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Alaska – Yay!!!

July 31, 2013

Alaska – Monday, July 22

This campground had the best shower facilities that I’ve encountered for a while and it was good to take time to get all cleaned up, and get the van reorganized after some hasty packing during previous rainy days. They had internet access too but I passed on that – I’ve been in Canada long enough! Tula and I took another walk around the interesting campground (why do they need a helicopter?!?) and then got in the car, and it wasn’t long before we finally crossed the border into Alaska! The cars ahead of me were Canadian and they took quite a while to get through and a couple had to pull over for further inspection. The border guard was happy to see a US citizen, and said I was an easy one to deal with! Neither of the border guards wanted to see any paperwork on Tula, which I had handy, but they both said as long as I had the papers, that was good enough for them.

And then I was in wild Alaska – still miles from anywhere. I stopped at the big Alaska sign, and met a young German couple who were going to bike their way through Canada along the exact same route I had just driven. They said they’d already been on the road for 20-21 days from Anchorage, and that made me hope they had made lots of stops along the way, or come the long way through Fairbanks, because if it took them 20 days to get from Anchorage to the border, I don’t see how they’re going to get all they to Calgary, through all the mountains in Jasper and Banff before the snow flies! They had heard a little about road conditions, and asked me about them. I had to tell them there was going to be some rough going here and there for them. They seemed resigned to this – I was merely confirming what they had already heard. I can’t imagine biking all the way through that territory, but they’re young and adventurous!

Soon after crossing the border, I came to the pretty visitor center for the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge, and not only was that a good place to get out and walk a little, but for $1 I got a great campground map for Alaska. Then we continued on an hour or so to Tok, the first town that most people encounter when driving into Alaska. Again, I stopped at the visitor center, and Tula and I got out for a couple miles of walking along some bike trails. It’s not a bg enough place for sidewalks, but they had lots of bike trails along the roads (mostly just one intersection of 2 highways) and after making some phone calls and sending a few texts now that I had service after 4 days, we walked another couple of miles in Tok before heading west. It felt really good to be able to get started on my usual walking for the day. I passed one gift shop that had grass growing on its roof, and later when I went inside for a postcard, they told me they have to mow the grass a couple times a week in the summer, partly because it grows so fast in the summer with 20+ hours of daylight every day, plus they have to keep it watered so it doesn’t become a fire hazard for the rest of the building, which is a log cabin, like many other places in town.

So, with electronic gadgets back in use, and 4 miles of walking done, we headed west, aiming eventually for Fairbanks. About a half hour out of town, I passed a rest area place that was full of sooty fire fighters and about 10 forest service trucks. I was going to stop there anyway, and one of the firefighters walked past the van when I was parking, and I asked them about the fire. They said it had started down by the river, but it was out now, and there was nothing I had to worry about. I was worried there might be some kind of forest fire and maybe I shouldn’t continue, but they said it was perfectly safe. I asked one of them if it was okay to take a picture, and the group of them that was around happily posed for a picture! I continued heading west toward Delta Junction and began to see some moose – mamas out grazing with their calves. I saw some of them close up, and I really like moose, but they are kind of ugly, ungainly creatures! And there were flies and gnats buzzing all around them. The babies were trying to nibble branches and grasses and I got some good close up shots – Tula was intrigued with them and was watching them out the window – I even got a picture of her watching a moose. I also drove by a place where the Alaska pipeline passed through – a bunch of above-ground pipes, carrying the oil across land and rivers. And then there was even a rainbow between a couple of pine trees when there wasn’t even any rain around!

I passed through Delta Junction, and still continued west. I didn’t see any donation opportunities in Tok, and Delta Junction was literally just a highway junction, although there was a little store where I was able to get a good salad for dinner, and since I haven’t had time to do any donation research, I will wait until tomorrow to kick in the donation part of the week. After some more miles, I passed a campground called The Lazy Moose, and even though it was still light enough out to make it seem like it was about 2:00 in the afternoon, I knew it was time to stop, and figured that was as good a place as any. I was a little worried about bugs and mosquitoes, but they didn’t seem to be too horrible, even though the campground was near a river. A walk down by the river was not a good idea though – that’s where the bugs were hanging out! When it was time to call it a day, it seemed like I was just going to take a nap because it was still so light out – and I’m not a napper – so that kind of confuses the brain a bit! But I was really happy to be in Alaska, and was looking forward to kicking the week off in good style tomorrow!

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One Comment
  1. Nancy, I’m so anxious to read all about your travels through Alaska. I have some very fond memories of the trips Bob and I took there and I will be reliving them through you. We also had a moose encounter –aren’t they amazing?

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