Traveling the world, learning languages, and immersing myself in new cultures.

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Weekend Getaway to Fairbanks, Alaska

From Anchorage to Fairbanks

Drive up to Fairbanks to see Alaska's 3rd largest city, and with hopes of seeing the Northern Lights (aurora borealis).
On the open road to Fairbanks, Alaska
On the open road to Fairbanks, Alaska
On the drive up, the view of the mountains in the Talkeetna Mountain Range and the Alaska Range (Denali National Park) are amazing. Stop at the Alaska War Memorial and get some great drone footage. About an hour later, stop for gas and drinks. 

Seems no one else is going to Fairbanks and only a few people are going the opposite direction to Anchorage (maybe 30 other cars during the entire 360 mile trip). Most resorts, hotels, and restaurants are already closed for winter. Even some rest stop bathrooms closed.

Arrive in Fairbanks just before dark and check in the hotel. Then go out to eat at a Hibachi restaurant. The food is delicious and we eat with a nice couple from the area who give us the lowdown on living in Fairbanks; -30ºF in the winter??? No thank you! A cloudy night prevents us from seeing the Northern Lights.
Lookout at every angle
Lookout at every angle
Monuments of the five services with my parents and I standing between them
I should win a photography award for this one
Dronin' in action
Dronin' in action
Resort towns completely boarded up for winter
Resort towns completely boarded up for winter
The majestic mountains of the Alaska Range
The majestic mountains of the Alaska Range

Visiting the North Pole

Really gray day. Breakfast in the hotel and then head to North Pole. Not the one on top of the planet, but rather a local city near Fairbanks that draws tourists with its "north pole" theme and decorated city. We go to Santa Claus house, which is a large gift shop that has everything Christmas related that you could think of, and that you wouldn't think of. Flying my drone around Antler Academy (where the reindeer are) and outside Santa Claus house, is attracting the attention of kids and the reindeer.

After leaving Santa Claus house, find the actual "North Pole" that they were supposed to take to the real north pole, but I guess it never made it... and it's not much to look at. Grab lunch and then go to hotel to relax a bit before a TRX workout. For dinner, I eat some reindeer sausage wrapped in bacon, which is amazing, and my dad orders an elk burger, which is pretty good. Tonight is even cloudier than last night, so no Northern Lights.
mom and I standing in front of "welcome to north pole" sign
Anyone think of a good caption?
The TMax sitting in santa's chair
While Santa is away, it's time to be naughty!
mom and dad taking photos of reindeer
Hey Rudolph, smile!
mom and I in front of a giant santa statue
That's a big Santa
family photo in front of santa claus house
Merry Christmas! (So what if we're a few months early)

Rain, rain, go away

Breakfast at the hotel and then hit the road back to Anchorage. Rainy the whole day, and so many missed drone opportunities. Stop at Nenana Canyon for a brief walk in the rain, and then Denali National Park and Preserve.

Despite awful weather, the Murie Science and Learning Center (Denali's winter visitor center) has cool interactive areas to learn about local wildlife, plus a 20-minute video about the national park. 15 Chinese tourists are in the center with us, so I practice a bit of Chinese - successfully I might add! (All I said was "thank you" and "goodbye"). Wendy at the center is super helpful, go talk to her. 

Leaving the park, we see nice views of, now snow-covered, mountains. Stop at Denali View South (a rest stop) for spectacular views of clouds and overcastiness. About double the amount of cars on the road today from the first day. I see my first moose on the side of the highway, eating leaves. Ah, good times!
family in front of denali national park sign
Rain won't stop us from checking out the park
tim holding one reindeer antler on top of his head
Just moosin' my hair. No, nothing? Tough crowd. Anyway, it's a reindeer antler.

the family standing on a bridge in Nenana Canyon
Nenana Canyon bridge, which I imagine normally offers great views of Denali
The family looking through telescopes at clouds blocking Denali
"Can you see it?"
comparison of what the view should look like, and the clouds that we actually see
Reality is harsh sometimes



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