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Published on July 5, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
As close as I've ever gotten to a moose.

As close as I’ve ever gotten to a moose.

The George Parks Highway that runs between Anchorage and Fairbanks is by far the best road I’ve been on here in Alaska. There were very few dips and potholes. It is probably maintained well because it is such a major highway.

View along the Parks Highway

View along the Parks Highway

I retrieved my mail at the post office, dumped and filled my water for free, stocked up on groceries at Safeway, and headed out of Fairbanks. It was only 120 miles to Denali. I had a couple of camping places I wanted to check on before I went into the park, but one place had signs up for no camping and I couldn’t find the other. I ended up going all the way to the Park Visitors Center looking for good pullouts to spend the night. I figured I would end up paying for an RV park.

Hope it lives up to the hype!

Hope it lives up to the hype!

The visitors center was packed with people. I wandered around looking at displays and then watched a movie about sights and sounds of Denali. I was more concerned about someplace to stay than looking at the park so I left after an hour or so.

I headed back to Healy, ten miles north of the park entrance, and searched again for the BLM camp I read about on freecampsites.net. As I drove past the point where the directions ended, I saw a motorhome down a dirt road and went to check it out. There were only two sites on the road but the guy in one of the motorhomes came out and told me they were leaving in a few minutes. And that’s how I scored this free site.

Little campground.

Little campground.

My Minnie does not take up as much space as the Class A and his toad, so when someone came down the road in a Class C, I told them to park in beside me. Then about an hour later a van came in and parked here too. I will probably be here a few days to see Denali.

 
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Published on July 4, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
Dead battery

Dead battery

I parked at Walmart yesterday afternoon with intentions of staying 48 hours. My mail should be here tomorrow and then I can move down towards Denali National Park. This morning I was relaxing in my pajamas when I got a knock on the door. Two guys were going around and telling everyone that the stay limit in the parking lot was now 24 hours and it was being enforced. I told them I came in last night and would move out today.

I noticed that on the light pole were signs stating the 24 hours parking limit. I talked with another man by his RV that said they put them up early this morning. It’s okay with me, and I have often said that Walmarts, rest areas, and parking pullouts along the highway are good for overnight when you are traveling but not good for staying more than one or two nights. Some of the rigs had been there for several days and I guess they got tired of it. I was just surprised because the last time I was here my neighbor said that people had asked about overnight parking and they didn’t care how long you stayed.

I know there were a lot of Class A motorhomes with slides and pulling toads that took up several parking spaces, but there always seemed to be plenty of parking for cars. Usually when an ordinance goes into affect it is the RV parks in town that object to free parking when they can collect $50 a night. I asked in the store if there was any problem with people in RVs or if it was just a new rule. She said it has always been a rule but they just got the signs. It may hurt their business a little but a lot of people will still stock up for the privilege of one night.

I drove a couple miles out of town and parked at a pullout. I was thinking of going to Pioneer Park for the night but when I went to start Minnie the battery was dead. I usually get out the door and enter the coach from the back door but this time I climbed straight back from the front seat. If I had exited the cab door I would have heard the warning ding that told me I had left my lights on.

It is a good thing I have a jumper from my house battery to the engine battery. With the jumper on for a few minutes, Minnie started back up. I think my engine battery may be getting weak; it is quite old. Things have not gone my way today so I think I will stay right here tonight. I hope I’m not evicted before morning.

 
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Published on July 3, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
My kitchen.

My kitchen.

For the last week or so I have heard a slight grinding in my front brakes. I knew they were getting worn when I last bought tires in Mesa. I should have replaced the pads then, but I am a good one to procrastinate.

I made an appointment here in Fairbanks to get the brakes repaired at Midas. One rotor was still within tolerance to turn and the other had to be replaced. By the time they added diagnosis, parts, and labor, the bill came to $675 – twice what I was expecting. I keep telling myself that a new Minnie would have payments of that much every month if I was financing. I hope to save on expensises for a while now.

Fairbanks has taken quite a bit of my savings in the last few days. After shelling out money for groceries, gas, camping, tour to Arctic Circle, and brake work, I was hoping to get out of here tomorrow and spend money somewhere else, but that is not going to happen.

Daryl sent my registration last week and tracking said it was at the post office. When I went to pick it up they told me that all general delivery is sent out to another location for sorting and then comes back to the main office. It would be tomorrow before I could pick it up. I reminded the postal worker that tomorrow was the 4th of July.

Happy 4th everyone! I will be spending it in the Walmart parking lot.

