I left Clearwater Recreation Area near Delta Junction and drove ten miles north to Delta State Historical Park. I had read there was a campground there that was only $10 and had a dump station and potable water. The campground was nothing more than a parking lot and the dump cost extra. There was, however, a free historical display of buildings and artifacts and stories of the old roadhouse.
Rika’s Roadhouse was built in 1903 and acquired by Rika in 1923. Being on the Tanana River the roadhouse was an important crossroads for early trappers, prospectors, and military men headed north from Valdez. I enjoyed looking at all the artifacts and reading the stories of yesteryears. In one building there were many old tools and gadgets I remember seeing in grandpa’s barn and garage.
I moved up the road a mile and stopped to look at the Alaska Pipeline where it crosses the Tanana River. Running 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, crossing three mountain ranges, and built for a measly $5,000,000,000, the pipeline is quite a marvel. Many places the pipe had to be raised above ground on stilts to keep the hot oil from melting the permafrost. Here at the Tanana River was one of the longest spans – 1200′.
I ran into more construction a few miles before a town called North Pole. After sitting and waiting for the pilot car for 20 minutes, I didn’t feel like stopping at North Pole. And anyway, a town named North Pole smacks of the idea of bangels and bobbles and tourists.
I passed Eielson Air Force Base a few miles before Fairbanks. The runway is fairly close to the highway and I could see fighter jets and large tanker refulers on the flight line. This is probably a pretty important base this close to Russia, but I suppose no one would want to think about that. There were signs all along the highway saying – NO STOPPING, NO PARKING, NO PHOTOGRAPHY.
I’m parking at Walmart for a couple days and then I will probably move to Pioneer Park. I have an appointment in a week to get my brakes replaced so I will be here long enough to see the sights.