Fairbanks – Heading South
Here is Daves report from 04/08/2009
“My last report was from Chicken just over the border into Alaska i stayed there an extra night as it was a RV/CAMPSITE and a good one that i liked, nothing there but a few people panning for gold and four wooden cowboy type buildings in a line that looks like DODGE CITY….l,a cafe type place 2,a small stores 3/4 saloons, with lots of gold mining equipment and one of the biggest old gold dredgers in the world(try and google it guys). Sorry to you all on taking so long to get a report out were ever you are in the world……….its one hell of a big place out here and you have to drive at least a full day to make any sort of contact with people or property, let alone cellphone or e-mail, its been over two weeks since i had a signal for anything.
Next day i was back in the saddle and the big big push to to Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay a long way up the trail and into the Arctic Circle again, its as high as you can go as you drop into the Arctic Ocean after that, i drove all day and passed Fairbanks (big base for US army….close to Russia) I would return there in about 8/9 days time…….today i had my first all day drive on a paved road it was to be my last for some time as i am about to hit the dirt again as i go true north for a while, my plan was to make it to Coldfoot an old work camp from the time they built the Alaskan pipe line (you follow big chucks of it as you travel)
Coldfoot is now a truck stop for truckers, mini drivers and idiots, named Coldfoot after a trapper went north to Deadhorse but returned before he got there. before i got to Coldfoot i will cross the Arctic Circle,but as i turn of the dirt road into the Arctic circle parking spot while not focusing i dropped into a huge pot hole and BANG the ball joint on the n/s front (old driver side) cone lets go……. so with a party of people around me i set about to empty the van and fit a new joint to the end of the ADJUSTA RIDES now set at there highest as my rubber suspension units are now weak and the tyres are about one and a half inches from the bodywork…..its not the hardest of jobs to do once you get the plastic cup out of the top arm, i take that arm of to do the job and replace it all back together and reset the ride height,all this can take up to three hours with all the repacking on the van……the crowd of onlookers had well gone by then….
All this made it late getting into Coldfoot but you cant relate time here as it is light 24hrs a day,the truck drivers are a great bunch of guys and always have time for me and talk, also this part of the journey is a UP and back DOWN trip so i get to meet or see them a couple of times………i sleep till about 8ish and have a shower before 10bucks buys me a truckers big meal…..and all you can eat,so its close to 10.30 before i am on the road again and head for the Brookes Range of mountains and a climb of 2400ft seeing only the odd truck or motor cycle… and as i get close to the mountains on a clear day like today i can see there is a big white cloud that is hanging half way up the mountain with the top showing…….i turn my cam corder on as me and my trustee van start are half hour climb to the top, i record the climb up to and through the cloud and then my decent to the flat tundra the other side and the BIG change in the temperature…..this is ARCTIC weather without the snow…….
There is only a small window in the year when there is no snow….i know things are changing as the engine/carb are telling me things and i still have about 200km to go…..ye …ha.. so onward and up we go, i have to get to the Arctic Ocean at all cost and we make it to Prudhoe Bay,thinking its about five only to find out its 9pm….. its that sun again fooling me.
So what about Prudhoe……well all you have here is oil men and what they need as they say(TO GET THE JOB DONE)its a BIG boys toys place and i was to spend some time here looking at as many things as they would let me……try first then ask, if i can…..the place is one big camp that has been trucked in by road…its like living on the moon, almost all of the time i camp but tonight i will stay in a HOTEL its not really a hotel they are PODS put together to form a hotel but it IS a hotel when you get inside…..so out of the wind and cold into reception……can i have a bed for the night not asking the price first….let me look SIR…..whoops this is going to cost i fear……yes sir we have…..that will be 170dollars SIR….there he goes again (DON’T CALL ME THAT)for that you get your evening meal,your breakfast and your take out meal in a big US style bag (let me tell you i did three trips to the food parcel shelve before leaving) yes sir all you can eat for that price……i’ll take it…..so i headed to my room it had all you wanted other than something extra to keep you warm at night if you get my drift….i took a shower for an hour before going to the dinning room and a steak that filled one plate and another plate was for all the other stuff……followed by desert,the size of a shoe box and a chat with some of the workers that had seen my MR BEAN car…..its thumbs up wherever i go with the MINI.
I returned to my room and sent a few texts back home to tell friends i had made it to the Arctic ocean,sleep for me did not happen to quickly as its midnight plus and the sun is still shinning, and will be in the morning when i wake up…..i have to say as i was laying in my bed it was nice to get some texts back from friends……back home it was about 8.00am in the UK…..just as i was about to drop off the phone rang (oil company has its own satellite up there to keep an eye on things down on the floor thus the phone signal that i have not had for weeks)it was TUGS a friend for many years(he is about 20 odd years younger than me and still growing up) HE…HE……..got your text had to phone and say well done….thank you i said….don’t stay on to long it will cost you….he is a great friend………i sleep and take my breakfast before doing one more visit to the food counter and another meal to take out with me,all my clothes are clean and i take a last look round the arctic buildings and workshops before setting of south at about 1pm and the Brooks Mountains.
With the drive across the Tundra,one thing i forgot to tell you they have a busy airport here as BP have two 747 and Chevron have one 747 plane flying in and out with Alaska Airways also bringing in people ………the motorbike and cycle guys only do a one-way drive on this road……..so i get under way and am about half an hour south of Deadhorse and i pass two pushbike guys…..toot and wave only to drive 10miles more on the Dalton highway before i here a BANG from the front……yes another ball joint has gone,so i unpack and set about the repair only to have the cycle guys stop,say hello and wash there pushbikes in one of the many Tundra lakes…..we talk a little and they head out again, I finish the repair and repast them…..over the mountain i go and after a couple of hours the engine/carb return to near perfect….again it is late when i get back to Coldfoot and sleep for the night.
Next day i am still heading south to Fairbanks but it will be a few days before i get there……i an to break another cone joint today, on this road……it don’t like me….its not going to get me…..i am for the real first time concerned as i have used both my two spare joints,but i check my spares list and have a spare ADJUSTA RIDE kit…..does it have joints in i ask my self…..yes it has……thank GOD….this was a rear one, this time..a lot easy to do,but i am getting good at it anyway…..cant wait to get of this road and when i do late at night i stop on the paved part and give my van a big hug and thank her…..
I drive for about one hour and stop for the next two days in a quarry i stopped at on my way up, just to relax and top up my suntan…..so two days latter i drive into Fairbanks and spend the next two hours power washing and cleaning the van as it had gone from RED/WHITE to brown……..i was in need of an RV/CAMPSITE to shower,do laundry etc so the first i see i will stop at i tell my self,i leave Fairbanks which did not impress me,i drive south this is the road that will take me to Anchorage, i hit on a campsite three hours down the road,and as i turn in there is a sign that said BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL but that’s on friday,sat and sunday but this monday so as i turn onto the site i see a LIONS sign and guys setting things up…..i offer to help and stay for 8days from start to finish (i had just a FAB time)made many friends and as i left this small town called Anderson a huge forest fire was only FIVE miles away from this very small town………it has been so dry in Alaska this year fires are burning all over,so i say goodbye and head for Anchorage were at last i get a signal on my phone to text back to the UK…….i spend a few days there before heading towards Homer……and maybe Dutch Harbour……..and the Deadly Catch guys……we will see……..hope this LOG makes up for the lack of contact…….next big city is Vancouver and that’s at least a month away……..take care and start saving your money to travel across to CANADA AND ALASKA………..I’M COMING BACK………Dave.”