ALASKA – Just arrived in Alaska, direction the Dalton Highway

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Our arrival in Alaska

Voilà, we finally arrived in Alaska.

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The 25th of august. 20 days after our departure from Halifax, and all this with two breakdowns on the road.

We are pretty proud to have successfully traveled these 8000 km so quickly. It was our first challenge before starting for real our journey: from Alaska to Ushuaia.

Then yes, it rains, we don’t see further than 20 meters, but it’s a joy dance at the border.

The border, by the way… We were expecting that it would take hours, that the truck’s papers will be hardly studied, even that we will have to empty it (under the rain, it might be lovely!).

But no:

“Hello Sir, here are our passports.

– Perfect, please park your vehicle over there and join me in the office, it will be 6 dollars each.”

Fingerprints taken, some classic questions like “Have you already been to United States? When? Where will you go  after?”

“Perfect, you can stay in the US until the 22th of November 2016”.

Great! It’s much more than we understood in France, and different from in the American embassy told us by phone (you will have 3 months from your entry to the United States and your exit from Mexico, yes, Mexico…).

To celebrate this we stopped in a small deli on our way to Tok and we bought the more expensive chips of our lives: a packet at 7 USD.

Anyway, after a night in Tok, we arrive in Fairbanks with a bright sun the day after.

We are not very interested in city, and after a visit of the visitor center we realize that we are not so far from the arctic circle…

The end of the world. The one from the north. Our brains are working a little bit. Alaska is cool but if we start up in the Alaska it’s better! And if Mister has already crossed once that circle, I don’t. But it would be the chance to do it.

So bingo.

It’s decided, tomorrow we will take the “Dalton Highway”.

The Dalton Highway

But what is the Dalton Highway?

– Historic interlude –

In the middle of the XX century, American government discovers in Prudhoe Bay something called petrol. And evene if the name of Prudhoe Bay doesn’t look like thise, but the place is far far away. In the north of northern Alaska. And there is no road to go there. Or even come back. Too bad. All this petrol that cannot be transported.

No problem, well, of course, there is a tiny difficulty but each problem has a solution and the American government decides to build a pipeline and a road.

When there might be a lot of money to win, it seems that the motivation may be more… intense. In 5 months the road finished and the pipeline 3 years after (800 km).

The Dalton Highway starts Livengood, 90km north from Fairbanks and ends in Deadhorse (pretty nice name that may reflect the life of the city!) on the north coast of Alaska, near the Arctic ocean. This road would be open in the early 90’ to the public and is considered as the first kilometers of the panamerican road (well well well).

If you might watch TV sometimes, this road appears in a show on the world most dangerous roads…

Then, it is this non paved road, full of gravel and mug that we are about to drive. There are few gas stations on the way (2 during the 800 km), no phone connection, no shops, no mechanical…

Car rental companies usually refuse to provide with a car for this trip: to many risks of damages on the vehicle…

As far as we are concerned, we do not think to drive to the end of the road and Deadhorse, it is too far and actually you need an authorization to go to the ocean.

So we will just drive around 350 km (700 with the return) on the Dalton highway to the arctic circle.

 

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We check Tikal; fulfill the jerricans, buy some food and leave Fairbanks.

After Livengood, the road is dry and the stones and the dust really present! But the weather is perfect and as we drive, the landscape is getting transformed.

 

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Half way, we cross on the unique Alaskan bridge over the Yukon river.

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The colours change again.

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And we arrive at the arctic circle.

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Well, ok, it is just a sign. But there is still a symbol. We are in the north. And it’s cold.

Voilà.

There is a free campground just next to the parking but it is full of trees that do not offer a great visibility of the sky. We decide to go somewhere else.

And we find the perfect place. Away from the road and with a great view on the plain.

 

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We spent one of the best evenings since we arrive in Halifax.

It is cold. First firecamp.

 

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The sun starts to set down. Slowly. 5 hours before the dark night surrounds us with thousands of stars.

But we are waiting them. Not the stars. “Them”. The light that would transform this evening in an unforgettable night. One of our dreams.

And, while the sun still lights in the horizon, on the opposite side, some sort of white cloud appears. A small light that is still just shaking in the sky. Our hearts start beating. We install our cameras. And yes. They are here.

 

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They are dancing in the sky. Stronger and stronger as the sun disappears.

It is just magic. It is cold. Our fingers are getting frozen but we stay with the eyes turned to the sky. We don’t want to sleep. We take pictures and we dream awaken.

 

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We drove the Dalton Highway.

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