Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rainy Day

Today started out rainy and blustery, so we opted out of the plans to join Jim and Pat for the gold mine tour. Instead, we visited the farmers’ market briefly while wearing our rain jackets, then ran a few errands and enjoyed a quiet day at home.


The farmers’ market was small, and we didn’t find anything we couldn’t live without. Tomatoes at $6/lb. (!) might have been wonderful, but we just bought 4 tomatoes and don’t need any more right now. I did talk myself into a new pair of earrings, however. The hand-made beads just spoke to me! I may re-string them with some other beads, but they’re distinctive alone.


We went to Taco Azteca for lunch, based on recommendations I found on The staff managed to get both of our orders wrong and had to re-make them. I suspect our food was delivered to the wrong table and those people didn’t realize they didn’t get the right food. But when we got what we’d ordered, we both enjoyed our meal. It’s great to find good Mexican food this far north of that other U.S. border! And it was much better than what we found in North Dakota last summer.

We then visited the Great Alaskan Bowl Company factory. It was fun to see the large variety of bowls and other items made from birch trees, as well as videos about selection of the trees and traditional methods of cutting the bowls (there were no factory workers on Saturday). However, we decided we could live without anything from here, too.

We ended our brief shopping excursions by feeling virtuous, although mostly empty-handed (except for my earrings). It’s nice to keep money in our pockets and be satisfied with decisions not to buy more “things.” I remember how it was sometimes hard to give up my “things” when I closed down my house and started full-time RVing. I have to occasionally remind myself not to re-acquire a lot of “things.” There isn’t room for a lot of extras in an RV and limited space means we need to be selective about what we buy.

With the rest of the day free, I finished a small knitting project I started the other day. I noticed the hat a young woman was wearing on the Denali shuttle bus, and asked if she made it. She said yes, and told me where I could find the pattern online, on a site called Ravelry – a Knit and Crochet Community. Don’s niece Lisa had turned me on to this site several months ago, but I haven’t visited it very often. The pattern is called Star Crossed Slouchy Beret. Any knitters out there? Click on the link to go directly to the instructions to make your own. Or search for “star beret” and you’ll find 77 other nice patterns! In the process of making this hat, I learned a few new (to me) techniques to avoid having to use double-pointed needles.


The beret will keep my head and ears warm for sure! It’s a good use of this wool-blend chunky yarn I just happened to have leftover from another project.


Finally, I’ve made some changes to my blog. Comments will now appear below the post instead of in a pop-up window. Commenters will also be asked to enter a word verification. I’m sorry to have to do this, but I’ve been getting some spam comments and they’re a real nuisance. But the good news is that I’ve turned off comment moderation except for comments that are more than 7 days after the date of the blog post. This means when comments are entered they won’t be delayed until I check my email.

I’ll end this blog with some pictures transferred from my Droid phone. Thanks to Jan Tilton for giving me a link to instructions for the transfer process. Larry Forbes showed me how to do this recently, but I forgot and just couldn’t figure it out. Thanks, Jan and Larry! I think I’ve got it now!

John McBeath and Jo Wilson caught up with us near Denali.


The River’s Edge RV Park, where we’re now parked, is right on the Chena River, where people and dogs love to walk.


There was a classic car parade through our park a couple of evenings ago. I had a Corvette similar to this in one of my former lives!


I even had a VW “Bug” like this at another time in that life! It resembled a lemon, and well….enough said!


I could see myself in this one. Sometimes I feel that old. It would be fun to drive as long as it didn’t rain.


Fairbanks Weather and Activities

We’ve enjoyed three beautiful days in Fairbanks since arriving on Wednesday. Today, Saturday, is a different story however. It’s raining hard, and there have been several loud thunderbolts. So I guess it’s time to catch up on my blogging.

Don and I visited the Alaska Pipeline Visitor Center on Thursday and learned more about this 800-mile stretch of 48-inch pipe that traverses “frozen tundra, boreal forest, 800 rivers and streams, three major earthquake faults and three rugged mountain ranges. The corridor includes more than 550 wildlife crossings for moose, caribou and other wildlife.” It moves crude oil from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, the most northern ice-free port in the U.S., to be transferred to tankers bound for U.S. refineries in the lower 48.


