Once again I have been awake since 2 or so, unable to sleep even with the shades drawn and the MoHo dark in spite of the light. It has been raining all night, even with the predictions of sunny skies in Fairbanks to come. I hope they are right and this rain is going to leave us. Folks at the visitor centers are complaining about the lack of summer this year, with rain and cold temperatures in an area usually blessed with warm sunny skies. I expected dreary, chilly, rainy days on this trip, tried to prepare myself mentally for that possibility, but looking outside at the socked in skies still isn’t any fun.
We settled in last night at the Smith’s Green Acres RV Park just north of Delta Junction. The owner is an interesting sort, but I think most folks around here tend to be interesting. We got a nice long pull through site with shade, just what we need. No cable tv but one channel comes in on the antenna. Probably irrelevant, since tv hasn’t been any kind of priority lately. I do have internet, but with an irritating glitch in the setup that requires me to repeatedly go back to the park owner’s advertising page and log in. Happens in the midst of uploads which doesn’t make me very happy! This park has a Good Sam discount and none other, and after considerable bantering and conversation, we got a ten percent discount for Mo’s retired military status. Still cost 37.50 for one night of hookups.
We originally planned to stay at the Family Camp at Eilson AFB, but decided that maybe we wanted to spend our two Fairbanks nights closer to town. Thanks to CoolRV’rs on the road, we are now going to check into the City Park and dry camp right on the river close to town. There are a ton of folks traveling through Alaska right now, and the biggest group headed up by Dennis and his huge 500 lens, may be passing us or already has passed us. I have followed their blogs and learned a lot from their recommendations. They were in Fairbanks a couple of days ago. The owner at the park here said that many folks are actually heading out of Alaska right now, as it starts to get a bit darker and the temperatures cool off.
At this junction marking the official end of the Alaska Highway, we have yet to mark the halfway point of our trip, with just under 3,000 miles so far and another 4,000 to go. Our costs are running close to $175 per day, but hopefully that will decrease a bit as we spend a bit more time at each stop.
Our travels yesterday took us from our boondock site near the eastern Alaska boundary, through the historical Chicken Creek mining district and the town of Chicken. We stopped in for a look at all the chicken related memorabilia and were amazed at how many RV parks had popped up around the original one building town. It’s beautiful around here, and gold still brings in prospectors hoping to find that magical pay dirt. We saw another caravan of 20 RV’s parked in the lot with a sign proclaiming the leaving time. I have no idea whether they were going east or west, but we sure were glad we missed them on the road. I am not quite sure why someone would choose to drive this gorgeous, wild, open land in a pack, but I suppose it must work for some. Not for us! We are a couple of independent women who really want to run our own timetable!
As we continued south and west from Chicken, we were alone on the road, the very rough, potholed, wet road. The rain came and went, the views opened up in some areas, made more open by the huge Taylor Fire Complex that burned 1.5 million acres in 2004. Judy said she was here during those fires. I can’t imagine how awful that must have been! In spite of sporadic rain, we have been blessed with gorgeous, fresh, clear air throughout this entire trip. No smoky fire haze obscuring the vistas, no smog, no pollution from anything at all. I think that may be one of my most favorite things so far. Air. Pure. Clean. Air. It is one of the reasons I love living at Rocky Point.
Still, in spite of the guidebooks, the signs, the warnings, we didn’t see one single animal. In the wildest part of our trip, through the Forty Mile Wilderness, home of the biggest herd of Caribou in Alaska, filled with bear and moose, fox and lynx, we didn’t see anything at all. So be it. According to all the photos on the blogs, there are moose just about everywhere from here on out.
Arriving in Tok, we stopped at the very wonderful visitor center to pick up a big pile of Alaska brochures for all the places we planned to travel. This park was highly recommended by a very nice woman at the center, so we set our sights for Delta Junction. After cooking some burgers on the grill, we drove back to town to take the obligatory photos of the Highway end post, and found a car wash so that we could see out the windows of the Tracker. Before going home, we drove a bit north to check out Rika’s Roadhouse at the Big Delta State Historical Park.
The park had one of the most lovely displays of historical buildings that we have seen thus far. The Roadhouse was initially developed in 1904 but it wasn’t until 1917 that John Hajdukovich from Yugoslavia hired Swedish born Rika Wallen to run his business. Rika made the roadhouse something different than ordinary, with lush gardens, cows, sheep, and poultry, allowing her to serve fresh vegetables, eggs, milk, and meat to her customers.
The Roadhouse was also a center of communications, and pivotal as a transportation hub for prospectors traveling along the Tanana River to Fairbanks. With the completion of the Alaska Highway in the 40’s, the population of Big Delta moved to the junction of the Alcan and Richardson highways, signaling the end of an era. Rika’s closed soon after that. Walking the beautiful grounds and gardens was a lovely way to end our first day in Alaska.
The rest of the photos for this day are here