Friday, April 2, 2010

A Long Drive North

On Thursday we decided to take a trip to Fairbanks (#68 on the list). So, we booked our hotel and left early Saturday morning. The drive was long through the mountains, snow, fog, and clouds. After 6 hours we arrived and immediately headed towards the World Ice Art Championships (new item #99 on the list) since it was over 32 degrees and we were worried about the sculptures melting.

This is several international ice sculpting competitions, all displayed in one location. The sculptures were very intricate and detailed, and were quite amazing to view.

(Octopus - one of the gold medal winners)

Seeing that the sculptures were mostly intact and being told that they were even cooler at night when colored lights illuminate the sculptures, we decided to come back later that night.

(our hotel room)

We next headed over to the University of Alaska Museum of the North (new item #100 on the list).

They have great exhibits on Alaskan and Native history and artwork. It is broken down into several sections of Alaska with historical presentations on each region.

We were ready for dinner after the museum so we drove up to Fox (just north of Fairbanks) and on the way we stopped at the Pipeline Visitor Center (part of #71). This was the first we had seen of the Pipeline and it was very cool. We had read much about the pipeline (it can be seen from space, the oil has to be heated to move through the pipeline so they have to raise it above the frozen tundra so the land isn't damaged, and although animal experts were worried about the effect on Caribou the animals seem attracted to the warmth and the Caribou heard is growing) and enjoyed seeing it up close and personal.

The Silver Gulch restaurant was recommended to us and it went above and beyond what we had heard. They brew their own beer, the food and service was excellent, and it was a very interesting place to eat (even though it looked like a dive from the outside).

After dinner we drove back to Fairbanks and had some time to kill as the sun was setting so we walked around downtown. We encountered some Fairbanksians (some Native, some not - all in the process of getting drunk) who were quite friendly. One, who said his name was Peter Alaska, insisted that I take his picture and told us how he was from Dawson Creek, British Columbia (which you can see from the sign beside him is 1486 miles from Fairbanks). And you can see the Chena River which runs through downtown Fairbanks in the background.

Finally the sun set and we headed back over to the World Ice Art Championships and below are some of our favorites.

(Roman God and Archer)

(Drew Brees - New Orleans Saints)

(Ice Maze)

(Plant Cell)




(Anaconda Eating an Alligator)

(Underwater Scene - Gold Medal Winner and My Personal Favorite)

(Ganesh, a Hindu Deity)

Exhausted and with another big day ahead of us we decided to go to the hotel and go to bed. However, in doing so we missed out on an amazing opportunity. We had talked to some people we know in Fairbanks who told us no one had seen the Northern Lights all winter and the Geophysical Institute has the Aurora Forecast as a 2 (on a scale of 0 through 9), so we didn't think the Northern Lights would be out. We found out the next day we were wrong, and now we have to try and see them another time.

Stay tuned for the rest of our trip to Fairbanks!


1 comment:

  1. Amazing ice sculptures! Love the art at the museum (naturally). I've finished my master's degree so now will be able to follow your adventures more often! Wish me luck for finding a job in this economy!

    Elizabeth Trop