Friday, August 29, 2014

Bye Bye Pipeline

It's official, after three weeks with the pipeline on the horizon line, our journey veers us away from the long, silver pipes snaking across the tundra, through the forests, above the rivers and underground...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fairbanks or Bust

We limp into a service station in Fairbanks after changing a flat tire, with the heavy of smell of burnt oil accosting our senses. According to the mechanic, in order for us to get home safely, our options for repairing the front end of our truck include a hefty repair bill or purchasing a brand new or used pickup truck. Thanks to Taz's creativity, ingenuity and mechanical experience, we are able to avoid both the bill and purchase of a replacement vehicle and we are soon back off down the highway.

Considering the rough roads, the miles we've driven and the load of our camper, we are very grateful for our safety and for the minor vehicles issues we've had to deal with. Our guardian angels at work!!

We decide to return to Homer via Delta Junction rather than the Parks Highway, due to heavy construction in that area and to experience a different scenic route. We are delighted to find autumn colors await us here as well...

We Can See Fairbanks from Here

It is our last day on the Dalton Highway and Taz and I are both suffering from sinus infections. We don't let this hold us back from celebrating our journey.

We take one last noodle about the pipeline road, as we prepare to bid it farewell. We are extremely grateful that this maintenance road has allowed us to be able to bring Zip along in his chariot, so that our family could be together out in the vast and beautiful landscape that we have fallen so deeply in love with.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Return to Wiseman

This tiny mining community of 12 year round residents captured our hearts when we stopped in on our trip north. Heading south and homeward bound, we stop in to reconnect with new friends, soak in the glorious sunshine and once again enjoy the rustic surroundings that are now blanketed in fall colors. 

From the Trading Post and its honor system jar to the tiny chapel with its slanting walls to the original cabins that make up most of the homes here that are tucked alongside the Hammond River and dwarfed by the Brooks Range, but especially to the locals who welcomed us so graciously, this is a community and area we can see ourselves spending a lot more time exploring!

If you're a fan of adventure travel, be sure to read Arctic Village by Robert Marshall, written in the 1930's and his account of exploring Wiseman.

As their t-shirt says, "If you haven't been to Wiseman, you haven't been to Alaska!"

Autumn on the Haul Road

When the early evening light washes over the hills, the carpet of orange, yellow, green and red leaves us breathless with beauty...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hauling Ass Down the Haul Road

Needing to be back in Homer in just a week, we will be covering more distance each day than we did during our drive north, when it was not unusual for us to drive just six or sixty miles in a day.  Heading south, our camper is again loaded down with extra gas, tires, propane and food, and this weight combined with  the road conditions of alternating mud, gravel, broken asphalt and washboard bumps, along with the steep hills and long and winding curves keep us maintaining our slower pace. 

We average 30 miles an hour and when we drive 100 miles in one day, Taz and I look at one another and laugh because this is a record distance for us during this trip. Still, we take numerous breaks from driving to hike, do photography, explore and walk the pipeline maintenance road. 

Autumn colors await us around every corner and at last we see evidence of wildlife and the herds of caribou we'd been hearing were in the area.