Tag Archives: driving
The Tourist Season has begun
With the warmer weather and midnight sun comes the arrival of another summer anomaly: The Tourist. In March and April, we shared the roads with new tour bus drivers, who were learning how to drive while sharing Alaska tidbits over the bus loudspeaker.
Last week, I spotted the first full tour bus in Fairbanks. The bus had traveled the Parks Highway from Denali National Park. The swans, geese and cranes have been here for a few weeks, and now the tourists join the gaggle.
To add insult to injury, for those of us who are accustomed to seeing moose along the roadside, Sunday was National Tourist Day. Where did that celebration come from? Or, is that day, considered a warning? Time to prepare for the inevitable sudden stops for wildlife viewing.
As much as I love having them around, they are still just a moose! Alaska Tip: Pull off the roadway completely before stopping to gawk. The resident behind you will appreciate the effort.
Last week, I had a 10 day business trip down under, as in the Lower 48. Orlando was Part One of the excursion. I landed at their airport at 5:30 am. Since I was not going to be allowed to check into the hotel until 3pm, I had some time to kill. After breakfast, I picked up a few things that I forgot to bring and then searched for a park with a trail to hike.
I picked one out and headed down the highway. This was my first time to Orlando, and after spending the past 12 hours traveling, I just wasn’t in the mood for the intense traffic. It’s pretty nasty in Orlando. Shout out to I-4!
After arriving at the park, I walked about a bit then came across the trailhead:
There were three trails, and a TRAIL CLOSED sign at the start of each trail. An hour fighting traffic to go twenty miles, and the trails are closed. I was not impressed. There was no explanation. I’m not overly familiar with trails being closed. In Fairbanks, it’s usually because the trail is going through an active wildfire zone, and in Anchorage I remember warning signs highly discouraging of the use of a trail due to a grizzly killed moose carcass just down wind a bit, and one never knows when that grizzly will return to chow down some more. I was hoping to at least find a sign saying “Trail Closed due to Alligator Eating Wayward Tourist”, but there was no such sign, and I started to assume it was probably due to the trail getting a bit muddy, or something equally hazardous.
In the end, I found what I thought was a small hardly used trail along a creek, but eventually I was told off by a woman in a canoe who said that I was not on an official trail and I needed to go back.
I almost told her to go soak herself, but in the end, I just pointed to the opposite shore, and asked, “Is that an alligator?” Then I walked back to the car.
We often see test vehicles roaming our roads in the winter, although these stood out more than most. The first time I saw them, there was an entire convoy in line, but since then it’s been mostly in small groups.
Amazon is in Fairbanks testing their new EV delivery vans. This is probably not the winter to give an EV a thorough cold weather test, as it has been one of the milder winters I have experienced. Still, Amazon is having a go at it, and it should be a good test for how they handle on icy roads.
Happy National Bison Day
It’s National Bison Day in the U.S., and the shaggy beasts are worthy of celebration, but they don’t like hugs. I’m talking to you Yellowstone Visitors…
Horner Motor Sled
Lower 48 Tested; Not Alaska Approved:
Designed in Ruby, Alaska by Frank Horner, the motorized “dog sled” was powered by rear wheels that drove a cleated belt. The sled was tested in the Lower 48, but never traveled through Alaska powder.
Happy Birthday Guadalupe
Guadalupe Mountains National Park was established on this date in 1972. As I’ve said before on here, GMNP is one of my favorite National Parks. My trip there, which involved some serious dirt roading in a ’73 Beetle, was completely spur of the moment and unplanned. I brought back a Bug full of memories when I found this gem in Texas.
I was sent the above picture, with the question: “Where in Fairbanks is this?”
My response: “Behind a Land Rover.”
I received an “eye roll” emoji for my efforts.
Other than the Series Rover, the image shows what is now the Steese Highway as it swings by Birch Hill.
Flash Flood across the Richardson
Fairbanks remains pretty dry, but we’ve had a couple of tenths of an inch of rain lately. Out east, near Black Rapids, a heavy rain storm coupled with heavy snowmelt caused a flash flood to hit the Richardson Highway where it crosses Bear Creek.
Bear Creek won. Travel to the fishing mecca of Valdez from Fairbanks will now require a much more round about way.