Hooniverse Goes to Fairbanks, Alaska

0 Last week, I flew up to Fairbanks, Alaska, to embark on a bus trip up the Dalton Highway to the Arctic Ocean. I spent a day moseying around town and gathering supplies for the arduous trip. These are the cars (and pipeline) I saw. Make the jump to see what I saw. First, I had to pick up my rental car at the airport. All of the major rental car companies were represented, but other than a lone Impala, all of the other rentals were atypical. There were a lot of Camrys, Outback wagons, and F150s. Though I reserved and needed just a compact, Thrifty gave me this Camry instead. Every rental gets an engine block heater, as winter temperatures sometimes dip to 60 to 75 degrees below zero. The floor and trunk mats are all made of heavy duty rubber. I was not particularly impressed with my car. The MPG needle was stuck at 32, even with the ignition off. Plus, the transmission had a mind of its own. 1 My first stop was the Fountainhead Antique Car Museum. Around sixty cars are on display, from the first American four-cylinder passenger car, an 1898 Hay Stanhope Phaeton, to the “newest” car, a 1936 Packard. Many have historical significance as some of the earliest cars to operate in Alaska. Others are just fantastic classics that have won at Amelia Island. This 1926 Fordson snow-motor greeted me at the walkway between the museum’s parking lot and entrance. For a brief moment, the Canadian Mounties considered ditching their horses for this little monstrosity. 2 The museum is world-class, never mind that it’s in a town in the middle of nowhere. The displays, which are complemented with period-correct clothing, photographs, and other artifacts, rival what I’ve seen at the Smithsonian. It is that impressive. 3 The museum has a workshop on display, like a huge glass terrarium. 4 This 1917 Ford Model T Snow Flyer conversion was my favorite. 5 6 7 The 1911 Everitt (see lede photo) is interactive. You are welcome to choose a driving outfit, sit in the car, and have your picture taken. 8 9 Here are a couple shots of a 1910 Stanley Steamer. 10 11 Just on the outskirts of town, I stopped by a display for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. 12% of America’s oil flows through the pipeline from Prudhoe Bay in the Arctic Ocean (my ultimate destination of this trip) down to the port of Valdez, where it goes into huge tankers piloted by sober captains. 12 Those silver prongs are passive radiators. Because oil out of the ground is hot (and remains hot due to friction from being passed through the pipe, the heat has to be dissipated or else the tundra and permafrost below would melt. This in turn would destabilize the ground below and damage the pipe. 13 14 This is a decommissioned pig, used to clean the pipeline. 15 16 Here are some random shots of interesting cars I saw in town. Given the weather and its proximity to the oilfields, I was surprised to not see a single Cayenne or X5 anywhere. In fact, the only German cars I saw were a first generation Mercedes ML and a decade old 3-Series. I took this picture of the Miata because I find convertibles in cold climates hilarious. Plus, orange wheels. 17 Finally, a grainy, zoomed picture of a Volvo S80 taxicab. Fairbanks has a diverse fleet of cabs. I also saw, inter alia, an old Impreza wagon and a Honda Civic. 18 Images source: Copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Jim Yu

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