We left the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and headed for Fairbanks. We stopped at a small town called Nenana on the way. Our bus driver mentioned that there was a snack bar and a gift shop because it was against the law for a tour bus to stop somewhere without a gift shop!
I don't follow the Iditarod, but this town was a checkpoint for several races...
Nenana holds an Ice Classic and takes bets on when the ice in the river will thaw. This tripod is frozen in the river and attached to a timeclock. When the ice breaks up, the tripod moves and stops the timeclock. They gets thousands of bets each year, and last years winner won over $300,000 dollars!
We finally made it to Fairbanks, ate lunch and then boarded a paddle boat for a cruise/tour. Although it was showy, it was fun and educational!
They had a float plane take off and land near our boat so we could see it in action. Most everyone in Alaska has a plane because that is the easiest and quickest way to get places. They will add skis to it in the winter time to land on snow.
We stopped at an iditarod kennel to watch the dogs run a little. Again, they don't like the weather right now, so they only ran a short distance for us.
After their run, they cooled off in the very cold water!
Next we learned more about the Athabaskan way of life. Here a lady is catching and cleaning salmon for drying.
This is our paddle boat...
This is a reindeer. Athabaskans would have reindeer in their villages to provide transportation, meat and furs. This reindeer still has the velvet on its antlers. Antlers are shed each year and grow back larger. The velvet is a skin that covers the antlers while they grow, providing nourishment. Once the antlers are full grown, the skin will be shed.
An Athabaskan dress coat made of fur
We met Susan Butcher's husband and bought copies of the book Granite which he signed. Granite was an iditarod dog and champion.
That night, our hotel called and said the Northern Lights were visible, so we all went down to see them. The photos don't do them justice. It would have been nice if we could have gone somewhere really dark to see them, but we were in the parking lot of the hotel, so there were lights on. It was still a wonderful experience!
The next day, our flight wasn't until 9:45 pm, so we had another whole day. I booked us a tour of the city. We started off going to a migration field to see some birds. The guide said during the main migration season, the field is filled with birds of all types! I am not sure what these are...
Here are some Canadian Geese...
We went to North Pole, Alaska to meet Santa Claus. We also saw his reindeer and shopped for Christmas ornaments. The town embraced their Christmas theme and even the McDonalds had candy stripe poles! For their senior project, the kids at the high school, respond to the letters written to Santa each year!
We went to a couple of museums and then to the Pipeline. This was my favorite part of the day. The pipeline is an engineering marvel, and so many obstacles needed to be addressed for it to work.
The pipe is sitting on a support, but the support is not attached to the "H" . The pipe can slide side to side and can bounce when earthquakes hit. The "H" has a cooling system inside so the hot oil in the pipeline won't melt the permafrost under the ground.
When the pipeline goes under ground, it was a different cooling system to protect the permafrost. The pipeline is flown over every day and inspected. They also clean it out regularly to keep sludge for forming. The pipeline is large enough for a person to enter, crouched down, of course!
There you have it...our trip to Alaska! There are so many things I would like to go back and see again, and some new places I learned about on this trip and would like to visit.