Sarah’s house was conveniently located right next to the Alaskan Highway, so after a very hearty American breakfast, we sat next to the side of the road. The road to Fairbanks was only around 200 miles, which gave us quite a bit extra time in the day to slowly make our way there.
Our first ride was a tow truck stuffed with things in the cabin. We jammed ourselves uncomfortably with all our bags next to the driver, who constantly was telling us to move our stuff blocking the gear shift. We were relieved to get out about 100 miles later at Delta Junction and stretched our sore legs. Delta Junction’s claim to fame is that it is located on Mile 1422, which marks the official end of the Alaskan Highway, as well as having a large mosquito sculpture. The visitor’s centre there is very nice and is equipped with free coffee and a lovely lady recommending us things to do.
We visited the farmer’s market and the local park and dine, which seemed to be the biggest goings on in the town that day. As well, we visited one of the original log cabins which served to be a rest stop in the bygone days for travelers on the highway. A very enthusiastic older lady runs the place, and had Laurent try on a grizzly bear vest, a pair of wolf mittens, and a bunny hat. How could we say no to that offer?
After an hour of touring and snacking in Delta Junction, we were on our way again. Right before you hit Fairbanks, there is a quirky town called North Pole, and we decided to pay it a visit. The town gets its name from one of the first residents in the area, who renamed it North Pole to try to attract some of the Fortune 500 companies to manufacture Christmas toys there. He failed spectacularly, but his legacy is still alive and well in that there is a Christmas feeling in the town 365 days a year. Street names include “North Santa Claus Lane,” “Mistletoe Drive,” “Holiday Loop,” “Kris Kringle Drive,” “Donner Drive,” and “Blitzen Drive.” (Sorry, Rudolph, it seems there wasn’t a road named for you.) Even in July, all the lampposts are decked out in candy cane colours. We stopped briefly by Santa Claus House, which is just a large Christmas themed gift shop, and of course, snapped a picture with Santa who advised us where we might be able to take a shower.
20 minutes later, we were on the road again. One of the people who Emily had chatted with outside the house pulled over on the highway and picked us up. They brought us straight to our host’s place near the University of Alaska Fairbanks.