We saw another Pig on display, similar to the one we saw in Valdez, along with a Retired Pig (lower picture) that was made of heavier material and weighed almost 1,000 lbs. more than today’s polyurethane pig. Pigs are used to smooth the flow of oil inside the pipeline and scrape off wax that can form on the walls of the pipe.


The rest of the day was spent picking up our mail and doing some major shopping to replenish our food supplies.

On Friday, we got to be tourists again. We started with the Fairbanks Visitor Center. The exhibits here were very well-done, and we learned even more about the land, the people and their culture.

Here’s my best eagle picture yet. Yes, he was stuffed. But isn’t he grand?


And a pretty good bear pic, too.


I’m always fascinated by the beadwork on clothing made from animal skins and furs, as well as construction of the clothing itself.


For lunch, we went to Big Daddy’s BBQ. The restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives by Guy Fieri. It lived up to its reputation!


Later, we joined 8 of our group on the Riverboat Discovery.


We watched a floatplane take off and land in the river near the boat, then our announcer talked with the pilot about his experiences using radio communication that we could hear clearly.


We saw many wonderful homes along the river.


This one has a plane, a boat, a couple of inflatables, a nice deck and yard – what a life!


We stopped at Susan Butcher’s home and met her husband (widowed) David Monson and daughter Tekla, and saw a demonstration of the sled dog operations. Susan Butcher was the second woman to win the grueling Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, and won it a total of 4 times, an achievement matched by four men and exceeded by only one.


We visited the Chena Indian Village where we departed the boat and spent about an hour learning about the Athabascan way of life from young people who descended from Alaskan natives.


Pat thought about staying overnight since the accommodations looked so inviting!


After such a full day, we had worked up an appetite, so we went back to Big Daddy’s BBQ with the whole group!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fairbanks and Friends

Our drive was pleasant today, about 120 miles from Denali to Fairbanks. We stopped at Rose’s CafĂ© for breakfast with Jim and Pat, then traveled with them most of the way.

We checked into the River’s Edge RV Park and connected with our friends ZoAnn Lapinsky and John Macon, who are touring Alaska in a different direction from our group, and stayed over an extra day in order to link up with us.

We visited the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum with them and had a wonderful afternoon. Here they are hamming it up as early Alaska settlers.


Of course, we had to join in the fun.


This is one of the best auto museums we’ve ever visited. I took so many pictures, it’s hard to choose which ones to post, so here are just a few.

At the entrance, we saw this interesting sign. What? This is an auto museum. Autos are vehicles!


Notice the NON SKID tire tread.


1903 Cadillac.


1903 Toledo.


1921 Heine-Velox.


1933 Auburn. My fave, although I probably couldn’t see over the hood to drive it!


1934 American Austin. The entire length of this car is probably shorter than the Auburn from the windshield to the headlights.


I was fascinated by some of the hood ornaments.


There was a collection of bicycles, too. Here’s an all wooden one.


Later, we had dinner at The Pump House.


It has wonderful ambience, but the serving of what was supposed to be 2 lbs. of crab legs, shared by 3 of us, looked more like the 1/2 lb. I ate by myself in Healy. When we asked about it, and even talked with the manager, they insisted that 5 crab legs constituted 2 lbs. They conceded by giving us one more leg, since it’s hard to divide 5 by 3 and come out even. Oh, well, we won’t be going back there.

When we got back to the RV park, we had a parade of classic cars. I took several pictures with my Droid phone. Now, if I could just figure out how to transfer them to my computer…

It was so great to see Zoe and John. You can follow their blog at O. B. Sirius: A Not-So Serious Sort of Blog. Wish we could spend more time together, but we’ll see you back in the lower 48, Friends. Safe and happy travels!


We look forward to exploring Fairbanks more during the next few days. And we hope the beautiful weather we enjoyed today continues!