You all know yesterday was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Well, when you are in Fairbanks, Alaska, the day is REALLY LONG. As a matter of fact, there were 23 hours and 28 minutes of sunshine yesterday. That’s for real. The sun was up in the sky the entire day and night. I didn’t sleep a wink. At 10:00 p.m. we tried to settle down, but the sun is so high in the sky, it’s like you are taking an afternoon nap. Then at midnight, it still is so light outside you can play baseball. As a matter of fact, Fairbanks celebrates the summer solstice with a “midnight baseball game”. It’s a pro baseball game held every year on the summer solstice. The game starts at midnight without any sort of lighting, and it goes on until 3:00 a.m. or so, when it is still daylight. We watched the local news last night, and the commentator said, it’s 3:00 a.m. and it looked like 6:00 p.m. Freaks me out!!! I need some sleep!!!!
This morning we caught the shuttle in our RV park over to the Discovery Riverboat landing. The boat took us up the Chena and Tanana Rivers. The commentator was very informative. There are many homes on the river and we enjoyed seeing the different styles of log cabins. One cabin will be luxurious, and the one next door is very “primitive”, shall we say. The commentator said Alaska prides itself on not having any rules, so once you buy your property, there are no guidelines as to what you can put on it. A float plane took off and landed right beside the riverboat and it was interesting to see this up close. The pilot, who spoke to us by microphone, said he “found” this plane in a field, the plane was covered with weeds because it had been there so long, and he took the plane, refurbished it, and has been flying it ever since.
We passed by the home of the famous Iditarod winner, Susan Butcher and her husband David Monson. Susan won the Iditarod four years, 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1990. She died of leukemia in 2006. Her famous lead dog, Granite, lived to be 17 1/2 years old. When we passed by their home on the river, her husband gave a demonstration with the dogs right on the banks of the river. When they started harnessing the dogs together, the dogs got in a frenzy because they love pulling so much. As soon as he said “mush” they started off and were going up to 25 mph. They were pulling David on a four wheeler, which was in neutral. It was a great demonstration. When we got off the boat David was there with a children’s book his wife wrote before she died about her beloved lead dog, Granite. David signed the book for me. We will read the book to Olivia until she is old enough to read it for herself, then we will give it to her.
We were served salmon spread on crackers which was very good. We got back to our RV park around noon, just in time to have lunch and rest before getting on another shuttle and heading out for the El Dorado Gold Mine tour. This tour was very interesting –they showed us how to pan for gold, how the process works, and then they gave each of us a bag of “dirt” which we then put in the pan, dipped in water, and swirled around while the heavier rocks separate and finally you see some specks of gold in the bottom of the pan. When all was said and done, Greg and I together had about $20 worth of gold, which I promptly had set into a beautiful pair of 14 carat gold earrings which cost $130. Ya gotta laugh, but I will have a good story to tell when I wear them.
Oh, and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the guy sitting behind us on the train ride up to the gold mine. I looked back at him and he had a name tag on (must have been with a tour group). His name is Bill Bailey. That happens to be the name of Greg’s friend who introduced us 40 years ago (and we are still friends). So shout out to our good buddy, Bill Bailey!
We are tired tonight but we had to do four loads of laundry because we will head out to Denali tomorrow morning. We will stay in a primitive campground inside the park, which will have no access to phone, electricity, etc. On Thursday we will do the all-day tour of the park and we are hoping to see lots of beautiful sights, including Mt. McKinley. If the weather is as nice as today, we should have no problem seeing it. By the way, we are wearing shorts today for the first time in a month.
We will be out of touch until the weekend, but stay tuned. Bonnie