June 22, 2008

Upper Chena River Paddle

At the Fairbanks Fairgrounds Campground, we met a couple of new paddling friends, Rudy & Teresa H, and also ran into our Model T friends from the Yukon, what a surprise!
As we got closer to the Chena, Kim was amused by this road sign, unique to Alaska!
Rudy & Teresa had us join them at the Upper Chena River Campground for an adventure on the River the next day.
Shortly after setting up our tent, I heard Kim screaming for us all to "come quick". She was pointing to a white object in the tree behind the tent proclaiming "it's a Snowy Owl".
Now this was truly a great "lifer" bird for us. On closer inspection, we found she was absolutely correct....the lifelike creature was certainly a Snowy!

Up early the next morning, we hit the beautiful River. As we floated leisurely along, Kim & I were remeinded of our many floats in southern Mississippi and central Florida. The waters here seemed so familiar.

Rudy & Teresa were zipping along in their long tandem, watching for me to snag the first fish (of course I had my rod!). It wasn't long before a frisky Artic Grayling jumped on the lure and was in the boat. The Chena is a "catch & release only" river, so this one along with some thirty others were quickly returned to play sport with another angler some other day.

A few spots reminded me of some of the fishing camps we'd see along the backwoods bayous of south Louisiana.

Other sites told the story of just how high & swift the waters can get on this narrow stream.....

All in all, a great day spent flaoting about 12 miles of the beautiful Upper Chena, another of Alaska's remote treasures.

Summer Solstice Festival

Fairbanks is the home of the largest Solstice Festival in the State. http://explorenorth.com/library/aktravel/bl-solstice.htm

So, we just had to attend, and stay up 'til the "midnight hour" to see what the sun would be doing... the festival was full of Alaskans out from the winter hibernation, enjoying the rides, crafts and food.

Kim found the jewelry and crafts of particular interest, while I just enjoyed eyeing the crowds that reminded me of Mardi Gras.

I had promised Kim a massage for her birthday on the 11th, and it just so happened that there was a booth to fulfill each & every desire. So, while she enjoyed the personal relaxation, I just went about the side streets and enjoyed more of the attractions

, and at least one vendor's product reminded me again of something you just might see in Louisiana:

One of the prime reasons for attending this event was the music lineup. With three stages going all afternoon, we sampled everything from country, to jazz, to rock, folk & bluegrass!

The group that stole the show was Cold Steel, a local carribian steel drum band that was terrific. We've heard many "steel" bands, but never one where the tenor & bass parts were the drums also. What a difference that makes.

You should have been there, it was so, so different & good! They played for almost an hour, and the crowd just loved 'um!

Check out the sample of their sound & jive at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNtdKidDII8

On the way back to the trailer, that "midnight hour" beckoned us to stop & take this shot of Mr. Sun still flying high over the low hills to the North (yes, North!).

and, when we arrived at the trailer at about 12:30AM, we had a toast to this interesting day, seeing first hand the summer solstice in Fairbanks, Alaska!