University of Alaska - Fairbanks Museum & Salmon Bake
Fairbanks Travel Blog› entry 92 of 167 › view all entries
A relaxing morning with the kids riding their bike around the campground - I booked our Denali campground and shuttle for later in the week.
Denali is a rather confusing National Park because everything needs to be booked in advance of the visit:
- First the campground, in which we were lucky to get reservations (under 30' rig length helped). Reservations must be made at least a day in advance.
- Then we're not allowed to drive within the park (for wildlife protection), but unlike other National Parks, the shuttles are not free and you should reserve those too. There are either tours or hop-on/hop-off shuttle buses. And you have to choose a certain distance that you wish to go into the park. So, after much research, I bought an 8-hour shuttle bus ride to and from the new Eielson Visitor's Center. http://www.
- Further, they charge annual park pass holders the entrance fee, which you can get refunded at the Visitor's Center when you pick up the physical tickets that are needed for the shuttle buses.
- There are multiple buildings for several Visitor's Centers, different transportation, entrance, campground check-in, etc.
- Hiking opportunities include Ranger-led walks vs. "Discovery Tours" (and you don't want to confuse the two!) http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/upload/Disco%20Visitor%20Form.pdf (I love page 2), as well as self-guided hikes. There are very few developed trails and this is grizzly country.
- Catching a shuttle bus to hop on, once you've hopped off, involves standing by the road and waving your arms at a green bus.
- There are no food options as you travel into the park. We'd better pull out that survivalist hiking checklist and be prepared!
I'm hoping it is not as complicated in person! But thanks to internet, we now have reservations and an action plan. http://www.nps.gov/dena/
We hope to see Mt. McKinley at Denali (20,320 ft. - tallest in N. America), but it's visible only 30% of the time. We met some folks from St. Louis who'd just been there 9 days and they never got to see it.
El Dorado Gold Mine was booked for today, so we reserved for tomorrow. I'm hoping to find enough gold to pay for the kids' college education!
Instead visited the wonderful Museum of Alaska at the nearby University of Alaska-Fairbanks. http://www.uaf.edu/museum/ Very cool. I'll upload some pictures. This is the furthest north university in America and would be a really neat place to go to college: http://www.uaf.edu/
Northern Lights: Fairbanks is in the perfect location on the globe to see this solar energy as it dances from pole to pole in the earth's magnetic field. When the electrons hit oxygen in the atmostphere, you see green lights. Nitrogen was red. And then maroon (or a clear pink) was a combination of the two. Green is the most commonly seen and they never get closer than 50 miles from the earth's surface.
Winter: We were surprised to learn how many people here still live without electricity and running water, using an outhouse. Residents interviewed though all really enjoy their Alaskan lives. In winter, people come alive with all kinds of sports and activities: outhouse racing, human bowling games, watching the northern lights, going skiing on lunch breaks, and working dawn to dusk (haha- not long in the winter up here!).
Wood Frog: This was fascinating! Did you know that this frog, in the winter when it gets -15 degrees or so actually freezes in the water. There were pictures of some half in and out of the ice. It's blood freezes, it quits breathing, and it essentially dies (except for its *cells*) until the weather warms up and it comes back to life and hops around. Now there is a science fair project if I've ever heard one! http://www.wonderquest.com/FrogsPolar.htm
Sound Room: "The Place Where You Go To Listen" - Listen to musical sounds sythesized to the earth's natural movements.
Lia and I later returned to enjoy the Sound Room's quiet. It would be really magical to be in this peaceful, accoustical, centering place alone to meditate and just be still. I need a chamber like that in Ciao Baby! http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.htm?programID=06-P13-00016&segmentID=5 and http://www.newmusicbox.org/article.nmbx?id=4573
We were starved after spending hours at the museum and headed back to Pioneer Park for the Alaska Salmon Bake, which we'd tried last night but couldn't brave the crowds.
Our return to the campground barely beat a steady rain and we're cozied up in the camper now.