Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fri, Aug 28: Fairbanks

The morning is mostly clear and sunny and we had said that if it was we would drive south to see if we could see Mt. McKinley. We get gone by a little after 10:00AM for the 120 mile drive to the park. The highway for the first 80 miles or so is better than we remember it being but it then deteriorates into a rolling sea of frost heaves. One could get seasick driving that stretch. At one point, something over half way into the drive, we catch a brief view of the mountain with no clouds and full sun. It is magnificent in its snowy blanket from some 70 miles away. It must be awesome on a clear day from a closer vantage point.

By the time we arrive at the park, it is sprinkling rain off and on with the clouds moving in from the south threatening heavier rain to come.
We are surprised that there is no gate or check point to pay your fees or show you pass. But, there is not and we drive the 13 mile stretch of the park road open to private cars. At the Savage River there is a check station and you may not drive a private vehicle any further with a few special exceptions.

During our drive in and out, we see some beautiful Fall colorsand three moose. It is the rut and two males are stalking a female on a hillside several hundred yards from us. We get photos with our 400mm lens and watch them until they move into heavy cover.Fortunately it doesn’t rain while we are looking and taking pictures.Back at the park entranceit starts to rain in earnest and we attempt to find out about making camping reservations for next Thursday and maybe Friday but the lines are long and we give up. We do watch a great film on the park and its seasons but leave without any firm plans to return next week.

We head back toward Fairbanks about 4:00PM and run out of the light rain after 20 miles or so. The drive back in uneventful and we are back at the rig by 6:15PM to find that there is no water pressure. It seems some idiot has backed his rig over the outlet in his campsite and they had to turn off all the water to repair the break. The water comes back on within an hour and Dick starts several loads of laundry at $2.00US each. Just after arrival, several women arrive and start filling the remaining machines. Two of the ladies are from North Carolina and Dick enjoys a visit with them. Upon returning to put the wash in the dryers, the husbands have arrived and one of them tells Dick that Spruce Pine, NC had a major fire this year and a significant portion of downtown burned.
We go to bed about 11:00Pm with clean laundry, clean sheets and rain on the roof.

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