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Saturday, August 13, 2011

From Seward to Fairbanks!

We left Nikki’s on Tuesday morning before breakfast. There was a flurry of activity at her house. She works as a rural mail carrier --- and was heading out early herself. That was fine with us-- We wanted to drive the 35 miles south to Seward for a look-see and breakfast!

Breakfast has to be my favorite meal to eat out! I think I could eat breakfast ANY time of the day….and finding little mom & pop places that are not chain stores, just local hang-outs are great!


Reindeer sausage or caribou patty, anyone? No? Come on, you only live once!

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A small promise of blue sky buoyed our spirits! This was the day we were planning our Long Driving Day #1 ---making our way from Seward after breakfast, up through the Denali National Park on our way to Fairbanks! We had hopes of seeing Mt McKinley….and were hoping that bit of blue sky would just open up to reveal what we wanted to see!

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Instead, it rained the whole way, and the clouds sat right on top of the mountains at the snow line. BUMMER!! But it was STILL lovely. We stopped to take pictures and stretch our legs…

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I was amazed at the number of cross country bicyclists there were….and a lot of them women, riding solo! Bikes with 50 lbs of gear --- out in the middle of nowhere, rain, cold, wind…((and yes, some of these people in shorts, I am such a wimp!))

It was a beautiful drive and it took us all the way til dinner time to make it to Faribanks.

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And then the adventure REALLY began! (((Yes, this is the Alaska traveling uniform…jeans, tennies, interchangeable shirt, and denim over-shirt, and sometimes the alternate blue hoodie!))

We got into fairbanks thinking it would be fairly easy to find a hotel --- NOT!!

Every place we tried was sold out! NO ROOMS AVAILABLE! We had no clue that the fair was going on this week…but one of the ladies at a B&B suggested we try the visitor’s center, and we did….and they pointed us toward a Gold Camp “Hotel” about 30 miles out of town that still had 2 rooms available. We were up for an adventure, and I was really excited to have this opportunity--I mean, the inside of one Day’s Inn looks like the inside of any OTHER Days Inn, And THIS was different!

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Brochure on my lap on the way up to the Chatanika Gold Camp! ((At this point we had driven close to 500 miles that day, and I was just ready for a BED!))

We drove and we drove and we drove…about 30 miles North East of Fairbanks, and it seemed impossible that anything was out there, but there it was! And the history of this place is fascinating!

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SOMEONE has taken really good care at planting the flowers…look at that gorgeous color! They were using all kinds of gold digging equipement as planters, and it was fun to walk around and see what was put to good use!

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We drove up the road, under the gate, and followed it around to where the hotel signs pointed..not sure what we would find!

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The brochure didn’t lie! LOL!!! See that first window above the hotel sign? That was our room! There were 10 rooms on the top floor, and a couple of cabins on the property to rent also.

The restaurant is on the ground floor, along with lots of mining memorabilia. The staff was welcoming, and we settled in for dessert! ((We’d grabbed pizza in Fairbanks before driving up…we were too starving to wait by this point!)) Strawberry Rhubarb pie ala mode for me, and a chocolate sundae for DH and we were ready to settle in for the evening.

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Gorgeous flowers amid the remnants of old mining equipment….

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This is the upstairs! All the comforts of home --- including 2 treadle machines, two old over stuffed antique chairs, a microwave and a coffee pot! LOL!!

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Even an old ironing board set up in case you needed to iron out your wrinklies-- See the light from that window? This is after 9pm!

I neglected to take a picture of our room…we were just too tired. But it was comfy, just a queen bed, an antique dresser. Curtains at the window like this one ---we had to hang towels over the curtain rod to make the room dark enough to sleep ;c)

As it was “Back in the day” the bathrooms were shared…and directly across the hall from us! So, I was grateful to have packed ear plugs to keep the sound of sleepy guests and midnight trips to the bathroom at bay.

In the morning, I found out how REALLY rustic it was…I went to take a shower, and there was NO HOT WATER!! Serious. I tried the knob both ways, and it just got colder. Pass on the shower, get one at our next destination, Delta Junction!

This place was so rustic that there is no one at the desk in the morning. You just leave your key in the door lock, and out you go in the morning ---

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In the morning before heading back to Fairbanks for breakfast, we stopped to take a peek at the old one room school house. At one time Chatanika was bigger than Fairbanks, there were thousands of people that populated the area during the gold rush. It’s just a ghost of what it once was.

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Well rested, but un-showered!! I love the path less traveled ---and I’m GLAD that Fairbanks was out of hotel rooms, or we never would have explored out this way!

15 comments:

regan said...

What a wonderful, unexpected gem! And you're right, Days Inn and the like all look the same.....how boring a vaca would be if that's all you stayed at!

Hopefully you'll get a peek at some mountain tops soon.....that rain and fog can't last forever, right? lol

Lori said...

Seriously Bonnie, the best places are the ones that we are "forced" to take. What fun memories you will have of this hotel!

Marj said...

Your Alaska adventure sounds like such a fun thing to do. Maybe when my DH retires we can go on some impromptu adventures.
Thanks for sharing yours.

Marla said...

I so want to go there. Even with no hot water! Ha! What an adventure you are having!

Kim said...

Great adventures :0)!

When we were in the Canadian Rockies we saw bicycles fully backed everywhere too. My goodness some of the roads were nothing but switchbacks climbing thousands of feet in the middle of no where with BEAR warning signs at every turn! Oh yes there are much heartier souls in this world than me!

Look at those huge delphinium! What stories you'll have to share. :0)!

Safe travels and Happy Sewing

Janet O. said...

Gorgeous countryside--too bad you couldn't see the mountaintops. Isn't that how it goes?
What a fun place to stay! What pics would you have had to share or stories to tell of a chain motel?

ga447 said...

Unexpected (goodthings) is what vacation is all about. We went to an out of place restaurant in Sandusky Ohio and had fresh fish that was just caught. I ate the sandwich on the shore of Lake Erie.

cindyquiltsOR said...

In August of 2007, I took the Alaska Railway from Fairbanks to Anchorage. I saw so many wonderful sites ... goodness. The train was the best way for me to travel. If I had been driving, I am sure I would have gotten distracted and crashed!

Enjoy it all ... take a ton of pics.

cityquilter said...

looks like the trip of a lifetime....beautiful lupines!

Louise said...

Alaska is a beautiful state & that Gold Mine inn looks like a cool place with so much character.
I personally would try the reindeer & caribou...I imagine it would be similar to venison?

Anonymous said...

Bonnie, I'm confused. I thought you were cruising in Alaska, but all your posts indicate that you are driving. Did I miss something?

Sherri
shoquilts@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Bonnie, I'm confused. I thought you were cruising in Alaska, but all your posts indicate that you are driving from place to place. Did I miss something?

Sherri
shoquilts@gmail.com

GerryART said...

Caribou?, Reindeer?
oh, heck, Bonnie, I'll have what you're having.
hugs,
Gerry

Jean said...

Always an adventure with you Bonnie! Thanks for taking us along! Lots to see and enjoy from the looks of it all!
Your hexi-quilt is really moving along!
So nice that you and your DH could do this adventure together!

Vivian said...

What a fun "off the beaten path" stop and a chance to really experience a little history up close and personal. Thanks for taking us along!

An Alaskan quilt cruise is on my bucklet list but you are making me wonder if I'd miss too much of the "real" Alaska being on a boat. Can't wait to see where else you will go on this trip!