Friday, June 17, 2011

Must Update Now

I haven't updated in the past few days because we have been so busy.  I had a two OR sleep!  Those of you who know me, know how much I love to sleep, so my lack of sleep hasn't been so great but I will admit, it's been totally worth all that we have seen and done.  I'm playing catchup in this blog so I will have a few posts about the last few days.  

Tok to Fairbanks
Our morning started early as usual.  I don't even remember what time we had to be ready but I know it was early.  The bus rides aren't really that bad.  They take breaks and show DVD's about "Alaskan" things.  Anyways, this was the day that we stopped at Rika's Roadhouse.  It was a cute little place.  We had only about 30 minutes there to try a bear claw and visit the gift shop.  Then later on the drive to Fairbanks, we stopped at North Pole, AK.  I had asked Mom if we could go there during our free time but we figured out that we probably wouldn't have enough free time to do much.  So when I heard that we were going to be making the stop, I was so excited!  I was hoping that Santa would be there.  I really wanted to sit in his lap so that I could have it to show my students each year.  Well I lucked out, because he was there and I sat in his lap.  He acted like he knew who I was.  I guess he remembers all the "good girls and boys."  We had to rush to look around and I didn't have as much time as I would have liked but I'm glad I got to sit in his lap and snap the picture.  

After we left there we headed for lunch.  We stopped at some place that I have no idea what the name is...we've done too much for me to remember.  We had miners stew, biscuits, and crumb cake.  It was good but not very filling.  We had a little bit of time to tour the place.  After that we went to a gold place.  We watched them demonstrate how to pan for gold.  I was not actually looking forward to panning for gold.  I've done it before and I feel like I'm going to pour out all the gold.  Mom and I both ended up getting the people there to help us do the panning and finishing it out for us.  I ended up getting about $17 worth of gold.  I guess I can save it and when times are tough, I can sell it.  Lucky for me though, we were sitting in the hotel yesterday afternoon and I looked down and their was a canister of gold.  Well it wasn't mine or Mom's.  So I opened it and it it was someones gold that they had put in a charm at the Eldorado Gold Mine place.  

Once we got into Fairbanks, we had a tour to Chena Hot Springs.  It was a resort about 1.5 hours away.  It started with a tasty and filling dinner.  We had prime rib and halibut.  Then we went over to the ice museum.  It was pretty cold so we didn't stay in there long.  We then went over to the hot springs.  It was very relaxing but we couldn't stay in more than 20 minutes because we were burning up.  We had to be back at our bus by 11pm and then we arrived back at the hotel at 12:30am.  I didn't get into bed until 1:30am ish.  It was a late night but in the grand scheme of things, it was totally worth the late night and early morning the next day.  

Day in Fairbanks
Paddle Boat Ride on Chena River
This morning we had to be ready for our tour that was included with our land tour portion of the trip.  We went on a paddle boat discovery tour.  We saw some interesting things on the Chena river.  We went to a little indian village that they had little presentations about things that the indians would do and their heritage.  I thoroughly enjoyed the tour.  When we were getting off the coach bus at the paddle boat tour, our awesome tour guide said that if it was him, he would sit on the port side.  So, that's exactly what we did.  I'm glad we followed his recommendation because we really had a great view on everything.  The boat would pull up beside little places and different people would be hooked up to a microphone that was hooked up to our boat so we could hear them talking about the things they were doing. Even though I was tired, I enjoyed it.  

Looking For Gold!
There were tons of mosquitoes in Wiseman.  
After we arrived back at the hotel, we had the afternoon and evening free, so that we could do our own thing.  We went to eat and then came back and rested.  We had to eat dinner right when they opened that evening because we had our Arctic Circle Air Adventure tour.  I really enjoyed the tour.  It was incredible all we got to see from the air.  We saw incredible rainbows, the Alaska pipeline and probably some wildlife, but we were so far from it, it looked like little dots.  Once we landed we road to a neat little village called Wiseman.  Only 13 people live there year round.  I think they said it goes up to 17 in the summer.  I'm not sure that I could live like that for the year when the weather gets as cold as it does.  It's tough enough if it manages to get into the low teens in Texas, which we all know can happen and sometimes does.  

Alaska Pipeline

Our flight was delayed leaving Coldfoot so we got to go check out Coldfoot Truck Stop.  I purchased my arctic cycle tshirt and we hung out for a little while until our flight was ready to leave.  Once again, it was a late night/early morning.  We got back in at about 2am.  The inconvenience of a delay was completely worth it all.

