one.  There are 4 main combined-agency Visitor Info Centers and this was one.  I regret not stopping- that is one of my mantras:  Always stop at Visitor’s Info!

 

Delta Junction:  http://www.alaska101.com/exploreAlaska/deltaj/alaska_travel_deltaj.htm

This is the end of the 1442 mile long famous Alaska Highway.  Did you know the U.S. government punched the Alaska Highway through from Dawson Creek, British Columbia in just 8 months, after Pearl Harbor was attacked?  In fact, the U.S. started constructing it a good month before we got formal Canadian permission.  It took a huge effort to build and later upgrade and straighten that amazing

road.

 

This Delta Junction visitor’s center was very interesting with huge mosquito statues, animal exhibits, books, postcards, and exhibits of the Alaska Pipeline which goes through Delta Junction as it runs between Prudhoe Bay in the north down to Valdez on the Prince Edward Sound in the south.  

 

I understand that you can drive to Prudhoe Bay on an unpaved road similar to the Dempster, but the last 3 miles that actually go to the Artic Ocean are closed now because of the pipeline security.  Which means that you cannot stick your toe in the Artic Ocean, I guess, which really is too bad.  Nor can you throw yourself into the icy water and get your Polar Bear Certificate.  <sigh>

 

Rika's Roadhouse:  Just 8 miles north of Delta Junction, the site is now part of the Alaska State Parks system and is impressive!  There are about 8 log buildings preserved as museums for their trades:  Roadhouse, blacksmith shop, stable, gardens, house, etc that have advertisements with prices, memories of elders from the area, and examples of all the tools, photos, etc.  Fascinating!  We had no idea the “Roadhouse” was such an elaborate exhibit and enjoyed it all by ourselves for about an hour and a half.  http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/units/deltajct/bigdelta.htm

 

Pipeline:  We saw the Alaska Pipeline Bridge over the Tanana River as the 48" pipe runs between Prudhoe Bay and Valdez

http://www.alaska-highway.org/delta/alyeska_pipeline.htm

 

Since the end of the Alaska Highway is at Delta Junction, we jumped onto the Richardson Highway which began in Valdez and continues on to Fairbanks.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richardson_Highway

 

North Pole:  Did you know there is a North Pole, Alaska?  We took pictures in front of the giant Santa statue, mailed a postcard to Ned, and laughed at the street names like “St. Nicholas Lane.”  The RV park there looked quite full and we were glad we’d called ahead to Fairbanks for camping reservations.  We were sad that the Christmas store had closed, but it was 9 pm by then.  www.northpolealaska.com/

 

Surprisedly, ever since north of Calgary, campground reservations have been held for us with just a phone call, but credit card required.  They just trust that we’ll be there and hold the site for us.  I think that is really terrific!

 

We saw 3 moose today!  One tried to cross in front of us just 10 miles east of Fairbanks!  It waited after I honked and then crossed after us, luckily.

 

River’s Edge Campground is terrific!  We are surprised at how delightful the campsites, lodge, and adorable rental cabins are with baskets of flowers everyone.  The people are very nice and helpful, which makes all the difference.  The restaurant here on the river has a menu to die for and we plan to go there with Ned.

 

We’re so happy to be here in Fairbanks- we left Inuvik a couple days early so we could also see Eagle and Chicken before making it to Fairbanks for Ned’s visit.  Now we can rest up, clean out, plan our fun, and are just 5 minutes from the airport for tomorrow's pickup.  Our weekend camping is confirmed (best to stay put over busy summer weekends- campgrounds fill quickly) and we can add on nights here as long as we like. 

 

Also, we know that our spell of long driving days are over unless we decide we want to do so.  Our schedule is completely open hereafter with a general plan, but no reservations.  I love it! 

 

Alaska:  It is beautiful here with ice-capped mountains in the Alaska Range that go on forever, crisp clear air, wildlife, brisk and sparkly rivers, and green tree covered hills.  Driving will be rather compact for being in such a large state (2.3 times the size of Texas!)- there are a few roads in the interior, the Kenai Peninsula, and ferry rides down the inside passage to explore.  National and State parks are plentiful.   

 

Weather:  After about a week of rainy overcast skies, today was glorious with vivid sunshine and 70 degree weather.  It is just perfect for short sleeves and jeans.

 

Ciao Baby:  Crossed 111,000 miles on the odometer today, which means she's added 20,000 wonderful adventure miles since we bought her May 14, 2007, just over a year ago!  What a terrific RV!

 

proller says:
The muddy dempster looks like our backyard! :) We closed on Amber Hills Lane 7/24 - whew! Check is in the bank. Now our A/C just conked out - so got that $$ just in time! Love keeping up with your adventures. We've still got construction in our backyard . . . french drains, rain, mud, new brick steps (curved, very nice!) and about to put in new patio and stone retaining wall. Our Spanish is improving - we've learned to say "muy caro!" and "donde es dollars???!!" he he he Have fun - hugs to all.
Love,
P.
Posted on: Jul 25, 2008
susandent says:
Hello to all - it must be wonderful to be a family of 5 again! I feel like an armchair traveler - your travel descriptions make us feel like we're right there with you - - almost. It all sounds like so much fun and very educational! I'm ready to hit the road :)
We're traveling, too, - in kayaks down the Yadkin River - no moose, just turtles HaHa. Hugs to all,
Mom
Posted on: Jul 25, 2008
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