Sunday, July 4, 2010

Drive to Arctic Circle and Fairbanks: July 3

It took us 14 hours to drive only 540.4 miles, so you can imagine the road conditions going up to the Arctic Circle! We had to contend with an obstacle course of muddy, rocky, gravely roads and hell-on-wheels big rigs. Ironically, this was perhaps our warmest day of the trip at a boiling 75 degrees! The Arctic Circle marks the point at which the sun does not set on the summer solstice. Once we had arrived, we were the furthest distance from home that we will be on this trip - a symbolic turnaround point: the beginning of our long drive home. Knowing what a grueling driving day this would be (and each day after until we reach home), we had made reservations months ago at a hostel in Fairbanks for a private room to ensure a good night's sleep. When we arrive there at 9pm (check-in was until 10pm), bleary-eyed and exhausted from our long haul, we were casually informed that our room - the ONLY private one - had been given away a half-hour earlier. However, we were told that we were in luck - they had 2 remaining beds available in the mixed-gender dorm room! After our 14-hour drive, we suspected that the frat-house atmosphere of the dorm room would not be conducive to a good night's sleep. We now have a profound appreciation for the comforts of Best Western, where we chose to spend the night rather than at the hostel (and the only place that still had a room available that late on a Saturday night the day before a holiday). The next morning we were pleasantly surprised to receive an apology from the hostel owner along with $100 to pay for the difference in cost of the hostel and Best Western. That being said, we still would not recommend GoNorth Hostel for anyone planning to travel to Fairbanks, Alaska!