Alaska RV Camping Travelog – Day 8
Fairbanks to Nenana
Wake to sunny skies, and a temperature of 35 degrees! Glad Brian got our furnace back in working order! We have a fabulous view of the Alaska range to the west which we didn‘t realize we could see last night when we stopped at our RV camping site in the rain. There is a fresh dusting of snow on the mountains and it is so beautiful in the frosty morning air! We do plug in the block heater to help out Gozer getting started. Our solar system is working well with so much daylight! Almost 20 hours right now, and the days are getting longer and we‘re going further north.
We head towards Fairbanks and drive for about an hour and stop for breakfast in a parking area next to the road. Oatmeal always seems to hit the spot on chillier mornings! We’ve been treated to wonderful views of mountain vistas along this segment of the Alcan, also known as the Richardson Highway.
We get back on the road, and encounter lots of frost heaves , pot holes, and a stiff headwind so we keep the speed close to 50 mph. Traffic is light and we don’t have to worry about holding anyone up. We do begin to have snow flurries at a town called North Pole! How appropriate! It has quite a Santa Claus theme and everywhere are Candy Canes!
The snow isn’t sticking and mostly wet, but Gozer wasn’t meant for the white stuff! That’s why we go to the Southwest for the winters!!! Snow is my least favorite weather phenomenon, so it can stop anytime! Plus it’s June 4th!!! HELLO! Oh yeah, we’re in Alaska…
Eielson AFB signs direct that no cameras may be used for the next 3 miles–hope we don’t see a grizzly bear! We do see many military aircraft on the tarmack but no planes taking off or landing.
We arrive in Fairbanks with our destination the Visitor Center, and find the parking lot to be completely full, and a tight place to have to maneuver through. We do find a parking space in the outlying lot, and don our warmer clothes as we are having snow flurries that look a lot more serious now.
Just outside the visitor center is the statue pictured above. This monument is a tribute to the native peoples of Alaska, and depicts the “Unknown First Family”.
They have free computer terminals at the visitor center, so we all check our e-mail, pick up a few post cards and inquire about Public Lands Info. We do get directions to the public lands office, but decide to have some lunch before hunting it down. We ask about a place to eat and they suggest a diner not far away.
We are relatively close to downtown, so we walk south a block to a place that looks like an old fashioned soda fountain. It’s the Co-Op diner and we would definitely recommend it as their food was excellent! We walk in and are greeted by Mexican music, and friendly waitresses–also a varied menu. Brian and I have the Huevos Rancheros and it’s the best Mexican food we’ve had since leaving Denver! Mom has the Ruben sandwich along with a bowl of soup and we all have warm and happy stomachs on the way out!
Turns out our directions to the Public Lands office weren’t quite as good as the ones to the diner and we get to do a little accidental sightseeing. This is a quaint old town with lots of older wooden structures and well kept yards. We do get some bad information about camping at Denali Park and Preserve as the gal at the desk tells us there are no camp spots available until the end of June. We inquire about “dispersed camping” and just get quizzical looks. We explain the concept and are told that there is no “dispersed camping” on the road to Denali other than in an RV park. More often than not we are shocked by the lack of knowledge about public use camping in an office of the department that invented the term!
We look around town at the RV camping opportunities, but they don’t look to be very interesting so we decide to head south toward Denali and just see how close we’ll get today. I do check the cell phone and notice I have a cell signal for the first time since leaving Bellingham! After quick calls to my parents, I call The Denali National Park and Preserve. What a wonderful surprise! They have camp sites available and I book one for a week starting the 5th through the 11th!
We find a Fred Meyers and Mom and I do our shopping for our week of camping in Denali while Brian fuels up Gozer. Our Fred Meyers card gives us an additional 10 cents off per gallon but hasn’t been long since our last fill and we can only hold $75.00 worth! So far the produce in Alaska looks pretty limp, and probably should as its had to be shipped in and then put on a truck out to the stores.
About the time we got back on the road it started snowing in earnest and seemed to be sticking a bit. Didn’t last long though and the clouds seemed to lift and we had awesome views of the valleys on either side of the road. This section south from Fairbanks is called the Parks Highway or Skyline, and it really is along a high place compared to the few homes clustered out amongst the trees.
We cross the Nenana River and see a sign for the Nenana RV park, so follow the arrow and hope for the best. This is a very attractive RV park to us, since only 1 other RV is in it! The idea of power is very appealing as the temperature is to be in the 20’s tonight and we’ll plan to run our little electric heater. There is nowhere to pay, but we select a space and have water and 30 amp electric. Tomorrow is to be dry and partly cloudy so we’ll hope for a good view of Mount McKinley, North America‘s highest peak. I start one load of laundry, and the other “resident” of the park is there using the laundry facilities too. He said someone came by and took his money so we figure we’ll just wait for someone to show up. Good walk for us along the river, and this will be a quiet place for the night.
Road Notes: Only saw one moose today. Speed limit was set at 65 but seemed too high for the road conditions which were poor in our opinion. Many frost heaves and pot holes but the road was paved the entire stretch from Tok. Fairbanks was the farthest north we were to get on our trip and the days are longer than ever. 236 miles today and we’re getting 11.08 mpg.
Next – RV Camping Journal Day 9 – Denali and Mount McKinley
Yesterday – RV Camping Journal Day 7 – Border Crossing