Aug 14, 2007
|8/6/07 - Denali Wild West Dinner Show
We took a short tour today today learning a little more of the history of Denali. It has been raining and we have decided to leave tomorrow for Fairbanks. Tonight we went off the Park boundaries for a dinner show, which was quite entertaining! Nancy paid one of the entertainers to come over and kiss our guys with her big, red lips - it was quite amusing to see the look on their faces!
8/7 to 8/8/07 - Fairbanks
We spent 2 days at the River's Edge RV park in Fairbanks to get our bearings and to decide what we wanted to do. We spent most of a day at Pioneer Park, which has many displays showing Fairbanks in its early years during the gold rush, and also had an air museum which the guys seemed to enjoy.
We then moved our rigs to Eielson Airforce Base on the 9th. We explored Santa's house and watched the elves busily getting ready for Christmas at the North Pole.
8/10/07 - Nancy's Birthday !!
On Nancy's birthday we visited the botanical gardens at the U of Alaska, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. It was very interesting to learn the different plants which thrive here and to learn how the students study these plants and the various experiments. They had cabbage about 3' wide and the moose really like to nibble on these big guys! It was quite a blow to Jim that they couldn't grow either asparagus or hay! We also viewed the Ice Museum, which houses some of the sculptures from the Ice Festival last March. It was really, really interesting to watch one of the artists at work. We then took Nancy out for a very nice dinner at a local brewery (you know WHO picked out the restaurant/brewery!!). However, Nancy did manage to eat a whole pizza by herself AND dessert!
On Saturday we packed up the truck and headed out the Steese Highway to pan for gold. The guys actually found some gold - not much, but definitely enough to have fun. The weather was outstanding and, of course, Sherry's nose turned red. Plus, this was an exceptional day because Nancy had, at last, finished the last Harry Potter's book and was with us "in mind."
9/12/07 - Barrow, AK
Today we flew to Barrow, the northern most city in the US. We flew in a 10 passenger Piper Cub, with a very knowledgeable pilot who is a native Alaskan. He narrated most of the way up. Seeing the 800 mile pipeline from the air was a true testimony to their engineering feats, and to be able to allow for the contraction and expansion of the 48" pipe on the tundra.
Crossing over the Brooks Range was even more exciting than the Rocky Mountains because they are just raw stone - no foliage. The other thing was the amount of water - Bill estimated approximately 75% of the tundra was lakes, streams and rivers. As a matter of fact, our tour bus driver claimed that it used to take him 1½ minutes to get to the water's edge and now it takes 45 seconds!
The weather held and thankfully there was a breeze which prevented the mosquitoes from eating us alive. At the cultural center we were treated to some native storytelling dances and a blanket toss. This is done on seal skins laced together with heavy rope handles around the perimeter. The original concept was to throw a man into the air to see if the whales were coming. Today we (the tourists) tried to get the children to the ceiling of the center.
All in all, Barrow is still a tiny little Eskimo village just beginning to realize the potential of tourism. Nevertheless, it was quite a thrill for us to be at the "top of the world" with many pictures to show for it.
9/13/07 - Eielson AFB
Today is a clean up the coach, do laundry, and repack the truck kind of day. Tomorrow we head for Valdez - or as Jim says, "Valdaaz." More to follow later.