A full day of Fairbanks tours

Fairbanks Travel Blog

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Some of the signage at the Pipeline.

Up pretty early again today for the two tours we had scheduled for the day.  Showered and dressed and down to breakfast and then quickly onto the tour bus to our first destination, the El Dorado Gold Mine, where we would be shown how the gold mining industry has changed over the years. 

On the way out there we stopped at the only place along the entire 800 mile length of the Alaska oil pipeline that runs from Prudhoe Bay to the Valdez Marine Terminal, where you can walk right up to it and take pictures and learn a little about it, according to our bus driver.  He said security is pretty tight both where the line is above ground and below ground and a couple of times while we drove he mentioned another security truck moving along.

  We only spent about fifteen minutes there and he tried to answer as many questions as he could and the boards answered other. 

At the El Dorado Gold Mine we boarded a small open train and rode the rails in what was a very short and small circle.  The first stop about a quarter of the way around was into an old tunnel where they showed the rock formations that were looked for in locating the best gold deposits.  Then on out of the tunnel to where they showed how individual gold panners worked.  Then how steam powered mining worked, and finally they demonstrated the gold panning process.  Several of the crew panned the freshly dug dirt and came up with several small pieces of gold.  Then they gave each person a small bag of dirt and set us at a heated water troth with our own pans.

  Every person on the tour panned from $7 to $40 dollars worth of gold.  Yep, one person found a small nugget worth $40 but my wife and I combined only got about $16 worth of small flake-like pieces.  They dried and weighed each person's haul and even asked if we would like to have it inserted into a pair of earrings, or a locket, or other nice piece of jewelry they just happened to have there just for that purpose and would sell us for about three or four times what we had dug.  How amazing that they could be so thoughtful!  They also sold several other souvenirs, and had free coffee, hot cocoa, and fresh baked cookies.  After everyone had had a chance to spend all their money we were back on the little train and whisked off to the parking lot to get back on our bus.

After getting back to our hotel for almost an hour, just enough time to eat lunch at their very expensive restaurant, we were back on the bus to our second tour of the day.

  This time a triple-decker stern wheeler for a cruise down the Chena River, past several nice homes, and several old not so nice homes.  A small sea plane demonstrated how take offs and landings were done on the river.  Then we stopped for a sled dog kennel demonstration and watched the older retired dogs help teach the pups how to pull properly and turn left or right on command, and how and when to run and when to stop.   Fun and interesting, but I don't think my Chihuahuas will cut it on a sled dog team.

On down a little ways there was a reindeer farm where the owner had brought out a couple of small branches of their favorite tree and as we approached he let loose one large male, one female and two youngsters.  They came out very close to the river in clear view to eat their treats.

The pipeline itself. Four feet in diameter running 800 miles.
 

Then on further down stream to a Chena Indian Village.  At this stop we all went ashore into the small village area they had built just for this tour.  The young female Athabascan Indians showed us several interesting things about their culture.  I took lots of pictures. 

On down a little ways further we came to where the Chena River joins another, but a sand bar has been created over the last couple of years so the big stern wheeler couldn't go any further.

  Instead it backed up, made a turn around and we headed back up stream to the Chena Indian Village.  This time we pulled into the dock and everyone got off in order to see the full presentation that the two girls had for us.  But as we docked a beautiful golden eagle stopped everyone in their tracks.  This golden eagle flew up the river to where the front of the large sternwheeler was and perched himself on the top of the tree right where everyone would see him and sat magnificently quiet while everyone took pictures of him.  And he sat there until everyone had seen and photographed him, maybe five full minutes, and then he flew off back down the river and disappeared on the far side of the river just as if the whole thing was as well planned as the rest of the voyage.  I teased and suggested that who ever trained him had done a wonderful job, but I was really thinking that he was a robotic eagle and someone was using the electronic remote control to make him do everything.
  It was amazing.

In Chena Indian Village the girls showed us the wonderful clothing, and then took us to a sled dog area where several young dogs were playing and being frisky, and then to a third area where they showed us some reindeer and spoke of how to tell the different between reindeer and caribou.  It’s the same animal, just that one domesticated and the other isn’t.  The last area the girl took us to was a typical home, and food keeper, high off the ground.  They explained quite a bit about the kinds of fur each pelt was.  Finally we made our was back aboard the sternwheeler and headed back to the dock where we started.  On the way we had free coffee and donuts and could buy several other food and drink items.  At the end we had time to visit the souvenir shop and empty our wallets some more.

