As we left Denali National Park we turned north again headed for Fairbanks. The Parks Highway parallels the Nenana River for about 80 miles, and this area is a favorite River Rafting area. (This is the third post of our trip from Anchorage to Tok via Denali and Fairbanks. If you missed the previous two posts, here are the links: Part one to Denali State Park; Part two to Denali National Park)
The Alaska Mountain Range starts to wind down, turning into hills, and eventually north of the range is the Tanana Valley. We had hoped to camp along the road in a rest area before Fairbanks, but there was no Internet signal…so on to Fairbanks we went. Stayed at a Fred Meyer parking lot, which was loud due to traffic along the road running along the parking lot, and Marcia was in much pain due to getting back in the motorhome at Denali National Park. So in the morning I did the shopping for what we needed at Fred Meyer, and off to Tok we went. There was no reason to hang around Fairbanks if we were not going to visit anything since the best medicine for Marcia’s shoulder was rest…and I knew in Tok we could relax, and position ourselves for the eventual drive to Haines, which requires re-entering Canada, going over the awful stretch of road under construction, and then re-entering Alaska coming into Haines.
Not even being able to hold up the camera, I go pictures of Santa and Santa’s House at the North Pole as we drove by…
About half way to Delta Junction there is a nice rest area next to a small lake. There are signs that say you cannot camp here…but we knew where we were headed to in Tok to get some needed rest. Skruffy has always liked to bark at other dogs…and since her recent recovery from “near death”, she has turned into a barking fanatic again. Marcia was able to get the shot of her on my lap barking since it did not require her to lift her arm very high…unlike turning, facing the side window, and hanging the camera out the window.
As we go closer to Delta Junction I was glad to see that the bridge carrying the Alaska Oil Pipeline across the Delta River, near the point where the Delta River and Tanana River converge, was on my side of the motorhome so that Marcia did not have to hang the camera out her window. This is the best view of the pipeline that we had seen.
Delta Junction is the official end of the Alaska Highway. On December 7, 1941 the Japanese attacked America at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In late winter of 1942 the Alaska Highway started to be built, with a group starting here at Delta Junction, which is as far as the road from Fairbanks went, and another group starting in Dawson Creek. The met at Soldier Summit at Klune Lake in the Yukon in November of 1942. So in less than a year, America was attacked, and the Alaska Road was built … covering 1,422 miles. Of course it was a crude road, but it did allow for supplies to run to the military bases along the way, and all the way up to Fairbanks.
At the “end of the Alaska Highway” monument they also had this small section of the oil pipeline (left) and the “pig” that goes through the pipeline (right). The “pigs” are used to clean the pipeline, to monitor the pipeline, and to test the pipeline. There are a variety of types of “pigs”, which when first used in pipeline, actually resembled a pig…but now days it looks more like a bullet to me.
Could not resist taking this picture which shows the pipeline in relation to a person, and way up in the air is a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III which was flying circles around the area in what appeared to me as doing practice landings or practice cargo dumps…but we could not see it when it got read low due to the surrounding trees.
And for those of you who think that Alaskan’s, and Alaska visitors, exaggerate when they tell you just how big the mosquitoes are in Alaska, here is the photographic evidence of it!
In many parts of Alaska where the soil is “muskeg” type, also known as “boggy” or “bogland”, the trees are short, thin, and scruffy looking. These trees are the Black Spruce, and despite their looks, they are healthy trees which are ideal to grow in this type of climate and soil. Nearly half of Alaska has Tundra, which is unable to support a large forest. The Black Spruce is on soil which probably was one Tundra, but now is capable of growing trees…especially Black Spruce trees.
We left Soldotna a week ago, spent just enough time in Anchorage/Wasilla area to get the oil changed, enjoyed a good couple of views of Mt. Denali, visited Denali National Park, spent a night in Fairbanks, and have been in Tok for three nights now with one more night to go. Marcia’s arm is just about back to how it was before re-hurting it at Denali National Park. Today we are going to attempt to go to Fast Eddy’s for a late lunch, and hopefully get Marcia in and out without further hurting her healing shoulder. Tomorrow we plan to drive 150+ miles to just before the road construction in Canada. Then on Sunday we will get up early and hopefully cruise through the road construction at a nice, slow steady pace…ending up in Haines Junction where we will stay a night…then on to Haines where we hope to enjoy a week or so along the inlet and among the surrounding mountains.