Monday, July 30, 2007

The Taylor Highway

I'm sitting, yet again, in the lobby of the lovely Westmark hotel in Fairbanks. I got back late last night from deadheading in from Eagle. (Deadheading means you're driving an empty coach. Once in a while it happens that two tours are scheduled to go in but only one is scheduled to come from Dawson and so Matt (yes, hot, twin Matt) got the tour and I got to deadhead.) I wasn't too thrilled at first, but then I realized I would get to go to church AND I would be able to get a lot of pictures.

This first one is a very rare sight in the summer in Alaska: a sunset. This was taken about 45 minutes from Fairbanks overlooking the Tanana River. It's without the flash
Here's the same picture taken with the flash. Oops. The color was more what I saw in this picture with the flash, but the one without the flash was clearer. I couldn't decide which to put on the blog, so I decided to go with both. :)

This is the Robertson River, about 45 minutes outside of Tok.

This is the Alaska Highway just before Tetlin Junction. Tetlin Junction will take you to Eagle.

Where to go? Where to gooooo???



How about let's go to Eagle. I took a picture of this sign because there is a herd of 30,000 caribou that migrate through the Fortymile. We saw a few of them on Polly Summit. In fact, my tour director, Jordan, was using the facilities (i.e. peeing in the bushes) when a caribou walked through the bushes about ten feet in front of him and scared him to death! :)

These little sand dunes line the road for the first couple miles of the Taylor. People like to get out and write messages on them.

This is Mt. Fairplay. The first 62 miles of the Taylor are paved and so there aren't very many pictures of it because it's not that much fun to drive. :) But it's pretty.

Here is a view of chicken from the road. Since I've already posted pictures of downtown Chicken, I didn't take any more.

There are two signs that look like this on the Taylor. One on this side of Chicken and one on the other side.

Here is one side of the road on one of the switchbacks.

Matt asked if I would park so that his people could get a picture of my motorcoach. He's on one side of the switchback and I'm on the other. What he didn't know is that I had been trying to get this picture for the whole drive. I just played it real cool, though, when he asked me to pause for the picture. It was quite entertaining for me to think of all those people getting a picture of me while I was getting a picture of them!! :)

Here's the switchback. It's hard to get a really good picture of how narrow it is. People always wonder if the motorcoach can make it around. It's fun. :)

These are the oxbow lakes.

This picture is from the goat trail. It's called the goat trail because it's nice and narrow. I took this picture because the original "All American Trail" that the gold miners followed went through this valley. You can actually see part of that old trail, but my picture didn't come out very well. :(

This is the Jack Wade Dredge. It ran from 1959 to 1964. It used 1500 cords of wood per season until they converted it to diesel. They took out $40,000 in gold every two weeks.

This is the intersection on the Taylor. The one and only intersection.

This is the sign that directs you to Tok and Fairbanks or over Top of the World to Dawson.

Here's the junction.

I realized that the pictures I got of the road make it look really straight when it's really not. There are some straighter areas but a lot of it is switchbacks and mountain passes on a dirt road. I love the Taylor Highway!!

Just a nice view from the highway.

Who the heck gets their mail in the middle of nowhere???

We use this mailbox sometimes if we have guests with a birthday or anniversary. We'll give the pilot car driver, Robin, whatever it is we have for the guest. He drops it in the mailbox and then we slow down and get it as we drive by. The guests love it!

I have no idea why there is a mailbox here because it is literally in the middle of nowhere.

There is a sign before this section of road that says "One Land Road Ahead." The great irony is that almost all of the Taylor is basically a one lane road.

What the heck kind of corner is that anyway? No gentle curves on this stretch of road!

Here is the construction workers camp. Yes, I had a hard time believing that people actually lived out on the Taylor highway, but they do!

This stretch of road is down in the valley heading up toward American Summit.

This is one of three somewhat straight stretches of road. This is up on American Summit.

This is the liquor store on American Summit. I took a picture of it because it has a fun story. Eagle is a damp town, so you can't buy or sell alcohol there. However, you can bring it in. They say that in the wintertime, one of the residents of Eagle is selected to take his snowmachine, attach a sled to it, and ride up to American Summit, load the sled with alcohol, and bring it back into Eagle. Hey, you make your own fun when you're in the middle of nowhere!!

One of the views from American Summit.

The road coming down from American Summit into Eagle.

So, I'm known as the slowest driver on the Taylor highway, and I like that. I discovered, however, that when I'm deadheading, I'm not a very slow driver so I took a picture of Matt's dust because I was eating it the whole drive from Eagle to Chicken!

