Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Day on the MACS Transit in Fairbanks ~Alaska Trip Day 19

In one of our many tour books from the visitor centers, I read about the public transit buses that traverse Fairbanks and the area. We purchased day passes from the driver near the Wal-Mart bus stop and away we rode. (Fahrah got the senior discount, so they paid $0.)

Our first stop on the blue route was Creamers Field, an old cow dairy, now refuge to hundreds of migratory birds. So many miles from home, we saw and heard Sandhill Cranes overhead in formation, though much nearer than they fly above us in Kansas. Most of us enjoyed a leisurely stroll in the birch woods on a wooden boardwalk. (Caroline was distressed after realizing her $40 trip money had disappeared from her pocket while she rode the bus and Annie decided she did not want to walk anymore, so she took Meg and turned around before the interesting part of the trail.)

strange, cloudy, orange, stagnant water made me think of Yellowstone & it's unique colors in the ground

Next stop: University of Alaska Museum of the North. We ate a snack lunch outside, checked it out, and decided we'd all enjoy the bus ride, people watching, and outdoor sights rather than the laborious reading in a museum, though it is highly recommended.

We did make one last stop at the Botanical Gardens where there were promised reindeer babies to see. It was a wild sort of gardens that covered a sizable amount of land, so it was understandable to see some parts overgrown. There were many, many berries the girls wanted to sample, but were unrecognizable to me. We finally found a worker pulling weeds who said they were mostly choke cherries and crab apples and they were welcome to taste them!

a nifty living tunnel

the first-time mama reindeer from an experimental farm across the road

4-7 month old babies

another bus stop
Back at Wal-Mart, look who showed up!
Since we had already eaten, Jackie fixed and brought over their supper while Don chatted and chatted and entertained us all. They gave us great tips and recommendations about the area of Alaska we are headed to.

our 3 houses on wheels parked for the night

Monday, August 22, 2016

Tanana Valley State Fair, Fairbanks ~Alaska Trip Day 18

While driving north to Fairbanks, the highway goes right past Eielson Air Force Base. We weren't permitted to take pictures, but in the few minutes we cruised through, 5 fighter jets left the runway with a blast of noise and glowing red fuel!

Arriving in Fairbanks, we stopped at the cultural/visitor center where there is always parking room for RVs. There we watched a mystical film on the Northern Lights. The information fellow told me his friend saw a hint of it already the previous night, so guess who is waking up between 1-3 a.m. to look for colors in the night sky? (Not to be disappointed, I saw a stationary pale teal color that very morning in part of the northern sky. No sign since though, several days afterwards.)

 A path next to the visitor center took us along the river to downtown Golden Heart Park.

Then we drove out of town a bit to view the massive 800 mile, 48 inch diameter, oil pipeline that crosses 3 mountain ranges and over 500 rivers & streams. This project cost $8 billion from 1975-1977, beginning at Prudhoe Bay and ending in Valdez.

And last of all for the day, an Alaska fair experience.

vendors in the exhibitor's hall, reeled in the girls to get curls

Throw the newspaper through the hole for a prize!

Pie eating contest. Yes, the boy on the end lost it all at the end, poor thing!

Freight dog demonstration

Look who can pull 2,300 pounds!


Bedtime curls. This pic was taken after 10:30 at night. (still not twilight!)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Tok and Delta Junction ~Alaska Trip Day 17

We have driven approximately 3,700 miles now.

These two girls love the signs to stick your head through. Meg is as good at spotting them as she is at finding playgrounds! The thermometer display at the Tok visitors center said the town's record high was 92* and record low was -85*.

Since Tok is the unofficial dog mushing capital of Alaska, we stopped at Burnt Paw gift shop and peeked at their Alaskan Husky pups & mushing display.

We also made a brief stop at the Public Land Management office where there were very nice Alaskan animal displays. (Read those tour books, they tell you about most attractions and if they charge admission. We're on an economy tour here, so we may miss some big-name familiar spots, but discover some unique ones instead along the way!)

Delta Junction marks the end of the Alaskan Highway. We hit the meat processing place first for samples of yak, reindeer, and elk. They were butchering a moose while we browsed. Next we explored the small Farmer's Market. Mom bought some delicious molasses cookies, the girls made several friends, Shannon visited with some locals, and we enjoyed relaxation in the sunshine. Across the lot was a well-preserved building, Sullivan's Roadhouse. The volunteer history buffs were exuberant to share the details of these olden days gone by...more gold rush tales. The garden was beautiful, overflowing with gigantic produce.


These Mennonites from Ukraine were a bit hard to communicate with due to their broken English. The smiling one demonstrated putting horseradish leaf on sore knees or feet. They wanted $15 or $20 for the large cabbage (they debated a bit between themselves in their language when I asked!) I think the honey was $24 a pint.

These friendly homeschoolers originally hailed from Michigan. They are cooking/baking on a woodstove in a temporary cabin until their dad and brother finishes building a house. The wheat bread and cookies looked amazing. Mother wove different crafts & cloths to sell.

The little girls aren't the only ones enjoying these signs!

After driving an agricultural loop, past plots of farmground and down gravel roads, we came upon a lovely suppering spot at Big Delta State Historic Park.

pipeline bridge
The Alaska landscape I pictured didn't meet our eyes until we were 2 days into the state.

Tanana River sunset. We overnighted here at a turnout.
"Head north to Alaska; go north, the rush is on!"