Fairbanks – August 2018

We had not seen any significant wildlife on our drive in to Tek, so we were hoping for some on our way out. Despite driving out very slowly (we spent more than an hour driving the 14 miles to the checkpoint at mile 15), we had no luck on the way out either. We booked down for a quick stop at a park store, emptied our tanks, and left the park.

The first half of the drive to Fairbanks continued our streak of rainy weather.

From Denali, we headed up to Fairbanks. After a wet enough week in Denali NP, well, it poured most of our way up to Fairbanks as well. We felt like spoiling ourselves a little  and opted for a nice campground on the Chena River, River’s Edge RV Park and Campground for two nights. We got a site near the river with electricity. It was a very nice area. There was also a restaurant on the grounds, Chena’s Alaskan Grill, and the campground sold tickets and provided shuttle to a lot of tourist activities. We took advantage of the restaurant on the first night. It was a lovely meal! And we ordered tickets for  The Riverboat Discovery Cruise for the next afternoon.

This picture makes our site look a little more secluded than it was, but we did have decent separation on both sides. Now the rental that pulled into the site behind us decided (for no good reason) to back all the way into our campsite. It wasn’t a huge problem since we don’t have a rear window, but he was ten feet off the road and only a couple of feet from us!

The next morning was chores. I did the laundry while Opa walked to Fred Meyer and bought groceries and necessities. Then the afternoon was open for fun. We got tickets and a shuttle to the Riverboat Discovery on a true Alaskan Sternwheeler.

Our riverboat for the trip.

The shuttle made sure that we got there early enough to do a little shopping at the gift shop before our adventure. Then we got a spot on the boat and went for a ride down the river. The tour was very well narrated by a fellow who no doubt had done this for many years now. It was quite a show.

Just after we started down the river, a floatplane pulled along side the boat and demonstrated how to take off and land on water. Now, I actually think that this is pretty interesting. But it’s far less interesting than when we and our canoe were picked up by a floatplane in the middle of a lake in the Wabakimi Wilderness after a week of canoeing, portaging and camping. So I’m a little bit of a snob.

The dogs are pulling the ATV – it’s engine is not running.

Then we went down the river a little further and were introduced to an Iditarod dog kennel, run by the family of the late Iditarod champion Susan Butcher. It was great to see the demonstrations, but really weird to see it from the third deck of a sternwheeler.

The confluence of the Chena and Tenana rivers.

Next, we turned around where the Chena and Tanana rivers met, and then we were let off for a one-hour stop at Chena Indian Village (a recreated native village) where young native people (mostly college students) shared their culture with us. In addition to the native village buildings, there were sled dogs, Susan Butcher’s husband and reindeer.

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Everything from beginning to end was a “canned performance”; however, that being said, it was well done. I learned a few new things, but I won’t run back to do that again (unless I take my grandkids).

The next morning, we got up and visited The Santa Claus House in the North Pole. I don’t know what I expected, but not this. It was a very large souvenir shop with adults going to sit on Santa’s lap and have their pictures taken. I picked out a few ornaments and we moved on.

Day 79 (Day 45 in Alaska)

Miles: 149*
Driving time: 4:15
Roads: Parks Hwy (AK-3)
Road conditions: Good
Overnight: Rivers Edge RV Resort, Fairbanks, AK
Weather: Rainy, then cloudy (41/59)
Total miles in Alaska: 1,802*
Total miles since crossing Canadian border: 4,362*
Total miles: 5,930*
* Since our motorhome is our only vehicle, mileage includes side trips.

Day 80 (Day 46 in Alaska)

Miles: 0
Overnight: Rivers Edge RV Resort, Fairbanks, AK
Weather: Rainy, then cloudy (41/59)

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