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Friday, December 05, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Morning

Fairbanks is Alaska's second largest city with a population of around 30, ooo in the city, although there are around 80,000 that lived in the city and surrounding area. Compared to Bethel, the 9th largest city, with a population of around 6,300, Fairbanks is a hoppin' Metropolitan area. We left Bethel late on Wednesday night because there was a very thick freezing fog keeping the planes away. When we finally got on the plane, they changed our seats so that we could all be in the back and, therefore, get off the plane first (the Bethel plane uses the back door). When we got to Anchorage, we had to run to make our connection, but it was fun and kind of exhilarating (I'm sure I wouldnt have felt that way if we wouldnt have made it). We got into Fairbanks at about 1am. We stopped at TacoBell on the way to the place were we were going to sleep that night. In the morning, we headed to Chena Hot Springs right away. Above is Angie, Avery, and Erin in the back seat of the car on our way. Can you tell we're happy to be on vacation?

It was so nice to drive on paved roads and see trees that are taller than me. They had gotten a fair amount of snow and it was pretty cold, so everything had hoarfrost on it.
This is the first time I've seen the speed limit over 45! We were cruisin' down the Steese Hwy.
We stopped at a lookout point to get a view of the city in the Tanana Valley below. Here's Sadie with our rental car. A Highlander. It drove really nice! The picture from the very top of the blog post is the one that I took from this look out point. Beautiful!
Another pic of the wide open Steese Hwy and the beautiful winter scenery.
We decided to make a detour to see the Alaska Pipeline. Here is our group checkin it out. I like this picture because it gives a good reference frame for how big the pipeline is.
It was really cool to stand right there under the pipeline. I really felt like I was living a small part of Alaska because the pipeline is such a big part of what Alaska is all about.
The pipeline is a bit smaller than I imagined it, but a sight to see none the less. Those things that look like radiators coming out of the top of the support beam are, in fact, radiators.
Here is what the Alyeska pipeline website says about them...
Specially designed vertical supports were placed in drilled holes or driven into the ground. In warm permafrost and other areas where heat might cause undesirable thawing, the supports contain two each, 2-inch pipes called "heat pipes," containing anhydrous ammonia, which vaporizes below ground, rises and condenses above-ground, removing ground heat whenever the ground temperature exceeds the temperature of the air. Heat i
s transferred through the walls of the heat pipes to aluminum radiators atop the pipes.
This is a pig. If you click on the picture, you should be able to read the sign. I think that the technology behind the pipeline is interesting. I stood out in the freezing cold to read these signs long after my traveling companions had ran back to the warm car.

After our glimpse of a piece of Alaska's history, we continued our journey. Along the way, we saw some amazing scenery.
And some funny signs....
I bet hitting a moose would do more damage to your car than hitting a dear...and I've seen some pretty messed up cars from people hitting dear in Ohio. I cant imagine what a car would look like after hitting a moose. Although, I should say truck, because most people in Alaska drive trucks so it would be way more likely that it would be a truck that hit a moose.
and some more interesting signs...

We enjoyed all of the trees very much. The scenery around Fairbanks is much more like what most people think of when they think of Alaska. It is beautiful. Notice how the sun has melted the frost off of the tops of these trees.
Mailboxes were a sight for sore eyes. We enjoyed our hour drive to Chena Hot Springs. Although, we kept our eyes open for moose, we never did see any. The closer we got to Chena, we more open water we saw on the streams and rivers. I could only conclude it had to be from the warmer temperature of the water running under the Earth in this area.

Next post...AWWWWWW....Chena Hot Springs.

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