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July 31, 2016

At the End of the Alaska Highway


Alaska is an outdoor adventure, with its extremes in weather and vistas.  With a break in the clouds our timing was perfect to experience the view all visitors come to see.  And we had this view point all to ourselves.  Denali!  Even if it rains the rest of the trip is a win!
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Approaching Delta Junction is Delta Meat and Sausage, with free samples!  A must stop, for a carnivore.
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The Alaska Highway was designed to have a 22’ paved surface.  It has been straightened and widened in many places.  But many of the bridges appear to be less than 22’ especially with oncoming traffic and distracting views.
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The Alaska Highway has an official end at the Visitor Center in Delta Junction, where it becomes the Richardson Highway as it continues north to Fairbanks.
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After the VC the Highway's End Farmer’s Market and Sullivan Roadhouse are also worth a visit
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There’s a good view of the Alaska Pipeline just past Delta Junction, there is a parking area here also for a photo op, but we did not stop.
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The Knotty Shop is an easy stop.  Artworks made with logs that have some unusual burls is fun to look at, but would the hard to carry home.  This mosquito was pretty interesting
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North Pole Alaska is where all those letters to Santa go.   There’s not many reasons to spend a lot of time here, but certainly it is worth  a stop!
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We arrived late at the Walmart Camping lot in Fairbanks.  Like other newbies to Fairbanks I thought the power poles were for the benefit of the Walmart ‘guests’, but soon realized they are for the employees to plug in their car’s engine heaters during the winter.
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We moved from the crowded RV spot to a quiet corner near Lowe's.  Much quieter with ducks in the pond behind and good WiFi signal from Lowe's.
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Although the clouds returned in the morning it remained rain free.  A nice day for a bike ride.  Fairbanks is not a large city and it’s an easy ride to their awesome Visitor Center, through town and on to Pioneer Park.  Don’t miss the Visitor Center, with its museum quality exhibits.
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A walk/bike through the antler arch will lead to the path to town
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I’m not sure if the flags on the fire hydrants are to help the fire fighters find them in the snow or the dogs.
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Pioneer Park is a FREE old town historic park.  While we were there on a week day after noon most of the buildings were closed, but it does come to life later in the day and on weekends.
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The Valley is at the end of Pioneer Park.  A nice picnic spot and the gateway to the Alaska Salmon Bake.
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The Alaska Salmon Bake is available after 5 PM for dinner.
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They also offer crab.
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The rain is back with a vengeance!  After stocking up at Fred Meyers an easy as it is right behind Walmart.  We are off to find rainday fun.  The Museum of the North at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks is the destination.  Known for its world class for its dinosaur collection.
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A move from Wally’s Campinglot to River’s Edge RV as I wanted a FHU site and Fran’s FHU idea includes WiFi, Cell, and Cable.  River’s Edge had it all, and close to the Discovery Riverboat.

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The Chena River is 6’ above its normal level, which is considered flood stage.  However with the dam upstream there is no danger of flooding.  However, a flood alert remains in effect for the rest of the week!  Fairbanks normally gets 12” rain a year! not this year tho!, it's the 3rd wettest on record.  Last time Fairbanks received this much rain was 1972.

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The Riverboat leaves at 2PM, leaving time for the Great Aaskan Wood Bowl Company.  At least the rain highlights the potholes in their driveway.  Just not how deep they are …
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They also sell firewood and patio chairs
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 and the famed Tanana ValleyFarmer’s Market beforehand.
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BTW the poblanos and jalapenos have been sold!
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The Riverboat Discovery certainly did not disappoint on this rain filled day.  
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Trail Breaker Kenels is a fun stop that offers a demonstration of the abilities of the dogs.  Founded by Susan Butcher, 4 time winner of the Iditarod, is now run by her daughter.  She is an engaging speaker and really enjoys showing off her dogs.
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At the confluence of the Chena River and silt filled Tanana River the tour turns around for a stop at a Athabascan Indian Village on the Chena River.
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The Chena Athabascan Village show was brought onboard to protect the elaborate fur outfits.  I think we were able to get closer to the models this way, so that was OK with us.

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The crew then passed out umbrellas as the passengers were allowed off the boat to spend some time in the village.
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The lower-48 had their fling with the ‘Iron Horse’, Alaska had the ‘Iron Dog’
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There are many beautiful estates on the river.
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Without the safety ropes a few might have lost their boat docks in the high water, unless on a private bay.
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Cripple Creek was the most productive gold productive region.  The Pump House Restaurant now displays the placer mining equipment used.
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Tomorrow we’ll say goodbye to Fairbanks with a side trip to Chena Hot Springs and then on to Denali ….
campgrounds:
Walmart Fairbanks Camping lot.  Typical 24hr Walmart, but does not offer guest WiFi!  Lowe's does, so we chose to park on that side of the lot.  Within an easy walk is Fred Meyers, Walmart, Lowe's, Home Depot as the anchor stores for lots of lesser shops.

Rivers Edge RV Park.  LOCATION!  FHU, TV, Cell but the WiFi is pretty worthless.  At $47 it would be fine if the WiFi worked, but I think it is overpriced since the Chena River Recreation area is not far away.  At just about half the price it would be a better choice with 30 Amp WE sites dumpstation, Cell, Antenna TV … if laundry is not need.