Sunday, May 3, 2015

Outside of Fairbanks

For our day off today, we drove out into the country. Our first stop was the Alaska Pipeline. I learned that the reason it is above ground is because the oil is warm (about 100 degrees F) as it flows through the pipe. The ground, however, is frozen permafrost. If the pipeline were buried it would thaw the ground and  make it unstable. I hadn't thought of that before. I guess I figured it was the other way around-- that the ground would make the oil too cold. But no.
A stream ran parallel to the Pipeline. It was still frozen along the edges. We were fascinated with the ice crystals. So delicate and beautiful.
 Then we drove up to the Chena Hot Springs Resort, about an hour outside of Fairbanks. We ate lunch there and enjoyed walking around. There were several old vehicles of various kinds, just rusting away... lots of log buildings with moose racks galore... and pen of reindeer sleeping under trees... another pen of chickens and goats hanging out together. Just random, interesting stuff.
We didn't get into the hot springs, but we dipped our hands in to see if it really was "hot." It was. It also smelled like sulphur. The middle picture is the "ice skating pond." I decided my ice skates probably wouldn't work on it in that condition.

It was a fun, relaxing day. Tomorrow we'll be back to work at the Fairbanks IDEA convention.

Denali Viewpoint South

The second "sight-seeing" stop of yesterday's road trip was at the Denali Viewpoint South. It involved a short uphill hike for the best view. I wasn't too sure where it would take us, so I asked some ladies coming down if the hike was worth the view. They assured me that it definitely was, and that I was almost there. So I kept going.

The strip of photos in the collage above shows the trail, starting from the bottom picture and going up. I could just barely see the top of the mountain as I started up. The background picture was taken from the viewpoint at the top of the trail. As were these...
The view of the mountain from this vantage point was breathtaking. At over 20,000 feet, Denali is the tallest mountain on the North American continent. Apparently, Mount McKinley is the official name, but the "real" name of the mountain is Denali. If you're like me, you've heard all this before but may not remember it at the moment.

As with most major mountains, seeing it on a sunny day is rare. We were thrilled that the weather cooperated for a stunning view just for us.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Talkeetna, Alaska

On our road trip today we enjoyed a detour to the little town of Talkeetna.
Tourists that we are, we decided that it was a quintessential Alaskan town.
 We walked down the street lined with authentic log cabins...
...whimsical buildings...
...and even a yurt!
I would have liked to try this coffee shop, but it didn't seem to be open when we were there.
We followed the signs to the "river view trail"... past the Mexican Moose where this little girl was selling cinnamon roasted nuts, along with random Mexican-y style gifts under the awning behind her. We never did understand why Mexican. In Alaska. Just to be different maybe. I have no idea.
The river view was well worth the hike.
A photographer was rafting down the river with his collapsible bicycle in the raft with him. In case you didn't recognize it, yes, that is indeed Mount McKinley way off in the distance.
Here. Let me zoom in on it for you.

You know what? I think it just needs its own post. But it's getting late. So I'll post those pictures tomorrow.