Alaska by Land for 7 Days DAY 6 & 7: Saturday - Denali/Fairbanks

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August 7th 2016
Published: August 15th 2016
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Alaska by Land for 7 Days DAY 6: Saturday - Denali/Fairbanks

At 8.00am we departed Denali for Fairbanks driving 120 miles north. Along the way we stopped at the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline. As there are earthquakes known in the area, the engineers designed a snake-like designed pipeline and rubber cushioning for the pipeline. The pipeline is 1200 km long, from north to southern Alaska. Alaskans gain individually from the oil which is drilled from their northern waters, receiving annual dividends from the profits from their oil industry. With the drop in oil prices, they are projecting their usual $2K+ may be greatly reduced.

We arrived in Fairbanks, where we had a light lunch before going for a walk along the river which flowed through the middle of the town. The river was almost at flood level due to the heavy rain they had received during the fortnight before our visit. We popped into the Visitors Centre which had an excellent display of the region.

The temperatures in Fairbanks was 70degrees F with the occasional shower of rain. Fairbanks is known as the ‘Golden Heart of Alaska’, is the second largest city with a population of over 31,000 in the city itself and almost 84,000 in the entire borough. Average winter temperature in -12 degrees F with the coldest temperature recorded in Prospect Hill at -78 degrees F. They say that is a car is left parked more than an hour, they will end up with “square tires” in sub zero temperatures. Where the tires meet the ground, the tire are flat on that side. The tires usually round out again after a mile of driving!!!!! A very different place to live.

In the afternoon we went on the Riverboat Discovery, a 3-hour journey that took us into the heart of Alaska. Operated by a family who has made the Alaskan rivers home for five generations, we witness a Bush pilot take off and land beside the boat, and heard stories of flying into remote Alaska firsthand.

Half-way through the experience, we were immersed in frontier living with a guided walking tour of a recreated Athabascan Indian village. We saw cabins made of spruce logs, along with other indigenous dwellings that have allowed the strong Athabascan people to survive for thousands of years in this harsh environment. The whole experience was a well-oiled machine re the provision of information for tourists.

We also stopped along the river at a husky dog operation where we saw how they trained and bred the dogs. Susan Butcher, who raced her dogs, owned the kennel. Her husband spoke to us from the riverside of his property. He was all miked up so it was very well organised and researched. Susan lost her battle with Leukaemia which was very sad but her work continues.

While on board we were given coffee and blueberry donuts as well as smoked salmon (which we have had a lot of whilst in Alaska). We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on the river cruise.

In the evening we went to a local Italian restaurant near our hotel.

The next day was our last time in Alaska when we flew to Seattle. Before catching the airport shuttle, we went for a walk to the nearby lake and bird sanctuary. The only birds we saw were the local geese, and several ground squirrels. The forest we walked through was spruce and birch. It was a relatively young forest as it had originally been cleared for use in building and fuel for boats and home use.

At our hotel in Fairbanks, the Bear Hotel) which had a massive brown bear in a display cabinet in the foyer), we were given a brochure on Alaska which is funny so I will replicate it here:

You’re in Alaska if …….

1. You pick your nose and pull out ice cubes!

2. What you think are fireflies, are actually mosquitoes landing lights!

3. You know which leaves make the best toilet paper!

4. You try to catch a fever so you can get warm!

5. You’ve learned to never tell your children during the summer months “Be home by dark”!

6. Your town council buys a Zamboni before it buys a bus!

7. You know the “bunny boots “aren’t worn by, or made from bunnies!

8. Yu don’t have to pay any state income tax!

9. You design your children’s Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit!

10. You get your summer clothes out when the temperature reaches 35degreesF!

11. You’ve ever called a 800# to order merchandise from a catalogue, only to be told “We don’t ship to foreign countries”!

I thought these we funny!!!!

What an amazing place Alaska is. A wild, pristine wilderness with beautiful colours in the landscape, with a touch of snow during the summer. In many ways the Alaskan interior was even more spectacular than the coastal areas, even though the glaciers we saw during our cruise were spectacular. Alaska is a State well worth exploring. We loved our 14 days in the country and perhaps we will return someday…… if we run out of countries to visit!!!!!!

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