Breakfast included our first taste of reindeer sausage. It tastes similar to pork sausage but with a little kick. Trivia: Reindeer are domesticated caribou. Both male and female reindeer grow antlers each year. The female reindeer keep their antlers longer so they can protect their young. At Christmastime, only female reindeer have antlers. That means that all of Santa's reindeer are female. :)
The morning began with a visit to the Alaska Pipeline. Alaska is very proud of the Pipeline as it provides 85% of the state's revenue. Every Alaska resident receives an annual dividend from the oil revenue. The only state where everyone gets free money!
A ride on a small train took us to Gold Dredge 8, a ladder dredge operated by Fairbanks Exploration Company. We learned how to pan for gold and even did a little panning ourselves. Debbie panned $6.00 worth and Randy panned $9.00 worth of gold. Not enough to retire on but it was a lot of fun.
After lunch, we went on a relaxing Riverboat Cruise down the Chena River. There were gorgeous homes along the river. Each one very unique in design. It seemed odd to see a beautiful log cabin right next to a grungy shack home. But Alaskans are true individualists and do not care what their neighbor or anyone else thinks. They have a saying here: "I am American by birth and Alaskan by choice." Very true!
A stop at Chena Village gave us an opportunity to see how the Eskimos lived before the western influences. We saw a fish camp and Eskimo dwellings. BTW - Eskimos do not live in igloos. Hunters would build igloos to stay warm when they went out to hunt for food.
The village also had sled dogs for us to meet. David Monson was at the village signing a book that he and his wife, Susan Butcher, wrote for their children about Susan's courageous sled dog, Granite. Susan Butcher was a famous Alaskan dog musher known for winning the Iditarod Race four times.
The evening ended with a Progressive Dinner. Each course was served with a different wine. Yum!
On to Denali!