 
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Published on July 1, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
Entrance

Entrance

For the last two days I have been staying at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks. The park was built in 1967 to celebrate the centennial of the Alaskan purchase. There are several museums, shows, displays, activities, and gift shops. There is a salmon or cod, all you can eat dinner, a railroad ride around the park, and a parking lot that doubles as an RV camp. The park is a nice family-oriented complex with many things to see and do.

Museum

Museum

Car

Car

I went to the gold rush museum the first day and the aviation museum today. They were both quite good and very extensive. The gold rush museum had a show where you sat on a revolving platform while pictures on the circular wall were displayed and a famous orator told stories about their history. I don’t think I have ever been to a show with a contraption like that before.

Airplane Museum

Airplane Museum


Good stewardess uniform!

Good stewardess uniform!

Not a bush plane!

Not a bush plane!

The Aviation Museum was filled with planes used by early aviators, dusty old engines and ancient avionics, and flight suits of the early bush pilots. There were also many photos about everything pertaining to flight in Alaska. Several sad stories laid out in aging newspapers were about those that had lost their lives in the Alaskan wilds. Probably two of the most famous were Wiley Post and Will Rogers.

Train ride

Train ride

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I have an appointment to get some brake work done on Monday and my registration for Minnie should be here that same day. Thanks Daryl.

President Hovers Car.

President Hovers Car.

 
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Published on June 30, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.
Bus tour

Bus tour

While in Fairbanks I read about a tour bus trip to the Arctic Circle. I figured it would be a good way to save some wear and tear on Minnie and enjoy a comfortable trip to a place where in summer the sun never sets. So on Thursday, June 29, I road Honda at 6 am to the North Alaska Tour Company and met Rachael, our guide and bus driver for the next 16 hours.

Dalton Highway

Dalton Highway

There are many stories about the rough condition of the Dalton Highway (or Haul Road as it is still known by), and hearing about the washboards, frost heaves, tire cutting gravel, and narrow, steep sections, convinced me to take the tour bus and save Minnie the punishment. From Fairbanks the highway north is called the Elliott Highway for about 80 miles and then becomes the Dalton for another 400 miles to its terminus at Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean. Our tour would only be traveling about 200 miles north to the imaginary line of the Arctic Circle.

The real reason for the highway.

The real reason for the highway.

As we drove north, Rachael told us the history of the highway and its relationship to the Alaskan Pipeline. There was a lot of debate about putting an ugly pipe through the pristine wilderness of Alaska, but in the 70’s during the Middle East oil embargo and long lines at the gas pumps, America’s addiction to fuel finally pushed through approval for a pipe to carry oil from the newly discovered oilfields at Prudhoe Bay to the port of Valdez.

Denali in the distance

Denali in the distance

At a pullout a few miles from Fairbanks, we had a good view of Denali and everyone disembarked to take a few pictures. The day was cloudy but very clear. We could see long distance without the sun making us reach for sunglasses. It was probably a good condition to travel in.

Back home we would say "hillbilly" but here it's a homestead.

Back home we would say “hillbilly” but here it’s a homestead.

Our next stop was at the homestead of a family named Joy. The couple came to Fairbanks years ago, built their cabin and homestead north of town, and eventually had 23 children. The stop is now a rest stop for the tour busses, and of course, everyplace we stopped had souvenirs for sale.

Along with expert information from our tour guide, Rachael, we also watched two videos . One was about building the oil pipeline, and the other was some general history and stories of the Arctic Wilderness. We drove on taking in the beauty of the Boreal Forest until we arrived at the Yukon River. Most of the people on the bus had purchased bagged lunches at the River Crossing Cafe but I brought enough food with me that I didn’t need to spend $12 for a sandwich and chips.

As we drove further north the trees gave way to tundra. When you are between mountain ranges the Alaska terrain is rolling hills for as far as you can see. It is a vast and distant landscape. It makes you feel pretty small.

I made it!

I made it!

Eventually we arrived at the Arctic Circle. We had to perform a silly ceremony of crossing the line and we each received a certificate of our outstanding achievement. It was really quite easy; I just let the bus and Rachel do all the work to get there.

Feeling permafrost.

Feeling permafrost.

On the way back we stopped and walked out into the mossy tundra. Everyone got to dig a few inches below the moss and feel the icy layer of permafrost – that was pretty cool. Then it was a long return back down the highway. We stopped at the Yukon Crossing for dinner and then a few people slept as we bounced back into Fairbanks.

Only bridge across the Yukon River.

Only bridge across the Yukon River.

I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the tour. I didn’t get all the way to the Arctic Ocean but I did get to a special place. We saw a bear and a moose; we saw the Brooks Range in the distance; we touched permafrost; and we felt and learned the history of northern Alaska. It was a good day on the Dalton Highway.

 

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