So, I pulled up in front of the store in Eagle to wait until Matt had all of his guests. Well, Matt wasn't parked where he should have been and so I had to figure out where to park and then Matt told me I looked nice and so everything I needed to do (like going to my hotel room and grabbing my suitcase) went right out of my head. About seven miles down the road, I remembered my suitcase. Robin went and got it for me, but it held up Matt's tour. I felt AWFUL!!!! I tried to make it up to him later, however. But I'm not going to tell you how. Hee hee hee.

This is the Yukon river from downtown Eagle. It's so peaceful there. I put a chair outside of my hotel room and just sat and read and watched the Yukon go by.

Another shot of the beautiful Yukon river. I head back out to Eagle tomorrow and I can't wait. I get really ancy (is that how you spell it?) when I'm in Fairbanks and I count the days until I'm back out on the highway. Tomorrow I'm heading out with Jake, who is very cool, and so it should be a great run.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chena Hot Springs

So, last night I had my first Chena Hot Springs run. There are natural hot springs that occur about an hour's drive from Fairbanks. I drove six people out to the hot springs. We saw 11 moose on our trip.

This is the rock pool. This is where I sat for 40 minutes and soaked and felt all the stress in my life just melt away. :)

Yes, this is a major form of transportation in Alaska. Have you ever ridden in a plane this small? It redefines "turbulence."

Token shot of my "motorcoach" which in this case is a Sprinter. These things don't look like much but they've got Mercedes engines and have some serious get up and go. They're really fun to drive. A little too fun. I managed to shave some time off our trip last night because these are so much fun to drive, if you know what I mean.

They plant flowers in anything in Alaska.

And I mean anything. But it's pretty, isn't it. :)

These flowers are planted in an old dredge bucket.

This is the ice museum. They have some REALLY cool stuff in there. Next time, I'll see if I can tag along with my group and get a picture.

This is the restaurant. Alaska likes to claim "the farthest north ___________(fill in the blank with almost anything) in the world." This restaurant would qualify, not as the farthest north, but as "the slowest restaurant in the world."

I loved the flowers planted on the side of the path. Aaaawwwww.

Me, tired and way too relaxed for an hour and a half drive after sitting in the hot springs.

My best Eagle tour EVER!!

My last Eagle tour was the best one I've ever had, hands down, without question. Mike and I were paralleling and we had a blast and then on my run out of Eagle (Eagle to Tok to Fairbanks) I had the coolest Tour Director I've ever met. We got along really well. His name is Matt. He would juggle for the people as we were getting on and off the coach. He was relaxed and fun. We'd sit and quote Jerry Seinfeld's "I'm Telling You for the Last Time" and laugh. So, Matt and I got along GREAT and then Mike and I were playing jokes on each other the whole run. Like when we were in Eagle getting ready to leave and there was a line of 8 women to use the women's restroom and there was no one in the men's. The restrooms are identical and so I said to the women in front of me "Wouldn't it be a good idea to use the men's and help move the line along? I think I'm going to do it." The lady next to me said, "I'll let any men that come along know you're in there. I said "Thanks" and headed off to the bathroom. Well, I hadn't been in there too long when I hear this nice lady who's got my back say "Oh, don't go in there. There's a lady in there." I hear Mike say, sounding a little confused, "Oh, there's a lady in there?" The woman replied, "Yes, it's the other driver." Mike, with a mischievous tone said, "Oh, it's the other driver." Suddenly I hear a grating sound and then the bathroom goes pitch black. Of course, I start yelling (and laughing because he got me pretty good) and then a few seconds later, the door opens again. He told his people and I told my people and they thought it was a great joke. That was how the whole run went. We had such a great time. It showed. Our guests had a fantastic time because we were having so much fun. I hope that my run tomorrow is just as much fun.
We tried to get a picture of the rainbow that we saw as we left Tok. It was the most amazing rainbow I've ever seen. We saw one end of it in the trees and then as we came around the corner, we saw it arch above us and end just to the right of the road. I wish I could have captured it. It was stunning.
Here's me at the end of my long day of touring. :)

This is hanging in our rooms in Tok. It's cute.

I thought I would share with you the lush accommodations they provide us with in Tok.

Two beds - just for me! (Do you like the conveniently placed scriptures - looks like I actually read 'em, doesn't it!! :) )

This is a shot of the inside of the bar in Chicken. You wouldn't believe what is hanging on the walls and ceiling here.

These old cars are inside one of the buildings in Eagle. I'd never seen them before.

I thought they were pretty cool.

Here's a shot of the old airfield in Eagle. It was built for military use.

Token shot of my motorcoach. :)

See? It really is an airfield.

Another shot of the airfield - and I think Eagle is pretty.

Here's where the old cars are housed. This is part of Fort Egbert.

I love the fireweed!!

I still love the fireweed!

I can't get enough of the fireweed. :)