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By Sternwheeler on the Chena River

Sternwheeler Riverboat This three-hour leisurely cruise on the Chena River was one of the best experiences I had in Fairbanks. As our riverboat slowly made its way to the confluence with the Tanana River, I witnessed how life on the river evolved from the subsistence lifestyle of the nomadic Athabascan Indians to the arrival of riverboats that brought the villagers their supplies and correspondence which was replaced by sled dogs during the winter months when the river was frozen to the red-hot housing market by the Chena River today. There’s much to learn as the 100-mile long Chena River continues its journey through time and place. A bush pilot expertly lands his float plane on the Chena River. Bush pilots deliver supplies to remote villages and are also used for tourism purposes. At the Trail Breaker Kennel and home of the late Iditarod four-time champion, Susan Butcher, we had the chance to see a dog mushing demonstration and get up close with some of the huskies at the Athabascan

Fairbanks, the Golden Heart City

  Interior Alaska Arctic Arch  This impressive collection of 100 moose and caribou antlers came from hunters and collectors from Interior Alaska.  “The gift of the arch is to let us imagine the personal stories and respect the intertwined lives represented here.” Sandy Jamieson, Fairbanks artist who crafted the antler arch   Gould Cabin This century old two-room log cabin stands on its original location. It’s the only survivor among the miners’ cottages that were in this area.  The bedroom of the Gould Cabin also includes a sitting area for guests. Mrs. Gould used wallpaper over the flat sawn lumber that covered the logs. It adds extra insulation against the cold. Dining room/kitchen in this compact log cabin. While visiting the historic log cabin at the Visitor Center, I received a flyer with the recipe for salmon chowder. Here it is: Ingredients : 2 tablespoons butter 1 small-medium onion, chopped 1/2 cup chopped celery 1 teaspoon garlic powder2 cups diced potatoes 2 carrots, diced 2

Living in the Arctic Circle

  Welcome to Wiseman, a small community 63 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska. Gold was discovered in Nolan Creek near the village in the early  1900s and miners turned this town into a bustling settlement until the boom ended. Today, there are fewer than twelve people living in Wiseman. It’s the perfect getaway if you crave peace and quiet or love hiking and mountain climbing. Wiseman is sandwiched by the Brooks Mountain Range and the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. We passed by a portion of the Alaska Pipeline on the Dalton Highway on our way to Wiseman from Coldfoot where our plane landed. This stretch of highway continues on to Prudhoe Bay in the Arctic Ocean. Residents of Wiseman are allowed to hunt just one moose annually for food consumption. Not surprisingly, there are antlers everywhere. Many of the cabins display antlers above their doors.  Our guide, Jack Reakoff, showed us his house and explained to us the mechanics of heating, cooking, planting vege

Athabascan Indian Village Life

  The Athabascan Indians traditionally lived in Interior Alaska from the Brooks Mountain Range in the north to the Kenai Peninsula in the south. They settled along the Yukon, Tanana, Susitna, Kuskokwim and Copper rivers. They were nomadic, traveling to fish, hunt and trap. This Athabascan village we visited is on the confluence of the Chena and Tanana rivers. The image above is of a typical log cabin with sod roof and an adjoining cache cabin for storing food. The sod roof weighs down the overlapping bark covering the cabin to keep it in place. It also adds a layer of insulation. This one room log cabin is made from spruce logs which are abundant in the area. A barrel stove warms up the cabin. Fur pelts hang outside the cache cabin where food is stored high above the ground  to be out of reach of animals. These pelts are used for clothing, blankets, bed cushions, tent covers and other purposes. Costumes worn by Athabascan men and women are made of animal skin and decorated with beads.