Ok we didn’t go to THE North Pole, but we did go to North Pole, Alaska, and since that is probably the closest I will ever get to the real thing I am using it for this blog post title. It’s been a busy week here at the Glennallen campground so let me catch you up a bit before we move on to our North Pole adventure.
We were tired when we got back from Denali, and of course we were jammed pack on Monday our first day back. We are starting to get both traffic leaving Alaska and people coming in at the same time, which has definitely boosted our occupation numbers and we also got our annual visit from Good Sam. These rating visits are unscheduled, so they really do see you for what you are and I am happy to see we got a big jump in the scoring. Last year the campground rated 5.5/9.5/9 and this year we jumped to 7/9.5/9. This jump is in no small part to this summer’s efforts and I was particularly pleased to see the Site Attractiveness category raise from a .5 to a 1, which is the highest score. They specifically mentioned the new paint and new signs and this made both of us very happy. Also they specifically mentioned the Lend a Book and Lend a Movie programs which helped raise our entertainment score from a .5 to a 1. It really is a very nice little campground, and it’s been fun being a part of improving it.
We also had a visit from Les and Sue (Big Boomer on the RV-Dreams forum) who have been touring Alaska all summer and finally got to us on their way home. I offered to cook dinner, but Sue wouldn’t have any of that and brought us a complete meal including amazing halibut Les caught, vegetables, and a salad. She even brought utensils, plates, silverware, everything so I wouldn’t have to do a thing. So amazing and we had a wonderful visit with them and I really enjoyed getting to know them better. We last saw them in Quartzsite in the desert and here we were sharing halibut in Alaska. The RV-Dreams family is really a wonderful thing.
I also spent some time this week trying to figure out the best way to create an Ebook and publish it. One of my goals for this summer was to try to write a recipe book for full-time RVers and before I started formatting I wanted to make sure I knew what was needed. People talk about publishing books like it’s easy, but I have to say the technical aspects are pretty intimidating. I finally found a website called Blurb and downloaded their free tool. Have no idea how this is going to work out yet, but at least I found a starting place. I realized his week we are half way through our stint here and I had better get started.
And I signed up for our absentee ballot. This was so very easy and that makes me super happy. When we setup our mail service in Green Cove Springs, Florida we also went to the voter registrars office and registered to vote. I received a voting card in the mail this week that had a phone number on it to call for an absentee ballot. I just assumed I would have some sort of issue, but it was super easy. I called and the very nice lady at the registrar’s office took Lee and I’s information over the phone and they are sending me the ballot. How cool is that. I have never missed a major election cycle since I came of age, so I was not looking forward to the prospect of missing my opportunity to vote. Especially not in this election. It was a very positive and easy experience so I thought I should mention that.
This week we also got some much-needed rain to help fight several fires that were started by lightning last week. I have been incredibly impressed by how capably the Forest service is handling multiple fires spread across a huge territory. I have been following their progress closely through a wonderful blog the forest service writes called AK Fire Info. The forest service gives daily updates on all the fires and more frequent updates on the fires that are threatening property. They also conduct public meetings when the fires get to a certain point to keep the public notified. Most impressively they move crews and equipment around as needed and their efficient use of limited resources based on necessity is extremely impressive. I also think it’s important that in some cases they let fires run their course. AS we have learned on the road fires are an important part of the ecological process and overzealous fire fighting can cause significant damage to the natural habitat and wildlife. We have been very lucky to have several pilots and other members of the team stay with us in our cabins the last few weeks and I am a huge fan of them both as people and for what they do.
The rain not only helped the fires but also helped our business as many people decided to hunker down for a few days and we are a nice place to do that. We even were completely full for the first time we have been working and it was a very busy week. So we were both a little tired on Saturday, and we got a later start than we normally do. We were heading up to Fairbanks for an overnight, but had several stops planned along the way. Although it was supposed to rain all weekend in Glennallen, the Fairbanks forecast was a little better and we were hoping we could get some nice pictures. It started out great too as we took a wonderful shot of Mt. Drum from a different angle than we normally see it.
Next we stopped at the Meiers Lake Roadhouse to drop off some fliers. The campgrounds here often reciprocate having flyers in each other’s locations, but I like to visit the sites when possible and judge for myself. The owners used to hunt in the area and bought the business in “retirement” (if you can call 14 hour days retirement) and are running it with their daughter, son, and son-in-law. It really is in a great spot on a cool lake, but it needs a ton of work still. One of my favorite parts though that is absolutely worth seeing is the on site Alaska Museum which was a private collection of a local and was donated to the roadhouse years ago as a museum. It had some incredibly cool stuff and I really enjoyed looking at it.
After Paxton, the next section of the drive was really pretty. We saw the most amazing views at Summit Lake and Lee went on a side road between MM 197 and 198 and we saw the most amazing campgrounds and the Gulkana Glacier. Apparently the Arctic Man snowmobile race takes place there every spring, which is probably why the road is in such great shape. That being said Lee kept going further and further in and the road kept getting worse and worse until we were finally driving on what I thought was creek bed. At that point I made him turn around. Yes I know I am no fun.
And we finally got a close up view of the pipeline. There is a nice pull-over spot where you can walk right up to it and Lee got pretty excited and actually asked to have his picture taken. That’s a rarity.
We were definitely on a roll and when we went through DElta Junction we saw they had a farmer’s market going on so we stopped there as well. I got a present for my nephew and bought some beautiful home-made rolls. That town reminded me quite a bit of Vermont.
So it was a fun drive with relatively good weather and we hadn’t even gotten to the best part yet. I got an email from a reader Carole who is both a full-time rver and fellow Ohian. She grew up in Westerville, Ohio, (which is where Lee’s dad lives) and we were all in Columbus area high schools during the same time period. Carole and her husband (retired police officer Scott) have been fulltiming for the past year in a conversion van. Yep, a conversion van and although I had read about folks doing this I had never actually met one. They wintered last year by house sitting in Seattle and this summer flew to Alaska (to save miles on their vehicle) and are camphosting at Birch Lake Recreation Park. The receive a free dry (no water) cabin, a small subsidy, and access to a state vehicle for local errands, and amazing lake views including a resident moose who comes and hangs out in the water when it’s quiet.
Ever meet people and feel you have known them forever? Well that’s how it was with Carole and Scott. Maybe it’s because we are from the same place and roughly the same age, but we jumped right into conversation as if we were lifetime friends. I really really enjoyed talking to them and will enjoy following their travels on Facebook since we are friends now!
After leaving we finally reached North Pole, Alaska which is where I started this post lol. What can I say other than I totally loved it. I also went a little crazy, spending more money there than anywhere else we had been, but I just had to buy my kids, brother, and sister a North Pole Christmas ornament! It was a ton of fun and I absolutely recommend a stop.
Some things in life are exactly what you think they will be, and Santa’s House was definitely like that!! Next up…First Time in Fairbanks.
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