As we travel north and get closer to the summer solstice on June 21, we have more and more daylight. We haven’t seen night for over a week now. It is so strange to be out at 11PM and it’s still daylight.
Well, so much for the Alaskan Highway being a great road, which it was up to Tok. The road from there to Fairbanks was fraught with road work, pot holes, frost heave and gravel! But, taking advice from our friend, Frank, we drove slow and survived it. We did see a grizzly and some beautiful scenery along the road though. Can you imagine Lennard’s face when he saw how dirty the RV and tow care were? Yikes!!
Our RV park in Fairbanks was terrific. We had a site right along the Chena River with lots of space and trees. I was able to do laundry there in a clean laundry room.
We took the Discovery Paddle Boat up the Chena River with views of Fairbank homes along the river bank, an example of the local Athabascan Indians camp, salmon preparation demonstration,and a show by mushers and their sled dogs. Susan Butcher was the second woman to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 1986. She won four out of the next five sequential years. Her daughter, Tekla, carries on her tradition taking care of the descendants of her sled dogs. Her lead dog, Granite, was a hero among sled dogs. Unfortunately, Susan succumbed to cancer in 2006, but her tradition lives on
Lennard and I both joined the “Turtle Club” and got “turtled” at a local restaurant. You have to answer four questions to join. For every question you can’t answer, you have to drink a shot. ! Luckily, we figured out all but one question. We have our friend, Sam, to thank for this experience! We are now certified turtles with club cards.
The last day in Fairbanks we boarded Bella and Gypsy out to “Holy Dogs” and took a tour to the Arctic Circle via the Dalton Highway. We left at 6AM and returned at 11PM. It was a long day, but only one percent of all the tourists who visit Alaska cross the Arctic Circle. Along the way we stopped at a trapper store, saw some wildlife and the Alaskan Pipeline, and several lookout points. We got to walk on the tundra which is soft and dangerous for walking because it is very uneven. Underneath the tundra is frozen ground. And No, there wasn’t any ice or snow there in the summer. I was surprised about that. We had a little celebration at the demarcation line. I was expecting champagne, but got tundra chocolate cake with snowcap whipped cream on top. Nice.
Our next stop was the exquisite wilderness of Denali Park. It is home to the highest spot in America, Mt. McKinley at 20,320 feet above sea level. The locals call it Mt. Denali. In Denali we stayed in a virtual parking lot. I shouldn’t complain, as at least it was only a mile from the park entrance. We should have stayed in the park and dry camped. Our mistake, but never mind.
We took an all day tour to see Mt. McKinley and it was a spectacular day. (Only 10% of visitors actually get to see it because of usual cloud cover.) We had the best day you can have for viewing the majestic mountain. Along the way we saw moose, caribou, grizzly bear, and Dall sheep. Dall sheep are the only pure white sheep in America. We stopped at several view points, but the last one was spectacular. We are grateful for that perfect day.
That night we had dinner at the famous Denali Salmon Bake Restaurant. I looked in the kitchen and it looked like Hell’s Kitchen, with everyone yelling out the next items due up. The food was great, but as usual…too much of it.
The next day we took the dogs on a little hike, keeping in mind Pomeranians don’t necessarily realize they are appetizers for grizzlies. Later we visited the only national park sled dog kennel in America. The dogs here were different from the ones in Fairbanks. These were all huskies, bred to pull loads while the ones in Fairbanks that we visited were mixed breeds, bred to race. It was HOT in Denali that day and most of them were sleeping until time to hook up and they all went wild. They also had a liter of six puppies born just a month ago. Their mom was just about to the point of deciding she had had just about enough of them and weaning them off her milk. They had other ideas about that program.
There is a heat wave here this week and everyone is loving the weather, as it usually is a lot cooler. I’m hoping it will cool down again. After all, that was one of the benefits of leaving Las Vegas for the summer!