 

Then back to the hotel where we ate fish and chips for dinner in the Pub and Grill.  Off to bed early.  Never did get the wake up call for the Aurora Borealis., but then we really didn’t expect it.  The forecast had been a zero for the last two nights.
Kramerdude says:
You're driver lied. I walked right under the pipeline. Of course I was up between Gates of Arctic and ANWR and was heading out on hike off the Dalton Highway at the time. :)
Posted on: Mar 01, 2010
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Some of the signage at the Pipelin…
Some of the signage at the Pipeli…
The pipeline itself. Four feet in …
The pipeline itself. Four feet in…
Pigs as they are called move thr…
"Pigs" as they are called move th…
This is a retired pig.
This is a retired pig.
A tribute to James A. Maple, princ…
A tribute to James A. Maple, prin…
A Welding award.
A Welding award.
At the El Dorado Gold Mine.
At the El Dorado Gold Mine.
We climbed aboard in mini train.
We climbed aboard in mini train.
The singer/musician kept us entert…
The singer/musician kept us enter…
Off we went.
Off we went.
Into a small short tunnel.
Into a small short tunnel.
In the tunnel this miner told how …
In the tunnel this miner told how…
Then out of the tunnel to where th…
Then out of the tunnel to where t…
And then on to bigger and better m…
And then on to bigger and better …
Here they hauled the dirt out of t…
Here they hauled the dirt out of …
The bucket was taken to a dump area
The bucket was taken to a dump area
Then a water hose sprayed away and…
Then a water hose sprayed away an…
The lead tour guide showed some of…
The lead tour guide showed some o…
This was a result of one pan.  At …
This was a result of one pan. At…
Then everyone got a chance to try.
Then everyone got a chance to try.
Most got about ten dollars worth.
…
Most got about ten dollars worth.…
Then inside to get it dried, and w…
Then inside to get it dried, and …
This 19 ounce pure gold nugget was…
This 19 ounce pure gold nugget wa…
It was the 25th largest nugget fou…
It was the 25th largest nugget fo…
The tour guide wore a few on her n…
The tour guide wore a few on her …
After lunch we took a Sternwheeler…
After lunch we took a Sternwheele…
This is the nice new steamboat.
This is the nice new steamboat.
As we pulled away and down river t…
As we pulled away and down river …
Much smaller.
Much smaller.
These ducks came out to play.
These ducks came out to play.
This nice home belonged to the wid…
This nice home belonged to the wi…
Another older sternwheeler docked …
Another older sternwheeler docked…
A couple of large geese.
A couple of large geese.
At the sled dog kennel.
At the sled dog kennel.
They put the old dogs with the you…
They put the old dogs with the yo…
Once they were all in harness in f…
Once they were all in harness in …
Off they went.
Off they went.
And only a couple of minutes later…
And only a couple of minutes late…
And no sooner were they unharnesse…
And no sooner were they unharness…
All wanted to cool off.
All wanted to cool off.
Then we watched reindeer for a few…
Then we watched reindeer for a fe…
They made quick time of eating the…
They made quick time of eating th…
Then on down to Chena Indian Villa…
Then on down to Chena Indian Vill…
The two young Athabaskan Indian gi…
The two young Athabaskan Indian g…
This was a salmon trap
This was a salmon trap
The rivers current drove it.
The rivers current drove it.
This Golden Eagle perched for all …
This Golden Eagle perched for all…
The two girls made several present…
The two girls made several presen…
One of the girls modeled
One of the girls modeled
Pretty from the back too.
Pretty from the back too.
No, this Moose was not alive.
No, this Moose was not alive.
This reindeer was alive, along wit…
This reindeer was alive, along wi…
This bark tent showed how they mad…
This bark tent showed how they ma…
And boats.
And boats.
Another shot the antlers on the re…
Another shot the antlers on the r…
Another structure they built.
Another structure they built.
This was more like their homes wit…
This was more like their homes wi…
Tammy and her hubby were celebrati…
Tammy and her hubby were celebrat…
A sled lay next to the wood pile.
A sled lay next to the wood pile.
Up on the food keep were several p…
Up on the food keep were several …
Inside the house
Inside the house
Mosquito net was needed over then …
Mosquito net was needed over then…
Heater a cook stove combined.
Heater a cook stove combined.
Okay, a modern cook stove helped.
Okay, a modern cook stove helped.
Some pretty flowers nearby
Some pretty flowers nearby
Look at the size of the cabbage.
Look at the size of the cabbage.
They grow super huge with all the …
They grow super huge with all the…
A monument to Granite, Susan But…
A monument to "Granite", Susan Bu…
He led her team to victory in the …
He led her team to victory in the…
Their Post Office
Their Post Office
Look at the size of the rhubarb.
Look at the size of the rhubarb.
Everything grows huge!!
Everything grows huge!!
A shot of the sternwheeler.
A shot of the sternwheeler.
Saying goodbye to Chena Village.
Saying goodbye to Chena Village.
More geese.
More geese.
Back to the dock
Back to the dock
Early riverboat picture.
Early riverboat picture.
My wife posing at the End of the I…
My wife posing at the End of the …
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