Wednesday, July 29, 2009

After a night in Anchorage at the Captain Cook Hotel (very swanky), we took a short train ride down to Whittier to put our luggage aboard the Diamond Princess for departure that evening.

Whittier is an interesting town. The town is dominated by two large buildings, one is where most of the town residents live, the other one abandoned. Wikipedia has this to say:

The Buckner Building is a large abandoned government building in Whittier.

Two factors combine to make safe demolition of the building cost-prohibitive: First, there is a fair amount of asbestos in the building. Second, the only land-route in and out of Whittier is through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, so debris would either have to go through the tunnel or be moved on ships.

The building is a local hang out for kids, and is often explored by tourists. The safety of the building is marginal, due to the asbestos and questionable structural integrity. Bears are often found inside the building in the spring, and it is full of ice and precariously dangling pipes, wires, and substructure. The floor is almost completely flooded, with at least one inch or more of water on each level.

Excuse me? "local hang out for kids" and "bears often found inside" would seem to be mutually exclusive, but that's just me. Gotta love Alaskans.

We had about 7 hours before we had to be on board for departure, so we decided to hike up to Whittier Glacier.

See that little white boat? That's where we started walking from, hours ago and before much lactic acid poisoning. The view was worth it though. Peaceful and beautiful.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Which one's different?

One of these days, we'll talk Greg into getting a Tilley hat.

The Princess Rail car arrives, with the princesses awaiting.
We sat right next to the bar. Adam, with his handlebar moustache took good care of us.

The views for the eight hour train ride were spectacular.

Monday, July 20, 2009

We had reserved some class 3-4 rafting near Denali.

I asked the guide what class this one was, and he said it was a class 4. I told him it didn't look like a class 4, and he said the temperature of the water is a contributing factor. The fact that if you go in the water, you only have a few minutes before hypothermia hits apparently makes them more serious than warm water rapids.



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Athabascan natives with traditional clothing.

A few of the animals that are used for their fur. That is one big wolf! (and a nice wolf skin next to him.)

We had a seaplane take off next to our riverboat. It's a beautiful restored Piper Super Cub.

Upon arrival at Denali, the weather looked a little snowy. This left us a little apprehensive about our planned river rafting trip the following day.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Upon check-in at our Fairbanks hotel, we formed the "Cool guys with Tilly Hats club." We inducted Bruce, our newest member (on left). He brought up the level of class considerably.

These two gentlemen rolled in on this cold wet evening. They were on their way to Prudhoe bay, over five hundred miles of gravel roads. In the rain. And cold. They are tough guys.

I wandered over to the river, and caught a glimpse of the famous local beaver.

The Fairbanks ice carving museum was next on the agenda. It was a bit chilly. The thermometer is reading 17 degrees.
Then a fine Italian dinner, accompanied by some local beer.
We wanted to walk to a local park, but a friendly native offered us a rider. All seven of us. In her Toyota truck. While we mashed ourselves in, someone asked her if she was comfortable giving a ride to seven strangers. She said, "Sure, I have a gun," and smiled. Then she took a roundabout way because she didn't like the stoplights in downtown. Halfway through, Bruce said, "Uhhh, can we open a window? I'm a little clausterphobic." =:-O

Here is our our savior.