Since leaving Denver we have been camping about 75% of the time and cannot complain, the surroundings are beautiful, the wildlife is plentiful, and the temperature is a mild 50-75 degrees Fahrenheit with the constant light outside. It is nice to wake up to the fresh air, cook delicious meals and go to sleep after relaxing by the campfire. While the air is fresh our stinky butts are not with some runs putting us 3-4 days or more between showers, sporting a perfume reminiscent of campfire, body odor and camp kitchen.
In the USA and especially here in the North, most places are not in much need of marking help. In fact here in Alaska, many of the hotels are only open in the summer so they cannot afford to give anything away in order to make up for zero profit for half of the year. The result is that our usual ease of finding accommodation sponsors is fading, only to leave us with an excellent chance to make sure that if we did not hone our camping skills in over the last 2 years of the expedition, we most certainly will surface from the last two months as camping experts.
The final push to Prudhoe Bay will present us nearly 1000 miles of off road, temperatures peaking at 32 degrees, and 5 solid days of camping. Our last 3 days have been just what we needed to prepare for the final leg. At the Minnie Street B&B in downtown Fairbanks, Lambert and Marnie Hazelaar have given us the Jacob’s Ladder suite, which has been our office and home for the final preparation. The backyard of the property is large and comfortable with a hammock and plenty of grass to relax in the 24 hour light of the summer. The kitchen in our suite is equipped with all that we need to make dirt and bug free meals, has a coffee maker to keep us fired up to get as much work done as possible, and a fridge with ice for cold refreshments. In the back is a washing machine to help cleanse the stench of the road, and living room has comfy couches to ease our creaking joints from too many hours in the trucks.
Our constant rollercoaster of star ratings ranging from sleeping with the bears in the woods to luxurious B&Bs keeps perspective for us on how nice it is to have a daily shower. The whole crew cleans up very nicely when we have a chance and once clean we cannot thank our hosts enough for inviting us to the delicious breakfasts they cook for us each morning. Beyond the chance to have a real breakfast sitting at a real dining room table, the more awesome thing about our latest visits to B&Bs allows us to learn more about the locals by chatting over breakfast. Since we are away from our families and homes, it is nice to be taken care of by some families along the way. The personal touch that they have makes a simple place to sleep into an experience, and our spirits have been recharged for the long journey north.
We cannot thank Lambert and Marnie enough for sponsoring the accommodation, it is people like them that keep this journey going with their generosity. Maybe next time we are in town we will be able to pay, it would be well worth the money. And as Nels always likes to stay on our way back to the B&B, “When are we getting back to that little slice of heaven?”