Fairbanks International Airport in the early morning hours (around 12:30 AM)
And by early morning, I mean 12:30 AM (or 4:30 AM by my body clock). Still light enough to see although the sun had set around 11:45 PM. Shuttled over to the hotel for the night. This morning and afternoon the Golden Days Parade tracked right past my hotel so I went out and mingled amongst the locals. Lots of booths and tents selling knicks and knacks and food and drinks (and being an election year hawking for politicians). More details and pics later.
As mentioned in the previous post I arrived in Fairbanks in the late evening/early morning hours of July 19. Waited for my luggage to arrive at baggage claim (and it was just about the last bag to arrive making me sweat whether it had been misapporiated somewhere along the journey) and then called for my shuttle ride to the Springhill Suites (see accompanying review).
Fairbanks as seen from my 5th floor hotel window.
At this time of the year in Fairbanks there is a true sunset in the evening (but not until around 11:30 PM) and it was quite but not completely dark as I was waiting outside the terminal for the shuttle. It was quite chilly as well as all my cool weather gear was packed away. The shuttle bus arrived momentarily, took me to the hotel, and while checking in the desk I learned about all of the activities going on in the morning right outside the hotel in conjunction with the Golden Days Parade and Festival. Really all I wanted to do was get up to the room and fall asleep as my body clock was telling me it was after 5 AM in the morning and I had not slept much on the plane up from Salt Lake City.
I crashed and slept well until about 9 AM, went down for breakfast and then out to mingle with all the Alaskans and other travelers around for the parade.
The monument to the US/Russia Lend Lease Program by which aircraft and other material was ferried from the US to the Russian front in support of the war effort during WWII.
The parade was scheduled to start at 10 AM so I wandered around outside the hotel for a bit. There was a monument for the US Lend Lease program, a program where the US produced materials for the Allied powers during World War II. This program actually started prior to the US's entry into the war (March 1941). This particular monument was focused on the US-Russia program and especially the transport of airplanes to the Russian front, much of which went through Alaska and onward across Siberia. Airplanes were built in the US, flown to Great Falls, Montana (occasionally by female pilots - see photo of the plaque), ferried to Fairbanks by US Army pilots, then flown on to the Russian front by Russian crews. The scope of these journeys with the planes involved was huge and very interesting to learn about to say the least.
Waiting for the start of the parade.
Eventually I ambled back over to the parade and watched for a while. Lots of old cars, marching bands, fire trucks, community organizations, and being an election year lots of political groups. Given the current news it was interesting watching the various groups come marching down the parade route (not close together mind you) carrying their signs and passing out information to the bystanders. I got a pro-Ted Stevens pamphlet and and a pro-Mark Begich pamphlet as well as watching other various candidates for political office come down the parade route.
I didn't watch the parade the entire time. At one point I went back to my room to gather my stuff and checkout. The hotel was kind enough to let me leave my bags behind for a bit while I continued watching the rest of the parade and enjoying the festival.
Always need to take a photo of the "You are this far from all these locations" monuments in town
Once I had enough of the festival, I was able to get a ride over to my second hotel of the day where I would meet my fellow campers for the upcoming trip. More to come on that a bit later however. The rest of the day was relatively uneventful. I grabbed dinner, sorted out some gear, and prepared for tomorrow's imminent departure from Fairbanks and into the great unknown of Alaska.
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