30 Jul 2010
|Today we are back on schedule but one day early. The road to Fairbanks was very modern and smooth. We could travel at the speed limit with no fear of hitting rough patches. It went very easily.
We [and most of the others] made a stop at the Reindeer Sausage Market. They had tasting of reindeer, elk, moose, buffalo, and pork sausage. It was all very mellow – more like hot dogs – hard to distinguish one animal from another. It was fun trying them all. We just bought a package of elk sausage. Lots of others were buying enough to stock their freezers.
Our next stop was at a visitors’ center in Delta Junction at the actual end of the Alaska Highway. We took a few photos and browsed the gift shop. All we bought were cups of coffee. We continued on the same road but from there to Fairbanks it is called the Richardson Highway.
Next we stopped at Rika’s Roadhouse in the Big Delta State Historical Park. The roadhouse had a long and colorful history. It is furnished with period pieces. There were various furnished outbuildings to look through also. The grounds were in excellent shape. The flower beds and hanging baskets required many photos. However, we spent a lot of time in the gift store. They seemed to have more reasonable prices than other places that we have browsed and to top it off they had a lot of items on sale. I found a Swiss Army pocket knife for $2.85. I bought a moose and a bear figurine for my collection. Evelyn found things she had to have also. A lot of the group bought lunch there. The soup was reported to be excellent but it sold out quickly. We elected to eat lunch in the RV.
Just after we left the park we came to a turnout that gave us our first view of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline where it crosses the Tanana River. It was fairly impressive. It is suspended in the air and it doesn’t follow a straight line. Days later I learned that it had to be raised in areas of permafrost because the oil must be hot to flow properly. The stanchions that support the pipe are complex and are air conditioned in order to keep the permafrost frozen so that the stanchions don’t tip over. The pipeline loops across country in order to allow it room to shift with the temperature and not rupture. It was all very interesting.
We saw a female Moose along the road and I stopped to take a photo. Unfortunately she moved behind a row of trees before I could get a shot. I did the best that I could. Soon after this we saw a male Moose also. I had better luck getting photos of him. When I approached him, he got spooked and started to run away. However he only went a short distance and stopped. He turned to look at me and I took several good photos.
Toward the end of the day’s travel we stopped at The Knotty Shop. They had a large variety of knotty wood. There is some organism that attacks the trees locally. The trees respond by growing a large burl over the infection. The people cut down the trees and cut them into sections to use for everything from pillars to walking sticks. They were selling 6 foot sections about 6 inches in diameter for about $10 each. I wasn’t interested in buying wood but I took a lot of photos of their hanging baskets. They also had a gift shop. I didn’t see anything I couldn’t live without but Evelyn bought several things as “gifts.”
In a small room at the rear of the gift shop there was a nice collection of stuffed animals. They were artfully arranged and all looked real enough to be alive. I enjoyed looking at and photographing them.
Our RV Park was 3 miles off the highway before we got to Fairbanks. It isn’t great but it is pretty good. There is about 15 feet between sites and this is covered in grass. There are a few trees but they are not positioned to give shade. Believe it or not, it has warmed up considerably and we could use some shade. The bathrooms and showers are clean and functional – no frills. The sewer connection is so far back in our site that I have elected to not use it and park up forward.
We arrived just before dinner time. One of the gals came around and invited us to an impromptu social. We all brought our chairs, our drinks, and some finger food to share. Judging by the good dips, some people must have had early warning with enough time to prepare. We just brought a bowl of nuts. Once we had all gathered, we went around the circle and told what we had done to earn a living. Some people used it as a time to brag about their grandkids. It was interesting to see the variety. I was surprised that almost all of the women had worked outside the home.
It was a very pleasant time getting to know each other a little better. By the time we broke up, both of us had eaten so much finger food that we elected to skip dinner.