Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs and Return
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Bright blue sky, mid 80s

Bill finished up and posted website updates using Bonnie & Leonard's Verizon Hot Spot thing-a-ma-jig. And that lead to another day with Bonnie & Leonard in their truck!

Chena Hot Springs was the destination this time. The road was even paved, passing through lush bottom land with lots of streams, ponds and marshes. The Hot Springs is at the end of the road, about 65 miles from our campground.

Colorful Alge Flat on Chena Hot Spring Reservior

As advertized, there's an outdoor hot spring bathing area surrounded by big rocks as well as a connected, indoor pool. The grounds are peppered with gorgeous flower gardens populated from greenhouses on the property. They also display hulks of old farm machinery, cars and other equipment left over from earlier days. Flowers were planted in many of the items.

Bathers Enjoy Outdoor Chena Hot Springs Pool

Fierce Dragon Disguises Gas Grill Setup

Sandy Bonnie and Leonard Discuss Merits of Ford Conversion to Tractor

Vintage 1959 Polaris Snowmobile

The Chena River Recreational Area encompasses much of road the road to Chena. As such, there are many river access places as well as camping and picnic areas. The wet bottom land is the kind favored by moose and we were rewarded with a couple of close sightings including a cow with her calf and, in another pond, a bull.

Mother and Calf Gorge on Bottom Grasses

While Bull Feasts in Similar Fashion a Few Miles Down the Road

I can't finish this page without mentioning that Bonnie and Leonard are real yard sale junkies. Imagine traveling to Alaska from Wyoming and spending time at yard sales. They had done just that a couple of days before and showed off the collection of nutcrackers that Bonnie bought including one more than three feet tall! Of course Leonard found stuff, too, but his finds were in the power tool category.

We had dinner together with Bonnie & Leonard with a menu of sockeye salmon, steamed broccoli, corn on the cob and applesauce. Yum!

Fairbanks to Delta Junction, AK
Monday, July 15, 2013
Bright blue skies to partly sunny, low 70s

Time to begin a southerly heading. We said farewell to Bonnie & Leonard and were on road about 11:00. We made a grocery stop on the other side of town and who was there but Bonnie & Leonard! We mailed some things home at the post office and were on our way. Our plan was to drive the Denali Highway, a 130 mile road of which about 100 miles is gravel. We were a bit nervous about that but, hey, we'd already negotiated the gravel Top Of The World Highway and spoken to others who'd done it. We'd spend the first night at the end of the eastern paved portion at Tangle Lakes Campground and do the gravel portion the following day.

Host of Lilies Edge Small Lake Beside Richardson Highway

So, we headed back the Alaska Highway to the Richardson Highway, taking another set of photos of the pipeline crossing over the Tanana River (Bill lost the first set!) and had a nice time at the nearby, restored Rika's Roadhouse. Built in 1910, it played an integral part of the development of the area and is now part of Big Delta Historical Park museum and outbuildings. It's a nice display and well worth the stop.

Suspension Bridge Carries Pipeline Across Tanana River at Big Delta

Roadhouse at Big Delta Served Travelers to this Remote Region in The Early Part of the Century

Bill's Idea of a Suitable Size for Peanut Butter Container

Continuing south to the Denali Highway, we stopped about 40 miles later to look at a valley where there is a bison herd. Climbing back up to the parking area, Bill noticed big crack in camper frame. In fact, it was so badly cracked we're lucky the Tin Tent didn't break in two! What to do? Not much except to return 40 miles to Delta Junction, the nearest town with services and pray the camper didn't break in two along the way.

We made it back and stopped at the Visitor Center where they had a welder to recommend. Heading to the car for a phone, Sandy met some bicyclists who needed a picture of themselves at the monument marking the end of Alaska Highway. Engaging them in conversation, she asked if they'd heard of the bicyclist who'd been attacked by a wolf. Turns out that was the guy! The four bicyclists were doing bike ride for charity.

Bill called the welder and we headed for his place out in the sticks. He had an impressive shop and the right kind of experience and said he could do the job overnight. We left the camper with him and returned to town to look for a dinner and a place stay. We found a pizzeria where Bill got a HUGE Italian sub and Sandy got a very nice salad to which she added some leftover salmon. We also located The Garden B&B, also out in the sticks. It was a beautiful place, with really nice owners, extraordinary gardens, big greenhouse, pristine log cabins for rent. It was a really nice place!

Flower Gardens Bloom Brighty at The Garden B&B