DENALI TO FAIRBANKSJune 8, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C
Our departure time from Denali is 2.30 pm so we have a leisurely morning to enjoy our last day in the Alaskan mountains. After breakfast we strolled around the shops and galleries in Denali. The shops are just for the tourist season and even the traffic lights are turned off when the tourists leave. The galleries of native arts and crafts usually have some very beautiful merchandise but with our luggage allowance restrictions we have to keep our dollars in our pocket! After shopping, we walked along the Nenana River nature trail and enjoyed seeing and reading about the native plants and trees which are blooming rapidly due to the long hours of daylight.
Our bus driver, Faith, delivered the bus safety announcement in song accompanied by her yuk - a novel idea. We had another moose sighting just by the highway. Faith was in her early 20s and was up in Alaska with her husband (who was driving the bus in front) for their 1st season. Faith had already picked up some amusing stories including one about the little town of Ferry which originally had houses on both sides of the river but when the Alaskan railway was built they built a bridge over the river and the residents were initially allowed to use it but it was then decided to be too dangerous so crossing the bridge was banned. The residence were most unhappy about this decision and their method of protest was for them all to line up when a train came through and they dropped their pants to moon at the passengers!!!! Alaskan Railways quickly decided to reverse their decision. But every 4 July the residents come out and moon for the train passengers and tickets for this journey have to be booked well in advance.
We stopped at Nenana for coffee and super big cakes and biscuits were on offer. Nenana holds an annual competition where people can buy a ticket for $2.50 and have to guess the exact date and time the ice will break on the river (this usually happens late April/early May). The prize money is usually around $200,000. Nanana had also been a first stop for the Iditarod mushers race.
After the stop Faith arranged an Alaska trivia quiz with 'gold' chocolates (Rolos) as the prize for each correct answer. Faith also sang the Alaskan national song to us. It was an entertaining journey and Faith earned her tip.
When we arrived in Fairbanks we walked downtown and saw the square, fountain, clock and old style shop fronts. We didn't find any of the restaurants too appealing in town so we returned to our hotel and enjoyed a meal there. Fairbanks, like most other Alaskan Towns, was established due to the Gold Rush. There is a large military presence in the area and the town flourished when the 800 mile Alaska Oil pipeline was under construction but then declined. Tourism is a major but seasonal industry here. There are a number of smarter and more modern shopping plazas out of town and the town has a university and an international airport plus a bush plane airport. The town is in the interior, only 120 miles from the Artic Circle and has a dry climate and less snowfall than other areas but temperatures in winter are still 30 or 40 degreesF below zero and people and planes get around on skis, snowshoes or snow machines.Read more