Nomadic Dreamers
...our unschooling journey

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Location: Fairbanks, Alaska, United States

Monday, June 19, 2006

Fun Under the Midnight Sun

We've never had more nighttime fun than here in Fairbanks. In the summer, this means nearly unending sunlight. We've hiked, geocached, kayaked, and explored the area at all times of the day and night.

One longstanding tradition here in Fairbanks is the Midnight Sun Run that is held the Saturday before Summer Solstice. This year was our third Sun Run. We didn't have Jody here with us this year, but Grandma and Grandpa joined in on the fun. The Sun Run is 10K that runs from UAF (University of AK at Fairbanks) to Pioneer Park. There are over 3,000 participants each year, ranging from the serious runner to the casual walkers (US!!). It is such a fun event, with an incredibly festive atmosphere. We gather at UAF a few hours prior to the start to people watch. There is a costume division. Over the past few years one gentleman from the Lower 48 comes up with the most amazing costumes, and this year was no exception. Then you have the locals with such creative ideas....spawning salmon, the Northern Lights, the Osbornes. This year a group of 5 gals were "couch potatoes," with one posing as the TV, two on a couch, and the other two pushing the couch. Tristan decided to dress as a soldier. He looked pretty cool, especially when he was hanging around a group of uniformed Marines that were competing as a group.

The Sun Run route meanders mostly through residential neighborhoods. Folks sit at the end of their driveways, cheering the runners/walkers, offering water, and spraying them down with sprinklers or Super Soakers. One street really gets into the spirit and holds a yearly block party, which has gotten larger every year we've participated. This year they had a live band, which was really cool.

The Midnight Sun Run is the highlight of Tristan's summer. He absolutely loves it!! Last year the little trooper walked the entire route in the rain and was completely drenched at the end. Not 3 minutes into this year's race, Tristan found another boy to talk to. As it turns out his dad is also deployed to Iraq, and he only lives a few miles away from us. Tristan can really make friends anywhere!

I had taken a series of pics, but when I tried to upload them to the computer it said that the files had been corrupted. :o( Even with a downloadable program, I was unable to save them. I'm going to head to the local photo place and see if they can salvage the pics.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Denali and other adventures

So Grandma and Grandpa are visiting, which means trips to the various local touristy destinations....Pioneer Park, Denali, and the rest. Thankfully, they have visited before so we have done the really touristy attractions, such as the river boat trip and panning for gold. These activities in and of themselves aren't bad, but the groups that run them make them into such cheesy tourist traps. Tristan really enjoys Pioneer Park so he and Grandpa spent quite a bit of time in the air museum and wandering about the Nenana riverboat. He also made a new friend in about 2 minutes time while swinging at the park. :o)

We spent a few days in Denali and traveled there via train. For a few days the trip was up in the air because of a wildfire south of Fairbanks. At one time it had jumped the train tracks and suspended train operations. When we traveled south we saw freshly burned areas -- some still smoldering -- but, thankfully, no active fires. Our hotel was close to Glitter Gulch, the touristy "town" right outside the park, and Tristan and I spent quite a bit of time wandering through the shops. He quickly managed to make friends with one of the shopkeepers at his favorite shop and the manager at the ice cream parlor. LOL

Denali sure has changed in just two years. They now have a new visitors center, bookstore/giftshop, and even a large cafeteria. As nice as it is to have these additions (there was NO place to get food/water before), it has really made the lower portion of the park seem more crowded. We didn't take any long bus tours but took our regular hike around the Savage River. The upper portion of the river was closed due to bear activity, but the largest animal we saw -- except for the pinpoint sized Dall sheep -- were marmots. One was so close to the trail that we nearly stepped on him.

We also took a speedboat trip up the Nenana River with Denali Wilderness Adventures, which was a lot of fun. It was amazing how quickly we maneuvered through the winding and incredibly shallow river. After speeding our way upstream about 12 miles we stopped and had a presentation on trapping and tried our hand at goldpanning. Tristan was full of questions in regards to trapping and on the van ride back to the hotel he exclaimed that he wanted to try his hand at it.

Tristan never has small, simple plans and seems to come up with projects that I am simply clueless about. The closest I've been to a trapped animal was a beaver this past October, and she had already been trapped and hauled out of the river. I'm going to check into the local trapping association and try to hook him up with some local trappers.