Touristy Stuff Near Fairbanks
Fairbanks Travel Blog› entry 17 of 19 › view all entries
Up again at 6:00 to get breakfast and onto a bus by 8:00 for the "Riverboat Discovery" tour included with our package. The Discovery III, moored in the Chena River, is a 4-decked sternwheeler that is quite modern. The paddlewheel is for real but is powered by hydraulic motors. The boat holds about 700 passengers and, predictably, there were zillions of busses there. It was nice in a way but a bit hokey for my taste. We found a spot on the uppermost deck. First item on the agenda as we moved down the Chena was a demo of a short-field takeoff and landing by a Super Cub from a grass strip along the river. We also saw Iditarod racer Susan Butcher's Kennels, where a trainer spoke to us via PA system, than a talk and demo on Indian fishing and preparation by "Dixie", an Athabaskan.
We were back at the hotel at 1:00 for a quick lunch prior to being picked up at 2:30 for the included "City of Gold" tour. After a quick drive around Fairbanks, we stopped at the Trans-Alaska pipeline. It was a thrill for me to see it completed since I'd been involved in design of equipment used in its construction. I had made two trips to Alaska at the time and stayed in a pipeline camp for a couple of nights.
Next, we visited the Eldorado Gold Mine, owned by the same folks who own the riverboat. Same hokeyness but, again, rather informative. First was a ride on a steam train through a mine tunnel where there was a talk on mining methods. At the end of the ride, we got a demonstration of the placer mining method where the ore is first concentrated through a sluice, then the gold is separated by panning. We were each given a bag of soil and panned it to get our gold. Lin and I together got gold worth a total value of about $16. We then paid another $49 for a locket to put it in! Wayne said, "This guy really has a gold mine here!" Yup!
We were back again to the hotel at 6:00, then bought some last-minute gifts, ate on the patio, and headed for bed. There was a shuttle to town but we were too tired. We were in bed by 10:00.