Alaska-Part One, Fairbanks

Paul and I recently took a trip to Alaska to celebrate our 30th anniversary.  He's talked about Alaska since I met him when I was 18 years old.  Back then he was hoping to go with some of the guys he went to school with.  That trip never happened, but the dream never died.
 Last fall we started planning our trip and in the beginning of 2012 decided on a 7-day land tour, followed by a 7-day cruise.  We flew in a day early and stayed 2 extra days in Vancouver.  Our trip started in Fairbanks after taking 4 different planes and traveling for more than 18 hours.  That's what you get with free tickets based on credit card points!
The flights were not without entertainment though.  On the flight from Newark, NJ to Seattle, someone tried to bring a 17 day old monkey on board the plane.  Of course, if the lady had filled out the proper paper work and had the proper cage in which to put the monkey under the seat in front of her, all would have been fine.  It seems that as long as the monkey didn't have a weapon of any kind in it's possession that security wouldn't be at all concerned! 

Here are some of my pictures from Fairbanks.  Please keep in mind that I was on vacation and perfect portraits and landscapes were not my top concern.  In fact there were plenty of times I put my camera down and just enjoyed my surroundings.

From the plane..

View from the lodge in Fairbanks..

Downtown Fairbanks...

The Antler Arch...

The first church in Fairbanks makes for an interesting story.  This church used to be on the other side of the river, pictured above.  The nuns who worked at the hospital on the other side of the river used have to have to walk through the downtown area of town full of drunken gold prospectors to get to the walking bridge to cross the river.  The priests didn't like that idea, so one winter after the river froze over they slid the church across the river so that it was on the same side as the hospital.  The nuns no longer had to walk through the down-trodden part of town!  Problem solved.

One of the few original homes still resting on it's original foundation.  Homes were built small, so they didn't use a huge amount of wood for heat.

Our entertainment on the train that took us to pan for gold!

Yeah, there was really gold in this pan!

See!  $6.00 worth!  Don't ask how much the trip cost, though!

He was much more patient than I was!

This is part of the Alaskan Pipeline.  Every year each permanent Alaskan resident (man, woman, and child)  gets paid a dividend for the oil that is piped out of Alaska.   Records show payments anywhere from $1,000-3,000 depending on the amount of oil that gets piped out.  The oil then has to go south to get refined and then it's shipped back to Alaska.  Their gas prices are higher than here in the Northeast. 


Views from the  Discovery Sternwheeller..

This is part of Trail Breaker Kennels, the place where Susan Butcher, a famous dog musher, raised and trained the dogs that helped her win the Iditarod 4 times in 5 years.  Her husband, David Monson, shown here bottom right, still runs the kennels today.  Susan's story is pretty amazing.  The Iditarod is an 1,100+ mile race through blinding snow in temperatures that go as low as 70 degrees below zero across the Alaskan tundra.  Susan won the race with a dog no one, but her, believed in.  She and her husband, David, wrote Granite's story together before Susan passed away at age 51 from leukemia. 

The dogs are so excited to run.  The noise from the barking was deafening!   


The sternwheeller..

Besides all the great food at the Salmon bake, we found lots of reminders of the gold dredging days.  This reminded me of Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel..

All of these original buildings were moved from different places in downtown Fairbanks to this central location.  Local businesses operate out of these houses.  Unfortunately for us, they're  seasonal, and we were there before the season began.

Stayed tuned for more pictures from our trip.  This is just the beginning...