Sitting at a border crossing waiting on Vanessa while she peeled orange after orange after orange wasn’t my idea of fun but this was her penance for trying to cross the American border with citrus. All she was required to do was peel all of the citrus, place the peelings in a bag, hand the bag over to the border patrol agent and we’d be on our way. All 10lbs of them.
Crossing into Alaska was kind of a big deal for us. This had been our goal ever since we first hit the road many miles ago. The road was windy with lots of detours and distractions, but here we were. Finally.
Our first stop was Tok, one of the first towns you pass by on the Alaska Highway. Our hitchhiker friend Michael has posted on facebook that he had spent the night here and recommended a restaurant called Fast Eddy’s and we figured we’d stop in for a bite and spend the night in their parking lot as well before traveling on. Fast Eddy’s was worth the stop. They had great food, nice selection of desserts (cheesecake!), and free wifi that we could pick up while kicking back in the RV in their parking lot. We enjoyed it so much that we went in for breakfast the next morning as well (more cheesecake!).
|The end of the road|
Our next stop was Delta Junction, the official end of the Alaskan Highway. We had picked up the highway at its start in Dawson Creek 1,422 miles ago and had traveled almost every inch of it. I say almost since we took a little detour to get to the city of Whitehorse, effectively skipping about a mile of it. I had briefly contemplated backtracking in order to travel every inch of the highway but ended up shrugging it off.
The North Pole was up next. This is a town in year long Christmas mode. Every year they elect a person to be the town’s official Santa Claus, not positive what their duties are since we stopped by the post office and saw 3 other Santa dead ringers walk by. Doppelgangers everywhere.
We were going to visit Santa’s House along with whatever else the town is known for but decided to skip all of that and head over to the Chena hot springs which were about an hour away, since this is where I wanted to spend the majority of my birthday the following day.
The Chena Hot Springs were a nice attraction. For a $15 fee, you could soak all day until midnight in the 3 different hot tubs, swimming pool, or outdoor hot springs. They also had an ice sculpture house, horse rides, sled dogs shows, and I suppose a few other touristy things to spend your money on but we were there for the springs. Since we were too late to warrant purchasing a pass, we toured the grounds and then drove right outside their grounds to camp for the night. We had to stay indoors all night since the mosquitoes were crazy and would blanket us and the dog as soon as we would step outside.
The next morning we bought our passes, and spent a leisurely day soaking, swimming, playing ball with the dog, and soaking some more. After we had our fill we drove over to the Silver Gulch Brewery in Fairbanks for dinner and drinks. Fairbanks would become our home for the next few days. I’m not certain why since it was hot, muggy, full of drunks, but it is what it is. We did get in a few runs, found some nice places to eat, and soaked our feet (and our butts) in the river whenever the temperatures became too unbearable to hang out in the RV. And Ginger really took a shine to playing in the river which surprised me since she usually goes out of her way to avoid getting wet.
Again, I have no idea why we spent so many days in Fairbanks but eventually we decided we had to get going to the Denali National Park, which happens to be where we are currently holed up.
Denali is beautiful but I am slightly disappointed and I will tell you why. The park is huge and goes on forever, and forever. However, you can only drive or take the free shuttle for the first 15 miles of road. If you want to travel further into the park, you have to hike or pay for their shuttles. We had planned on taking a to Wonder Lake where we read that you can glimpse bears, moose, and even Mt McKinley but found out you have to pay $46 per person and it is an 11hr round trip. Are you kidding me!? Still, if it wasn’t for the dog, I’d be very tempted to do it. The joys of puppy parenthood.
What we settled on instead was a run up to the Mt Healey lookout, a nice 4ish mile trail that takes you straight up a mountain near the park entrance and offers some spectacular views. Plus the trail goes on further and so we got in some extra bonus miles, finishing up with about 10 miles for the day. We didn’t see any moose or bear but we did see some wolf scat, lots of ground squirrels, and fur from what I suppose once belonged to a snow hare.
I am not certain how long we’ll hang out at Denali but there are still a few trails to keep us entertained, a couple great restaurants, and a few places offering free wifi. What more can one ask for? And we can always drive down the road to the Denali State Park and visit the trails they have as well.
Life is still good.