The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

26 May, 2015

North Pole and Fairbanks

**From Chicken we travelled on the Taylor Highway, then turned back onto Alaska Highway approx 12 miles from Tok - refer previous blog**

After completing the Alaska Highway at Delta Junction, we travelled on Richardson Highway to Fairbanks and called into North Pole to make sure Santa knew we were being good!!! North Pole is best known as the home of Santa Claus House.  Con Miller was a young entrepreneur who became a fur buyer and trader shortly after arriving in Alaska in 1949.  He opened a small gift store in Fairbanks and then moved it to North Pole.  Miller had already developed a reputation for playing Santa Claus to the Native children in Alaskan Villages and so he named his new trading post Santa Claus House.  Con and wife Nellie set about creating a dream that is still ongoing today.  Walking into the store is absolutely mind blowing and a few of our fellow travellers invested a few hundred dollars in the Store!  Just as well we live in a Caravan as Helen was very limited to what she could buy!  Worth calling into with every type of Christmas trinket you could wish to see.

Of-course we have been good, Santa!!

Reckon this would be fine for the Caravan, Geoff

Fancy seeing the 'Bundy Bear' here!!!

Nearly bought this one for our son Todd!
Exhausted from the Christmas shopping, headed into Fairbanks and camped at River's Edge RV Park which was lovely and we certainly had a great spot for Happy Hour.  Had a great meal in the Restaurant next to the park, Hels then decided to do the washing which she completed at 11.30pm in broad daylight!!!

Fairbanks is Alaska's second largest city with a population of 32,000 and the Fairbanks North Star Borough has a population of almost 100,000, including military.  Once again the Gold Rush brought miners from all over the world and in 1903 Fairbanks was incorporated as a City. First stop on our Rest Day was Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum which is a fantastic museum featuring autos as well as regional history and vintage clothes.  There are over 100 vintage costumes exhibited and over 85 American-made automobiles restored in prestige condition with all but a few driven each summer. We were thoroughly entertained for hours and needless to say my camera was working to full capacity - Helen remarked that I would not have missed photographing one automobile!!  This was a great stop and with an entry fee of only $10 well worth the visit.  Helen was also blown away at the vintage clothes displays, in particular some of the beaded evening gowns on display in glassed cabinets - certainly both men and women would enjoy this exhibition.

Happy hour at the Fairbanks RV Park

Downtown Fairbanks
Our second stop was the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Centre where exhibits feature the land, the seasons and the peoples of Fairbanks, Interior Alaska and the Arctic.  This was an extremely interesting place to visit and so well displayed.  From here we had lunch at Soapy Smith's Pioneer Restaurant where we were 'entertained' by a waiter, then onto the Ice Museum which was housed in the historic Laceys Theatre.  We were treated to a movie about the Ice Carving Competition then were able to walk among the life-size ice sculptures (although did not stay long as the room was set at some unbelievably freezing cold temperature!), then watched as a sculptor carved a block of ice - making a flower etching.

Pioneer Park - 44 acre park that commemorates early Alaskan history with a number of attractions

The Ice Museum:-

Talk about having your drinks on ICE!!

We certainly did not stay long in the ice sculpture room - it was freezing!

Hels rode the ice mobile while a took a toboggan ride on the inside track.

Demonstration ice carving by a Sculptor

Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum:-

1933 Auburn - Model 12-161A Custom Boattail Speedster. 12 cylinder V-type Lycomimg

The wild and flashy design of this car was not only skin deep, for this was one of the fastest sports cars of its era!

1936 Packard - 7 passenger convertible touring

I was really cranking this old girl up! (Helen's comment:  I hope he was talking about the car!!)

1920 Argonne - Model D2 Passenger Roadster

This is the last of only 24 produced - 4 cyl inline side valve

1934 Packard - 12 cylinder modified side valve.

The first to incorporate a built in radio

1917 Owen Magnetic - M25 touring

1932 Chrysler - Custom Imperial Series CL

1905 Franklin - famous air cooled vehicle. Note the period costume.
This is only a small sample of the vehicles and photos I took but what a magnificent auto museum.

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