Beaver Creek to Fairbanks
June 4, 2017
Miles Driven: 325
Sunrise (Beaver Creek): 4:40am / Sunset (Fairbanks): 12:18am (i.e. the next day)
Latitude: 62.38N to 64.84
National Parks Visited: 0
Wacky Roadside Attractions: 3
Picture this: Santa has just awoken from his long winter’s nap. Hungry, he eats his jolly, toy-making elves. Those elves don't digest well, so, with an upset stomach, he barfs holiday cheer everywhere. Then busloads of tourists descend to purchase the regurgitated merriment. It’s disgusting. It’s hilarious. It’s American kitsch at its finest(?). It’s the North Pole... North Pole, Alaska (which, incidentally, is where many of your Santa letters go). Of course, we stopped there.
We’ve made it over the Alaska Highway to, well… Alaska. For the past several days it felt like we were getting more and more remote. Farther into the wilderness, away from people and even some amenities (mostly just the wifi – really we were in motels, so I exaggerate some). Thus, it came with quite an abrupt shock to approach Fairbanks and suddenly be beset by a pack of tourists. How rude. One has to laugh though since the place where reality bonked me back on the head was North Pole. I mean that’s the last place you’d expect to find tourists, right?
Before we got to that town of misfit toys, a couple other wacky roadside attractions caught my eye. Delta Junction, Alaska is the official end of the Alaska Highway. There is another ‘unofficial’ milepost in Fairbanks, which we did see, but the true end is Delta Junction. For those crude-energy-carbon-enthusiasts out there, it’s just a couple miles away from great views of the engineering marvel, Trans-Alaska Pipeline. A bit further up the road, you’ll find The Knotty Shop. Oddly, it’s just south of the North Pole where you can at any time of year (and disturbingly at any age) sit on Santa’s lap to tell him if you’ve been (k)naughty or nice. Coincidence?
Now, we’re in Fairbanks. Luckily we are staying with her friend here on the outskirts of town. It’s sad to say that downtown Fairbanks is a bit like you are just off the Vegas strip. Where we are staying, however, is a cute A-frame, closer to Fox, Alaska and up in the hills. We went by the University of Alaska, where Nicole will be attending grad school (remotely). We dropped by their museum and the large animal facility, which is home to musk oxen and reindeer. A baby musk ox careened around the adult oxen, as most babies are wont to do. In that moment, I almost forgot the unpleasantly constructed Santa experience… but not quite.
Until tomorrow from Denali National Park…