Saturday July 1, 2006 Fairbanks AK to Richardson Hwy mile V-204.5 Log 201 Miles
We sacrificed about four hours contributing to the wealth of Sams, Safeway, and Wal-mart before we started having more fun than shopping. At the Santa Claus House in North Pole, AK, we enjoyed seeing all the over-thirty kids having the time of their lives among the Christmas-ey things and shopping for their over- and under-thirty friends. It was observed that Herb and Wilma Stark were having the most fun, posing with Santa and being photographed in his sleigh.
At Delta Junction, Milepost 1422 of the Alaska Highway, we were photographed at the "end of the Alaska Highway," and got a certificate to prove we drove the entire highway and survived it. Sadly, we learned that we missed the festivities of the day, which included a pie-eating contest. I don't think they could make a pie as good as Myrna's lemon that she makes for Tim, so it is just as well that we were too late.
We found numerous turnouts for viewing along the Delta River, and thinking of Ed and Billie, we stopped at Mile 204.5 which Milepost said had a good view of the pipeline "going up overhill." Actually, the oil flows downhill at this point, but it was a great sight and site. There was a large level gravel area that appeared to have been part of the riverbed, but Alyeska had built a dump road to the pipeline, and left the area dry. There were two other campers, one of whom was a family from Lake Louise AK. A most peaceful evening dry camping, low temp was 39 out and 50 in, but cool is great for sleeping and propane does a marvelous job of heating when you wake.
Pictures are here.
Sunday July 2, 2006 Richardson Hwy Mile V-204.5 to Valdez AK Log 211 Miles
The sun came over the mountain at 6:30 A and rapidly brought the temp to 70 in and out.
At Glenallen we checked out the craft market and found a red salmon Christmas ornament to hang on the palm tree at South Padre next December. We were acosted by the Sonnier family (roots in Louisiana) and one of whom lives in Wasilla AK where he knew the late Joe Redington of Iditarod fame. One of the guys told us about working at Prudoe Bay, and how it is an arctic desert, having little precipation/snow, but getting a lot of snow which blows back and forth from Canada to Russia and back.
Many places along the Richardson HIghway had a view of the Alaska pipeline, and we marveled at each one we saw. Especially worth noting is that the curves or turns in the pipe are necessary in case of earthquake, to which Alaska is subject.
The highlight of the drive to Valdez was Thompson Pass. Now we know why the Churchills said Valdez is a must see. It rivals the drive to Skagway. They are both magnificent, but different from each other. The Thompson Pass is awesome in the expanse of the beauty, and Bridal Veils Falls just down the highway keep you on your high -- then Horsetail Falls less than a mile from there -- are just too much to imagine! The Maxwells had told us of the wonderful scenery, but we had to experience it for ourselves.
On into Valdez, it is magical that we end up at Bear Paw RV Park and meet some great neighbors within thirty minutes. First order of the day is to erect the US Flag, unload the trikes and brush the cobwebs from them. We saw the bike paths as we entered the town.
Day 48 Pictures are here
Walldog, Willie and Jake