Fatigue and hunger were foremost in our minds as we rolled into the morning rush hour of Fairbanks en route to "the northernmost Denny's" to slake or needs. We consumed the standard bill of fare and sought the refuge of our beds after enduring the "UDF" by answering the questions of a group of Soldiers from Fort Wainwright. following a good days nap we awakened to the need to answer a pressing question, what's for dinner? Having been to Fairbanks in the past I knew of a good barbecue joint down by the river , called Big Daddy's. We arrived at the dinner hour and after we tired of waiting we seated ourselves and hoped to be noticed by the waitstaff. When we were noticed we managed to order or meal which while delicious , it was a somewhat parsimonious serving from what I had received on prior visits. We returned to our lodging to plan our departure the next day for Haines , AK to make our absolute deadline of catching the Alaska Marine Highway ferry to Bellingham, WA in 3 days. Yes, I said ferry, long before leaving home we had decided that the 3 1/2 day ferry ride to Washington from Alaska would be a great way to rest and take a break from the saddle but still be moving towards home. I cannot overstate how enjoyable this option can be for the saddle worn rider looking for an effortless experience "while on the road". The ferry gives you a good selection of accommodations ranging from sleeping on the floor/deck or grabbing a sofa, there is an open deck where you can set up a tent or stake out a chaise lounge and for the wussies there are staterooms of 2 or 4 berths some with private showers and toilets. For the adventurous types public toilets and showers are available along with washers and dryers to help you rid yourself of road funk( if so desired). The ferry has both cafeteria type dining and a for real sit down place with white table clothes too boot, yes there is a bar for those who feel the need. The rules say no alcohol outside of the bar or your stateroom, although a certain son was seen with a bottle or two or Red Stripe on the aft deck.
Now getting back in sequence ; we rolled out of the UAF housing heading for Haines at a leisurely pace planning a stop in Delta Junction for lunch with a friend.Riding down the Richardson Highway we entered the town of North Pole , which you can imagine what the local tacky tourist trap might be........Ding ding ding we have a winner, yes The Santa Claus House is the correct answer and you know what we did! The obligatory stop for pictures, postcards and interrogation by tourist and locals alike about the bike and our travels. The good thing is the post cards can be mailed right there and that ensures a North Pole , AK postmark on them so the little ones will be a little more believing in Christmas for a little longer.......
We remounted the rides after mailing the post cards and escaping the question crowd of German tourist and re-entered the Richardson Highway soon to pass the flight line of Eilson Air Force Base , home of the Arctic Aggressor Squadron whose F-16's can be seen from the road. The ride back to Delta Junction wasn't anywhere as fatiguing as our northbound ride a few days earlier and a lot more enjoyable. We rolled into Delta and caught up with my friend who operates a Yak farm on the outskirts of Delta and she promised us a gustatory treat of Yak burgers for lunch at her place! I did make a request that she allow a slight delay and detour to the Buffalo Drive in for one of their hand made Cherry milkshakes to bust some of the dust from my throat. Sated by the refreshingly tasty milk shake we followed he to her home a few miles south of Delta where we were greeted by a Yak calf being hand raised after being rejected by it's mother. The friendly critter took a liking to my son but not enough to ignore Mary when she produced a bottle of formula for him. After as visit to see "the old motorcycle my husband asked me to buy him" which turned out to be an original condition 1967 R-69S in a connex. We sat down to a tasty meal of Yak burgers, with Mary explaining the Yak were raised for their healthy lean meat along with their hair being much prized by weavers.The subject of our lunchtime attention WAS a particularly ornery bull that had inflicted serious injury on her husband, resulting in it's demise. Our hunger sated and old friendship renewed along with time passing we gave our thanks and struck out for Tok, AK as our next refueling point 100 miles to the south.
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