Muncho Lake: Milepost 409
Taking an extended break from the highway
At over 1400 miles long but barely ever wider than two lanes, the Alaskan Highway barely dents the sub-Arctic wilderness it travels through. The services hug close to the road and it is entirely possible to travel from Dawson Creek to Fairbanks without every venturing more than a few yards from the pavement. There are a couple of nice lodges along the way, but for the most part travelers are confined to small generator powered outposts. The usual settlement includes a couple of ancient gas pumps, a greasy diner with big city prices, a rough motel, and a campground. It is a short season with most of the businesses shut down by September. Those that do stay open year round report little to no business with one person stating that he sometimes works an entire winter shift without seeing a single customer.
Liar River Hot Springs: At Milepost 496 you can walk a short boardwalk trail through a moose infested wetlands area to a very cool (actually quite hot) natural spring. Also has a nice campground and, the day we were there, a good food truck.
Just chewing the cud a bit south of Fairbanks
Just north of Tok, this very nice family run campground has a laundry mat which locals (some of whom have no running water) frequently use.
One of several churches housed in a discarded quonset hut, Our Lady Of The Way is located in Haines Junction, Yukon
We spent two wonderful nights at the Cottonwood RV Park which allows you to camp a few feet from Kluane Lake. A small imprint in the wilderness, grizzlies often wander the campground looking for berries. By late summer those berries begin to ferment and sometimes the bears appear a bit over served. So always beware of drunk bears.
Stretch of Alaskan Highway between Fort Nelson and Muncho Lake
One of the many private campgrounds we stayed at along the Alaskan Highway
Yes, you can drive to Alaska. Per Google, it is about 3,400 miles from Chicago to Fairbanks which clocks in at a little over 59 driving hours. Maybe add a few hours to that if you want to take in the scenery. The route is actually pretty straight forward and involves a lengthy drive on the Alaskan Highway. But that is not in fact our intended route. Nope, we plan on first gliding over to Vancouver Island for a rendezvous with our cousins/friends. After a bit of catching up and a little backpacking, we will then hop a car ferry to Prince Rupert before heading to The Last Frontier via the Alaskan Marine Highway system. A poor man’s cruise, we will visit several islands before anchoring in Haines. From Haines we head to the interior then back to the coast at Seward and Homer. Afterwards we visit Denali and then head home via the Alaskan Highway.
If that sounds a bit audacious to you, well then you have a mighty fine vocabulary. Right now though, typing up our plans from the comfort of our home while listening to the Cubs blow it against the Dodgers, it is a bit intimidating. Honestly, it is always a bit intimidating before we set out but the planning is a good distraction. So are the toys I got for my birthday which include a nifty new netbook (yes, they still make them), a monocular and an oversized French press. All three will hopefully be put to good use.
In the last few weeks we have also purchased a cheap Coleman tent (big enough for three to sit in while escaping insects), some good wicking clothes, and a few other do-dads. The car has been looked over as well and now sports a new and quite pricy rear drive shaft. A quick look through of the house uncovered a few not too banged up lenses along with our trusty Nikon D40 that boasts a whopping 6.1 megapixels. We are not quite ready to leave the comfort of our home, but if I listen carefully I can hear the lone howl of a coyote welcoming us back to the road.