Friday, May 11, 2012

Down the Alcan; Fairbanks to Tok

One goal of this trip north was to travel the Alaska, or Alcan, Highway. Thursday we started the trek in earnest. A few weeks ago we did a short stretch northbound, Haines Junction to Tok, but we are not going to count that. So, starting in Fairbanks, we headed for the south terminus of the Alcan in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Technically the Alcan, constructed in 1942, begins 100 miles south of Fairbanks in Delta Junction but we won’t be technical.

I could give you a history of the road but that’s been written. You can click HERE to read one account. I will limit my observations to our experience on the road. Since much of the road is just miles and miles of miles and miles surrounded by an ever changing and incredible landscape there isn’t much to tell. It has to be experienced.

Then, 1942

Now, 2012
The people that live in splendid isolation along the road amaze me. In the summer, with the good weather, crowds of travelers head up and down the road, served by restaurants, gas stations and stores of all types. For the other nine months it is relatively quiet. For the five months of winter much of the north portion is held in an icy grip. While some escape to warmer climates many remain and cope.
We stopped in Delta Junction to sample a buffalo burger at a renowned local drive in. It was cold and windy but the covered patio area was alive with kids. I pulled in and was greeted by the owner. “Sorry, we’re not open until May 18th. I’m here for the local school kids who are coming by for a special ice cream cone treat.”
An ice cream cone with the wind blowing and the temperature struggling to reach 45! He then proceeded to make complimentary cones for us pointing out that the ice cream came fresh from a local dairy. And then the next group of parka clad students arrived.
When you live in this country you figure how to get by.

Thursday: Fairbanks to Tok

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