We had such a beautiful drive today, albeit short. Upon leaving Tok we were treated to the sights of the end of the Wrangell Range and the beginnings of the Alaska Range.
Along the road we passed the German couple that we met briefly in another campground. They are touring on bikes at the young age of 68 and 72. Wow, what an inspiration.
We are now in the Delta region of the Tanana River. It is expansive and gorgeous. As we stop for photos now and then, we came across Lichen on the ground that the Caribou eat. The purple flowers that we have been seeing are the Alaskan Fire Weed. They are the first things to grow after a fire has decimated an area. They also grow hardily along the roadsides because they grow quickly in “disturbed” ground.
We crossed the Gerstle River bridge that was renamed the “Black Veterans Memorial Bridge” for all the black members of the Army Corp of Engineers that built the Alaska Highway.
When we saw the sign for the Delta Meat Co. we just had to stop – it said free samples! So we all pulled over to taste sausage & meat sticks made from Elk, Reindeer, Moose, Buffalo, Yak as well as Beef & Pork. Of course after making a lunch of it we just had to buy some, as well as the yummy Raspberry BBQ sauce and Honey Mustard. They had some old photos on the wall of their family business over the years as well as some unusual photos of Moose being used as work animals, which I found to be odd because I thought you had to be cautious around a Bull Moose.
After setting up at our campground we headed for the center of Delta Junction to see the Mile Post for the end of the Alaska Highway where it meets with the Richardson Highway that is North/South from Fairbanks to Valdez.
There was a Visitor Center there with displays of the Alaska Pipeline, giant mosquitoes, road building equipment left from the construction of the Highway and a sign that said Sarah Palin named the section of the Richardson Highway between Fairbanks and Tok “The Purple Heart Trail” to honor those that received the Purple Heart.
Regarding the Pipeline, there are devices called “pigs” that are used in the pipelines to clean the inside walls. They are put inside at the pump stations up north and travel south in the pipeline. It scrapes away the interior deposits, especially wax. The first pigs were used in the small diameter pipes and were short & squat suggesting the shape of the barnyard animal.
At a little food concession nearby I got a chance to chat with Ronald McDonald who wore a sign that said “Come, have a seat. I’m here to listen”. But the establishment was NOT a McDonald’s restaurant.
We camped at Rika’s Roadhouse and visited the museum. In Rika’s Roadhouse and farm, they were self sufficient. They raised animals and farmed for themselves and the highway travelers. The Spring House sat in a natural spring bubbling up alongside the Tanana River. Milk from Rika’s cows & goats was kept here and food stuffs in wooden barrels & crates were sunk in the cold spring water and held down with rock to preserve them.
From the river’s edge we could see where our highway and the Alaska Pipeline crossed the Tanana River.