Monday, August 21, 2017

More Fairbanks

It seems like a broken record.  The rain continues. But we have tried to get out and about between the showers. 

On Friday we went over to the Georgeson Arboretum on the campus of the University of Alaska. It was more of a research facility than a well-tended garden, but it was a good place to go to see what survives well at this latitude. The biggest problem is that the ground is cold.

From Craig: I was thinking "I'm posing with a cabbage!"
I asked Craig to crouch down next to this cabbage to show just how big it is. With all the rain they have been having, some of the cabbage heads had burst open.

Most of the flowers had been beaten down by the rain, or were not in bloom, but these two were nigh-to-perfect.

I nominate this flower as the symbol of Fairbanks August weather. I call it "Shy Sunflower."

Well, it seems that all you have to do is wait, and the sun will shine eventually.

Although Sunday started a bit wet, by the time I had done the wash and we had gone over to Walmart for a grocery run, the clouds cleared enough that we decided to take a chance on an afternoon trip on the Discovery Riverboat.

It was a well done, touristy, production on a boat that can hold up to 900 passengers. Many of the people I had talked to here in Alaska recommended it as a good thing to do in Fairbanks. I give it a high ranking for tourist attractions of its kind.

The narrator had a wonderful smooth voice, and was not too hokey.

Shortly after we left the dock, we slowed to watch a prearranged take off and landing of a small plane on the river. The pilot spoke to us through a radio headset.

Then the boat stopped at the riverside, at Susan Butcher's Kennels. She won the Iditarod sled dog race four times.

Susan's husband also spoke to us, and we were able to watch as he hooked up the dog team and took them for a run. They sure were fast and looked like they enjoyed themselves. This was a good supplement to our visit to the Iditarod Headquarters in Wassail.  

They were so much faster, running in a straight line!

The next stop was at a reconstructed Athabascan Indian village.

I thought the village was a bit Disneylandish, except the interpretive  guides were teenage Indian girls instead of animated robots. 

From what I have learned by reading about the real history of the Native Alaskan peoples, it was just a bit too nice and pretty. 

I guess I've learned too much about the horrible things the white men did to them.

This parka for example, is a museum quality garment that has never been worn by anyone, much less an average Athabascan. 

But then, how many tourists would like to hear about the fact that 80% of the native people died from abuse or the diseases brought to them by the white men. Or how pretty young women like these were kept and traded like animals or slaves.

No, it is best to just keep thinking of them as healthy young people pretending to live in delightful rustic log homes, to wear beautiful furs, and to eat salmon they caught in their back yard.

Enough about what I think.  

It was a nice afternoon trip and the reflections on the river were fantastic!

The river was a bit muddy from all the rain run off.

If you look carefully you might be able to see the first hints of autumn coming. A few of the leaves are turning yellow or brown.

There were many very large homes with huge impeccable grass lawns along the shore. There were also a few smaller cabins.

The images above and below were taken with Craig's cell-phone camera. It gives a much wider view, with a different color balance. 

I really liked this shot. The funny thing is that it evokes the first photograph we have purchased in years, entitled "Tenas Lake Reflection" which now hangs in our dining corner.  It too is full of diagonals.

I wrote this post while sitting in the Alfa, in the back lot of the body shop that is repairing the Jeep fender. They say it will take several days ☹️. The eclipse has just come and gone, just a 1/3 bite this far north. We are planning on going over to boondock at Walmart later today.  We noticed that there were several rigs there yesterday.

After this, our Denali National Park experience will begin. On Wednesday we will be camping at Riley Creek, which is at the entrance, for one night, then drive the Alfa in to Teklanika campground, which is 30 miles from the entrance, for four nights, then back to Riley for a night before we start our long haul back to the lower 48. All of our time in Denali will be dry camping, and we cannot take our Jeep beyond the entrance. But once we are at Teklanika we will be able to use the bus to go further into the park.

There will be little or no internet access.  I'm sure we will be working on words and pictures every evening, and will post again when we are back online.


  1. that is one nice riverboat fantasy. Will keep my eyes open for your return from Denali. Watch out for bears!

  2. I loved your shy sunflower. Craig really puts that huge cabbage in perspective. Have fun in Denali. Your comments make me want to learn more about the real Athabascan culture.

  3. You sure are making the best of your time there, so much to see and do with amazing scenery and excellent photos.

  4. Another fantastic blog post Merikay and as always great photography. Enjoy your time in Denali, that was one of my favorite places. We're in Whitehorse now. FYI, beware the Alaska Highway section between the US and Canada crossings (maybe 10 miles or so)..worse than anything we have experienced. The Destruction Bay section had been repaired, no problem there. We wish you safe travels and again it was a pleasure to meet you and Craig.

  5. Great scenery:) That cabage would make a really big salad:)


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