I just returned from a visit with my friend Sue. Aka Super Sue, aka, Tundra Babe, aka Susan Aikens. Last winter when she was here in town recuperating we had talked about doing this for her upcoming 50th birthday but then I didn’t hear any more about it until the week before her birthday. I didn’t bring it up again as I didn’t want to feel like I was inviting myself lol. She chartered a plane and brought several of us up there to help her celebrate in style.
Those of us going met at 11:00 am on Sunday morning at Everts Air here in Fairbanks. KT had driven up from Wasilla the night before and stayed at my cabin. Suzette and her husband drove up from Anchorage and stayed in a hotel taking advantage of the jacuzzi tub after their long drive. Lori, Mike, KT and I all went out to the Howling Dog Saloon for a Saturday night outing. For Lori, Mike, and me, this is our regular Sat. night. Oh, I also transported a retired sled dog up to her. Ermine arrived at my house earlier in the week.
One of the most unique views of the trip is flying over the Brooks Range. Many of you know of it from watching Ice Road Truckers. They cross at Atigan Pass on the only road that goes up there, the Dalton Highway, also known as the Haul Rd. This is the mountain range that divides the main portion of Alaska from the northern coastal plains. North of the Brooks range is called “the North Slope”. The oil fields of Prudhoe Bay are on the North Slope. This mountain range forms the northernmost drainage divide in North America, separating streams flowing into the Arctic Ocean and the North Pacific. They top out at over 9,000 feet. No real trees grow north of the Brooks and very little plant life grows on these mountains. It makes for a very surreal landscape. I think the moon would look similar.
Our flight was only 2 hours. At last Kavik River Camp comes into view. It is very, very isolated. There are no roads other then her trails, no other buildings, no people, nothing man made in view of the camp nor for a 100 miles (with the exception of her run way, but that’s part of the camp). It’s 12 miles south of the Arctic Ocean.
Kavik River Camp, Extreme Lodging for Extreme People!
Kavik River Camp is a one of a kind camp located just a few miles from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 2010 marked the 50th Anniversary of the Refuge and what a time to see it! The Camp offers logistical support for all your Arctic needs. Camp, hunt, fish, bird viewing… just about anything you can think of, we are here to help see your Arctic Dreams realized!
The theme was tropical. Suzette brought up an inflatable palm tree and a Hawaiian shirt. I brought a sparkly, fur lined tiara and leis. Suzette brought leis as well.
The first day we all went on a 4 wheeler ride. Even picking the shallow river crossings, it got a bit “exciting”, especially when we started to float away with the current. We all got wet but I got some good shots of flowers when ever we stopped.
I don’t know what these pink ones are but they were very pretty.
I’ll put a bit about the mosquitos here. Yes they were very thick. Deet is your friend when hanging on the tundra.
Sue’s brother in law Rick, her son and his girlfriend, as well as her grandson were all there to celebrate as well. Rick did most of the cooking and cleaning as his gift to Susan. Her son and grandson did a whole lot of chores as well. What a great time we had just relaxing. I went up and offered to help several times as I am a bit uncomfortable just sitting around and allowing others to wait on me but I was told “get out” hahaha. Nothing as manly as men who cook and clean. Really.
Dinner the first night, chicken cordon bleu, baked mac and cheese, veggies. Yum!
After dinner we watched the show. It was fun to watch there with Susan. We had several great laughs.
This is one of the helicopters coming in for refueling. You can see the dive bomber mosquitoes that were in competition for air space! This couple was following the nearby caribou heard. There was also a plane doing research on how many migratory water fowl nests were in the area. Yes, they were counting nests.
This far above the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t actually set. All these pictures were taken between about 11:30 pm and 12:30 am.
Chocolate cake with coconut on a bed of cherries, covered in home made whipped cream, drizzled in chocolate sauce. Yes we all attempted to put ourselves in a sugar coma!
I did henna on anyone that wanted some. It’s always fun.
We serenaded Sue regardless of the mosquitoes.
I really enjoyed playing my fiddle this far north. I consider my fiddle a traveler and love finding unique places to play it. This is certainly the farthest north it’s been and probably ever will be.
I was invited on a little ATV expedition. We were keeping our eyes open for the caribou heard that was about 12 miles away. Sue offered to help me hunt one (hunting license can be bought online.) But they ended up not coming through this direction as expected. Taking in the mosquito population I decided to post-pone hunting until this fall. Should be lots cooler then and fewer mosquitoes.
If you notice, even the 11 year old grandson goes armed.
We had a lot of fun just hanging out and being silly. Here is the Kavik River Mosquito Dance. No matter how much Deet one applies, there are still mosquitoes that swarm around you as you take that long, long walk to the outhouse. These are the movements such a walk necessitates in order to not breath in any of the little buggers.
Video by Lori!
When we got into the plane to leave, it was full of mosquitoes! We were smashing those suckers for the first hour of our trip. Thankfully we were all pretty much covered in Deet.
The lovely, magnificent Yukon River from above.
Thank you Sue for a wonderfully unique opportunity. It was a lot of fun.