We received a note from the tour operator apologizing for a change in plans for our departure from Denali NP to Copper River. We were to make a short drive on the Denali Hwy direct to Copper River. Once again the extended winter conditions kept the Denali Hwy closed and we would have to divert north all the way to Fairbanks and then southeast until we hit the A4 route and south again. Altogether this was a going to be around a seven hour trip.
There were several ways you could look at this turn of events. Since the tour operator had quickly made plans for several stops along the way to eat and see the sights, we chose to view this as a free sightseeing trip that we would have otherwise not gotten to take. Fairbanks is well known for its vicious winter weather with temps routinely in the 30 to 50 below zero range. In talking to one young man who attends college there, he indicated that once it hits 30 below he can really not tell any different between that and 50 below. I made a note to myself not to be there in the winter-ever!
Fairbanks is not near the edge of Alaska, there is a huge amount of open country north, east and west, but is at the end of the major road system. So for anyone with a RV or regular vehicle it is the end of the line.
Because of the extreme winters, utilities have to run underground in tunnels and heated with steam. A regular sight around town is the venting pipes for these tunnels They are mostly elevated about the height of car traffic to prevent the exhaust from hitting the cold air and immediately freezing on the windshields of the cars.
I tried to imagine myself living here, but it just would not come into focus.