Dream Trip To Yukon and Alaska By Road, To Anywhere Else By Any Means At All

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Aug 24 - Above the Arctic Circle, The Dream Trip Destination -- (Dream Travel Trip Anywhere; Yukon-Alaska Road Trip)

Alaska and Back: Did The Guides Work? > What Actually Happened > ...Going TO The Arctic

August 24, 2006...from
...above the Arctic Circle

August 24, 2006

Hi Everyone!

As you all know I think, a dear, dear friend bought me a journal in which I have been writing, by hand, my thoughts during this trip.

Tonight, while I’m about 70 miles above the Arctic Circle at Coldfoot Camp, Alaska, I’m going to journalize on the computer and share thoughts with you that I hope bring you pleasure.

The drive here from Fairbanks was fascinating.

Not that the scenery was unique.

Instead, once I reached the turnoff for going due north to Coldfoot - a right turn about 50 miles northwest of Fairbanks - I suddenly realized that I really was leaving the developed part of the Far North.

I was now headed into territory open only by virtue of folks working very hard about 75 years ago and even into the 1960s, who punched through a road (Alaska State Highway 11) some 440 miles northward to the Arctic Ocean.

For the first 80 miles of my 175 mile trek on this road, known locally as the Dalton Road, I traveled over road surfaces that ranged from paved to gravel (the better surfaces) to large rocks, some the size of softballs, and Alaska-size (BIG,!) potholes and frost heaves.

I suppose that although I got up to maybe 35 miles an hour at some points, I’m sure I was averaging maybe 25 – so I figured it would take me 8 hours to cover those 175 miles.

Quite literally, though, when I reached the Yukon River – about halfway up the road - the surface changed to all paved with some graveled and surfaced damaged stretches – so me and the few other cars and campers – plus all the through trucks hauling goods up north – could do 65-70 in some stretches.

I could not really take my eyes off the road, though. You’re on your own to spot REALLY BIG potholes – some of the worst even have their own secondary potholes.

The road surface also heaves with the freezes and thaws. And humongous cracks open up.

So, if you’re not careful, one of them will swallow a whole wheel.

Still and all, I made it here to Coldfoot in about 5 hours, even with my stop to wait for the pilot car to take me and the 26-wheeler behind me through 8 miles of construction where, you can be sure, we were sometimes not even on ANY road.

While I was waiting for the pilot car (really a pick-up, folks, since no one who lives here thinks “car” or “minivan”), I met Jane, whose profession should be self-evident from the photo of me, jane, and the STOP sign.

Jane says that no matter what I think, not too many folks from Washington DC drive their cars here (or ANY cars here), and BMWs are not the most popular car in these parts. Don’t know why…

I did ask Jane if she wanted to come back to Washington with me. She said yes, but not with the stop sign, which was state property. I said: no deal then!

Believe it or not, when I finally got to Coldfoot Camp (see photos), I actually did get lost trying to find downtown, turning up the wrong dirt road and bumping right into the Alaska Pipeline – not hard to do since it runs along this highway in the same way that highways used to run along railroad rights of way.

To see pictures, click LARGE arrow BELOW the map-3rd icon from left. For BIGGER images, click white circle (1st icon). For more info, see menu: Begin Here/User's Guide

The route ... click below to start the slide show ...

I finally found center city and the Coldfoot Camp "DoubleTree" – actually the Slate Creek Inn (call it the Slate Creek Pentatrailer since the motel is a string of five housetrailers attached and subdivided into not-too-elegant little 8 x 10 foot rectangles (including the bathroom).

But lest you think I have poor taste in selecting accommodations, one of the photos will show you, conclusively – I rest my case, your Honor – that no one but the best of the best cruise ship passengers also stay here.

And in the café across the road, where I filled the car with local hi-test (87 octane, take it or leave it), I had a wonderful buffet dinner, with all the fresh spinach salad that I could eat. Don’t ask me how they do it.

And, since this place advertises itself as the furthest north watering hole in North America (Jane swore on her stop sign that this was true!), I had a genuine Fairbanks-brewed Silver Gulch Brewery Coldfoot Pilsner with dinner – which I ate right here on the patio – and which I am sipping even as I compose this email (I sure do look overweight in that photo!).

(Holy Toledo! Some of those cruise ship tourists walkin’ across from the Doubletree have actually dressed for dinner, sportjackets, dresses. Oh My GAWD! I need another beer – this time it’s a Silver Gulch Brewery Copper Creek Amber Ale.)

The weather has simply been grand. It was sunny most all the day, in the high 50s and low 60s.

One of the truck drivers – I got to meet a lot of them waiting to get by the single lane defiles - said that this weather is VERY unusual, much warmer and clearer than normal – usually in the high 40s and cloudy-foggy along the road.

Now's the time to share with you that this is the road trip I have been dreaming about since I was 9 years old.

Without a doubt, everything that is happening, everything that I am seeing, all that I touch, the people with whom I talk – all of it is indeed a dream come true, exceeding all of my expectations

I can only commend that you too stay in touch with YOUR dream and be sure to make it happen.

Since there’s no internet here, I’ll be sending this tomorrow from somewhere probably down South.

Wait a minute? Isn’t EVERYWHERE down south from here?



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