The Midnight Sun

Early Morning and Train to Denali

This morning we had to have our luggage out at 6am which meant we had to be dressed and ready to go at that time.  Considering the fact that I went to be at about 2:45am, it was tough to get up at 5:15am.  I'm not usually able to function on 2.5 hours of sleep.  It was an exhausting day.....not because of all that we did but because I was so tired.  

Train Ride to Denali
Our transfer to the train was at 7am ish.  Once we got to the train, we found our seats and I was ready to go to sleep but I stayed up a while.  I did, however, remember to download some "quiet music" as I like to call it in my class with my students.  It was very relaxing but I could still hear everyone talking.  The ride was pretty uneventful for the most part.  We did stop at once and no one knew why.  We realized later that it was because they had an earthquake near Anchorage and whenever their is an earthquake, they stop all the trains, or something like that.  About 1.5 hours before the train got to Denali I went downstairs to the outside platform.  I got some great pictures!  I forgot to mention that our train was one of those domed cars that was 2 stories and we were on the top level and the dining level is the first level.  The whole dome on the top was windows.  The views were great but on the platform they were even better.  
Once we got Denali, and found our room, we were on our way to the Safari Jet Boat Tour.  It was only 3.5 hours and it was pretty interesting.  The only thing that I did not like was the panning for gold part.  We didn't know we were going to have to do that, but we did, so we were good sports and participated.  Mom ended up having me finish hers up for her because she was not enjoying it.  Who knows how much gold we got, but once again, I guess I'll save it for when times get tough and I can sell it for some extra money :)  We didn't see any wild life, but it was still a lot of fun.  Oh wait, actually on our bus ride back to the hotel, we did see a few moose by the side of the road.  

We went to bed early last night because we were tired and we knew we were going to have to get up super early this morning.  

Tundra Wilderness Tour to Denali and ANOTHER Early Morning 

This morning we had to be ready for our tour at 6:10am.  I was excited but at the same time I was dreading it.  I was dreading the early morning that we were going to have, BUT I knew that we would probably have a better chance of seeing more wildlife and an amazing view of the mountain.  

We left on "modified school buses."  That's what they like to call them.  I wasn't looking forward to that after being on all those nice coach buses, but it wasn't too bad.  The seats were decently comfortable and it wasn't as bad as a school bus.  We saw a ton of caribou and dall sheep.  We got lucky enough to see 4 different grizzly bears as well as some little squirrels, one moose, maybe a fox or wolf, and a few golden eagles.  The view of the mountain was INCREDIBLE!  We could see the mountain in it's entirety and I can't even describe it to you.  You have to see if yourself to know what I am talking about.  The tour was 7-8 hours long but I'm pretty sure we got back around 2:30pm which is definitely a good thing because it meant that we kept stopping to see the wildlife.  

I would say the highlight of the trip was the first bear that we saw.  The first time we saw it, it was on the other side of the bus and kinda far so I couldn't even get a decent picture of it.  Then when we turned around and came back about 30-45 minutes later, it was right by the road, ONE MY SIDE!!!  I got some wonderful pictures of the bear thanks to my rockin' awesome camera that I am so glad that I bought.  

Now we are relaxing a bit before our tour tonight.  Well it's not really a tour.  It's just a self drive jeep tour.  That basically means it's a jeep rental to go into Denali by ourselves.  I'm not sure where we are planning to go on our little self drive adventure.  We actually tried to cancel it because we had so much other stuff planned that we didn't realize that we needed some chill time.  

Tomorrow I am going river rafting at 7:30 in the morning which means I'll have another early morning that wouldn't be early if I didn't have that.  We don't have to have our luggage out until 9am but in my case I'll have to have it out more like 7am because of my tour.  Oh well....when will I get a chance to raft down the Nenana River again.  

I'm so ready to get on the ship and just relax.  I am dreading going back to the Texas heat......I just can't stand it, or my heating bill.  Oh well.

I'll try to do better about posting but I can't promise anything.  It looks like I'm caught up to this point, but I'll have more to blog soon.  Stay tuned for more!

***I apologize for the font on this post.  I can't figure out how to get it like the other font in my previous posts.  I wanted it to look cute, but oh well :)

1 comment:

  1. Sure glad you updated as I have been wondering what you are into now! All sounds interesting and I am glad you got to see Santa Claus. Nanny