Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Real Great White North

Fairbanks in October?  Cold!  I know, it's not rocket science to think it might be a little chilly 800 or so miles north of Kodiak.  It was still colder than what I was expecting, though.  The hubby and I took a quick weekend trip up there a few weeks ago to see the northern lights.  It's kind of a sprawling area without a real dedicated downtown, but we were able to ferret out some fun places to check out while we visited.

We stayed in a lodge bed & breakfast about 15 miles from the airport area, and it was a comfortable stay.  It kind of felt like you were at Nana's house - only it was someone else's Nana.  Sort of a vintage, down home cabin type of style.  It was cozy, but somehow I doubt it'll be the next decor trend on HGTV.  My favorite part was her little pack of dogs that greeted us and hung out the whole weekend.  Keena, Jake, and Chewy.  They were so sweet.

A few shots of the lodge and pack of pooches

We found some decent restaurants, coffee shops and other nifty places during our stay, and it was a welcome pleasure to have good food out at a restaurant for a change.  I've talked about this before, but the food and restaurant choices on Kodiak leave a lot to be desired.  So, going out for a decent meal was refreshing.

On our first night we went to a restaurant called The Pump House that I scoped out before the trip.  It's on the National Register of Historic Places, and had such a warm atmosphere.  We were surrounded by genuine antiques and a Gold Rush theme, it was so unique.  The food was pretty damn good, too.

The dining room interior, snowing on our way in, and being greeted by lots of dead things, like the bear!

On our first full day, we drove about an hour north to the Chena Hot Springs to check out the resort.  It was kind of dumb, but we both forgot to pack our bathing suits - so we didn't actually go in the hot springs.  I wasn't really in a "bring the bathing suit" kind of mindset when we were packing.  More like slippers and warm hats.  Eh, there were plenty of other things to do.

Predictably, we found our way to the bar at the lodge and had lunch and a few beers. It was one of many places we visited where dead things on the wall dominated.  Not shocking given the location, but enough with the dead things, ya know??  

Beers at the lodge and a huge moose antler sculpture on the grounds of the resort

After we wandered around the grounds, we toured the ice sculpture museum and the kennel where rescued Alaskan Husky sled dogs live and work.  Both were very cool!

The ice museum had some seriously impressive ice sculptures on display, plus a bar made completely of ice called - wait for it...The Aurora Bar.  We had apple martinis served in a martini glass sculpted entirely of ice.  Glad I had gloves on! 

The giant face was a sculpture of a Gasparilla mask - Tampa friends will appreciate that one

After the ice museum, we walked over to the kennel to check out the sled dogs.  The gal running the yard explained all about the dogs, the ins and outs of racing, the equipment, etc.  It was interesting.

They have 71 dogs that live and work there, and almost all have been rescued.  They were either getting too old for the long, 1,000 mile races or just weren't cut out for professional sled dog racing.  They still pull, but just for the winter tours that go a few miles around the resort.  I would have loved to go on one, but they hadn't started doing the sled dog tours for the season because there wasn't enough snow yet.  Maybe next time.

Look at all those wudgers

I know they're working dogs and are bred to do exactly what they do - but I couldn't help feeling a little bad for them seeing them all chained up to their little houses.  They're tough pups, and they seem to thrive in their environment & love what they do.

A few of the more interesting facts were that "Alaskan Husky" isn't a pure bred dog, it's a mixed breed that has certain characteristics that lend them to sled dog racing.  Like their double coats and demeanor.

Let me tell you - those dogs eat like kings!  They get salmon, high level protein, supplements...they eat like elite athletes and live to be 16 years old.  I didn't think dogs that size could live that long.  Think it has something to do with their very lean, healthy diet and amount of daily exercise they get?  Yeah, me too!

We explored some other places during our trip, and I'll be blogging about a few of them in the next few weeks.  If I don't get tired of writing about Fairbanks, that is!  How about I wrap up this too long post with a lovely sunrise through the birch trees shot I took from the deck at the lodge?  Not too shabby for the really real great white north.

Ta-ta for now.

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