Exploring Fairbanks, Alaska

Yesterday was our day to explore Fairbanks.

This was my 1-bedroom apartment at the Wedgewood Resort.

Wedgewood Resort - Fairbanks, Alaska

This was the view from my apartment yesterday at 03:29, half an hour before sunrise.

Wedgewood Resort - Fairbanks, Alaska

There’s lots of interesting stuff to look at on the walk over to the restaurant, which is at the Bear Lodge section of the property. This is a smaller-scale replica of a cache, used to store food and other stuff that animals might want to get into.

A cache at Wedgewood Resort, Fairbanks, Alaska

The restaurant is very large, with tables set far apart so it never feels crowded even with hundreds of people in it.

Restaurant at Wedgewood Resort - Fairbanks, Alaska

On the way back to my room I went over to the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum for a preview – very interesting! This is a 16-horsepower 1905 Advance Traction Engine, one of 729 produced.

We left for our tour of Fairbanks at 9:00. The first stop was at the Trans Alaska Pipeline interpretive centre.

A sharp edge along the top of this bench made this a tough plank for Jo, but with a background like that it was a must-do! 🙂

We went to University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Large Animal Research Station, but none of the caribou or musk oxen there were close enough to be very interesting, so we continued on to the Agricultural Research Station, and the Georgeson Botanical Garden in particular.

Georgeson Botanical Garden - Fairbanks, Alaska

The Babula Children’s Garden section of it was fun.

Babula Children's Garden - Fairbanks, Alaska

The University of Alaska Museum of the North was our next stop. Our visits here have always been too rushed so I changed the city tour quite a bit to add almost an hour here.

University of Alaska Museum of the North

When I went to park the bus after dropping my folks off at the front door, I saw this old blockhouse. This is the Kolmakovsky Redoubt Blockhouse. Built on the middle Kuskokwim River as part of a fur trading fort in 1841, it’s been sitting in storage in pieces since 1929. A grant to put it and a large artifact collection on display was received in 2009.

Kolmakovsky Redoubt Blockhouse - Fairbanks, Alaska

The entrance to the main museum exhibit hall has a very similar feeling as when it was a much smaller facility. I love the expression on the grizzly bear 🙂

University of Alaska Museum of the North

“Blue Babe”, a 36,000-year-old mummified steppe bison who was unearthed at a mine outside Fairbanks in 1979.

University of Alaska Museum of the North

A brown bear family in one case, a collection of rifles in the one in front of it. Being in the hunting and trapping area explains what may seem like an odd juxtaposition.

University of Alaska Museum of the North

“Arctic Winter” by Ted Lambert.

University of Alaska Museum of the North

Nobody I saw come into “The Place Where You Go to Listen” understood it – most stood for a minute, shrugged and left. The earth is constantly emitting vibrations in a vast range of frequencies, and this installation by John Luther Adams attempts to make them all audible and combine them with related colours.

University of Alaska Museum of the North

This bronze polar bear looks out over the Tanana Valley.

University of Alaska Museum of the North

A cruise on the Riverboat Discovery was the main event of our day. This huge dining hall has recently been added – a huge cash cow for the riverboat operators but also an excellent way to maximize our time on a day when time is short and suitable dining venues in short supply.

Riverboat Discovery - Fairbanks, Alaska

Both the Discovery II and the much larger Discovery III sailed – this is Discovery II sailing down the Chena River.

Riverboat Discovery - Fairbanks, Alaska

A real “Alaskan” house along the Chena, with an airplane pulled up to the garage and a truck and camper at the side.

House along the Chena River - Fairbanks, Alaska

I always enjoy the bush-flying demonstrations – in this case by a 1951 Piper Super Cub on floats.

Riverboat Discovery - Fairbanks, Alaska

A stop is still made at the late Susan Butcher’s dog yard – the talk about mushing now being done by one of her daughters.

The late Susan Butcher's dog yard - Fairbanks, Alaska

We used to sail down the Tanana River for a bit but the main channel has moved and the mouth of the Chena River is now mostly blocked by a large sand bar. So both boats turned around there and landed at a new entrance to “Chena Village”.

Riverboat Discovery - Fairbanks, Alaska

While about 1,500 people were disgorged from the 2 boats, I stayed in a calm place – an upper deck 🙂

Riverboat Discovery - Fairbanks, Alaska

Talks are given by young Alaska Natives at 4 different stations – this one focuses on the making of clothing, starting with hunting the animals who supply the needed materials.

Riverboat Discovery - Fairbanks, Alaska

This was the most impressive of the garments shown.

Chena Village, Alaska

This is a real cache, and I took several detail photos so I can build one of my own back home.

Chena Village, Alaska

This scene looks substantially the same as it would have over a century ago.

Chena Village, Alaska

A 1963 Polaris Sno-Traveler Model OE16C is on display. This huge machine (720 lbs) only had a 16-hp Onan engine – quite a contrast to modern sleds!

1963 Polaris Sno-Traveler Model OE16C

I had intended to take the group to the salmon bake at Pioneer Park, but my memory of the price was far from the actual $31.95 per person, and instead we went to Safeway so people could take advantage of having a full kitchen in their apartments.

I never got to the dinner part of the day, feeding my soul with the beauty of antique cars at the Fountainhead museum instead. I think my mouth probably dropped open when I walked in the door – I was certainly stunned by what I saw 🙂

Fountainhead car museum

About 70 large photos of motor vehicles in early Alaska adorn the walls. That’s Ketchikan in this photo.

Early Ketchikan, Alaska

This is a 1907 Franklin Type D Landaulette. The second car in Fairbanks was a 1908 Franklin touring car – it’s air-cooled engine made life in a cold climate much easier than water-cooled ones did.

1907 Franklin Type D Landaulette

The first tour bus in Skagway, Alaska.

First tour bus in Skagway, Alaska

This is a 1921 Heine-Velox V-12 Sporting Victoria. Heine-Velox was the most expensive marque of its day, priced at $17-25,000 when you could get a fully-loaded Rolls Royce for $10,000. This was the only Sporting Victoria built – 3 sedans were also built and a limousine was started but never completed.

1921 Heine-Velox V-12 Sporting Victoria

This is the car that I kept going back to over and over. To me this is 1930s sporting car design at its finest. It’s a 1933 Auburn Model 12-161A Custom Boattail Speedster. A 160-hp V-12 gave it a top speed of 99 mph, making it one of the fastest production cars of its time. The price – $1,495!

1933 Auburn Model 12-161A Custom Boattail Speedster

The museum even has a dress-up area – what little girl can resist playing dress-up when they can accessorize with an antique roadster?! 🙂

Dressing up at the Fountainhead car museum

As I write this, we’ve arrived at Denali National Park – the trip here comes next 🙂


Exploring Fairbanks, Alaska — 2 Comments

  1. “This is a real cache, and I took several detail photos so I can build one of my own back home.”

    I don’t remember seeing “Build a cache” on the List of things to be done around the house!