Alaska Cruise – 08/03/95

THURS. 8/3 Up at 6:00 for trip on the sternwheeler, Discovery Ill. on the Chena River. It was still light at 2:00 A.M.Could almost read the newspaper. I had gone to bed early. This hotel is used in the winter for long stays – service people, business people, etc. There is a jacuzzi,  stove,refrigerator, micro-wave and a large room.

Our trip on the sternwheeler was cool and cloudy. It was an interesting trip. The houses are right along the bank. There is no flooding any more. We were on the Chena River which flows into the Tanana. They are glacial and very fast moving.

Saw fish wheels along the shores. Stopped at Susan Butcher’s. She has run the Iditarod 1,000 mile race. She talked about her dogs and the race. There were several pups with her. She now has a 2 month old son.

We went on to the “village” where we saw the dog-sleds and the cultures of the natives. Their use of the different skins of the animals and their beaded garments. Most of this was demonstrated by the natives,several of whom were graduates of University of Montana, U. of Alaska etc. They are mostly Athabaskan Indians. We were back at the dock at one. We were to take a tour of Fairbanks at 2:30. This proved interesting.

There are about 33% government employees here. We stopped at U. of Alaska Museum. A question was asked about the aluminum foil on lots of the windows of the homes. This is to keep out the daylight in the summer (24 hr.) There are 9,000 students at the University. Beautiful buildings and more going up.

Our next stop was a visit to the Trans-Alaska pipeline. It is 800 miles long,48 inches in diameter and was started in 1974. Oil was discovered in the Prudhoe Bay in July 1968. Humble Oil Co. (Exxon) and ARCO pursued this discovery and in 1977 the first oil began to flow to Valdez.420 miles are above ground and 376 below. The Pipeline has a “visitors space” where you can get up close to the line and observe some of the construction. It must have been a tough job in all kinds of weather and impossible conditions to get the job done.

We then stopped at Gold Dredge #8. It was built in Bethlehem, PA. and shipped in pieces. Environmentalists shut it down in the fifties. It was so noisy it could be heard in Fairbanks 14 miles away.

We had soup and salad for dinner 17.00.

The buzzer was ringing when we got to our room. No one knew why. It was the micro-wave. No one had been near it. They finally had to disconnect the whole thing. Our bags had to be out by 6 and we were to be downstairs by 7. Pack overnight bags for our overnight at Denali.


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