Friday, June 15, 2018

Day 13, Delta, Fairbanks and Denali

So, this morning we bid a farewell to Tok.  Interesting town.  Not our kind of place but has what you need.  Our next stop is Delta or better known as Delta Junction.  This is the official end to the Alaskan Highway.  You can head south on 4 to reach Hwy 1 which takes you to the Kenai Peninsula or to Seward or continue on the same road to Fairbanks.

We haven't seen much in the way of mosquitoes yet, nothing like what we saw in Montana and Minnesota.  We certainly haven't seen anything like these guys!

At the visitor's center, there is a monument to the end of the road.  We were there too early to go inside the visitor center.

We had found a really nice truck wash here in Delta.  It is south on 4 about a mile on the right.  Huge gas station and super good car wash.  They even have elevated platforms on each side so you can get your roof really clean.  I think we spent about $15 to wash the van.  It really needed a wash.  Don't bother with the wash in Tok, it is pitiful compared to this one.

We passed by the Alaskan Pipeline at one point his morning.  I think at this point there are actually two pipelines here.  

The road was in good shape along here. I can't remember any construction and only moderate rough patches.  This is the main road into Fairbanks so they must keep it in good condition.  Not much in the way of scenery here, but it was a nice drive.  There was little traffic this morning.

We spotted a moose alongside the road having breakfast.  She paid us no mind.  We didn't stop, just slowed down for a quick photo op.

This moose was attempting to cross the highway but couldn't figure out what she was going to do when she got to the other side of the road.  The flight line for Eielson AFB is right there with 6 foot chain link fence.  They were getting fighter jets lined up for an exercise.  Some were taking off and others getting ready to go.

We decided that there wasn't anything that we wanted to do in Fairbanks.  The Haul Road was not an option, as we didn't want to beat up the van by driving to the Arctic Circle.  There are some hot springs nearby but we decided to get to the Walmart for a resupply and find a dump station as the RV park in Tok had one, but it was closed.  Big surprise there.  I really don't recommend that place.  There are others that are nicer albeit more expensive.

The Walmart was the largest Walmart I have ever seen.  The lot was full of RVs who were staying there.  I saw one other Airstream, a Basecamp if I remember right.  We did our shopping and looked on the map for a dump station.  I found one just down the street at a service station.  It was free, but didn't have any water there to clean up afterwards.  I like to rinse out the stinky slinky if I can.  They also had propane there so we topped off the tank as well.  The guy said there was fresh water around back of the store but I couldn't get the water to come on.

So, after doing our chores in Fairbanks we decided to head south on Hwy 3 which is also called the Parks Highway.  This is the road to Denali and Anchorage.  We figured maybe we could luck out and get a spot since it was still early in the season.  Before we could reach the highway, we had to negotiate a detour through town as Johansen Expressway was closed right after the service station.  Fortunately, they actually had signs showing you the way all the way.  Not like some detours where they have one sign and then you are on your own.  It's about 125 miles from Fairbanks to the park entrance.  The road is good but heavily traveled. This is the busiest road in AK yet.  The scenery is getting really nice along here though.

Just before arriving in the general vicinity, the wind picks up and we are knocked around like a kite in a hurricane.  The wind must blow hard here a lot as the bridges all have wind socks on them to show you the velocity of the wind.  Today, the wind socks are screaming!  Great caution is the keyword when going across these bridges.

After several tries we finally arrive at the turn off to the park.  We follow the signs to the campground reservation area.  Just next to that is a super-duper RV dump station with fresh water fill.  I think there were 3 or 4 lanes available and it is free.  Since we just dumped the tanks, I filled the fresh water tank while Sharon ran next door to check on a campsite.  I was just getting done when she came back shaking her head.  No joy.  All the sites are taken.  Well, it was worth a shot.

This place is super crowded and a mad house to boot.  We find the visitors center and camp store and go see each of them.  Sharon finds a souvenir while I chomp on my bit to get the hell out of there.  I don't like big crowds.

We decided to keep going south on Parks Highway as the Denali State Park is coming up next and we figure we can find something along in there or we could camp in one of the pull off areas.

The scenery in this part is really amazing.  You are traveling between two mountain ranges with snow capped peaks for miles and miles.  We stopped at one parking area but it was too slanted, too close to the road and too many people in and out.  We got back and headed further south.  We find the South Denali Viewing Area and try it out.  They have quite a few huge parking spaces for RVs but it too is very close to the road.

We head back out and backtrack a mile or so to an Alaskan State Park called... K'esugi Ken Campground.  We saw the sign before and thought we'd try it out.  How bad could it be?  Well, it wasn't bad at all.  In fact, it was super nice and practically brand new.  This is the new standard for Alaskan State Parks.  All the roads and parking spots are paved.  30 and 50 amp electrical service.  I didn't notice any water anywhere but there are pit toilets and dumpsters.  I think we paid $30 for the night.  I had to use one lego block to get the van leveled out.  Not too bad.  It had been raining most of the day (remember we washed the van yesterday?) and continued raining throughout the night and into the next morning.  Not a pouring rain, just a drizzle.  We are camping, so rain is a prerequisite.

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