Driving to and Exploring Fairbanks, Alaska

It’s already Day 7 of the tour – time does indeed fly when you’re having fun 🙂 Today the group takes the Alaska Railroad to Denali National Park while I go ahead in the bus. There’s a light rain falling but that’s forecast to quit soon. Let’s catch up on what happened the past couple of days.

Blogging in my hotel room at Tok, at 04:20am. Sleep is overrated…

Blogging at 4am

The view up the Alaska Highway from the hotel.

Alaska Highway at Tok

We stopped for a look at the lovely little chapel at Dot Lake.

chapel at Dot Lake, Alaska

The reflections in the lake were worth a shot or two. There was a swan on the far side of the lake, too far away for a photo.

Reflections on Dot Lake, Alaska

We don’t have any snakes in Alaska but this stick in the lake sure made stop!

Snake stick in Alaska

The next stop was at Delta Junction, the official end of the Alaska Highway, Mile 1,422 from the start in Dawson Creek, British Columbia.

End of the Alaska Highway

Across the street from the Visitor Center there’s a display of equipment used to build the highway, including this 1942 Studebaker, as well as a farmer’s market.

1942 Studebaker at Tok, Alaska

Lunch at Rika’s Roadhouse Historic Park is always an excellent stop – the food as well as the museums.

Rika's Roadhouse Historic Park

This is the bridge that carries the Trans Alaska oil pipeline across the Tanana River.

Trans Alaska oil pipeline crossing the Tanana River

This moose and calf took a bit of work to get to. There was no place to pull off the highway far enough that I considered it safe so I went a couple of miles to a rest area and did a U-turn, came back to a parking spot and we all walked a couple of blocks to a good viewing spot.

Moose and calf

A mini moose-jam along the Richardson Highway 🙂

A mini moose-jam along the Richardson Highway

Santa Claus House at the community of North Pole is always a fun stop.

Santa Claus House, Alaska

Santa’s reindeer.

Santa's reindeer

There was a very strong display of aurora borealis this night, but as you can see from this shot taken from my hotel room just after midnight, it doesn’t get dark and it was cloudy in any case.

Sunday was Fairbanks tour day, starting with Golden Heart Park on the Chena River downtown.

Golden Heart Park, Fairbanks

A pipeline viewing area has been set up along the Steese Highway, with good interpretive displays.

The Trans Alaska pipeline snaking through the forest north of Fairbanks. This is Mile 450 of the 800-mile-long pipeline.

This sign across the highway from the pipeline viewing area used to be on the hill right above the pipeline, with a Sarah Palin election poster attached to it. Classy.

Canada My Ass, It's Alaska's Gas

We had a 10:30 reservation at Gold Dredge #8, which I discovered has a new owner and has been completely redesigned. This train which now takes visitors into the property came from the Eldorado Gold Mine, a tourist operation that has now closed.

Train at Gold Dredge #8

A young prospector seen from the train.

The narrator did an excellent job of describing the mining done in the Fairbanks area.

Dredge #8.

The group trying their hand at panning for gold. Everyone got a bit to take home.

The major tour of the day was on the Riverboat Discovery, which begins with a display of bush plane flying. A couple of years ago the pilot crashed beside the boat, but yesterday’s display went much better!

Each year, more and more large homes appear on the slopes above the Chena River.

A stop is made at the late Susan Butcher’s sled dog kennel. These huskies were born to run!

The meeting of the Chena and Tanana Rivers. The muddy Tanana is the world’s longest glacier-fed river as well as being the largest tributary of the Yukon River.

An hour-long stop is made at this cultural camp, where everyone gets off the boat to attend short talks on hunting and trapping, making clothes and shelters, and sled dogs. Having done it at least 50 times, I stayed on the boat with 3 of the others in the group.

Rather than go to a restaurant tonight, we stopped at a grocery store and put together our own meal, with barbecued chicken and salads. Our suites at the Wedgewood Resort are large enough to easily handle a group this size for dinner, and it was an excellent way to end the day.


Driving to and Exploring Fairbanks, Alaska — 2 Comments

  1. When I was very young I lived in Fairbanks Alaska with my Air Force husband who was stationed there. We lived in southern Ohio and purchased a 1952 Volkswagon that had been brought down from Alaska and had been customized with a plug to keep the engine warm and it also had a special heater. We drove it through the northern U.S. states into Canada, along the highway that was mostly gravel in 1967.

    Your pictures and memoir of the cities and the highway bring back memories of this trip up, then down, when we retired the VW and bought a new Dodge Dart for the next four trips up and down the highway. I can say we HAD to be in Alaska but the lovely, exciting trips through Alaska and the majestic scenery through Canada were our choices, we could have taken a plane and missed put on these memories.

    Thank you for your sharing in pictipures and journal entries!
    Best regards,