Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tuesday, July 12 - Fairbanks, Alaska to Coldfoot , Alaska

The group met at 8am at the Super 8 to start our journey Northward.  Being slightly misled by the TV show Ice Road Truckers, we thought we were going to be on the Dalton Hwy in minutes, but it wouldn't be for another 100 miles.  Our first stop was at the Arctic Circle "Wild Wood" General Store and while it was still 200 miles South of the Arctic Circle, it was one of the most interesting places to stop.  The building was a log cabin with all kinds of antlers attached to it, antique barrels, and other misc things, along with a sign that said "Fresh Outhouses, This Way" with an arrow.  Being the curious people we were, we thought we had to check out those outhouses.  Unlike the usual outhouses, these were artfully decorated, but had the same fragrance that you normally associate with outhouses.  There was even a station to clean your hands where alcohol gel and baby wipes sat on a barrel.  As we walked back to the main building, we heard the hum of a generator, which had to be the source of their electricity.  Walking inside, was like walking into Jed Clampet's cabin.  There were all types of backwoods looking things, except that the guy there was surfing the internet.  After spending too much time buying souvenirs, we hit the road and contended with the wind and rain.  The Dalton Highway is a patchwork of road types.  We found some black top that is in dire need of repair and then there is a few miles beyond Coldfoot, Alaska, that is like a nice smooth super highway.  However, most of it is gravel and tightly packed dirt and the further we went, the more mud accumulated on our windows and every body panel of the Jeeps.  Our next stop was the Yukon River where a very long bridge with wooden planks allowed us the honor of crossing and running right next to us was the Alaskan Pipeline.  At the other end was a BLM visitors center where we picked up maps and brochures.  Across the street, was what was advertised as a "truck stop" that was our last chance for gas, before we arrived at our destination for the night.  We stopped at a place called the Hot Spot, which was another quite interesting assortment of buildings that was there mainly for the tourists and truckers and where the only burgers they serve were 1 pound burgers, which we were told was the best burger in the country.  The truth to that statement remains to be seen.  We headed out to our last stop of the day in Coldfoot, Alaska, where we filled our starving gas tanks and our bellies at the Truckers Buffet.  We camped at the Marion Creek Campground where we set up our Coleman 10-man instant tent and watched a 90 minute movie about the building of the Alaskan Highway on Woody's big screen laptop.  The movie was over by 11pm and we all tried to sleep with the sunlight streaming down just as strongly as it was at noon. 

An Alaskan Political Statement north of Fairbanks
Wild Wood

 JEO Starts the Dalton Highway made famous by the Ice Road Truckers TV show
 Typical Highway Scene on the Dalton
The pipeline parallels the Dalton Highway for over 400 miles
 Probably the best way to patrol 1000+ miles of pipeline
But if we can get this close......................makes you wonder
Yukon River Bridge and Crossing
$16 One Pound Mushroom and Swiss burger at the Hot Spot Cafe about 5 miles north of the bridge (and worth every penny) but don't ask for A-1 Steak Sauce or Gray Poupon for your burger!
 It rained all day which made for a muddy and slippery road
 We stopped to help this biker who already had 4 other tire repairs on the Dalton due to sharp rocks.  He ran out of supplies so we loaned him my tire repair kit.   We stopped when anyone was along the highway to help.
 Heavy Truck Traffic 24 hours a day and the weather doesn't slow them down
 Hundreds, perhaps thousands of rivers and streams along the Dalton Highway
 Yes Ice Road Truckers fans there is a Carlile Trucking Company but we were told by the drivers we met that most of the stuff that Lisa and the other female trucker does is staged and not for real as it appears.   They don't seem to have much respect for the program
 Fireweed grows everywhere after a fire.   The 2003 Alaskan Wildfire season burnt over 6 million acres
The FIRST ever Jeep Expedition at the Arctic Circle
The Arctic NPS Welcome Center
Cold Foot Truck Stop, the furthest north truck stop in the world
Cold Foot Camp building
Obscured by Clouds
 Our camp for the night at Marion Creek Campground - Russ, Mr Ziggy and me slept in the Coleman Instant Tent kept warm by a Coleman Ceramic tent heater

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