Monday, August 16, 2010

The Alcan Home: Day 1 Fairbanks to Burwash, YK August 2010

We leave Fairbanks for Indiana today. It’s been a fantastic summer here in Alaska, and Dave and I both leave with mixed emotions. We’ve had a ton of new experiences here in Alaska, from going fishing at 2am (in the sun) to collecting Polar Bear hair on the Arctic Ocean to eating Reindeer. Here he is eating reindeer steak, and lovin’ it! He says to tell the kids that Rudolph is gone and he was delicious! Awwwww!

This summer has been like a 2nd honeymoon for us. It’s the first time in our married life that we’ve been alone, and we have loved every minute of it! Dave’s says he’s surprised I still like him! LOL!! Jenny caught Dave flirting.

It’s about a 10 minute walk from our apartment to our office on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The campus is located on a 2,250 acre ridge overlooking Fairbanks and the Alaska Range. We’ve got the best view in town - here’s another one of Jenny’s shots .

There are about 9,000 students and UAF is America’s only arctic university as well as an international arctic research center, playing center stage for researching global climate change and arctic phenomena.

We have made some lifelong friendships here, and I have fallen in love with studying arctic and subarctic mushrooms – go figure! I have over 200 samples and can’t wait to get home and run chemical analyses on them! Of course, Amanita muscaria is still my favorite!

The Mycology Assn meeting is at UAF next Summer, and I hope to have a student poster to present! How cool would that be? Bring a student up from Ohio to present at a national meeting in Alaska! Here’s Dave standing next to a White Spruce on our walk home from school each day, where a red squirrel has stashed a bunch of mushrooms to dry for winter.

Once they are dry, he will move them into a Witch’s broom high in a Black Spruce where he will eat them all winter. So, funny!

We are excited to get home to see the dogs and cats and sleep in our own bed. We’ve both missed those little buggers! All of our roomies have moved out, and it will be just the two of us. I’m SO looking forward to walking around the house in my underwear – and keeping this 2nd honeymoon thing going!! LOL!

So, it is with mixed emotions that we pack up all our things in 140 MacLean House. We took a couple of tubs over to Michelle’s house to store until next Summer, and then loaded the rest into the Excursion.

I can’t believe it all fit!

The Master Packer!!!

We turned in our keys to Residence Life and our office keys to the Key office on campus and got Hot Licks Ice cream to go! It’s a beautiful, sunny day today, 65F and we’re on the road by 2pm.

By 6pm we’re in Tok (rhymes with poke) and fill up the tank and stop at the Gumpy Griz Café for dinner. Tok is a major overland point of entry to Alaska and is primarily a trade and service center. We’ve gone up in elevation from Fairbanks at 464 ft above sea level to about 1630ft here).

As we head SE we drive past the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge and spot this little guy in the middle of the highway!

As we slowed to let him get off the road, he walked right up to the side of the car and stopped. It was as if he was looking for a handout!

The border crossing was smooth, and we are now in the Yukon Territory of Canada - but the road is terrible. We saw a couple of Tundra Swans on a nest with 2 cute gray babies on one of the road side lakes, just like the Milepost suggested! How cool is that! I tried to get a picture, but It’s just too dark. A couple of black bears scampered across the highway too!

Between Tok and a little east of Haines Junction, is the worst part of the Alcan. The Milepost advises drivers to “watch for dips, frost heaves, rough pavement and loose gravel. Severely frost-heaved sections of pavement are often marked by sign or orange flags, but not always”. Truckers who drive this route on a regular basis have told us that they’ve seen traveltrailers broken off of the back of cars and flipped over on the side of the road. You can’t drive the speed limit without blowing a tire, or cracking your suspension. It’s nerve wracking and it’s hard to see the dangers until you’re right on them.

As we went through Beaver Creek, we noticed that Buckshot Betty’s, where we stopped for lunch on our way up has a brand new building almost completed next to the original building! Can’t wait to see the new place next year!

It gets dark now and we can see the lights of Burwash Landing along the Kluane Lake in the distance. The Resort here was one of the earliest lodges on the Alaska Highway. The original 2-story log lodge was built in 1944-45. We pull into Burwash Lodge at 12:30pm. We stayed in the same room as last time (Rm 10) and fell into bed exhausted.

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