We woke to another cloudy foggy day! A little drizzle but it’s going to clear up! After a filling buffet breakfast, we headed to the Gold Dredge 8. Sue shared with us that it was Saturday, August 2. It is a very special day for Keaton. He turned 18 today! Happy Birthday Keaton. We sang Happy Birthday to him and gave him a gift. A bear bell and keychain. Have a wonderful day!
Happy Birthday, Keaton
Sue announced the winners of the “moose migration” pictures. It was a stretch to call them moose! She lost one of the drawings. It was a dead moose on the road. She can’t figure out where it went. Grand prize went to Cletus, most flowery to Wallace, what is it to Michael and the worst moose we’ve ever seen to Helen. Everyone needs art lessons or at least see more moose!
We arrived at the Gold Dredge 8 with a couple of other coaches – ok maybe more then that. We off loaded and headed up to board the train. When we walked to and from the train, we went under the Alyeska pipeline. The 800 mile long Trans Alaska Pipeline System is one of the largest pipeline systems in the world. Everyone was amazed at how big it is. We’ll see more of it tomorrow as we travel to Valdez. On our way back to the coach, we had a very informative presentation about the pipeline.
Jack telling about the pipeline
This is a note for all the children of our Alaskan “family” who are reading this. Your parents are coming home with “gold” but don’t get too excited. It isn’t enough for you to be able to retire!
We spent some quality time at the Gold Dredge #8. A ride on the Tenana Valley Railroad took us into the adventure after we were serenaded by our conductor, Earl Hughes. He sang and played the guitar for us. We rode through the area around the dredge and were given some very interesting information about mining. Jack told us about the changes in mining throughout history. We met Yukon Yolonda, a female miner, who told us about the dredge. We all wanted her nuggets which were made into jewelry.
Gold Dredge No. 8
Gold Dredge No. 8
Then we had a demonstration about panning for gold. That’s when the adventure really started. It was soon our turn and they gave us a poke and we tried to get “rich”. We determined it wasn’t easy and we’re glad that’s not how we earn our living. Sue got $3!!!! The most was $46 for a couple.
Panning for gold
Fortunately it didn’t matter how much gold we got, we still got to have fresh homemade cookies and coffee or hot chocolate. This of course was served in the “gift shop” and we were captive until the train was ready to take us back. Many ladies were sporting new jewelry.
On board the train
On our way to Steamboat Landing, Sue told us we should be watching for moose. She guaranteed that we would see one and it wasn’t the moose crossing sign. Everyone kept looking around for the moose. There were actually 2 moose but they were painted on a garage door. The group was not impressed.
Lunch today was at the Riverboat Dining Room. It is a miner’s lunch. We had beef stew, variety of vegetables, tossed salad, rolls, and yummy chocolate dessert. It was very hearty! At lunch, Michelle and Marlene discovered that they are related. Michelle’s Grandmother and Marlene were cousins. You just never know when you will run into relatives.
Then it was time to board the Sternwheeler Discovery III and set sail on the Chena River. The weather is better. It’s looking good for no rain! They have complimentary homemade blueberry doughnuts and coffee. That is all we do is eat!
We saw a bush pilot take off and land on the river. The private aircraft is essential to the delivery of supplies in Alaska. The pilot spoke to us about the plane and how valuable it is to his life in Alaska.
The bush pilot takes off
The next stop was at the home and kennels of the late Susan Butcher, four time Iditarod champion, where her daughter spoke with us about the Alaskan Husky dogs. We saw several puppies being trained for confidence by jumping over logs and walking on the dock. They showed us how they exercise the dogs in the summer. They harness them to a non-motorized 4-wheeler and the dogs pull it just like a sled. It was unbelievable! The strength those dogs have and the energy is unreal. The dogs are trained to know the commands to go, to go right or left, but once they’re running they don’t like to stop. The 4-wheeler does have a brake. Trailblazer Kennels was an interesting stop.
Susan Butcher’s daughter and kennel
They want to go!
Relaxing after the run
We saw reindeer! We found out that reindeer and caribou are the same animal. Reindeer are domesticated caribou and they don’t fly – unless they belong to Santa Claus! None of them had a red nose either.
An Athabascan native, Ashley, showed us how to fillet a salmon. It was the kind of salmon that they feed to the dogs. She was at the fish camp which is the summer home for interior Athabascan natives. She showed us where the salmon are hung up and then the smoke house. She also told us about fish head soup which they also feed to the dogs.
Ashley filleting salmon
Ashley and a fish wheel
We then continued on to Chena Village and the boat stopped. We went unto shore to visit the village. We were split up into groups and visited various places with guides. We discovered a moose who had been real at one time. Obviously it ate too much like us and was now stuffed!
We saw how the Athabascan’s lived in cabins made from spruce logs with sod roofs. We saw the primitive shelters and an authentic birch bark canoe. The cache was a real treat to see. It’s where they kept their supplies so the critters couldn’t get them. We saw beautiful animal pelts and how the Athabascan’s tanned the hides of the larger animals like moose and caribou. We were shown the garments that the Athabascan’s made. One of the young ladies that was our guide modeled a fur coat for us. It was very lovely.
Beautiful handmade parka
After the village, we headed back to Steamboat Landing. While we cruised, we were given samples of salmon dip on crackers. It’s a pretty simple recipe. One can of salmon to 4 ounces of cream cheese. What a nice treat! Our guide continued to give us interesting facts about Fairbanks, the river, the boat we were on and the Binkley family who are the owners of Riverboat Discovery and the Gold Dredge 8.
All too soon our cruise was over and John took us back to Our hotel. When we were back at River’s Edge, everyone went for dinner, drinks, walks and/or a good night’s sleep except for those who headed to the Arctic Circle Air Adventure. It was another wonderful day in Alaska. It just gets better and better!
Off to the Arctic Circle Adventure