Boy am I behind! But, I have a great excuse for my lack of posts. We had our first visitors last week! Yay! Ryan’s parents came up on the 14th and stayed until the 22nd. We had a wonderful visit. I think we had a pretty good mix of just hanging out here as well as adventuring around Fairbanks. Ryan had a few days off from work, so he and his dad were able to finish our roof. Double yay! It looks great, and Ryan really appreciated having the help. And apparently we have had record setting rain as of late, so we are super glad to have that done.
Since we, ourselves, are very new to the area, it was nice to check some things out and be tourists, too. While roof work was happening, Beth and the kids and I went downtown and saw some sights.
After Ryan went back to work, we drove about 20 minutes north and panned for gold. Woo hoo! We brought home enough gold specks to dust the bottom of a thimble, but we had a great time. GoldDredge 8 in Fairbanks gave a great tour- we learned a brief history of gold mining in Alaska, took a train ride around the mine, panned for gold, and also got some up close info on the TransAlaskan pipeline which was right on the to property, too. None of us found gold in our poke the first time, so we had to give it another go. But, they do guarantee that you’ll find gold, and we each found a few flecks.
I wish we would have found this nugget…valued at $75,000. It was found in 1995, which is recent enough for me. I don’t have a gold pan, but I do have some pie plates. I hope Ryan doesn’t mind me digging up some yard…
There was a large-ish man keeping a very watchful eye on that nugget, by the way.
We also took a riverboat tour on the Riverboat Discovery. I think these tours were run by the same company, actually. They were very well organized, everyone knew their stuff. We hopped aboard the stern wheeler with a million other tourists…thankfully someone give my mother in law the skinny and said to sit on the left side. So glad we did. All the good stuff was on the port (?) side. We watched a float plane demonstration. (I have been in one of those, but I don’t remember it being nearly as smooth as this guy.)
Then we scooted on down the Chena River for a sled dog demonstration, run by Susan Butcher’s family. (She was a four time Iditarod champion before she died of cancer.)
After the demonstration, Jack turned and whispered, “I wanna do that.”
Just a bit further downriver, we came to an native Athabascan village. It was set up to look like one might look way long ago. Lots of history, lots of interesting things to see.
It turned out to be a beautiful day. There was a chance of rain pretty much everyday, but on that day it held off until evening.
So, my mother-in-law really really wanted to see a moose. I mean, really. Earlier in the week, Ryan and his dad saw one while they were on the roof, wandering out of our woods and down the driveway. Well, it was getting late in the week, and still, no moose. We decided to drive down to Denali National Park for the day on Saturday. It was pouring rain, but we decided to soldier on through. The kids and Beth and I threw a few snacks in a bag and drove the almost 3 hours down. Let me tell you. I love that place. One of my favorite places. Pretty quickly out of Fairbanks, mountains start to loom far in the distance, and they keep getting huger and snowier and then there is the park.
We hopped on a shuttle bus and rode 66 miles out to Eielson Visitor Center. It was raining, but we were able to see some caribou. The rain was a bit too heavy to see anything else. The mountains and rivers there are breathtaking, even in the rain.
When we got to Eielson, we had about 45 minutes to explore the Visitor Center…we saw where Denali (Mt. McKinley) should be on a clearer day, learned about some of the first summits on the mountain, learned about some of the creatures that freely roam the park.
By the time we were done, the rain had stopped and things were starting to clear up. While we were still at the center, one of our fellow busmates spotted a grizzly bear not too far off. What a magnificent animal. He just lumbered across the road and plopped down to munch. On the bus ride back to the entrance of the park, we found another bear, snoozing.
And FINALLY, we spied a moose cow, just off the road, chilling in the willows. She took her time getting up and around and finally crossed the road behind us.
There was great rejoicing! She was fun to just watch for a little bit. Closer to then park entrance we saw another moose cow, too. We were so glad that we could finally send Beth back to Ohio with this dream fulfilled. It was a lovely, very long day. But so very worth it. I’m so glad we decided to go.
So, we had a great time with Ryan’s parents. We were so pleased they could come so early in the summer and see some sights with us.
Oh yeah. We hit the dumps, too…