Rob and Syd's Western Canada and Alaska trip 2012 travel blog

Arctic Cicle Trading Post

Only 414 miles to the Beaufort Sea (Arctic Ocean)

Dalton Highway (Dirt and Gravel the whole way)

View north on the Dalton Highway

Elliott Highway (Yes dirt and gravel again)

View west from the Elliott Highway

Live porcupine we found (not road kill)

Section of the Alaska Pipeline

Syd thought this was very appropriate(ha ha ha)

Day 35, Tuesday, May 29, 2012

For the first time since we left home, I haven’t used my electric blanket at night. We turn on the space heater in the morning to take the chill off and we’re good. Today we drove north from Fairbanks on the Elliot Highway. It is paved for the first 73 miles to Livengood. Paved is a relative term. Actually, “highway” is a relative term. The paved part is two lanes with frequent damage and rough spots from frost heaves. The not paved part is a dirt and gravel one and a half lane road that cannot be defined as a highway by any stretch of the imagination. But that’s what they are called. Along the Elliot Highway, we saw a lot of the Alaska oil pipeline where it comes out of hillsides and stays elevated until it goes back into a hillside. They elevate it in areas of permafrost to try to avoid damage from frost heaves. Frost heaves are caused when the permafrost under the highway thaws. The ice crystals in the soil liquefy and then refreeze and expand causing the asphalt to crack, split and buckle. Today, we were mostly in drier and higher forest and not the marshy boggy forests like yesterday. Less mosquitoes too.

We stopped in Joy, Alaska, with a population of about 30 and I believe they are all related. The Carlsons, who adopted 18 children (along with 5 of their own) built the Arctic Circle Trading Post there. One of the daughters was born in Maricopa, AZ. At Livengood, which is not on the highway and no bigger than Joy, the highway splits and we started on the Dalton Highway. This famous road goes straight north 414 miles all the way to Deadhorse on the Arctic Ocean. It’s called the “Haul Road” for the truckers that fly on it between Fairbanks and Deadhorse. They recommend that anyone traveling on it carry two full sized tires (not donuts). There are many other warnings that go along with it and there is no cell phone service. We both really wanted to cross the Arctic Circle but at 115 miles (on top of the 75 we already came) it was just too far for a daytrip. There is nowhere to stay along the way. We drove about 15 miles, just so we could say we’ve been on it, and turned around. When we got back to the split in the highway, we got back on the Elliot Highway which goes west to Manley Hot Springs. The views were spectacular as we traveled along a ridge. On one side, we looked out over Minto Flats (the best duck hunting in Alaska), the Tanana River valley and Cooper Lake. On the other side was a wide view of mountains and forest. This forest land of black spruce, birch, and poplar trees is unbroken as far as the eye can see. When our eyes could see the clouds getting very dark in front of us, we hustled to get back to pavement before the rain hit. We almost made it. On the way back, we saw a big porcupine eating his veggies along the side of the road. That was our only wild thing for the day. Just north of Fairbanks, they have a place to stop alongside the elevated oil pipeline where we could walk up to it. Rob reached up and touched it. There was a display of a working “pig” which is a piece of equipment used for cleaning out the pipeline. There was also a “retired pig” which I had to take a picture of for Rob. We are leaving here tomorrow and will be staying near Paxton somewhere. I don’t think we will have internet access for a couple days but we’ll see.

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