Fairbanks was full of fun for us, with plenty to see and do. We met someone today who spent part of one day in Fairbanks (on their honeymoon). We asked them what they liked. Fortunately, they found Chena Hot Springs and loved it. Ironically, the hot springs are over an hour NE of Fairbanks. Every city and town has gems, neat things we want to find. Usually we miss a lot of things. In Fairbanks we also found a lot of gems.
University of Alaska Museum of the North has the most prominent site on not only the university campus but in the entire city. The museum sits high on the hill overlooking the city and the campus both.
We went to Pioneer Park for the salmon bake. The salmon, crab, and cod were all great. We heard the prime rib was good too but we had protein aplenty without it. Nice to sit with a different group of our caravaners, get to know some other folks.
Pioneer Park has a lot to see. Before dinner we walked around the old town, browsing inside some of the historic cabins and little galleries. Several of the cabins were attended by docents who explained the cabin’s significance in Fairbanks’ history and explained a little about the cabin’s previous owners.
Although not in Pioneer Park, this apartment balcony’s flowers are representative of the lush flower blooms we saw throughout Pioneer Park, our campground, the visitors center, and in other towns in Alaska so far. We’ll be showing more, but thought this was pretty neat to have so many at one balcony.
Fairbank’s Visitor’s Center was a treat for us. Outside is a very nice log cabin, original to its site and in great condition still. Inside the visitor’s center are displays representing life in Alaska in different seasons and several movies we enjoyed watching. Free wifi, a lot of information, and lots of interpretive ranger-types made it a very friendly, attractive, and accommodating visitor’s center.
It’s a matter of priorities — even if we had known then what we knew ten or twelve years later, we might have provided just the same aid. The USA provided immense numbers of planes, equipment, and ammunition to the Russians through the Lend-Lease program during World War II. Our priority was to help Russia defeat Hitler’s invading army. Fairbanks erected this gorgeous monument to honor the many men and women who piloted and otherwise assisted in the transfer of the war material to Russia.
Dredge #8 isn’t as immense or storied, perhaps, as Dredge #4 near Dawson City. But the overall presentation here was more fun and we enjoyed it. We carpooled to the attraction and filled up bench seats in open cars on a narrow gauge railway. Live picking and singing kept us occupied and less cold while we waited for a tour bus to deliver its participants to our train ride.
This train toured us around the old mining site and showed live examples of several different types of gold mining all in use at some time in Alaska. They showed us panning a claim, digging a drift mine, hydraulically blasting rock and dirt away to expose gold, and dredging.
After the tour we tried our hand panning from a small handful of gravel the tour company provided. Between us Deb and Jim found $28, or 1/57 of an ounce. It is apparently not really worth even this much because we lack a buyer for this small set of flakes. One more souvenir, eh?
We enjoyed Fairbanks, finding plenty to do and see. We weren’t finished but it was time to go. Next stop? Denali National Park. See you there!
Jim and Debbie
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