We left Nikki’s on Tuesday morning before breakfast. There was a flurry of activity at her house. She works as a rural mail carrier --- and was heading out early herself. That was fine with us-- We wanted to drive the 35 miles south to Seward for a look-see and breakfast!
Breakfast has to be my favorite meal to eat out! I think I could eat breakfast ANY time of the day….and finding little mom & pop places that are not chain stores, just local hang-outs are great!
Reindeer sausage or caribou patty, anyone? No? Come on, you only live once!
A small promise of blue sky buoyed our spirits! This was the day we were planning our Long Driving Day #1 ---making our way from Seward after breakfast, up through the Denali National Park on our way to Fairbanks! We had hopes of seeing Mt McKinley….and were hoping that bit of blue sky would just open up to reveal what we wanted to see!
Instead, it rained the whole way, and the clouds sat right on top of the mountains at the snow line. BUMMER!! But it was STILL lovely. We stopped to take pictures and stretch our legs…
I was amazed at the number of cross country bicyclists there were….and a lot of them women, riding solo! Bikes with 50 lbs of gear --- out in the middle of nowhere, rain, cold, wind…((and yes, some of these people in shorts, I am such a wimp!))
It was a beautiful drive and it took us all the way til dinner time to make it to Faribanks.
And then the adventure REALLY began! (((Yes, this is the Alaska traveling uniform…jeans, tennies, interchangeable shirt, and denim over-shirt, and sometimes the alternate blue hoodie!))
We got into fairbanks thinking it would be fairly easy to find a hotel --- NOT!!
Every place we tried was sold out! NO ROOMS AVAILABLE! We had no clue that the fair was going on this week…but one of the ladies at a B&B suggested we try the visitor’s center, and we did….and they pointed us toward a Gold Camp “Hotel” about 30 miles out of town that still had 2 rooms available. We were up for an adventure, and I was really excited to have this opportunity--I mean, the inside of one Day’s Inn looks like the inside of any OTHER Days Inn, And THIS was different!
Brochure on my lap on the way up to the Chatanika Gold Camp! ((At this point we had driven close to 500 miles that day, and I was just ready for a BED!))
We drove and we drove and we drove…about 30 miles North East of Fairbanks, and it seemed impossible that anything was out there, but there it was! And the history of this place is fascinating!
SOMEONE has taken really good care at planting the flowers…look at that gorgeous color! They were using all kinds of gold digging equipement as planters, and it was fun to walk around and see what was put to good use!
We drove up the road, under the gate, and followed it around to where the hotel signs pointed..not sure what we would find!
The brochure didn’t lie! LOL!!! See that first window above the hotel sign? That was our room! There were 10 rooms on the top floor, and a couple of cabins on the property to rent also.
The restaurant is on the ground floor, along with lots of mining memorabilia. The staff was welcoming, and we settled in for dessert! ((We’d grabbed pizza in Fairbanks before driving up…we were too starving to wait by this point!)) Strawberry Rhubarb pie ala mode for me, and a chocolate sundae for DH and we were ready to settle in for the evening.
Gorgeous flowers amid the remnants of old mining equipment….
This is the upstairs! All the comforts of home --- including 2 treadle machines, two old over stuffed antique chairs, a microwave and a coffee pot! LOL!!
Even an old ironing board set up in case you needed to iron out your wrinklies-- See the light from that window? This is after 9pm!
I neglected to take a picture of our room…we were just too tired. But it was comfy, just a queen bed, an antique dresser. Curtains at the window like this one ---we had to hang towels over the curtain rod to make the room dark enough to sleep ;c)
As it was “Back in the day” the bathrooms were shared…and directly across the hall from us! So, I was grateful to have packed ear plugs to keep the sound of sleepy guests and midnight trips to the bathroom at bay.
In the morning, I found out how REALLY rustic it was…I went to take a shower, and there was NO HOT WATER!! Serious. I tried the knob both ways, and it just got colder. Pass on the shower, get one at our next destination, Delta Junction!
This place was so rustic that there is no one at the desk in the morning. You just leave your key in the door lock, and out you go in the morning ---
In the morning before heading back to Fairbanks for breakfast, we stopped to take a peek at the old one room school house. At one time Chatanika was bigger than Fairbanks, there were thousands of people that populated the area during the gold rush. It’s just a ghost of what it once was.
Well rested, but un-showered!! I love the path less traveled ---and I’m GLAD that Fairbanks was out of hotel rooms, or we never would have explored out this way!