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Thu 17-Jul-2014 Alaska, Travel | 0 comments | Map

North Pole

North Pole

After getting approval from Sprinter, the Trailercraft technician started to check every connection in the van. After three hours the service manager came out and said they had found one suspect connection and there were no more error messages. While we would feel more comfortable if there were a definite part that could be fixed, “You can’t fix what is not broken.” So we took it for a test drive – over a road with many small bumps and railroad tracks (since it is bumps that seem to make the problem occur) and found everything working fine. So we are on the road again.

The day was sunny and warm – our first in over a week. We headed southwest on the Richardson Highway. We stopped at two funky places along the way. In North Pole, Alaska we visited the Santa Claus House – a store selling everything Christmas where Santa and his reindeer spend the summer months. Santa was on hand to talk to visitors and was handing out candy canes to children who had their pictures taken with him. We enjoyed the trees around Santa’s House – because they are more widely spaced and the lower branches were trimmed, they were perfectly shaped spruce, much like those you see in German Christmas card illustrations.

Just down the road is the Knotty Shop – a store featuring wood products made from wood with many burls. The big attraction is animals constructed from the wood with the burls used for body sections; they were very well-done. In general, however, we were not impressed with the quality of the woodworking – a little clunky, a little amateurish, uninspired.

The landscape began to be more interesting as we headed along. Fairbanks basically sits on a flat plain. As we headed toward Delta Junction we began to see hills and dense forests of spruce and birch. We stopped for the night at the Lost Lake Campground in the Quartz Lake State Recreation area. Lost Lake is lovely with fish jumping, yellow-flowering lilies, and a young gull that doesn’t seem to be able to fly well and an older gull who sits by very concerned. The young one wanders about whining and the mother (?) sits by squawking. If we get near the young one, he does fly off but returns to the dock after a short circle. At the same time the mother takes off and flies high, but lets us know vocally that she would like us to leave. Nearby there are a number of ravens adding to the cacophony.

We found plenty of wood for a fire, much of it left by an earlier camper. Given that there is water everywhere, it was not a surprise that there were more than a few mosquitoes. But David said (quoting a Fairbanks visitors’ center guide), “If you don’t get a few mosquito bites, you aren’t having fun,” so we cooked our dinner of steak, yellow squash with garlic, and two kinds of potatoes over the fire and served it with salad. We did discover as we sat around watching the fire that it is hard to drink a beer while wearing a mosquito net.

Lost Lake Campground Review: 11 mostly level sites surrounded by trees. Two have good lake views and some suitable for tents only. Pit toilets, picnic tables, fire rings, and trash cans. Hiking trails between Lost Lake and Quartz Lake. Fishing-boat launching dock. Fee: $10 per night.