Friday, 28 June 2013

191 Fairbanks and heading south.

Thursday 27th June 2013  Miles Today 190 Total 10989

We left the relative comfort of our rabbit hutch at around 10am and set off into Fairbanks for a coffee, not having had one yet. We followed the Sat Nav to where it thought a McDonlads was only to find a very nice car park instead. After a brief wander around in search of a coffee shop we abandoned the idea and set off Southeast toward Delta Junction. We stopped at North Pole to publish yesterdays blog and finally got some coffee. About another 90 miles along the road we stopped at a historic roadhouse called Ritka's Roadhouse. It was a 100 year old stopover for prospectors heading for the gold rush areas. As luck would have it, there was a small restaurant behind the roadhouse and we needed another drink as today was another record breaking day for Alaska's temperature. The bad news was that it shut 1/2 an hour earlier. Doh!

Ritka's Roeadhouse

We popped into the visitor center at Delta junction where the Alaska Highway ends.

Every town has to have something.
We also saw these two ladies discussing the merits of the rhesus monkey and its effect on the future population of dermal penetrating descendants. The female of the species is more deadly than the male, she needs blood to reproduce. (Only joking, they do not carry malaria here - we are saving that treat up for South America later in the year.)

We must do lunch again sometime

We then headed directly south and toward the town of Paxson. The forest fires that had been burning for some time were getting worse and for around 100 miles we were breathing in the acrid smoke from them. We though we were hard done by till we saw some cyclists going up hill and breathing like locomotives. 

We came across a car accident that was already being dealt with but it blocked the road for a while. Fortunately for me it was right next to a pipeline crossing and information point, so I got to read up about the line some more.

I was amazed to find out that a large portion of it is bearing its weight on the permafrost layer a few feet below the ground all over Alaska. The danger is that the warm oil or surrounding warm air in summer can heat up the supporting legs and melt the supporting ice around them. They solved this by installing a mini fridge in each leg. Each one is filled with a low boiling point fluid that is cooled by the fins poking out of the top and when cooled drops to the bottom stopping the surrounding ice from melting.
Now I know this is all very sad but that is just me. I used to be an engineer so I like to see simple solutions to engineering problems. Karen just thinks I am a sad nurd !

Having passed these for about 600 miles, I finally get to see why they are there.

  After the emergency services let us go we again set off and came across this. It is by far rthe biggest beam I have ever seen. Again, I like bridges and this is part of one. (You should see how exited I get when I see a Bailey Bridge. I used to build them by hand.)

How big ?

 Further on the smoke started to clear and we could get some scenery pictures again.

Look at Mrs Baily in the wing mirror.

As we continued south we were gaining height and it started to get cold. As we came past this lake we were freezing. The wind was whistling over the sheet ice and freezing us to the bone.

Ice covered lake.

5 miles further on we came to the village of Paxson. The map belied it's size. This is the only viable building in the place. Fortunately it had basic rooms, food and crucially, beer.

The Paxson Ritz
We were running low on fuel so we thought we would fill up here. Then we changed our minds.

70 miles to the next fuel stop. I hope we can make it !!!!

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