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Arctic Circle!

June 24, 2011

We finally have finished our Alaska Bucket List!  Just in time, too, since Levi and I (Lisa) fly out Sunday night for Washington.  Our last to-do was a trip to the Arctic Circle.  It’s one of those trips that you take just to say you’ve been and to get the picture.  But, it was a fun family day for the most part and, well, we can say we’ve been to the Arctic Circle!

For reference, the Arctic Circle is at about 66ºN.  We also went the day after the summer solstice, which was purely coincidental, however it does make for a much better conversation about visiting such a unique latitude.

Matthew had been calling every day for a week to rent a vehicle.  While, technically, it’s highway 2 to highway 11 and then you cross the imaginary line, highway 11, the Dalton Highway, is mostly dirt/gravel.  It’s also not consistently two lanes, it’s usually under construction, and it is “owned” by the truckers – do not get in their way!  So, unless you don’t mind your vehicle getting a few dents (or a lot), cracking your windshield, and perhaps misaligning your wheels, among other more horrible things, it’s best to not take your personal vehicle on the Dalton.  We saw plenty of RVs, but we just felt badly for them.

So, finally, Tuesday night there was a proper vehicle available to rent for Wednesday.  God’s timing is perfect…Wednesday was our last day available to do it!  After sorting out a few annoying setbacks with the rental company, we were on the road only an hour later than intended.  The 200 mile drive north took about four hours.  We did stop for lunch and running around at the mighty Yukon River, about three quarters of the way up.  Levi was ready for a break and we were hungry.

Levi at the Yukon

The drive itself, while beautiful, was fairly uneventful.  Unlike the drive to Valdez, it was mostly the same views until just prior to the Circle, where it changed to tundra.  I was short on sleep and the bouncy road caused me to fall asleep throughout the trip.  Bummer.

We arrived to the little sign, got out, got the picture, got a certificate, and swatted mosquitoes.  Levi ran around a lot and developed his own phrase: “I run to the mountains!”  He pointed to the hills on the other side of the highway and then started running (not onto the highway, but in that direction).

We made it!

We arrived back in time to enjoy pie the trucker stop, Hilltop, that is famous for their pies before going home.  I was grateful for the mellow day in the midst of the chaos.

Mmmm, coconut cream!

See more pictures on my facebook account here!

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