Left Tok headed for Fairbanks on Thursday. Pretty rainy, overcast day for most of the drive, but it was exciting mainly because we got to see our first moose!! A mama and her calf were walking across the road ahead of us--fortunately far enough ahead for us to be slowing down to avoid any collision and they were against the background of the roadway, so we were able to get a good picture.
Hope to see lots more moose, but it sure made us happy to see our first ones!
Though we're no longer meat eaters, Chuck had talked so much about this sausage company along the way that we decided to stop to see what all the commotion was about. Turns out to be a very small store in the front of a sizable meat packing operation, as they ship out huge volumes to stores all over. Their specialty is buffalo and reindeer sausage, so when I told the lady at the counter I was there to check to make sure they didn't have any of Santa's reindeer there she at first seemed to think I was serious and was a bit flustered! But I let her know I was joshing her, and we even bought a package to take to our grandson.
Stopped in Delta Junction, which is the official end of the Alcan Highway, and got a certificate in the visitor center to show that we actually did it! They had some large outdoor iron art in the shape of huge mosquitos, with moose head on them--moosequitos!! Everyone had joked that the mosquito is Alaska's state bird, as they're reputed to be huge and ferocious. So far, though, we haven't seen any, and we hope it stays this way!
Around lunchtime we stopped at Rika's Roadhouse, which features a restaurant and gift shop, along with the original roadhouse and several outbuildings. Roadhouses were a prominent feature of the early trails and roads before highways were built, and usually the roadhouses could be found about a day's travel apart. They were sort of hotel/trading post/supply store establishments where workers, explorers, gold rushers, etc. made up the trade. This particular roadhouse was first built in about 1905, and went through several owners until Rika Wallen, an immigrant from Sweden, bought it in 1918. She had a knack for farming and was able to grow crops where many others had failed. The roadhouse was strategically located near the ferry across the Tanana River, but Rika became well known among travelers and she made a name for herself by offering fresh eggs from her chickens, fresh veggies from her garden and fresh game fowl she had captured. Ultimately bridges replaced the ferries and the Alcan drew travelers away from the trails by the roadhouse, though she continued to operate it into the 1950's. Anyway, it's a favorite stop for RV caravaners. It's currently owned by a couple from Minnesota--the woman said she and her husband thought they would be prepared for the Alaskan winters having grown up in Minnesota, where she had always thought the winters were pretty tough. Her first winter, though, she said she almost didn't make it, as the Alaskan winters are significantly harsher than anything she had experienced in Minnesota! We met a really interesting woman who was tending the garden, flush with lovely greens and other veggies; she was born just across the road and has lived here ever since. We really enjoyed talking with her, too, about her life in such an environment. The buildings were set up as mini museums, to show the way the supplies were sold, the communications were done with the telegraph lines--all very interesting. While a number of our group had lunch there, we looked at the offerings and they all had some sort of meat in them--hearty fare for sure, but just not for us, so we just went back to the RV and had our tomato sandwiches. We did, however, pick up a doggie chew for Sophie that was made from a moose antler. Boy did she love this!! We gave it to her when we got back and she was in heaven! We didn't hear a peep out of her from there all the way to Fairbanks!
So we headed on into Fairbanks, coming by Eilson Air Force Base, where our friends Ann and Shane Riza, along with their two sweet boys, Jake and Luke, were stationed for several years when Shane was in command there. We also passed through North Pole and the Santa Claus House, and arrived at our campground, set for several days of lots of fun things to do in Fairbanks.
Coming out of Tok