Archives for posts with tag: more travels

Tok to Fairbanks Alaska

July 11

Departing from Tok along the Alaska Highway, the milepost suggested a stop at the knotty shop, a cool little shop that had sculptures created out of….knotty wood!

Mosquitos at the knotty shop

If you don’t recognize the image, Bill and Mocha are standing next to a giant Mosquito and check out the flowers, a florists dream.  We have not learned why there are so many flower baskets adorning the buildings but they are everywhere each one more spectacular than the next.

On to the Northern city of Fairbanks. We stopped there because? We had to, it was time to gas up, restock and after all,

it is the gateway to Denali National Park about 120 miles north.

The Rivers Edge Resort & RV park just outside Downtown Fairbanks is on Chena River, a beautiful sleepy river on the outskirts of downtown Fairbanks. The resort boasts of cottages that open to gardened courtyards or the landscaped riverbank. In reality, there were about one hundred or more prefab, little white ticky-tacky boxes, resting on black pebble walk ways that led to either the freeway or a small grassy riverbed area with a few scattered picnic tables lined near the waters edge.  Each cottage had 2 white plastic – the stackable kind- patio chairs and the only other identifying mark besides the cabin number was a big colorful hanging basket of REAL flowers, similar but smaller than those at the knotty shop.  I guess that qualifies as gardened courtyards?  Next to the “Resort” the RV park like so many of the private parks, are paved/or not, with electricity that is no more than a 4×4 board with electrical outlet attached, and water hook-ups meaning a hose bib. The price usually includes coin-op laundry facilities, showers and wifi.  The wifi, if big if you can log on, is so slow that it is almost not worth the bother other than in my case a necessity to pay some bills and organize my thoughts.

The sun came out for part of the day and it was actually warm enough to shed the sweats. Fairbanks typically has less rain than in the interior and to celebrate we took advantage of the day. The University of Alaska at Fairbanks is known for its museum, Artic research center, Geophysical Institute and our choice, the Robert G. White, Large Animal Research Station where the Musk Oxen, Reindeer and Caribou are studied.

mama and baby reindeer

For fiber freaks like me this was like mana from heaven.  For one thing, I had never heard of a Musk Ox before nor did I know that their fur is softer than cashmere.  Because the animals are endangered they are not hunted so inorder to obtain fur, the under-fur is gathered from the ground or at the institute the musk ox are combed, not shaved, in the spring and summer months. These guys who are neither oxen nor musky, actually stem from the goat family. The Inua’s cottage industry is supported by proceeds of garments knitted with the spun wool, Qiviut the profits split between the Inua and the research center to maintain the flock.  If only the knitters were present, it would have been a complete tactile experience.

Later we visited the Botanical Garden that was flooded with Peonies and native plants, wild flowers and indigenous trees.  For once, I left my camera in the car and enjoyed my eye candy.

It turns out there is much more to do and see in Fairbanks than meets the eye.

Dawson City

July 7 & 8

Following an extended visit to Yukon’s Capital City, Whitehorse, we as many summer travelers chose to take the Klondike Loop to Dawson City, Chicken and Tok.  Our RV fixed we head northwest to Historic Dawson City the 2nd largest community in the Yukon.  Since we have now driven 4,000 miles and passed the halfway point of our journey, losing over a week in down time, we anticipate a very long drive passing through rather than staying at some small dots on the map, Carmacks, Pelly and Stewart Crossing.  While the actual mileage 330 mi. is do-able, over 100 miles of it are gravel, dusty and bumpy roads requiring very cautious and alert driving.  Some parts are single lanes that have been washed out from recent flooding.

Not far down the Klondike Highway is Braeburn Lodge home of the famous Braeburn Lodge Cinnamon bun.  You’d think we’d get hip to this line by now but no, we stop and purchash this humongous thing for nine bucks.  My weight watchers voice keeps saying “3 bites, 3bites” Finally, the temptation and the ridiculous food folly has diminished, thank goodness.

The scenery while beautiful is getting boring, the extent of our animal sightings this day limited to a porcupine, and a few road kill.  Where are the moose?  We pass through the city of Carmacks. Back in 1893, it was known as the hub of the Yukon, if you sneeze, you’ve passed through it. The next possible stop, Pelly’s crossing with 300 full time residents, it boasts of something historical but, just another underwhelming mining town we whizzed through that one as well.  Moose Creek Lodge looked interesting but there was not a campsite there.

As we entered Dawson City, which appeared to be nothing more than a huge pile of rocks was about as inviting as a tooth ache.  Upon entering the town we pass Bonanza Gold RV Park and Gold Rush RV campground, Walmart’s parking lot was more enticing.  As we continue driving through town it was reminiscent of Placerville, Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm or a movie set of Bonanza with facades and the only the appearance of authenticity.  Our only reason for being here is to cross the river- no bridge to reach the city of Chicken and Tok.  We opted for the Yukon River Government Campground, a beautiful site tucked among poplar, cottonwood and spruce trees, our site was right at rivers edge.  The only problem was that upon reaching the ferry to cross the Yukon river there was a torrential down pour that felled many of the cotton wood trees, blocking some of the road and campsites.  We were cranky, exhausted from the tension of the week and tired from the long days drive.

The following morning, Sunday July 8, 2012, the sun was shining, no clouds in sight the air, crisp and fresh and the river glistened like diamonds.

Yukon river campground.

Maps in hand, we bid Murphy farewell and began our Dawson City journey.  The Klondikes Active Transport and Trails Society developed a 2.5km trail called 9th Ave. trail that led us through the overgrown gold rush neighborhood.  Although remnants of he original dwellings could be found there, we didn’t see any as the entire hill was covered with lush wild flowers and new growth.  The trail as indicated led to 9thAve. or the main town where we shared halibut, salmon & cod chowder at Sourdough* Joe’s.

I have to wait here and watch them eat?

Gun and Ammo Shop

Then, following the self guided walking tour of the original town dwellings, we found Jack London’s (replica) cabin, Straight’s Second Hand or Guns and Ammo Building and the Locomotive Shelter and more.

*sourdough’s=Klondike veteran miners

A reasonable facsimile

  Pleasantly surprised by the sites and glorious weather, our moods were softened.