The Dalton Highway, sights along the way to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay–
Our drive from our boondock site to Deadhorse was bumpy but wonderful. We saw so many animals along the way! Saw lots of birds, artic ground squirrels, artic caribou, musk ox, and a wolverine. Wolverines are so difficult to see in the wild we didn’t even hope to see one. We saw so many different types of birds it was amazing. Now we know why birders from all over the world come here! Saw owls, ducks, and many types of geese. In fact, if the Canadians are wondering where their geese are, most of them are on this wetland that is still partially frozen. We can’t even name half the birds we saw but it was so enjoyable to watch them. The area looks, for all the world, like a rookery for many types of birds.
Think of the most industrial part of a city you have ever seen. That is what Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay looks like. The industrial look is unrelenting. Huge trailers serve as contractors offices and the motels look absolutely utilitarian. The place is flooded with big trucks and some pick-up trucks. Dirt roads filled with pot holes and mud completes the look.
Artic Ocean Tour–
We met our guide for the Artic Ocean tour at 2:45 pm along with a fellow tourist, Mary from Anchorage, Alaska. The yellow industrial building in the Deadhorse camp does not have a sign on it but they told us they were expecting us. All the land fronting the Artic Ocean in Prudhoe Bay is owned by the oil companies and no one can go on their property with out security clearance through a tour group. Apparently the security guards at the entrance of the oil fields have turned away some folks that didn’t know the rules. That would be too sad after coming all this way.
It is about ten miles from the security guard house to the Artic Ocean and our guide, Grant, was very knowledgeable. The Artic Ocean is still frozen, the ice will break up in July and soon after it will refreeze. There is a little water on top of the ice and it is covered in snow. It was fun to see and we were all glad we made the trip. We only spent a short time at the Artic Ocean by choice. We didn’t trust the ice enough to walk out on it.
They said there had been a Polar Bear in the area but now it is too warm and he has moved on. Also, there was a grizzly there yesterday or the day before but she too was no where around. Darn! We just want to see them not pet them.
We left Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay right after our tour. The “town’ area is quite unlovely. Drove back to the area of our last night’s boondock site. Read for awhile and fell asleep in what appeared to be broad daylight. There was an Alaska University researcher camping near us. We understand they are researching the wetlands, global warming, etc.
MEMORIAL DAY–THANK YOU TO ALL SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN
Chena Hot Springs
In the past, there were three options for Hot Spring in the Fairbanks area but things change. Circle Hot Springs is closed and Manely Hot Springs is really not operational. So we went to Chena Hot Springs Resort outside of Fairbanks. On the way, on the Chena Road, we were passed by a black Delorean sports car. By the time I got my camera out, the car was long gone so no picture. The Chena Hot Springs is completely wheel chair friendly, flat and it even has a ramp down into the hot springs. There is a slight sulfur smell to the water in the Hot Springs and shower, as you would expect. We paid $8.00/senior for a very nice soak. There are changing rooms, lockers, hot tubs, an indoor pool and hot showers as well as a campground and lodging. The restaurant is said to be good and the employees are helpful. They have a geo/thermal tour (free) and an ice sculpting show for $15.00 each. We were drained after the Hot Spring soak so we were done for the day. A moose wandered onto the resort grounds and I was able to get a picture of her.
On the way to and from Fairbanks, on the Chena Road, we saw a sign that read “dog team crossing”. Now that is a sign we won’t see often!
Tomorrow morning we’ll head for Coldfoot. Wednesday we will go to Deadhorse and on Thursday we’ll take our scheduled shuttle to the Artic Ocean. We will take the Lazy Daze RV and boondock along the way.We probably won’t be able to post again until we return to Fairbanks on the night of Saturday, June 2nd or on Sunday, June 3rd. When we return to Fairbanks, we will post about the trip up the Dalton Highway.
Artic Ocean and Haul Road (Dalton Road) to Deadhorse–
We spent a good part of the morning planning the upcoming week because we want to go to the Artic Circle and the Artic Ocean. We have wanted to see the Artic Circle and go to the Artic Ocean since we first talked about going to Alaska but, we are told the rules, companies providing the shuttle and the costs change almort every year. Turns out, you need to make reservations at least 48 hours prior to taking a shuttle through the Prudhoe Bay Oil property to get to the Artic Ocean. The oil companies own the land that fronts the Artic Ocean and you must traverse this property with a tour. Security is the all encompassing oil company’s issue in this area thus the minimum 48 hours for security background checks. So, we called the Northern Alaska Tour Company (907 474 8600) and made reservations for Thursday May 31st at 3:00 pm. To make the reservation for the shuttle you need to give identifying information and pay via Visa $49.00 per person. We’ll drive to Deadhorse, Alaska and then take a 3 o’clock shuttle to the Artic Ocean. We think it will take us about two days to drive to Deadhorse and hopefully we won’t have “road issues”. After the drive to Eagle, Alaska we should have an idea of what a difficult road is like to drive. There is no communication on the Haul Road (Dalton Highway) after Coldfoot until Deadhorse so there will be no way to get help, certainly no Emergency Road Service. We’ll try to be ready to help ourselves if needed. We will leave Fairbanks, Alaska on May 29th and return to Fairbanks sometime on June 2nd (with any luck).
Pioneer Park Fairbanks, Alaska
Today was “free museum admission fee day” in Fairbanks, Alaska. There are numerous museums in Fairbanks’ Pioneer Park so we spent most of the day in and out of some of their museums. A lovely way to spend a Saturday.
Also, Pioneer Park has free potable water available for RVs plus there are several free RV dump sites in Fairbanks.