“Snow Wars Part III”, Alaska, final countdown

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

My final number in Alaska

An uneventful day.  I can’t confirm this, but I may have watched another dvd and gone for a walk or two.

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

We had to return the rental car, so I wound up dropping off Gayle at work and was able to use her truck to piddle around town.  It was a completely different feel being able to go where I pleased.  It was actually my first time driving in ice and snow.  I thought it may have been a lot worse, but the learning curve wasn’t too bad.  The big point to remember, Gayle said, was to make sure you have plenty of time to stop.

So what did I do with my newfound freedom?  I drove around and took some pictures, explored

Gayle's favorite coffee house (she's in the black truck)

the University of Alaska, Fairbanks campus (they have a really nice museum at the top of the hill!), got a bit to eat and caught a movie at AMC theater.  All in all, a really pleasant, if not exciting day.  I wish I’d had my own wheels the entire time so I could have  explored some more.  When Gayle got off work, I joined her and a couple of her co-workers for dinner and drinks at a local Mexican restaurant.

Saturday, March 3rd ,2012

Gayle’s co-worker’s husband took me ice fishing, another first for me.  His name was Gordon and he is a retired Alaskan State Trooper, among other things.  I had actually met him on my first day at work and he had planned on taking me ice fishing my very first week, but he feel sick (as did I), so we had to wait til this day to do it.  Actually, he still wasn’t feeling that great, so it was extremely nice of him to take me.  A very generous guy and after hanging out with him that day, I was disappointed we didn’t get to meet up more.  He had all these interesting activities lined up for me (hunting all matter of creatures, for example), but  I ran out of time.  If I ever make it back there, I’ll definitely be in touch.

"Icehole"

Ice fishing was….an experience.  It’s a strange feeling to drive on a lake, drill a three to four foot hole in solid ice and then wait patiently for a fish to bite.  Before we got to the lake though, we had to pick up a couple of more people.  There are two young boys, aged 13 and 8, that Gordon kind of looks out for, because their father works in the Southern part of Alaska for most of the year and rarely makes it home to visit.  He teaches them all kinds of outdoor skills like hunting, fishing and survival; skills that are a way of life in rural Alaska.

The little guy got the first catch of the day littlest one (I won't even attempt to spell his name) caught the biggest fish on the first lake we fished. For the record, after a slow start, I caught the most, but the prize of the day belonged, rightfully so, to Gordon. Ice fishing was very interesting, but I'll take an open boat on the ocean any day.

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

My flight was to leave from Fairbanks at 3pm, so Gayle decided to take me to the “Chena Hot Springs” located about an hour and a half outside of town.  I was shocked to see so many Japanese visitors, even though Gayle told me in advance that the springs are popular among tourists.  The water was hot, but the outside temperature that day was -8F; it is a very strange sensation having your face freezing while your body is perfectly comfortable.  I could have stayed there all day, but we before we got into the springs we had bought a ticket to tour the “ice hotel” on the grounds.  Apparently, it’s one of the more famous sights in Fairbanks.  It’s even been featured on Discovery and National

Too late

Geographic.  Gayle and I didn’t stay in the water too long, because we wanted to be on time for the 11am start of the tour.  Unfortunately, we didn’t make it, so not only did we cut short one of my favorite parts of the trip, we didn’t even get to see the bleeping hotel thing we bought tickets for (Gayle had been before though).  I have to admit, the irony of it all was pretty funny, but Gayle felt really bad.  I told her not to worry about it and I meant it.  I just wish I could’ve stayed in the water longer.

After the springs, we headed back into town.  After a couple of errands it was off to the airport and then a long ride back to the sunshine state.  I had my share of mishaps on this trip (a lot of which I didn’t even write about), but I’m happy I was

Thanks for the memories, Alaska!

able to experience it all and it was more than gracious of Gayle to put me up for so long.  We are about as opposite as you can get personality wise, so I think she was looking forward to giving me the boot, but she was a trooper throughout and for that, I thank her!

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