The part of the Alcan Highway in Alaska was somewhat better maintained than the part in the Yukon. This is not to demean the Yukon Highway Department, but more a realization of how different areas’ roadways can deteriorate at different rates. So, the roads in Alaska were somewhat more passable than the roads we had previously driven.
I was surprised at the tundra. My Alaskan education led me to picture the tundra as a cold desert. I was not prepared to see a forest of very slender conifers and various colors of flowers in the fields. Although inviting, I must remember that two months from now, the colors will be gone and the snow will be covering all. I read that the spruce trees are deceptively small. A 100 year old spruce can be as narrow as two inches in diameter. The permafrost prohibits deep roots, therefore the trees grow very slowly.
Always on the lookout for odd places to see, we missed a chance to go to the Delta Meat Market, where you have your choice of meats: elk, bison, reindeer. So we went to the IGA in the town to see if there was some of their meat. I was so very surprised at the selection of meats and jars in Russian. Well, after all, they were here first. I guess they didn’t all leave!
At the store, we met a man who had recently wrecked his truck on a moose. The man said four Russian men came up to the moose, asked if he wanted it (he didn’t) and proceeded to gut and cut the moose before the tow truck had arrived to take the truck away. He regaled us with his adventures and warned us that something was up because he knew there were too many planes at the air force bases practicing.
Driving into Fairbanks from the west, we passed by Eielson AFB where there is a fighter squadron.
And then we passed by a series of roads with names like “Snow White”, “Bullwinkle” and “Flying Squirrel”. The developer had a sense of humor.
There is a town just outside of Fairbanks named North Pole. It has delightful street names like St. Nicholas Way. And the church? St. Nicholas, of course. By that point the trip odometer read 5480 miles.
In Fairbanks, we found a lovely RV park on the Chena River. It had treed lots, a pristine Laundromat and shower area. The office was a store, also, and a mini post office. This place had acreage along the river for a while, and on the opposite side of a high fence were probably close to 100 little cottages, each the size of a standard hotel room and bath, only each had a tiny patio in front of the door. In addition to that the RV park owners also have a lovely restaurant on the premises. We went there for dinner because Dear Hubby had read the menu online. And he was not disappointed. The seating was both indoors and out on the veranda overlooking the river. Just excellent!
In our weekend, we found a tiny church in downtown Fairbanks, Immaculate Conception. Built in 1904, it was deemed by 1911 to have been built in an inconvenient place. So, the priest, a Jesuit, of course, figured out the logistics of moving the whole structure, intact, across the frozen river, 400 yards. The church sits overlooking the river, surrounded by flower gardens.
Talking about flowers, the summer in the great north is full of flowers. They may as well get as much color out of their brief growing season as they can. Most houses and businesses have lovely hanging baskets and flowers along the walks. The flowers are, for the most part, annuals, like marigolds, petunias and impatience. All colors.