On our last day in the “Life After People” campground in Chitina, we spent the day cleaning Scoopy. She still hadn't been caked in the infamous mixture of Alaskan mud and road grime, but we had a ton of dust on the inside. We dusted, scrubbed, polished and did every last stitch of laundry before calling it a day. At this point we were starving, but the last thing we wanted to do was cook dinner and mess up our sparkling kitchen. Earlier we had talked about how little time we had spent exploring the actual town of Chitina and decided we should check out the local joints before leaving town.
Our first stop was Uncle Tom's Tavern. Now, this place had been hopping every time we passed by, but on this night, it was nearly empty. There was one other customer and us in a room thick with cigarette smoke thanks to the chainsmoking bartender. We sat at the bar and ordered. After concluding the two locals weren't really interested in conversation, we turned our barstools to take in the decor. Depending on your political leanings, there was a lot of love, or not. I'll let the photo speak for itself.
We finished our drinks and headed across the street to the Hotel Chitina restaurant. There were only two other tables with customers, but the waitress was clearly overwhelmed. She ran from place to place on her tiptoes, then slid the last few feet up to the register or the bar, like kids do in their stocking feet. Frankly, it was kind of bizarre. Then she told us they had no salmon. The world-famous Copper River was a mile away and fisher folks are dragging out hundreds per day, yet there is no salmon available. We decided this was not the place for us. We left having concluded that, though we gave it our best shot, our night on the town in Chitina was a bust. We went home and ate leftovers out of paper bowls so as not to mess the place up and ended up having a pretty good dinner.
The next morning we departed our little campground for our two-day trip to Fairbanks, with an overnight in Delta Junction. There are not many highways in Alaska, and from Tok, RVers will typically travel either Highway 1 to Anchorage or Highway 2 to Fairbanks and then do a loop around the state along with a few side trips to other places, such as the Kenai, Haines, etc. The road less traveled, I think, is Highway 4 from Glennallen to Delta Junction, the route we took. We seem to be on a meandering, zig-zaggy route, which is actually working well for us. In any case, by taking Highway 4, we cannot say that we've driven the entire Alaska Highway because we skirted the section from Tok to Delta Junction. Oh well.
Highway 4 was a pretty good road and offered gorgeous views. The other interesting thing is that Highway 4 runs parallel to the Trans Alaskan Pipeline which we saw in multiple locations and, in fact, were able to stop and see it up close and personal. And get a pipeline selfie, of course!
In Delta Junction we got set up at the Delta State Recreation Site before heading out to dinner. We are trying to watch our dining out expenses, but after a long, seven-hour travel day, we just wanted to enjoy ourselves. We found The Cave Wine Bar & Restaurant where Steven had Alaskan halibut fish & chips which he declared the best he's ever had. I had a blue cheese burger, which was pretty good. After dinner, we got a selfie at the end of the Alaskan Highway marker even though we hadn't officially driven the entire road.
For just a quick overnight, we really enjoyed ourselves in Delta Junction.
We had a relatively short drive into Fairbanks the following day, so we stopped for breakfast at Little Richards diner in North Pole, Alaska. Yeah, not that North Pole, the other one. Lots of folks say there is more charm in this little town than in Fairbanks, but this was our one and only stop here. We drove on to the Fairbanks Elks Lodge where we parked nose-in for a view of the lazy Chena River.
Next up: Fairbanks!