Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 11 - Fairbanks

Fairbanks weather:  High 68, Low 48 with beautiful blue skies all day.  Note that the northern lights index is a 2 tonight and a 4 tomorrow night, which would result in spectacular viewing, but it's supposed to rain tomorrow, so we're going to set our alarm for 1:00am and see if they're out tonight!
Steps walked:  Shaun 9,275 with 14 stairs climbed; Shannon 7,660 with 11 stairs climbed.
Critter count:  50 bajillion sand hill cranes and a couple of arctic ground squirrels...also some reindeer/caribou-behind-bars and a bunch of other water fowl we couldn't identify

Today we slept in late (because of our northern lights activities last night) and then went to breakfast/lunch at The Cookie Jar, which has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network.  First of all, they made the best cup of hot chocolate I've ever had.  Secondly, the meal was really good (we each had soup and crab and cheddar quiche).  Thirdly, they had cinnamon rolls as big as my head, but we didn't indulge.  Lastly, we did indulge in some cookies (cuz you know you have to when you go to a place called The Cookie Jar) that were to die for.  We got a variety, but our favorite was the oatmeal, coconut, semi-sweet chocolate chip ones.  Nummmo!

While on our way to the Farmer's Market, we passed a field called Creamer's Field, and this is where hundreds of thousands of sand hill cranes stop over in Fairbanks on their migration to warmer climates.  It was incredible how many there were, so we just had to stop.  This weekend is a sand hill crane festival because this is the time of year that they do their little mating dance and all that, so we'll be coming back again on Friday.

Next we went to the Farmer's Market, which we were lucky enough to catch in similar fashion to the one in Homer.  It was a very good one and much bigger than Homer's, and we finally bought ourselves a pair of the wooly mammoth fossil earrings we'd wanted but couldn't afford.  There was a lady there that had much lower prices than in the hotel gift shops we looked in, so we were happy as could be.

This totem pole is kind  of freaky because all 4 animals are smiling....weird huh?

Our next stop was the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska.  It was a very nice museum, and we learned a lot about the history of Alaska....her people, her animals, her art, and her culture.  In the art section, there was a high falootin' outhouse that Shannon wanted her picture taken in, so who am I to refuse her?

We also watched a movie about the northern lights and why they happen and all that, and I bought a winter headband made by a woman that quilts them in patterns that match the mountain view out the window of the museum.  Pretty cool, huh?  There is a northern lights monitoring station right over the hill from the museum as well, so I took a picture of that because I'm throwing all the karma I can out so that we'll get to see them tonight.

A sweet pea wall...and it smelled so good!

...and on the other side of the wall....dahlias!

While still on the grounds of the university, we visited the botanical gardens and were less than impressed.  There were a couple of cool things, but the whole area is under construction and well past its prime, so it wasn't as good as we'd hoped for.  There were some monster cabbages, though, and a little arbored-off area that had a fence of sweet peas and tons of dahlias.  We took lots of picture for Grandma Dar and Grandpa Dan's reference because they would have gone apeshit over it.  We also had another "run like mad cuz the train's comin'" moment, so I had to include those shots so that Shan doesn't feel like she ran for nothing.

We got a dinner recommendation from the woman in the gift shop of the museum for a Thai place nearby, so I decided to try this type of food again even though I didn't like it the first time I tried it.  I am being adventurous, you know.  Apparently, Fairbanks has an unusual number of Thai restaurants, so it just seemed like the right thing to do, and it ended up being very good.

We made the decision to go back to the B&B and get to bed early so that we can wake up at 1am and see if the sky is clear.  If it is, we'll drive out to Skiland, which is a place the locals all go to see the northern lights.  We're hoping that the level 4 sun flares projected for tomorrow will start up early and let us see them tonight.  They say that you have an 80% chance of seeing the northern lights in Fairbanks if you stay 3 nights or more, so we're going to hold them to their word!  Wish us luck!!!

Sorry.  I just had to include a few more flowers!

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