Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Alaska Trip - Days 2 & 3

Day 2 was uneventful.  The Princess tour began this evening, so we spent the day transferring from the B&B to the Princess Lodge on the Chena River. It's a shallow river, and only 100 miles long.  It's murky and fast -moving.  It's fed by a glacier and shrinks back down to about 6 feet deep in the winter when the ice freezes again.  This river will be frozen by Halloween.  That's just put of my realm of knowing how to think about winter! We spend a good portion of the day just resting, finally having some time to do "nothing" after the very long travel days we all had.

Today - day 3 - was filled with activity.  We had a group breakfast where we met our tour guide and our group that we will remain with for the duration of the land our.  There are just 34 in our group.  We spent the morning on the Chena, touring on a paddle boat. 

We learned much about native Alaskan history and culture.  We paused at the home of Susan Butcher's daughter while she told us about mush dogs (Susan was a multiple winner of the Ididerod), and demos their summer training.  They pull her on a tractor! It was fascinating. They lead immediately for the water when they are finished with their run.  The dogs seem to be experiencing pure joy with the mushing!

We disembarked at a reproduction native village where we learned about reindeer herd keeping, pelts, native coat making, the meaning behind all those tassels (to show others what a good hunter she married) and beads (what village she came from). Knowing that the animals are taken for subsistence life, not as trophies, makes it much easier to be accepting of the fur.

After the river tour ended, we had a surpringly delicious lunch of traditional miners stew. My, it was tasty! Then on to the gold panning, via a reproduction miners train. Everyone had at least a few gold flakes in their little pile of dirt they panned. It was fun (I was terrible at panning, by the way!) after the panning, we had a mini-lecture about the Aleyska Pipeline.

We returned to the hotel around 4:00 so I had enough time for a nap before the 4 course wine tasting dinner.  Again everything was superb. All the veggies were grown here, the halibut freshly caught not too terribly far away. Really good food, really good wine.

Tonight the outlook for borealis sighting is promising! Interesting fact: you can leave a wake-up call with the hotel to wake you if the aurora is visible. We left the call. Keep your fingers crossed!

Here are some more flower pics. They are so amazing that I can't stop taking pictures!

Tomorrow Denali! 

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Great Alaska Trip - The Beginning

For starters, I splurged and flew first class to Fairbanks.  That was a treat! 13 hours travel time, so the extra space was appreciated.

We are spending two nights in a Bed and Breakfast.  That's a loosely defined term here in these parts, but it's perfectly fine for two nights.  At least there is indoor plumbing! The weather is surprisingly warm, but a great relief from the heat of Florida this time of year.

The first evening, I didn't nothing but chat with my traveling companions Kathy, Pete, and Chris (I didn't arrive at the B&B till after 9:00.) Alaska is 4 hours earlier than my part of Florida, so I was pretty beat.

Today, we walked Fairbanks.  There is not much here, which is a bit surprising, but the flowers are just amazing, as are the many vegetable gardens we saw.  Everything is huge.  
We visited the Museum of the North at Alaska University. There are some marvelous exhibits, including many about the women that are a big part of Alaskan history and development. The size of the whale bones was a surprise to me.  
You know in your head that they are huge creatures, but still - you feel quite small standing next to the bone that is in their head.

There were also many dinosaur bones, and of course bears and moose.  Again I was surprised at the hugeness of the moose - they're enormous! I hope we see some "on the hoof" as we continue our adventure.

As we wondered back into Fairbanks, we stopped at the Cultural Museum, which was also interesting, but not as much as the one at the university.  The Cultural Museum had fabulous gardens, though, and an adorable outhouse.  

Speaking of adorable, one of the first things I saw today was this great door on an antique shop,
and one of the last things was this tiny house that is so charming I'm sure a faerie would want to move in and call it home.

We enjoyed a good dinner at the restaurant in the Marrriott hotel.  I had fish and chips (halibut - of course), and I enjoyed a really good IPA from Seattle along with my meal.  It just seems wrong to have anything but beer with fish and chips.  

After a lovely day enjoying the weather and the outdoors, we came back to our little B&B. We fought with the mosquitoes along the way, but emerged mostly unscathed - except for Pete.  They are really attracted to poor Pete! Tomorrow we pack up and move to the Princess Lodge to join up with our tour.  I'm looking forward to that experience.  

Random pics from the day.

The Bears I encountered today.

Cabbage growing at the cultural center.

Incredible woven grass baskets at the Museum of the North.

A jade Boulder.  Amazing!

This archway is from real antlers and heads. It's spectacular, really.  

Mastodon and mammoth bones. So gigantic!

Stay tuned! And thanks for stopping by.