Friday, July 16, 2010

Alaska RV Tour - Tok to Fairbanks, Alaska

The 205 mile drive from Tok to Fairbanks was uneventful and pleasant, at least for most of us. Unfortunately, John and Fran Kurz had trouble with a wheel bearing on their 5th Wheel and they had to unhitch and drive around looking for a new bearing. Even with Roger's help it was still a hassle and they missed our great lunch stop at Rika's Roadhouse.

Rika's Roadhouse is in the Big Delta State Historical Park which lays a little ways northwest of Delta Junction, off the Richardson Highway. After the caravan rolled in and got parked, Lynda and I each had a cup of crab bisque and shared a sandwich from the restaurant in the park - the food was delicious! After lunch, we walked around the park and visited the old roadhouse and other sights.

Rika's Roadhouse was built along the Tanana River in 1913 by John Hajdukovich, a Yugoslavian entrepreneur. However it was not until 1917 when Hajdukovich hired a hard-working Swedish woman named Rika Wallen to manage the roadhouse that business really took off. Rika also grew a vegetable garden, cultivated hay, and raised livestock to put good fresh food on the table. Soon the word got out that a weary traveler could enjoy an excellent meal in a warm, clean place and the roadhouse quickly became known as Rika's Roadhouse. Rika bought the place from Hajdukovich in 1923 for "$10.00 and other considerations," probably in lieu of wages.

In addition to Rika's Roadhouse, there are other interesting things to see at the Big Delta State Historical Park, including a Washington Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System (WAMCATS) station. Lynda and I were tickled to see on display at this station an old Air Force Communications Command (AFCC) patch that we think dates back to the 1960's. We both served in AFCC units during our time in the Air Force and so this was an unexpected link to our own past.

When we returned to the parking lot to leave the park, we learned that Ken and Pat Gunn's coach had suffered a pretty bad windshield crack along the way to Rika's Roadhouse.  Paul and Pat Deragisch were putting clear packaging tape on the crack to prevent it from spreading. This is a trick they learned from a friend and it seems to work.

An hour or so after leaving the Big Delta State Historical Park, we got our first glimpse of the Trans Alaska Pipeline, which parallels sections of the Richardson Highway.  We will be learning more about the history and engineering of the pipeline in a couple days and so for now we just took some photos.

Shortly before reaching Fairbanks, we passed through the town of North Pole (yes, it really exists) and our group stopped to visit the Santa Claus House.

This sort of thing is not really my bag and so I rested in the Trek while Lynda went in to meet Santa.  Here she is with old St Nick.

As we approached the River's Edge RV Park & Campground, we decided to go to Wal-Mart first... we had worked our way through a lot of supplies over the past week or so! So we stocked up on groceries and adult beverages, and also picked up some quick hose disconnects to replenish Spike's supply of spares.

By the way, the average low temperature in January in Fairbanks is a -19 degrees, and the parking spaces at the Wal-Mart  each have an electric power pole so you can plug in your engine heater when you shop in the winter.   Toasty!

We found our way back to the RV park and Val Frye answered our call on the radio to let us know which campsite was assigned to us - the one next to hers. We were glad to see Fran and John Kurz arrive at the campground after a long day of running around to get parts and supplies for their wheel bearing problem.

Depending on where you are in the Yukon and Alaska, the nearest repair facitily or parts store could be over a hundred miles away.  All the more reason to keep spare parts on hand and be extra careful with preventive maintenance!

Spike had nothing planned for the group that evening and so we just settled in and relaxed, which was nice. Click here for photos of our drive from Tok, and stay tuned to hear about our visit to Fairbanks!

1 comment:

SimplyForties said...

Love all these Alaska pictures! Must get up there myself!

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