August 10 – Fairbanks, Alaska

Drive north was easy and unscenic (if that is a word). A couple of mountain passes to go over but only at an elevation of 1400 feet. The mountains are small and the trees are plenty.

Arrived at River’s Edge RV Park about noon and got settled in. Very tight quarters but it’s only for a week. But we do have full hook ups and we can splurge – back to glamping. Campground on Chena River.

Friday is off to the Arctic Circle. Loaded up the car and dogs and food and water and headed north. It’s a 200 mile drive up the Dalton HwyDSC_0012 – and it has frost heaves and gravel stretches and curvy road – but it’s a Scenic Highway so the view should be good.

Driving the car wasn’t too bad – would not want to do this in motorhome – you just have to keep your eyes on the pavement and watch for the dips. We did not see any wildlife except for birds and rabbits.DSC_0014

Really enjoyed seeing the Trans Alaska Pipeline which ran parallel to the Dalton Hwy – which was originally the haul road for the construction of the pipeline. It is quite the engineering marvel the construction of the pipeline that is. It was built between 1974 and 77. The public was not allowed on the haul road (Dalton Hwy) until 1994.

Crossed the Yukon River and this is the only bridge across the 2,000 mile long river in Alaska.DSC_0034DSC_0094

Saw a great rainbow along the way.DSC_0067

Took almost 7 hours to get there and there were volunteers who gave you a certificate that you crossed the Arctic Circle and took your picture.

Few people hanging out here as they made the journey too and they are headed further north. The volunteers recommended we continue north and see Coldfoot and Wisemen – okay why not, we have come this far.

We traveled another 60 miles to Coldfoot and there was the Visitors center for the Gates of the Arctic National Park.

We got a stamp and Brenda got her shirt. Gates of the Arctic was created in 1980 and is Alaska’s wilderness at its best. We could see the park but to get inside it you hiked 5 miles or flew in.DSC_0069

Then found the only gas station within 200 miles and filled up at $4.59 a gallon – ouch!

North some more to Wiseman an old mining community (1907) that now has 9 residents – this is what Alaska communities looked like in the beginning.

DSC_0092Stopped back at Coldfoot for dinner but they changed the menu to buffet and we weren’t about to spend $25 each to pig out and get home really, really late. We found Cliff Bars and potato chips in our bags and continued on.

Home at 10:30 PM with daylight all the way.

I had originally wanted to go all the way to the Arctic Ocean but that area is closed to the public and you need to hire a tour to get there – it didn’t work out – next time.

Saturday woke up to drizzle (typical in Alaska) and about 55 degrees. Later in the day it dried out and warmed up.

We visited Pioneer Village a city park that had numerous historic buildings (from around the city) and other activities including a kid’s playground, airplane museum and other stuff.

A lot of the historic buildings were rented out to different businesses and restaurants. Cute little area supported by the city and pet friendly.

We did find the HooDoo Brewery not too far away and enjoyed a cold one – even got two growlers at $10 each – what a deal.

Sunday woke up to rain and 55 degrees. After lunch the sun came out and we enjoyed the afternoon.

Attended church at a local LCMS church – only Lutheran church north of Anchorage. Great sermon on “doubt” and how it degrades our faith – applicable to everyday life – if we doubt something it probably won’t last.

We visited the Fountainhead Auto Museum – great museum with 70 cars older than 1930’s and even some of the first cars made. All are operable and used to drive on the road. All have been restored beautifully. They even had pictures of the early days of Alaska with some of these cars in the pictures.

Lots of walking around the museum and now we need a break – so over to Silver Gulch Brewery in Fox. Nice brew pub and good beer. Food looked good but we didn’t indulge.

The Silver Gulch is the most northern brewery in the US and if you remember we visited the most southern brewery in Key West (Kelly’s Caribbean) – so we got to wondering what is the most western brewery – turns out to be in Hawaii (not gonna happen) – so what about in the contiguous US – turns out to be in Kodiak (an island off of Homer) – so what about the most western brewery connected by roads and that does turn out to be the Homer Brewery, which we have visited – so now we are off to the most eastern one someday soon.

Monday overcast and 50 degrees – need to get out and bike ride before the rain starts. Great trail system here in Fairbanks. Did 12 miles heading out of town east. Lots of trees and even the trail has been affected by frost heaves – like a roller coaster in places.

They even have a bike share program.

It did rain on and off today.

I went to the Gold Dredge #8 (National Historic Site) for a tour. DSC_0001Got to ride the train out to the dredge site. DSC_0064 (2)At the beginning an entertainer got on board and sang for us

and once we got on the way an old miner got on board DSC_0013and explained the different ways of mining in this area – panning – sluice boxes – hydraulic mining and finally dredge mining.

The #8 Dredge operation started in the early 1900’s and continued to midcentury and provided 3.5 million ounces of gold.

We then got to pan gold from a poke sample taken from the area. I found $18 worth of gold – almost paid for my tour.

IMG_3639Then we heard a talk on the Trans Alaska pipeline (old miner also worked on the pipeline).DSC_0069 (2)

After the tour I took a trip to North Pole, Alaska – Brenda thought it was cheesy and didn’t want to go –

DSC_0077glad I didn’t force her to go because it was not a whole lot to see – a huge Santa Claus statue and a Christmas store and all the streets are named a Christmas theme. Originally named that to attract toy manufacturers to the area – didn’t work.

Tuesday low 50’s and projected rain – nice morning – no rain but the afternoon we had showers on and off.

Went to the Mining Hall of Fame museum and read about all the miners that explored Alaska and discovered gold, coal and copper.

Men of courage and determination. There were stories of more than 100 men and women who have been inducted into this hall of fame. Thank you Felix Pedro for finding gold in Fish Creek in 1902 and helping establish Fairbanks as a great city.

Then we went to the Ice Museum – yes ice museum. They have a big festival in February when it is really cold and this museum celebrates the many sculpturers that come and show off their skills.

Saw a movie and then went into a room that was at 25 degrees (they even furnished coats to wear) and they had a variety of statues carved into ice – even an ice sled, ice bar, ice house, dog sledding. Then we watched an artist carve a bird and flower from a block of ice.

Walked around downtown Fairbanks and enjoyed the art and stores.

They have these pipes extending out of the sidewalk (thought they were resembling the pipes in the steam ships for ventilation) but they were steam pipes to heat parts of the city.  Decorated very nice.

Walked along the Chena River walk.

Smoked a bacon wrapped meatloaf tonight – yum yum!

Wednesday rain predicted on and off and it is our sick day – Brenda is feeling a little down so today we relax.

I did ride my bike on the trail – did 14 miles and saw some reindeer and sandhill cranes which migrate by the 1000’s in August.

We did enjoy Fairbanks and the area though we did not get to do everything we wanted to – sometimes you just need to rest or wish that the rain would stop.

Did NOT see the Aurora Borealis – will have to come on a clear day and later in the year.

Thursday we are heading back to Anchorage – our part finally came in and will spend a day driving and a day for repairs.

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