14 August 2010

Alaska Adventure - Day 8 - July 9, 2010

Previously: [Day 1] [Day 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Day 5] [Day 6] [Day 7]

All my trip photos (so far)

Another day in Fairbanks. This day in Fairbanks however was not actually spent in Fairbanks. Instead we met our new coach commander who commanded a slightly less comfortable coach, and bussed on out to the Riverboat Discovery. I discovered that this is a vessel designed to take tourists up and down the river while an ex-DJ narrates your trip in a way that most tourists seem to enjoy.

Paddle Wheel

The "highlight" of this trip, according to them is a visit to a fake Chena Indian Village which may or may not also be a fake Athabascan fish camp. I guess these learning opportunities are not my cup of tea, because for me the highlights of the trip were spotting some beavers in the river, and the tasty salmon spread samples the boat people severed on the way back.

After some requisite time in the gift shop, our new Coach Commander, who lets call Mike, drove us to visit Gold Dredge #8 which apparently is "just the ticket for an authentic look at mining life in early Fairbanks". I cannot confrim this because after the tasty lunch they serverd us (beef stew and biscuits FTW!), instead of going on the tour I took an authentic look at a nice cold authentic Alaskan beer in the shade and some authentic Alaskan ice cream.

In case that did not cure our gold fever, the next stop was up in them thar hills at a gold mine where we got to mine for our own gold. After only an hour of touring the mine, watching a sluicing demonstation, and actual sluicing some pay-dirt of our very own, I had discovered gold flakes worth approximately $16. For an additional $30 I could have had these put these in to a keepsake locket in their giftshop.

Next up was my least favorite stop of the entire trip. It was a visit to the Alaskan Oil Pipeline. In case you've never seen one, picture a big line of pipe that carries oil. I was even able to touch it, and you will never guess what it felt like (wait for it...) a big pipe. I understand the connection between oil and money, and realize there was some amount of fine engineering in building the thing, but to me it just looked like a big scar across an otherwise scenic landscape.

Luckily they managed to somehow keep the pipeline stop to under an hour, so we made it back to the hotel in time to head out on an optional excursion - the inaccurately named yet still quite enjoyable Midnight Sun River Float. Our guide, who lets call John Zahn because he was a cross between John Denver and Steve Zahn picked us up in a really nice van and took us to dinner. The eight people on this tour (4 Roths and 4 not-Roths) accounted for 100% of the dining room customers in the restaurant. Not sure why though because the food was quite tasty. Best salmon I'd had since that morning.

We then traveled to the river for the midnight sun part of the adventure, though it was actually about 9:00. At least it was sunny. Well, sunny for the first 5 minutes or so, then we experienced enough of a downpour to get plenty wet. We probably would not have signed up for it if it was called The Late Evening Get Rained On Float Trip.


Say What?

I'm glad it wasn't though, because even with the rain we had a really good time and enjoyed some relaxing time floating down the beautiful river. We also enjoyed the part where John Zahn left the raft to speak words to some guys who were shooting guns across the beautiful river.

Random Observation: The longer someone has lived in Alaska, the more compelled they are to tell you how long they have lived in Alaska.

When we got back to the Westmark, though very tired, we stayed up to see the actual midnight sun. Such a strange experience. Half my brain said "It is very late, you should be asleep." and the other half said "It is the middle of the evening - time to find some ice cream."

Next: [Days 9, 10, 11]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just wondering which half of your brain won out during Midnight Sun observation...