Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fairbanks--Rest for the Weary

Wednesday, we completed our drive to Fairbanks.  We were anxious to get to town.  Whitehorse was the last town of any size and we almost can remember when we were there.  Large towns give us the chance to get chores done that can’t be done elsewhere and we had created quite a list.  Rest was at the top of that list.

But first, before Fairbanks, came Delta Junction and the end of the Alaska Highway.  This is the place where the Alaska Highway meets the Richardson Highway.  Richardson connects Valdez with Fairbanks and was built some 20 years prior to the Alaska Highway.  Delta Junction is the official “end of the Alaska Highway” at mile 1422.  Since we skipped almost 400 miles between Whitehorse and Tetlin Junction, the last mile post lost some of its significance.

We stopped anyway and made the picture and snooped around the gift shop.  The neatest thing they had was a very large collection of hand-carved wooden road equipment.  They compared in size to the large Tonka toys and the detail was amazing.  Someone put a lot of work into that collection.

Across the street from the Visitor Center at Delta Junction was Sullivan Roadhouse.  Originally, Sullivan was located on the winter trail from Fairbanks to Skagway used by the miners and those companies running supplies between the two cities.  Sullivan was just one of many such roadhouses along the route.  The building was moved to Delta Junction and restored.  Today, it like a small museum with period furniture and artifacts commonly found in the roadhouses.  A frequent guest at Sullivan left a journal and excerpts have been copied and placed around the building along with photographs taken back in the day.  It was an interesting stop.

In Fairbanks, we got checked in and settled in River’s Edge Resort.  This is a popular park for the Alaska travelers and rigs kept coming in one right after another until the park was almost full last night.  About half left this morning and this afternoon we watched as one after another came rolling in.  This is a nice park on the bank of the Chena River.

We got a water and electric only back-in site.  There seems to be more of these than anything else, although they have full hook-up pull thrus.  They also have a few tent sites and some cabins.  There are free showers, cable TV, and free WiFi.  I’d have to say the WiFi is not worth much--difficult to get connected to and then very slow.  We’re using our own MiFi mostly.  This morning at 5 AM when everyone was still asleep except Peanut and I, it worked pretty good.

The laundry is a busy place, as you might expect.  We’ve all been holding on to our dirty clothes almost since we got to Canada, just waiting for the first American city to do the wash.  I’m not exactly sure why that is.  I guess we just refuse to pay $5 a load plus the conversion rate.  We’re not saving that much--it’s $4 here--$2 for wash and $2 for dry.  But, then again, a dollar is a dollar.  Laundry is on my list, too, but I’m waiting until tomorrow.

The first order of business for us was the grocery.  About the only thing we had to eat was a zillion packages of Lipton noodles we’d bought for our great adventure to the Arctic Circle.  Seriously, in the freezer was a half package of corn and 6 waffles.  There wasn’t much more in the refrigerator.  Just mayo, Ranch dressing, one and a half carrots, 4 slices of deli turkey, and the rest of a huge jug of prune juice I bought to help be get over the effects of riding in the car for 2 days on the Dempster.

Fred Meyer is across the street and that probably would have been my choice for groceries, but we also needed to have are prescriptions refilled.  Walmart became the store of choice.  By the time we walked out of there, we’d had a full day.

As I mentioned, rest is high on our list for this stop.  Those couple of days on the Dempster Highway were very hard and stressful.  We tried to rest in Dawson, but these old bodies just don’t recover like they used to.  Then we went out for another couple days on gravel roads.  Gene and I both were pretty worn out by the time we got here.  We registered for a 3-night stay and a lot of that time will be just relaxing, catching up on blogs we read, and thinking about the Alaska portion of our trip.

We still have a list of chores.  Gene got some of those done today.  Phone calls mostly--car insurance company, credit card company, his doctor’s office.  He also got our reservations made at Denali National Park.  It’s amazing how many things piled up that could be taken care of so quickly when you have phone service.  I got started on cleaning some of the dirt out of the house.  I’ll continue with that tomorrow.

GAS REPORT:  We haven’t yet filled up our tank in Fairbanks, but gas here is the cheapest we’ve seen in a very long time--below $4.20 for regular and below $4.50 for diesel.

So, there you have it for today.  Thanks for tagging along.

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