We arrived in Alaska on June 18. We really enjoyed our visit to Canada, but it felt great to be back in the USA. Canada was very beautiful and hospitable and is quite similar to the United States in many ways. But we were very excited to arrive in Alaska, as we’ve been talking about spending the summer in Alaska for over a decade, and this was on Timm’s lifelong bucket list.
The boundary between Canada and the United States is known as the longest undefended border in the world. The Alaska-Yukon section of the border runs north-south along the 141st meridian of longitude from the Arctic coast to Mount St. Elias. This plaque sits on the USA-Canada border along the Alaska Highway and commemorates how this is “a lesson of peace to all nations.”
A 20-foot wide swath was cut by surveyors from 1904 to 1920 for 600 miles along the 141st meridian. The swath is cleared periodically by the International Boundary Commission. This boundary was originally set in an 1825 treaty between England and Russia. The United States accepted this boundary when it purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 (arguably the greatest land deal in human history).
The 730,000-acre Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge runs along the Alaska Highway for about 80 miles. The refuge is a major corridor for migrating birds and contains thousands of lakes, many of them unnamed.
We knew for sure we were in Alaska when the magnificent Alaska Range came into view.
Moose are another good indicator that you are in Alaska. Moose can stand 7 feet tall and weigh up to 1,500 pounds. They look slow and awkward, but moose can move quickly when they are angered. Moose can also deliver a lethal kick with their front legs, so it’s best to keep clear and give them distance.
The Delta Junction Visitors Center had large models of the Alaska “State Bird”–the mosquito. We encountered the first annoying mosquitoes in Yukon, but true to form, the mosquitoes became very numerous and aggressive when we entered Alaska. Fortunately Off mosquito repellent really works.
Delta Junction, Alaska marks the official end of the Alaska Highway. We drove all 1387 miles of the Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Delta Junction, Alaska in 12 days. This includes a stop at Stone Mountain, Muncho Lake, and Kluane parks in Canada. The “End of the Alaska Highway” post says “Mile 1422” because the original Alaska Highway was 35 miles longer than it is today due to projects over the years to straighten and flatten the highway.
Although the official Alaska Highway ended in Delta Junction, we continued on toward Fairbanks along the Richardson Highway. We stopped at The Knotty Shop, which has burl railings on its front porch and giant burl statues out front, including yet another monument to the mighty Alaskan mosquito. We also got a free scoop of delicious ice cream just by showing our indispensible Milepost book. Earlier we got free sausage samples at Delta Meat & Sausage. We don’t normally do a lot of touristy stuff like this, but it helped pass the time during the long drive on the Alaska Highway.
It was ironic that the warmest weather we’ve had in a month was at North Pole, Alaska. The city was established in 1944 in hope of attracting toy manufacturers who could advertise their products were made in the North Pole. When that didn’t work out, the city decided to turn itself into a tourist attraction, “Where the spirit of Christmas lives year round.” Even the city light poles and fire hydrants are painted to look like candy canes.
The reindeer at the North Pole were wishing for Christmas to come. This summer weather is just too hot!
Hooray, we arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska just in time for the summer solstice! We are so happy to be in Alaska.