Well I survived my trip to the Arctic Circle. The road wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, I was easily able to maintain 50 mph, and in places quite a bit faster.
At the Arctic Circle marker there was almost a line of people waiting to get their pictures taken with it (ok two other cars, not exactly a line, but more than I expected). It was mostly sunny and warm when I got there, but within a few minutes it had started raining. While I was there I compared true North (from the GPS) with magnetic North (from my compass), and magnetic North was more than 80 degrees off. That's what I knew should happen, but it was still kind of strange to see it.
Since I hadn't seen any wildlife yet I decided to continue North at least as far as Coldfoot, about another 60 miles. Made it to Coldfoot without seeing any wildlife, and got to pay $1.89 a gallon for gas! Coldfoot is the home of the farthest North saloon in the Americas, so I tried to get a beer but it was closed. I think it only opens for the tour busses.
On my way back towards Fairbanks I stopped at the Arctic Circle marker again, and did a quick inspection of my car (tires, headlights, etc). Not 20 miles later I had a flat. Lucky me, it had been raining where I got a flat so I had several inches of mud to deal with as well as getting very wet. But then it got worse, it stopped raining at I was instantly swarmed by mosquitoes. I don't know how many bites I got in the 20 minutes it took me to change my tire, but my sanity was definitely threatened at some points. I stopped at the Hot Spot Cafe (a couple trailers off the side of the road at mile 60) for dinner. I was not impressed by the way it looked, but I was hungry. It was probably the best cheeseburger I've ever had. Everything there was home made, and good. I highly recommend it on your next Arctic Circle trip.
After dinner I was treated to an amazing sunset. The great thing about a sunset here, this time of year, is that it goes on forever. I enjoyed the spectacular colors for over an hour (since the sun never completely sets) before it got blocked out by storm clouds. I also got to see some more BIG lightning.
I finally got to a campground in a state rec. area about 30 miles North of Fairbanks at about 2am. Goodnight.