Fall in Fairbanks

A question was nagging me about Alaska and it was finally answered when I went to meet a friend and her family at a nearby park. I arrived early and chatted with a guy who had lived here for decades. A Brit, his father had worked on the pipeline and then he moved here when things went in different directions in South Africa.

“Alaska is the perfect balance between humans and nature,” he told me.

It nailed it. Before going to the park, I went just a few minutes north to see a Trans Alaskan Pipeline Viewing station. It sits right by the highway among the trees. I had sen it the day before zigzagging down mountains in the distance and would see it more on my drive back to Anchorage the following day. To me, it perfectly sums up the balance.

The pipeline runs from Proudhoe Bay in the north, up in the Arctic Circle, down to Valdez, the northernmost ice free port in Alaska. The pipeline, beyond being an engineering feet of it’s time, had to balance both nature and humans because nature is very unforgiving.I sits above at points because the ground underneath is tested to see if the oil running through and the above ground temperature will defrost the ground and make the pipeline unstable.

Then it was fun day at the parks. And Alaskan fun day is different. I’m freezing and her son showed up in shorts! But they showed me some of their favorite local places. It was fun. Hiking, I found (and had been coming around to the idea) is not all paths marked with stones. Sometimes, it’s just wandering into the woods.

Even wandering into the woods was interesting. And beautiful. My friend pointed something out to me that I thought but wasn’t sure about: I wasn’t walking on dirt; I was walking on a leave covered bed of moss. Much more comfortable with that soft springiness under your feet. Then, her son took me up to a top of the hill to get some great shots. It was steep! He slid down on his butt. It was epic! I went down the old fashioned way, being reminded that going up might be physically more difficult but going down a seep grade like that is murder on the knees.

But then it was time to rest up. I was denied hot springs in two places so decided to do the Chena, touristy thing. I made the drive as the sun was setting. I was running around a lot and wanted to be there at night in case the northern lights were out. $15 entrance fee. You can’t beat that. The resort had an 80’s ish style, but I wasn’t complaining as soon as I entered the springs. What an incredible way to end my day. I wish I had stayd at the resort. They offer much more than just the hot springs. Dog sled rides, four wheeling adventures, bus rides to the top of a mountain for ideal northern lights viewing, etc. But the hot springs were enough. I did make a video but still haven’t figured out how to make it load onto the page.

And then of course, the road shots from and back again…

My last adventure in Alaska came the following morning. I did try to stop and see a doctor, but she wasn’t in yet. Dr. Melissa Webster is the only board certified periodontist in the state. I also found out that there are no orthodontic labs in the state? Maybe?

I passed through North Pole, Alaska as I took the easterly, longer route back to Anchorage. You miss Denali, and lots of trees, but the majestic landscape artist is at it again the entire trip down along route 4. Another couple of hours would have taken me to Valdez, but I was just exhausted by this point and feeling the weight of traveling so much and so fast. So I just kept going to Anchorage, got a hotel by the airport, and then jumped on an earlier flight home.

I want to make it back. In the summer, in my own car. In the spring, maybe, to set up my lab.

“The perfect balance between humans and nature.” I just like the sound of that, and the feel of it, the balance.