Museums and Other Interesting Sights

August 19, 2012

This morning we drive to the University of Alaska Museum of the North.  It is filled with artifacts and specimens collected in Alaska.  The exhibits are truly dynamic and educational.  The outside building design evokes images of alpine ridges, glaciers and a diving whale’s tail.  Unfortunately the stunning view from the top of the hill is not what we expect.  The sky is hazy, filled with an acrid smelling smoke caused by a huge fire in a town named Salcha, about 40 miles southeast of Fairbanks.

I read on a flyer that there is a tour today of a permafrost tunnel so we stop by to check it out.  Located at a research facility we explore the tables of exhibits and listen to docents explain the history of glaciers and the effect permafrost has made on this area.

A few miles down the road, we come upon the Alaska Pipeline; wow!  Its length is 800 miles, diameter 48 inches, and it crosses 3 mountain ranges and more than 500 rivers and streams.  I approach the giant mammoth of steel and place my hands on it just so I can get a feel of history!

Continuing on, we arrive at the Chena Hot Springs Resort where we sign up for the ice museum tour.  Our guide, Jameson is about 35, wears glasses and explains the ice house to the 40 people in our group. Before entering the museum, there are parkas hanging on a rack at the entry, and I’m grateful, as the temperature inside is freezing. The parka, as Jameson explains, “one size fits no one”, so my petite body is lost inside the huge coat and I look like a brown bear!

How beautiful the carvings are.  Ice leopard, pit bull, knights, ice altar, igloos, panther, and rooms with an ice xylophone, fireplace, shower and an ice figure of Sarah Palin.  Jameson, at the ice bar is telling jokes, his hands busily pouring appletinis.  We are free to walk around and take photos during this hour, just enough time as my hands are so cold that my fingers can barely push the shutter on my camera.

Driving along the highway, we spy 2 female moose in a clearing and stop for photos.  Further up the road, down in a marshy swampland, there is a huge bull moose.  Hard to capture with my camera, so Dick grabs it, and takes off down a path to get a closer view.  How brave (or stupid) is that?  He does get one good photo out of 5; most are blurry and his movement scares the moose away.

Darkness falls as we finally pull into the RV Riverview Park.

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