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Monday, August 8 - Sockeye Reds

We headed up the road 15 miles or so to Copper Center, where we stopped at the old Copper Center Lodge for plates of sourdough pancakes, eggs, sausage and bacon.  Very good! They claimed that the starter for these pancakes was over 100 years old.

The rest of the day was focused on driving to Fairbanks (about 260 miles), and stopping along the way for sightseeing and pictures. That's Bridal Veil Falls on the left, a few miles north of Valdez; Sockeye salmon on the right in spawning color - red body, green head, taken near Summit Lake near Paxson. 

At one point, as we crossed a creek, Ed thought he saw a moose.  When we backed up, we could see nothing.  We were then looking at a map in the truck, and when we looked up, guess what?  A moose cow and two calves crossed the road - too fast for any pictures.   When we got to Fairbanks, it was back to Sam's for overnight parking.



Alaska Pipeline

  Passed the Alaska pipeline today....




Tuesday, August 9 - Riverboat Discovery and Pioneer Park

Low last night was 52, but a hot high today of 81 (well, hot compared to the temperatures we were experiencing in the past few weeks). Sightseeing today! Stopped at Pioneer Park for an exhibit on Eskimo way of life (was Alaska land until a few years ago, the sight of the centennial celebration of Alaska purchase from Russia 1867) for about 90 minutes while waiting to take a trip on the paddlewheel riverboat Discovery. Both visits were great. On the riverboat trip, we saw a float plane take off and land, talked with dog mushers, saw a fish wheel in action at an Indian camp on the Tanana river, stopped for a replica of an Indian village, saw reindeer, log houses with sod roofs, new houses on the banks of the Chena river (complete with their float planes), animal pelts of all kinds, and of course a very nice ride on the river.







How about this house with its own airplane?  The last house belongs to Susan Butcher (of Iditarod fame) and her husband.

Other houses and cabins:


That's a nice picture of a reindeer.  One of the presenters asked the audience if anyone knew the difference between a caribou and a reindeer.  The answer was that caribou can't fly! Did we mention earlier that reindeer really caribou that have been domesticated for hundreds of years?

  Patty is in front of a traditional log house with sod roof. The sod keeps the house warm in the winter, and traps rain from damaging the wooden roof.



It was strange to see an airplane taking off from the water alongside the paddle wheeler.

The fish wheel is an interesting contraption that has buckets that turn with the moving water and trap fish.  The presenter said that it was possible to collect hundreds of fish in one day.




In the Indian village, we saw this beautiful fur coat made with the pelts of several animals, all with their special properties, such as wolverine around the face because it does not frost. 

In the evening, we returned to Pioneer Park and went through the old village that contained many old Fairbanks structures that were moved here.  Patty met a lady named RJ who teaches Donna Dewberry one-stroke paining, and then planned to return on Thursday for a session with her. 

We stopped again at Sam's for the night, but were met with papers that said we couldn't stay there anymore because of some town ordinance.  So we returned to Pioneer Village for the night.





An art studio featuring pressed flowers:



Wednesday, August 10 - Creamers Field

Wednesday is Farmer's market day in Fairbanks, but when we arrived, we found out it opened at 11 am! So we drove down College to a field that was once a dairy, but now owned by Alaska Fish and Game.  The field had many sand hill cranes and Canada geese as well as hundreds of ducks of all kinds. We took a hike on a trail behind the barns that led us to a bird banding station (remember the one we saw at Teslin in the Yukon?).  We watched as they measured and banded a Swainson's thrush.


We returned to the Farmer's market where there were dozen of cars and people selling all sorts of stuff, including baked goods and vegetables. We were amazed at the quality of the locally grown vegetables.

El Dorado Gold Mine

In the afternoon, we took a tour of the El Dorado Gold Mine. That's us panning for gold at the mine. The gold in the pan is not what we got for our efforts, but some of the gold that was retrieved in a demonstration of a modern sluice operation. Can you see the gold nuggets on this lady's necklace?  She was also wearing another gold necklace and earrings with more gold rocks! She is the owner, with her husband, of the gold mine. 

After all of this excitement, we decided to try our luck at a public claim near a monument (called Pedro's Monument)  honoring the first man to find gold in this area. No such luck...not even some gold dust!  When we returned to Sam's, we found out that the city had decided to enforce an ordinance prohibiting overnight parking at places like Sam's.  We moved to the Pioneer Park parking lot where we were legal for $10 a night. Oh, well.  That's the life of a gypsy!


No, that wasn't our pan.  Just a display!


Thursday, August 11

RJ, the lady that Patty was to meet about painting lessons, she was sick today, so Patty couldn't get together with her.   

We decided to go to the Tanana Valley State Fair. Those are record sized vegetables, a 752 pound pumpkin and a 60 pound zucchini! We stayed most of the day, checking out the exhibits, demonstrations and the midway.  It was a nice fair, and quite warm (over 80 degrees), though cloudy and smoky because of a fire in  the interior.  The Fairbanks newspaper the next day called it a Heat Wave!

All day, we had been talking about when we should head back south and perhaps have some time for other National Parks like Jasper and Banff in Canada, and Yellowstone and the Tetons in the U.S.  At 5:30 or so, we decided we didn't need to see any more of this area, so we got on the road towards Delta Junction (south) and stopped in a pull out about 65 miles out of town.  It was getting progressively smoky because of some forest fires somewhere near Eagle, and visibility was down to about 1/2 mile.

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