During our recent trip to Fairbanks, Alaska, we had the opportunity to take a three hour tour. Thus, I had the Gilligan’s Island theme song stuck in my head the entire day. But despite that, our trip on the Riverboat Discovery III, up the Chena River, was outstanding.
First, we got to see a float plane take off and land right beside the boat, and had the opportunity to hear the pilot tell stories about living life in a place where small planes can often be the only mode of transportation.
Then, we briefly docked right in front of Susan Butcher’s kennels. Before her death, she had won the Iditarod four times. Now her husband runs the kennels, and we got to hear stories from him about Susan and the dogs, and we got to watch him put the dogs through their paces. After their mushing demonstration, the dogs plunged right into the cold river for a refreshing dip, and the puppies cavorted on the bank. So cute.
Then we got to walk around a Chena Indian village. We learned a lot about the Athabascan culture, including their hunting and fishing traditions, and gorgeous displays of fur clothing. We also got to see reindeer close up, and check out the largest, most elaborate taxidermy display I’ve ever seen. It was of two moose that were found dead on the tundra, their horns still locked together in combat.
But I’m not going to lie. My favorite part of the tour was the free samples of salmon mixed with cream cheese that they provided on the boat. I kept coming back for more. I must have eaten two pounds of the stuff. It was even better than the miner’s stew we ate in the dining hall. (I was impressed that they were able to get 800 of us fed and out of there in no time flat, though.)
And of course, you exit through the gift shop. There, you had the opportunity to enter a chamber that shows you what 40 degrees below zero feels like. It’s almost physically painful. Needless to say, we did not linger long.
It was a good three hours. I highly recommend it.
A big thanks to StoryCorps for inspiring this blog and my first book. http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5