Monday, June 27, 2011

Doing the Dalton

We made it, and what a trip it was! The road is this wonderful combination of crazy and magical. The road itself alternates between beautiful and smooth asphalt (very little of this!) to dirt which was rutted, muddy, narrow and seriously rough (a LOT of this!). A good speed for much of the road was 30 mph- but at times it was tough to keep Bessie above 15 mph! It took us 6 days at the wheel to travel it's 828 miles, round trip. Granted, this was a fairly leisurely pace, but we met a lady working in Coldfoot who had spent a summer ferrying people up and down this road. She'd drive the whole length in a day, sleep 8 hours- and drive the whole thing back again! She seriously earned my respect! Not to mention- she made one fine key lime pie! Despite it's roughness the road had this almost intangible quality to it. The road is a thin line that weaves deep in to the wilderness of Alaska. The is literally nothing, zip, zero, nada for a hundred miles at a time. As you are bouncing and wash boarding your way down this road, at some point it hits you how far away from everything you are! We met a fellow who was working at Prudhoe Bay who had driven up there once and had had two blow outs in a row, and only had one spare. He said he ended up camping by the side of the road for a week waiting for a new tire! It is truly the end of the earth out there. But somehow these factors all come together to give the road a real soul. You feel like you are somewhere special. It's hard to explain it, but we all felt sad when we finally pulled off the Dalton and back on to the smooth surface of state highway 2. The Dalton is road unlike any other, and it was a pleasure to get the opportunity to spend a week getting to know her. At the end of the road lies the town of Deadhorse. It is the publicly accessible half of the town of Prudhoe Bay. Together they are the staging area for the equipment and workers for the oil fields of the North Slope, and are essentially one big company town with nothing but oil folks. 6,000 temporary employees live in this crazy town, with only 4 permeant residents! We caught a tour of the oil fields, and got a chance to not only see the arctic ocean, but to even wade in to it. It was cold, for sure!

We dropped Kimberly off at the Fairbanks airport today, and Bayard and I are at Denali National Park with tickets for a tour tomorrow. Hope everyone is doing great!

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1 comment:

  1. Yay! Bessie made it without any major mechanical failures! That's pretty amazing itself and add to that all the majestic places you've been and you have quite a wonderful tale : )