Sunday, April 4, 2010

North Pole, Alaska and Chena Hot Springs

On Sunday, we got up early and enjoyed breakfast at the hotel. We got in the car and headed about 15 miles away to North Pole, Alaska (#70 on the list). There we saw reindeer and also a giant Santa Claus. There is a little store there, but since it is technically still the winter, it had limited hours. We were not too disappointed because we are sure that Steven's family will want to go back when they are here. FYI: You should not feed the reindeer white sandwich bread...they are on a special diet.

After a quick picture opportunity, we headed back to Fairbanks, grabbed some things for a picnic lunch and headed out to Chena Hot Springs Resort, about 60 miles out of Fairbanks. The resort is famous for its sulphur-smelling natural hot springs believed to help cure aching joints and muscles. The water that we swam in was about 105 degrees and was very warm (#72) !! After a few minutes, I needed to take a break and swim inside at the indoor pool for a little bit! The hot springs were nice and relaxing and surrounding the pool was lots of big boulders.

Also while we were at Chena, we took a tour of the Geothermal energy plant that is used to provide electricity and heat for the resort. It is necessary for the resort to make their own power as they are "off the grid" and are unable to get city power. The plant consisted of these large machines that were made of recycled parts from a salvage yard. The hot water is pumped up from the ground and run through these machines. A reverse refrigeration cycle is run on the hot water and the energy is harnessed to be used by the resort. After the water has been cooled, it is sent about a mile upstream from where is started, allowing the earth to heat it again and be reused. The hot water is also run through the floors of the buildings and used as heat. Chena also has a greenhouse where it grows lettuce and tomatoes that are used in the lodge restaurant.

Finally, before we left Chena, we visited the Aurora Ice Museum and had a drink at the ice bar (# 73 and # 74). The museum was impressive, but I am not sure that I would ever want to stay in one of the hotel rooms inside there!!! Too cold! We both shared an appletini in an ice glass!


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