August 2008
Anchorage to Fairbanks

Most of the pictures expand when clicked 

We left Fairbanks and headed back to Anchorage via Route 2 to Delta Junction and Route 4 to Glennallen.

This is a great drive if you like touring by car.  There is a lot of spectacular scenery as you go into and over the Alaska Range.

There isn't any gasoline between Delta Junction and Glennallen, which is about 175 miles, so make sure you have enough gas in the tank.

We had planned to overnight in Glenallen but pushed on to Anchorage which made a 12 hour touring day.
A valley glacier flows out of the Alaska Range into the headwaters of the Copper River.
We stopped at Big Delta Historic State Park along the way.  This was a bathroom stop but it was interesting and nice to walk around for awhile. 

There is a sizable restaurant here which is in the middle of nowhere.  The only thing I can figure is that buses from cruise ships that dock at Valdez would come this way and need a stop.
The Alaskan pipeline parallels the highway from Fairbanks to Valdez.  On the open tundra you see the
pipeline snaking its way for miles across the open spaces.
The Matanuska Glacier between Glennallen and Palmer is perhaps the most accessible glacier in Alaska.  There is a state park from which you can view the glacier but the must do thing is to hike out on the glacier. 

You access the glacier through private property so it costs $15 to drive up to the front edge of the glacier.  The driveway down to the gate and concession area can be a bit difficult to find.  The sign is small and the road is really just a driveway.
Its hard to say why this is so neat.  It's just an entirely different environment to be in.
Peggi sits on an ice ledge for the picture.  She got up fast.
 I forgo the sitting down option.

I did hike a bit farther up the glacier to the main ice wall that you see in the background.
There is a small lake at the base of the ice cliff.  Beyond this point you want to be with a glacier guide.  I didn't find the guided trip until after I got home.
After a night in Anchorage we drove south to Seward. Unfortunately heavy rain set in again. 

Outside of Seward is the Exit Glacier
There is a short hike up to the edge of the glacier.  If you want more adventure you can take a guided trip onto the glacier.  Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate.
On the road to Exit Glacier is the IdidaRide Sled Dog Tour.

This was a real hoot and I would say a don't miss as well. We signed up for the tour even though it was raining pretty hard.
The tour starts with a short talk about the Iditarod race and the type of dogs being bred for racing compared to dogs bred for pulling freight.

At the Kennels you see lots of dogs.  You can see that these dogs are not as hefty as dogs we usually think of as huskies.
The guides hitch up the team.  The dogs want to run and are excited that they are going to go out on the trip.

The dogs are rested periodically along the two mile rides. 

The go surprisingly fast.  The guide said we were only going half speed. 

Click the picture for a you-tube video of the last part of the ride.
After the ride you can spend time with the dogs.
Then go to the breeding area to play with the puppies.
You watch a film about the Iditarod and have a talk about equipment and clothes used in dog sled racing.  It was a fun couple of hours.

Unfortunately we didn't get to take the boat tour into the Kenai Fjords National Park or the one in Prince William Sound. The weather had been so bad that trips had turned back from open water the past few days and the forecast was for more of the same.

We drove back to Anchorage to get out of the rain since it was only on the seaward side of the coastal range.

We had some time to kill so we stopped at some boardwalks that had been erected over some marshes.
Then  we went to the Alaska Botanical Gardens.  This is not a must tour but a we have nothing else to do tour. 

We changed our flights to get home a little earlier so we had a 1 am flight from Anchorage but still had another day.  We decided to drive Hatcher Pass

This is a paved then dirt road up and over the mountains.  It was very scenic but it's not a drive for everyone.  The road is in good shape but long.  You could just drive up to the Independent Mine State Park or Hatcher Pass Lodge.  The road is paved up to this point.

Summit Lake at the top of Hatcher Pass.
A view down the other side of Hatcher Pass looking toward the town of Willow. 

After another drive through the now famous town of Wasilla we headed to the airport and the flights home.

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