University of Alaska - Fairbanks Museum & Salmon Bake

Fairbanks Travel Blog

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UA-Fairbanks Museum of the North

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.
    Museum lobby
    nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/bus-travel.htm
  • 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.
    Big brown bear!
      Really, these are website instructions.  They also say that it is on a "seat-available basis and it may take up to an hour, so plan accordingly."  And more time is required if there's bad weather due to increased demand.  The shuttles sound like adventures themselves. 
  • 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.

"The Place Where You Go to Listen" room
 

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-Fairbankshttp://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/

We enjoyed the Museum's movies on "Winter" in Fairbanks, where it is a very dry 40 degrees below zero, versus the wetter 20 below in Anchorage, and a Northern Lights film, which were both very good.

Alaska Salmon Bake
 

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!).

Alaska Salmon Bake- hungry!
  http://www.newsminer.com/news/2008/mar/14/outhouse-races-deliver-sweet-smell-spring/ 

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.

YUM!
  (That is over-simplified- check out the links below)  After I gave everyone a real talkin'-to about being quiet, we went in and proceeded to laugh so hard that we finally left.  Thank goodness we were alone. 

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.

Outdoor dining (indoor available) Alaska Salmon Bake
  I really wanted Ned to try a Salmon Bake while he's here- my starvation had nothing to do with it- haha!  Right.  Tonight we beat the tour groups by 15 minutes and felt victorious!  The food was really good, the people nice, and we had a great time eating outside.  http://www.akvisit.com/salmon.html

Our return to the campground barely beat a steady rain and we're cozied up in the camper now.

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UA-Fairbanks Museum of the North
UA-Fairbanks Museum of the North
Museum lobby
Museum lobby
Big brown bear!
Big brown bear!
The Place Where You Go to Listen…
"The Place Where You Go to Listen…
Alaska Salmon Bake
Alaska Salmon Bake
Alaska Salmon Bake- hungry!
Alaska Salmon Bake- hungry!
YUM!
YUM!
Outdoor dining (indoor available) …
Outdoor dining (indoor available)…
Ample museum parking
Ample museum parking
View across Fairbanks
View across Fairbanks
My favorite by Ted Lambert
My favorite by Ted Lambert
One of Charles favorites by Sidne…
One of Charles' favorites by Sidn…
Jade boulder
Jade boulder
Glacier picture
Glacier picture
Big brown bear!
Big brown bear!
Blue Babe- the mummified bison fro…
Blue Babe- the mummified bison fr…
Enormous Mammoth Tusks
Enormous Mammoth Tusks
Mammoths femur
Mammoth's femur
Wolf
Wolf
Copper nugget
Copper nugget
Lias teddy bear cowboy ropes a vi…
Lia's teddy bear cowboy ropes a v…
Alaska Salmon Bake entry
Alaska Salmon Bake entry
Alaska Salmon Bake
Alaska Salmon Bake
Alaska Salmon Bake
Alaska Salmon Bake
Alaska Salmon Bake menu
Alaska Salmon Bake menu
Alaska Salmon Bake- nice staff
Alaska Salmon Bake- nice staff
Delicious!  Salmon, cod, and halib…
Delicious! Salmon, cod, and hali…
Charles prefers hot dogs
Charles prefers hot dogs
We beat the tour groups!  Alaska S…
We beat the tour groups! Alaska …
Lia in the dessert cabin- Charles …
Lia in the dessert cabin- Charles…
Heading out - Alaska Salmon Bake
Heading out - Alaska Salmon Bake
Heading out- Alaska Salmon Bake
Heading out- Alaska Salmon Bake
Alaska Salmon Bake
Alaska Salmon Bake
Alaska Salmon Bake
Alaska Salmon Bake
Fairbanks
photo by: Hummingbird