Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Day 32

North Pole, Alaska  Monday June 3,2013

Today makes one month since we left home. We have enjoyed every minute of it. Today we headed off to the Arctic Circle. We picked up Ed and Barbara at their RV Park and had to fill the truck with diesel. I had found a station that was charging $4.249 per gallon, and was on the way to our destination. I put in $344.00 worth and we were on our way.

We headed up the Elliot Highway, which turned into the Dalton Highway. We got our first look at the Alaska pipeline along the Elliot Highway. We followed it usually within view all the way to the Arctic Circle.

As soon as we got to the Dalton Highway we were met with Road Construction. The first stop was a 20 
minute wait while we waited for a Flag Car, and then it was slow going for about 7 miles, with numerous stops for trucks and graders. The truck got kind of muddy on this stretch of road because the water trucks were busy watering the road. At one spot we saw the workers putting down foam batting that was about 6 inch thick. We found out later that this was an experiment by the Anchorage and Fairbanks Universities to see how the road held up to the perma-frost with the insulation barrier.

There were many miles of beautiful scenery and bad roads. Usually the unpaved roads were better than the paved roads. The only problem was they were either muddy or very dusty, but you could make pretty good time. On the wet stretches of unpaved road, the road got really slick. There were many tanker trucks and my advice is let them go, for they don’t seem to slow down for anything. 

This is the truck I stopped for, and still got hit with rocks.

At one point I could see one coming and I pulled over and stopped and still got plastered with rocks, but no damage. If we had been moving, it would have been time for a new windshield. Also, my advice is, if it is storming don’t try to go up this road. The problem with the paved roads is all the frost heaves and potholes. The road at some points is falling off the shoulders, with large chunks falling off the sides.

We came to Yukon River on the Dalton Highway. We stopped at the Forest Service Information Center and talked to the Ranger. She gave us some good advice and we told her we were going to the Arctic Circle. She gave us our certificates that we had crossed the Arctic Circle. We ate lunch there and swatted more mosquitoes. We then went on up the road toward the Arctic Circle. The ranger had told us about a truck up the highway a little way, which had turned over, and the crews were out cleaning up the oil. She also said that the road would be one lane for a short way. We passed it and continued north.

These are both the same age, one grew further north. The larger one is about 1 foot in diameter , the smaller about 6 inches. Sorry, no picture of the 40 year old piece, but it was 2 feet in diameter. The difference is how far north they grew.

Oil absorbing pads!

We came to a turn out by Finger Mountain and stopped and took more pictures. The highway through this part and to the Arctic Circle was in pretty good condition. The farther north we got the smaller the trees grew. The Ranger had shown us samples of tree growth. She had one that was 40 years old, and two that were 200 years old. The 40 year old one was about two feet in diameter, one of the 200 year old ones was about twice as large as the other and both were a lot smaller than the 40 year old one. We finally got to a point that only very low vegetation was growing.

Part of the Arctic tundra.

We arrived at the Arctic Circle Sign, and signed the guest register in the mosquito tent the Forest Service had set up. Do you start to see a pattern here? ……MOSQUITOES. We took quite a few pictures, and then headed back.

We followed the pipe line for many miles. in some places you could walk to it.

Cindy wanted to touch the pipe line.

This was at the Arctic Circle.
One of the many pot holes.

Looks like a construction truck.

The foam now buried on the way back. Below you can see the frost heaves. It made us glad not to be dragging a trailer.

I probably drove a little fast, but the photographers didn't seem too interested in taking more pictures. My GPS said we wouldn't get back to Fairbanks until about 8:45. We went through several sections of road construction, and got stopped for the pilot cat at the other end. The flagman told us about a 15 minute wait, and she was about right. I only thought my truck got muddy going up. Coming back I know it got muddy. I think it looked like the road construction trucks we had seen.

We did see one moose, but it ran into the forest too fast to get any pictures. We made it back to Fairbanks at about 8:00, and filled the truck with fuel. It took $122.00 worth of diesel. Not too bad for going over almost 400 miles of bad road. I needed to wash the mud off before it got dry, and $22.00 later, I have a clean truck.

Thanks for visiting.


  1. I have read before about the terrible road conditions in Alaska.

    I never would have thought anyone could stand at the Arctic Circle and not have a heavy coat on. Just another one of the things I don't know.

    1. The day we were there it was in the high 60's. If we were there today it would probably be in the low 50's.