Monday, July 2, 2018
Day 3, Driving in Alaska
We really like heading to Alaska during early June. Tourists have not quite arrived in great numbers yet, it's easy to find pullouts, and the tours in towns are not quite booked up yet. The weather is in the 50's during the day, and the forties at night, which feels wonderful to us Floridians. We are on our way to Fairbanks, via the Parks Highway. Our plan is to check out Fairbanks, maybe stay a day or two and then head east and then south, eventually heading to Valdez. There is a lot to see and do in Fairbanks....You can check TripAdvisor.com for a wonderful list of things to do. There's lots of culture in Fairbanks, but for us, we are geared towards nature this time. So we decide to pass on by Fairbanks. We're driving along, passing moose habitat after moose habitat. We see no moose. Sparky inquires, "How come with all this perfect moose habitat, we're not seeing any moose?" and just as she looks down at the Milepost directory which keeps saying, "watch for moose" and we keep seeing yellow moose alert signs by the road, Eldo shouts, "MOOSE! MOOSE!" Sparky looks up and there one is! But as she sees it, it's too late to get a photo, so Eldo knows, the question is coming, "Can we turn around?" Now mind you, we're in a 33 foot motor home and that's just not as easy as turning around in a car. But Eldo is so well trained by now, Sparky doesn't even have to ask. He turns the rig around and back we go to the pond. The moose sees us and shuffles off through the underbrush. DARN! But hang on, there's another one!
Yay! Two moose in one day! And off we go again...
Sparky is intrigued by the name of the town, North Pole, Alaska. the Milepost directory says the whole town is decorated all year round for Christmas. Even the light poles are candy cane striped. So we decide to stop there, at the coolest Christmas shop ever, called the Santa Claus House. Not only is it BIG, but it has all kinds of ornaments (Sparky's favorite part about decorating for Christmas). There are reindeer right next door to the shop. The outside of the shop has cool painted tile artwork on it. Sparky buys a cool metallic Alaska ornament. The nice extra they do for the people who pass through their shop, whether you buy something or not (as long as you buy the postcard) they will mail it for you from the shop so it gets a postmark of North Pole, Alaska. AND they even pay the postage! Beautiful things in there, but many, if not most items were from China. Sparky found a cool few things made in the USA, like these Belsnickel Bells.
Yes, it's a touristy shop, but it's still beautiful and fun to look around. They have inexpensive items and high dollar ones, like this Russian carving for $15,000.
And they have the courtesy to let you know how much time there is left until Christmas! (Sparky better get rolling on her Christmas crafts when she gets home!)
We press on....We stopped by the Delta River, which is a braided river. So much silt is deposited by glacier runoff and glacier melt, that the river winds and turns and the pathways it travels are many in number, giving it the "braided" look and therefore the name.
We see a willow ptarmigan on one of our stops and a bald eagle. Sure, we can see bald eagles at home in Florida, but something about seeing them against the magnificent mountains in Alaska, makes seeing them more special. Sparky is in 7th heaven. The scenery is non stop spectacular....
And the moose signs many.....
We were thinking of visiting Wrangell St. Elias National Park, but you can't take an RV in very far at all. The roads are too rough and restricted to RV rentals. It's huge, 13.2 MILLION acres and has very few visitors compared to other national parks. We do visit the park entrance for the required tourist photo and the visitor's center which was very informative.
We boondock for the night at MM112.6, at the Simpson Hill Overlook. In the Milepost directory, it says it "has a long paved parking area east side of the highway. Wide paved access road with a big turnaround and an excellent view. On a clear day, you can see the Wrangell Mountains." We did....It was very spacious, an excellent boondocking spot. The Wrangell Mountains consist of Mt. Sanford, 16,237 feet, Mt. Drum, 12, 010 feet, and Mt. Wrangell, 14,163 feet. They were beautiful. Unfortunately, Sparky has so many photos of all the beautiful mountains in Alaska, she can't find a specific shot of that range. There are many mountains in Alaska which are not named, simply because there are just so many! Our plan is to head to Valdez in the morning.....We are having no trouble sleeping despite the many long hours of daylight this time of year in Alaska. It doesn't get darker until about 11:30PM and even then, it's more like dusk back home.
We did put a black cloth over the bedroom vent in the motorhome to block out the bright light at night and that helps some. Some people bring or purchase a piece of aluminum "shade", like the silver sun blocker shades you put in car front windows during the summer. They just get a cut piece the approximate size of the vent opening and push it up there and it stays without any tape, helping to reduce the light and the heat loss during the cool/cold summer nights in Alaska. Other people put aluminum foil all over the windows in the bedroom, but we were so refreshingly tired every night from the fresh air, we didn't need to do that.
See you tomorrow (or soon...) on the way to Valdez with the Alaskan Pipeline!