Alaska Day 8: Black Rapids to Fairbanks
This article is part of a series about our recent vacation in Alaska. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.
We awoke to a bright and sunny day. The Lodge at Black Rapids was situated on a west-facing hillside, and the morning sun gave an wonderful view of some of the Alaska Range. We had an excellent breakfast, and soon after departing for Fairbanks caught a glimpse of a cow moose with her calf by the side of the road. The road was flatter as we continued north out of the Alaska Range.
Continuing west past Delta Junction, we got a much better look at another cow moose and calf by the side of the road, calmly eating grass as if there wasn’t a road right next to them with cars speeding by. The road was excellent, with somewhat more traffic than we had become accustomed. It was also quite a bit hillier than I expected from the relief map I was looking at at the Lodge. The road cuts directly through Eielson AFB, paralleling the main runway, and several F-15 fighters landed just as we passed through. Quite a show!
With our “tourist trap shields up”, we stopped at Santa’s House in North Pole, Alaska. The entire town plays to the Christmas theme, with candy-cane streetlights and decorations displayed year-round. Santa’s House was unexpectedly nice: souvenirs, yes, but not junky ones; helpful staff, and Santa is most pleasant (yes, jolly!) and really enjoys talking to people. We were able to have our lunch at the picnic tables there before continuing to Fairbanks.
We are staying at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge on the west side of Fairbanks, near the airport. It is a generally comfortable upscale motel, the type frequented by tour groups. After checking in, we went to the Museum of the North on the University of Alaska at Fairbanks campus. The museum put a lot of Alaska history in perspective for us. It was organized in several sections each highlighting a different region of the state. I was particularly moved by the exhibit on the interment of the Japanese-American and Aleut people during the Second World War.
Although today is a few days past the Summer Solstice, Fairbanks is the most northerly point on our trip, so today is the longest day. Sunrise was at 3:02am; sunset is at 12:44 am (tomorrow!).