Sight-seeing in Alaska

My hotel room in Anchorage faced toward the water, but there were tall buildings in the way, so my view was limited to a narrow opening between the buildings. There was a beautiful sunset Monday evening, the day I arrived. After that, the skies were mostly gray and not beautiful. Also, the conventions kept us busy so there wasn’t a lot of time for sightseeing in that area.

Yesterday we flew to Fairbanks in an 80-passenger prop plane that was only about a quarter full. My 6 other flights in the past week and a half had been filled to capacity so it felt luxurious to have all that extra room. Plus it was a clear, sunny day perfect for looking out the window! Too bad that flight only lasted an hour!

I have a much better view of the sky from my hotel in Fairbanks with interesting things to see. I love the pretty white church across the river. I briefly thought about attending Easter services there, but when I found out it was a Catholic church I decided it would probably be too awkward. The river appears to be frozen still, though I seriously doubt it’s solid by this time.

After settling into our hotel, my co-worker and I decided to drive up to the Chena Hot Springs resort, about 70 miles away. We didn’t go in the hot springs, and we were too late in the day for the sled-dog kennel tour, but we enjoyed seeing the resident reindeer. They are smaller than I imagined… more the size of… well, deer! I thought they were closer in size to elk. I don’t know why. They are cuter than I thought, too, with personable faces and short fuzzy antlers. No red noses, though.

We did get to tour the Ice Museum, featuring some impressive ice sculptures.

It is 24 degrees inside the Ice Museum. Since the day was sunny and in the 50s I had mindlessly slipped on sandals, not thinking of the possibility of having to walk around in slush… or being in a “Deep Freeze” for half an hour!

Our tour guide described the process of how the ice was sculpted. The whole time, my toes were saying, “The ice artists are crazy to want to work in this environment for hours at a time!”

The Ice Museum even included two bedrooms that you could stay in for $600 per night. Not to worry, the guide told us, the beds aren’t currently made up. When you check in (at 10 p.m.) they will create a “nest” for you of reindeer hide, which he assured us is very warm.

After the tour, we enjoyed dinner in the resort’s rustic restaurant, before heading back to our hotel in Fairbanks.

The Catholics were having a late-evening Holy Saturday service. This picture was taken about 9:00 p.m. I don’t know what they were doing gathered around the front steps like this, but it seemed to involve a small fire.

I wanted to stay up late to see if I could see the Northern Lights. The hours of darkness are pretty short this time of year. I took the picture above at about 10:00. The sun officially sets about 9:45, but the glow lingers on the horizon for a long time. I heard that the best opportunity for viewing the Northern Lights is between 12:30 and 1:30. I was just too sleepy to stay awake that late. But, as it turns out, they weren’t all that dramatic last night. Not sure I would have been able to see them in town anyway. They are supposed to be better tonight, and I took a nap this afternoon, so I’m going to try again! That is the #1 thing I wanted to see in Alaska!

At 6:00 this morning, a group was gathering for a sunrise service on the bridge over the window. I enjoyed celebrating our Risen Lord along with them from the warmth and comfort of my room. Later in the morning I was able to log onto our church’s live stream feed to celebrate remotely with my own family.
Hope you’ve had a wonderful Easter…
…and I hope my next post will feature shots of the Aurora Borealis!


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