Alaska 2011 – Part II

As the trip rolls into Fairbanks and Talkeetna, some more random notes:

  1. Fairbanks is a significant city certainly.  The University of Alaska at Fairbanks is the only place in the state you can get yourself a PhD.  We were there a couple of nights.  First off, the River’s Edge resort cottages in Fairbanks is a very nice little hotel.  It’s no Mandarin Oriental, but the little cottages are nice – made me feel like a homeowner however briefly.
  2. Also, we got to Fairbanks from Denali via the Alaska Railroad – something we used to get to Talkeetna as well.  Bottom line, railroad is THE way to travel.  It’s a shame that … well, let’s not veer into such naked politics, right?
  3. Our first morning in Fairbanks took us to the Creamer’s Field and Waterfowl Preserve.  This is basically a huge ass farm which attracts a lot of birds.  In particular, we found Canadian Geese and Sandhill Cranes, in great numbers.  Amazing how unbothered they were by us, until some dude with a dog walked by.
  4. We went up to Coldfoot, past the Arctic Circle, via a twin engine plane.  This was appropriately awesome, and the drive back south included just seeing the particulars of what makes the area tick.  The most amazing upset of course, was that the Arctic Circle was by far the nicest weather we had to date, with dry and in the 70s.  This trip also got us checked off for the Gates of the Arctic National Park – a park that I could not ever think of visiting in any other context.
  5. After the extensive adventure in Fairbanks, the Railroad took us to Talkeetna, a small town with a spiffy setup – and a cute downtown (or whatever you call the place to be in a town of 800).  This featured the best meal of the trip, a dinner at the Denali Brewing Company.  The sweet potato fries were lovely as was the blonde ale.  If you end up here … somehow … it is worth it.  The free taxi to the hotel was nice also.
  6. Morning featured a sled dog demonstration.  The yard where the dogs were seemed like a hell from a hoarding TV show or something with all of the dogs strewn about.  But they lived well – though in athletic training.  This must have been what East German Olympic training must have been like.  The guide was very funny.
Photographic evidence herein as usual is below.  Final leg takes us to Seward and the Kenai Fjords National Park.
The Denali Alaska Railroad Depot had some weird buildings, like where my dad is sitting.
A view from the twin engine
A view from the twin engine
The plane! The plane!
Coldfoot, Alaska is a legitimate outpost. Here is the inn, next to the cafe. The post office trailer and inn trailer are nearby - as are a gaggle of mosquitoes.
The Arctic Circle where 66-33 is. Amazingly, 70s when we were there.
Standing on permafrost, you take a hole like this and reach in, and you feel an ice block. It's really trippy.
The world's most famous plumbing? It's the Alaskan Pipeline, an infrastructure marvel like the Interstate Highway System that America seems rather incapable of now.
My mom was whining about not seeing a bear the whole trip aside from models in hotel lobbies (seriously, the hotel lobbies we stayed at all felt like elks lodges or something). This quieted her.
A Theodore Roosevelt sighting. I'll let that caption marinate for a minute ...
The sled dog demo in Talkeetna. Wow did this place smell ripe! But the dogs were magnificent, and the training they are given is impressive. Our guide is an iditarod racer.
Doggies in action. We had a turn but hard to take photos from the cockpit.
Puppies - that is all

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