Friday, June 19, 2009

20-2009 Entering Alaska to Fairbanks

Burwash Landing, (Destruction Bay) Yukon Canada
TOK Alaska
North Pole, Alaska
Fairbanks Alaska

Campground: Burwash landing Resort & Rv park. $23.10c 15amp electric and water. View of Largest Lake in the Yukon.

Campground: TOK Rv Village: $33.30 per night, Elect., water and cable Tv. Included is a free evening music show. (highest price paid so far) TOK Alaska, all prices are now U.S. dollar.

Campground: End of the Road: $15 per night, Passport America. Full hookups. 8 over the air local tv channels.

On down the road for a 174 mile journey today. I’m heading to Kluane Lake, Destruction Bay and Burwash Landing. I’ll be paralleling The Kluane National Park and Canada’s highest mountain peaks. St Elias Mt’s consist of peaks that are 19,545 feet high and six others that are over 16,000 feet. Definitely the biggest I’ve ever seen. I’ve already seen some wild horses along the way, but the rest of the wildlife scene has yet to appear. Destruction Bay was named after a violent storm blew down the few buildings in town. The wild flowers are in mass profusion this time of year and bright pink Fireweed, which is the Yukon’s official flower, is everywhere along the Alaskan Highway. It gets it’s name from the obvious fact that it’s one of the first plants to thrive after a forest fire.

Passed through Haines Junction…. Has the only Government liquor store and Public Library in the same building. What a concept.

Kluane Lake is impressive, with a few islands out in the middle. After setting up camp at Burwash Landing, population: 84, right on Kluane Lake, I noticed that the lake is very rough. My Milepost book warns fishermen that strong winds can come up very quickly on the lake. I’m seeing whitecaps as well. Burwash Landing is one of those tired resorts on a lake. The hotel along with it’s huge old dining room. When the waitress walks by, the whole floor bounces, not because she’s heavy, but because the wooden floor under the tired carpeting is not too secure. Nothing quite matches after years of minor renovations. The three openings from the entrance/gift shop area are all different sized openings, with the last and largest looking like they just knocked down the wall and put up a burl wood post to hold everything up.

Although I don’t usually drive long distances, I am getting used to it up here. Especially with such great distances between services, one feels compelled to just keep driving. Although they do have a number of scenic pull-offs along the highway along with many wayside stops with garbage cans and some with restrooms (pit toilets), most of the scenic pull-outs are poorly marked and I’ve missed stopping at a number of them because of that reason.

Wow, I saw my first wolf on the side of the road. He looked tired or maybe just wary as he waited for me to move on before he crossed the highway. Had shifty eyes too.

While at Burwash Landing, it started to rain lightly throughout the evening. When I woke up, this morning, it was still a light rain. Not having any internet or radio/tv service I was unable to tell what it would be like down the road. But since the traffic has been light on the ALCAN highway, I decided to go on ahead.

After about an hour or so, the light rain to drizzle let up, but I then had to contend with the worst section of road so far. It’s between Destruction Bay and the Alaskan/Canadian boarder. Lots of permafrost damage, many sections are gravel/oil roads which are smoother than the asphalt roads as they are really bumpy. Speed limits are between 35-55 max. The other thing is that the camper and truck really look like they’ve gone through hell and back. What a dirty mess.

I was wondering about seeing more wildlife and then out of the blue (ok, blue and some clouds), sky came an eagle. Soaring lower and lower. The eagle flew low ahead of me, turned sideways, showing off the huge wingspan and landed on the other side of the roadway. What a magnificent bird. Thank goodness Benjamin Franklin didn’t get his way, since he wanted the Turkey as our National bird. I was absolutely stunned as I continued on down the road. Looking back in the rear view mirror I could see him looking back at me. Awesome, just awesome.

Crossing the boarder, back into the U.S., Alaska, there was a short line of 3 vehicles ahead of me. When I got to the check-in and handed the agent my Passport, Drivers License and Insurance, he was all friendly and talkative. Only asked me if I had any firearms (which are illegal to carry between countries). The agent then said, it might be a good idea to "sign" my passport. Opps. He and the younger agent behind him both asked about the camper and my fulltimer experiance. They having some wonder lust themselves.

Having crossed into Alaska, the feelings are running high. I've made it to another dream that's become reality. Just one mile at a time.

After another 60 miles, I arrive in TOK, the first town in Alaska, on the only road in and out of Alaska. Yes, it’s the Alaskan Highway. To jump ahead, I took advantage of a free show here at the TOK Rv Park. Dave Stancliff performed, playing guitar and singing many of his original songs about Alaska. You can check him out at ALASKAARTIST

Dave provided his unique perspective of Alaska through his great story telling and music. Even quoted the entire poem about The Cremation of Sam Magee, by Robert W Service. I’d encourage you to read it. It’s a great story with a fun ending, go to: THE POEM Robert Service is a revered poet and well liked up in these parts. He as well as Jack London had homes in Dawson City Yukon where they both wrote about the things they saw and experienced.

Dave Stancliff also talked about those who live in TOK, the coldest place on the planet, having reached a jaw chilling, toe chilling, frozen breath chilly -80 degrees and also reached a high of 100 degrees one year. The good thing being they have no taxes in TOC and no elected officials nor do they have any regulation of any kind not even for building. Not a single lawyer and not a single police officer. Course you have to put up with an average winter temp as low as -40 degrees. Said, one does not go out when it’s -40 below, which could last for about 10 days. Talk about cabin fever. Also on the down side, their electric utilities are very very costly. These are hardy independent people.

I enjoyed hearing from a local who obviously loves living up here. I’m definitely getting a feel for what Alaska is all about right here on my first day in the State.

We now have only 4 hours of darkness per night. I’ve arrived in Fairbanks Alaska and going to a big Solstice party downtown on Sunday. As I drove north to Fairbanks, I had to stop in The North Pole just outside of Fairbanks. Saw all of Santa’s reindeer too! I’m actually staying 6 miles up the road at The End of the Road Rv park.

Only saw two brown bunny rabbits on my 200 mile journey up here today. Big ol floppy ears and big furry hind legs and feet for hopping. I’ll be in Fairbanks for 8 days, as I need to get my mail delivered. I have important mail that must be delivered before I head on to Denali park.

I’m enjoying my first experience with the all Digital Tv stations. In Fairbanks we get 8 over the air channels and of course they’re all crystal clear. Wonder how many people will realize that they don’t need cable or satelite tv to get really good tv reception. Great way to save a few $$.

There’ll be lots more to report from Fairbanks, as this is the furthest I’ll be traveling with my camper.

Final note: The roads once I got into Alaska are fantastic. Smooth with very few patches, lots of good smooth blacktop. Lovin it.

Till my next report, Have a super day.

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