Week 3 Update

Monday:

The start of week 3 was at the state campground (dry camping) along the Tok River in Tok, Alaska. We didn’t have anything really planned to do, it was more of a way point along the way, and we spent 2 nights here rather than spend one night in Chicken and one night in Tok.

We ventured off late in the morning with the car and went to find the Visitor’s Center. We grabbed a lot of brochures and pamphlets with things to do in Alaska (this is the first town in Alaska along the Alaska Highway so it’s a popular stop). Then we headed over to the BLM office and obtained a really nice map showing all Federal and State campgrounds in Alaska. Lastly we stopped at APLIC (Alaska Public Lands Information Center) and picked up some more information, including a printout showing the prices for all the state-run campgrounds (information which the map lacked).

Next up to do was a visit to Mukluk Land. *The* tourist destination for Tok (lol).

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└ Mukluk Land in Tok

Tuesday:

On Tuesday, we started our trek towards Fairbanks. A fairly short trip of only a few hours. Along the way, just outside of Fairbanks is North Pole, AK, where Santa Claus sends all his mail from. We stopped at the Santa Claus House (a tourist trap, really) and got some photos and a couple souveneir items.

We then carried on about another 15 miles to our campground next to teh Chena River (pronounded She-na by the locals) and got setup. Other than cooking and getting some showers that was the end of the day.

Wednesday:

On Wednesday, we took a day trip with the car up to the Arctic Circle. It’s about 195 miles from Fairbanks to the circle. About 50 miles in, we stopped with some others to help a guy who had rolled his pickup into the hillside ditch swerving to avoid a moose. He was bleeding pretty bad and I had some antiseptic pads in a small kit in the car. A German couple had a sat-phone and called troopers/ambulance. I helped what I could, including climbing in his truck to retrieve his medications.

The road is surprisingly good. It’s paved all the way to the Dalton Highway, and then there are a couple paved stretches on the Dalton, though it’s mostly gravel. Just have to keep the speed down (30 to 35 mph most places, a little faster on the pavement). All in all it was a decent drive, and the trip took us about 11 hours total there and back.

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└ At the Arctic Circle

Thursday:

Today was basically a hang-out day. We went and did some needed grocery shopping at Wal-Mart and then went swimming at the pool at the high school (it’s open to public in the summer).  Had I paid attention a little more, we could have seen a tour of the UAF Geophysical Institute Rocket Range as they only do tours once a week.

Friday:

On Friday we went to University of Alaska Fairbanks to their Museum of the North. We spent the whole afternoon there viewing the exhibits and seeing a couple of the half-hour movies (A Year in the Life of a Bowhead Whale, and Aurora Borealis). It was a good stop. We topped the day off with a little treat – pizza from a local shop.

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└ Mammoth fossils at UAF Museum of the North

Saturday:

Saturday was departure day from Fairbanks. It is about 120 miles from Fairbanks to Denali. It took us about 10 hours to get there. We had to stop twice to make fuel pump repairs. Ugh – yet again. But we got here and got setup in the RV park and went to bed.

Sunday:

We slept in a little today, then made our way to Denali National Park. We went to the Wilderness Access Center and obtained our tickets for a Monday bus trip into the park. We also sat and listened to a presentation in the auditorium from a tour guide and a young woman who is native Athabascan. She told us about the native peoples of Alaska and some of the ways of their lifestyle and challenges for them. It was an enlightening talk. We hit the sack early, since we needed to be up and getting around at 5am the next day for our bus tour.

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