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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fairbanks, Alaska ~ Rejuvenated

What a diference a day makes!
Boading the Discovery III
Float Plane Landing
Sled Dogs on the ready
Well Done !!
Native girl showing how it's done
The Sun is shining and so are we! It was time to let professionals in the tourist business show us the sights while we rejuvenated. We purchased tickets for a paddle wheel boat ride down the Chena River to the Nenana River. I knew from past trips into this area that this would be relaxing and informative. The Cruise Ship Lines all use this destination here in Fairbanks for their thousands of passengers. We boarded the Discovery III along with five hundred others. Today the Discovery II also was going down river with around three hundred passengers. The paddle wheel slowly starts down river, when the Captain says to watch on the river as a bush pilot starts a takeoff alongside the boat. What’s neat about the whole thing is that the Captain talks to the pilot and with perfect audio the pilot describes his plane and his experiences of a bush pilot. The pilot does a couple of passes around and lands in the river, again along the boat. I got us real nice shots of both takeoffs and landings. The next event going down river was a stop at the Susan Butcher's dog sled training home. Susan passed away in 2006 of cancer. She was world renowned for winning the Iditarod Dog Sled Race four times. Her husband runs the dog training facility and he was there giving us a demonstration of the dogs pulling an ATV (600 pound load without engine) and him around the lake.  Further down on the river, we stopped at a native village and debarked. There we different sites to visit and listening to native girls explain their culture and demonstrate different skills they use to prepare animals for subsistence living. From hunting shelters, to filleting a salmon, to selecting the right fur for clothing. It was inspiring to see how all of this was done.

The paddle boat went down as far as the Nenana River. The Chena River is fifty miles long and is actually spring fed. The water is somewhat clear. The Nenana River is Glacial fed and is gray with silt. When they meet you can diffidently see the mix. The Nenana changes constantly from one channel to the next. The Captain explained how this made river boat navigation hazardous. Even today with technology a Captain must read the river.

The trip back up river was interesting with the explanation of how river front property was expensive. The houses varied from rundown to multi-million dollar houses. We arrived back at the dock a little after five. A very nice diversion from our normal discovery mode.

That is what we did and saw

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