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September 7th 2013
Published: September 8th 2013
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Left the hotel at 8 this morning heading over to the “Riverboat Discovery”. Turns out that’s both the name of the tour and the boat. Huge 4 deck sternwheel steamer boat. It goes up the Chena River to where it meets the Tanana River. On a clear day, it’s probably quite beautiful, but today was grey and foggy and a bit depressing. Some really incredible houses along the riverside. As the boat goes along the river, it stops for a bit near the home of Susan Butcher and her husband, who were/are dog racers. Susan is one of the few women to win the Iditarod. Unfortunately, she passed away a few years ago, so her husband runs the kennel now and does some runs to raise money for charity. You also see a fishwheel and get a demonstration of how the Athabascans harvested and smoked the river salmon. After going to the confluence of the rivers, the boat stops at Chena Village, where there were 3 small talks about different parts of Athabascan Indian life. What’s really cool is that the tour guides are local young people who work there during the summer. On the ride back, they give out samples of their private label brand of canned salmon. It was tasty, but I didn’t buy it for 10 dollars a can.

After we got back to the pier, Sherry suggested that we stop off at Fred Meyer’s a local supermarket, which has a salad and soup bar. Since our “hotel rooms” have full kitchens, we could also pick up stuff for dinner tonight and for on the bus tomorrow, since it’s a long coach drive day. I got some sushi for lunch and some cheese and crackers for dinner tonight, and some more granola bars for the trip. And a Starbuck’s frappucino.

Next stop was the Morris Thompson cultural center, followed by a stop in “downtown Fairbanks.” Normally we would have been able to visit the Yukon Quest headquarters (another 1000 mile dog race), but they are closed on Saturday, so instead I walked along the river a bit. Last stop of the day was the University of Alaska’s Museum of the North. They had some nice exhibits and some really pretty paintings.

As I said, tomorrow is a long day, leaving here at 7 am and getting to Dawson City some 11 hours later.


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