Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Alaska Trip Preview #4: Anchorage and Fairbanks

From my last Alaska trip preview post: "The two most pressing issues remaining on our itinerary are 'What do we do on our half-day in Anchorage?' and 'What do we do on our two-thirds day in Fairbanks'?" Six weeks after writing that post, I now have answers to those questions. Sort of. Let's start with Anchorage.

Let's look at the timing of our brief Anchorage visit. We're driving through Anchorage on Day 8 of the trip (Thu 7/1), but that will be part of a 14-15 hour driving day, so that doesn't count. We're returning to Anchorage on Day 10 (Sat 7/3), but I don't expect to get there until late evening, so again, we won't have time to do much of anything that day, either. Day 11 (Sun 7/4) will be Anchorage day, and even then, we'll only have the morning. After doing [whatever], we'd like to meet up with some old college friends for lunch*, and then we'll go straight from there to our accomodations for the night near Denali National Park.

(* - I think it's unreasonable to expect anyone to know whether they'll be available for lunch 11 Sundays from now. Most people don't even know what they're doing this Sunday, let alone a Sunday in July, and especially on the Fourth of July. So, we haven't worked out the specifics with Craig and Rachael as of yet. There will be plenty of time for that.)

I guess the point of the previous paranthetical paragraph is that it's important to be flexible with our Day 11 Anchorage plans. No reservations.

Hmm...you know, wouldn't it be fitting if part of the fictional Bicycling Trip to Alaska included some actual bicycling in Alaska? Even besides that, it would still be kind of nice to rent some bicycles and go for a short bike ride one at some point during the trip. Sunday morning in Anchorage is a perfect opportunity to do that. Apparently, Anchorage has over 120 miles of paved bicycle trails. Wow!

The plan is to rent a bike at Downtown Bicycle Rental in the morning (assuming they'll be open on July 4th - we'll check before we leave), and then ride the Coastal Trail, which begins five blocks from the rental shop. Sweet. Or, if it's raining, we'll find something else to do. You know...whatever.

Now...Fairbanks. I've gathered during my trip planning that there really isn't a whole lot to do in Fairbanks. So, it'll be a good place to get that oil change, along with any other necessary car repair.

However, most likely, we'll still have plenty of time to kill in Fairbanks, especially consdering that "sunset" won't happen until after midnight. So, what to do? I've come up with a few options, most of which actually involve leaving Fairbanks (albeit only temporarily):
- The University of Alaska "Museum of the North", one of the few things that actually is in Fairbanks, is apparently a good place to go. Especially if it's raining, and especially if we want a day with minimal driving and mosquitoes.
- Chena Hot Springs, 60 miles east of Fairbanks, has potential. Hope we can make it in time for the "Geothermal Renewable Energy Tour"! Yeah!
- Or, we can just head in the general direction of the Dalton Highway (which goes all the way to Deadhorse, near the Arctic Ocean) and see how far we feel like going (most likely, to the place where the pavement ends and the Dalton Highway begins). As much as I would love to get a picture of Mo the Cow Puppet next to this sign, I don't think that's very realistic, nor a good idea.

Apparently, there are other things to do up here (gold panning, dog sledding or something, etc), but I think we can entertain ourselves just as easily by sticking with the above three options. Which of those options we take will depend on time, weather, and desire.

Just 64 more days until we leave! Not that I'm counting or anything.

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