|Ice Museum near Fairbanks|
The 3-leg flight was annoyingly long, but luckily we were able to get a great view of the Northern Lights just before we landed in Fairbanks. Fairbanks was very cold, but also very dry. The lack of moisture and constant below 0 temps leaves them with ice and perma-frost, but very little snow. As we expected, this town did not have too much to offer aside from, interesting (i.e. odd, unattractive) local folk, the hot springs (which, thankfully, the locals were not in) and the ice museum. Luckily, our train departed on Sunday, shortly after we arrived. I was pleased to be on our way, but sad to give up the killer free breakfast at The Hampton Inn.
|Mount McKinley (on the right) - Tallest Mountain in U.S.|
|Me, not reading|
Girdwood is a quaint, cool ski town where everyone knows one another and unlike Fairbanks, there's tons of white fluffy snow and everyone is good looking (especially our snowmobile guide, Matt, holla!). The first day there we met Dario, a dog trainer, kennel owner and nine-time Iditarod veteran. He showed what dog mushing is all about.....basically a lot of time, money, hard work and love for the dogs.
|Expensive Hand Warmers|
The dogs love to pull the sled. They howl, bark, fight, and jump until you let them mush. And, then, they go silent. They don't make a peep until you stop the sled. Alaskan huskies go about 20 miles per hour, can make super sharp turns, can run on ice, are mutts, both male and female, are relatively small, averaging about 35-40 lbs. As you can see, I learned and retained a lot of information about dog sledding. It's such an interesting sport. I even kept a copy of the local newspaper that covered last week's big race, The Yukon Quest.
The next day we hit the slopes. This time of the year, sun doesn't rise until about 8:30AM and doesn't peek over the mountain until 10:30AM, which is when the lifts open. The steep mountain was quite intimidating but the fresh powder and sheer emptiness of it made it quite amazing. There were no chair lift lines and no ice, which is basically unheard of for east coast skiers. Jeff, whom only started skiing a few years ago, put me to shame, BIG TIME. He tackled the black diamonds and white out conditions at the very top with pure style. I was just happy not to take him down every time I stepped off the chair lift.
For the last leg of the trip, we made our way back to Anchorage. We visited their art museum and learned about the gold rush, Eskimos, Alaska's wildlife and natural resources.