Joe, a real great guy at the campground worked all night and got the plumbing fixed which allowed us to take showers before heading up to the Arctic Circle. A little hesitant about what the road conditions will be like, we are “going for it.” Leaving Delta Junction we were greeted by several moose on the side of the road who were more than happy to pose for us as they ate their breakfast.
As we drove north we arrived at the North Pole. We looked everywhere for Santa but could only find a statue of him. We did see Santa’s reindeer and Dave (Papa, Grampy, Grandpa Dave) actually talked to Rudolph. The North Pole has candy cane light poles and sign posts and we saw Santa’s House. It is a pretty cool place. I saw the naughty and nice list and I saw these names on the nice list: Sahara, Asya, Sofia, Rachel, Renee, Anna, Samantha, Brooke, Jonathan and Connor. Keep up the good work grandkids.
Arriving in Fairbanks we fueled up and bought the biggest coffees we could find and we headed northward. We drove the Steese Highway to the Elliot Highway, both of which are paved.
As we climbed we ran into a little sleet and snow, lots of clouds and still lots of sunshine. We were right in the edge of the storm. The views were great in this wilderness area. And wilderness it was. The only wildlife we saw however all day were jackrabbits and one ptarmigan which Dave almost ran over.
Once on the Dalton Highway, also called the “Haul Road” we were on an unpaved but well graded surface. We had heard some horrific stories about driving on this road, about having at least 2 flat tires and losing your windshield from rocks being thrown up from trucks. We were pleasantly surprised that the road surface was good and many sections were paved. In the 115 miles one-way that we drove, 30 miles of it was paved. When the big rigs approached us head on we took Dave and Ellen’s advice and pulled over and stopped as far right as we could and let them go by. We only had one small rock hit our windshield and it caused no damage. Most drivers were very respectful and slowed down also. Everyone waved as they went by.
The first 20 miles
of the road were the worse, we never went over 30 miles per hour. After that it was a lot smoother and we were traveled at 35-40 mph and on the paved sections faster. We saw fantastic mountain views, beautiful valleys and lots of the Alaska Pipeline. There were tors., which are rock formations in the tundra area near the Arctic Circle.
Just as we were nearing the Arctic Circle we approached a bus loaded with passengers just ahead of us. So much for the close intimate experience we were expecting. We were sharing our moment with 40 strangers. We did get pictures of us at the colorful Arctic Circle sign. And we had a wine toast to the occasion. It wasn’t long before the bus load of people left thanks to the huge mosquitoes that were everywhere. We had repellent and were thinking about selling some for a buck a squirt.
We wrote Arctic Circle on the dust of the back window. We were actually very lucky that there was just enough precipitation today to keep the dust down without making the road a muddy mess. Having achieved our objective for the day we headed back down
to the Yukon Camp exhilarated with our accomplishment. Cross that one of the bucket list. We had supper at the camp and stayed overnight in the primitive 5 Mile Camp located 5 mile north of the Yukon River. We did not set up the tent, but instead sat in the van and called it a night very early. We were totally exhausted from a very full and exciting day.
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