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Oct 9 08 6:17 PM
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Oct 9 08 7:00 PM
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Oct 11 08 9:27 PM
Oct 12 08 6:39 AM
Your photos are wonderful! If the auto industry loses its appeal, photography might be a career option for you!
Alaska is one of my favorite places and I really enjoyed the pictures.
Oct 12 08 10:06 AM
Oct 12 08 1:52 PM
Great pictures. Now Mapwife wants another Alaskan Cruise.
Oct 16 08 5:08 AM
Oct 16 08 5:37 AM
Oct 16 08 7:41 AM
Thanks for those pics - only just had time to have a look. You got some good whale photos there!
Oct 16 08 7:45 AM
Great pictures, chip.
How old are your kids, and how did they do on the ride out to Wonder Lake? We did Alaska a couple of years ago, but Mrs. Alum was 6 months pregnant so we
just drove into the park as far as we could. We saw Denali clearly from Talkeetna, though.
We want to go again with Little Miss Alum when she's old enough to deal with the long bus ride to Wonder Lake.
Oct 16 08 12:17 PM
Dec 3 08 1:55 PM
Dec 3 08 2:03 PM
The photo numbers correspond to photos in Picasa.
Our flight from Detroit to Seattle was unremarkable. There was a good view of the city on approach, but Mrs. Chipshot,
Chip Junior, and "Flora" showed no interest in enjoying it. Of interest after landing was an older Northwest
747 (a passenger variant not shown in Northwest's WorldTraveler magazine) at a gate we passed as we taxied to ours.
Flying charters, perhaps?
After the usual post deplaning rest stops we set off for lunch and our flight to Fairbanks. A quick stop at Alaska Airlines' service center yielded the boarding passes we were unable to print when checking in online
and confirmation that our bags were checked through (memo to self: don't forget to confirm the correct destination
on the tags when checking in bags). I was happy to learn that the "premium" seats I had selected online
months earlier were indeed ours. I was concerned they would be taken from us and given to Alaska MVP's.
For lunch we settled on Wendy's, a bit disappointing given the options available. However, there was no improving on the view from our windowside Pacific Marketplace table.
Chip Junior observed that Sea-Tac was like Detroit Metro, with Alaska replacing Northwest as the dominant carrier and trams underground rather than
overhead. Very observant.
The gate for our Fairbanks flight was crowded, but the wait for boarding was short enough that the lack of
sufficient seating didn't present a problem. Boarding was orderly, pushback on time, and take-off
uneventful. Clouds and our departure path meant that our coveted two window seats failed to yield a view of Mount
Rainier. Oh well, there was still plenty of British Columbia and Alaska yet to see.
Right. Clouds were all we saw until about halfway through the flight, when we had a spectacular view of
glaciers, mountains, and water. Which ones I do not know.
Chip Junior and Flora sat together for a while to watch a movie, and Mrs. Chipshot and I played a couple of
games of checkers. Our row-mate was a very nice man from Arizona on his way to Alaska to work as an electrician in a
mine. We learned that he was Navajo and had served in the Navy. His son had
enlisted recently and would soon be going to sea. He gave Mrs. Chipshot (at her request) some checkers advice, which
didn't change the outcome of the second game.
Many of the passengers worked in and around mines. They are typically
in Alaska for several weeks and then go home or elsewhere for their weeks off. About two hours into the flight, a
flight attendant announced that a passenger had knitted a cap for an infant flying with her father. It fit perfectly
and looked adorable. The event added to the nice Alaska Airlines feel.
Unfortunately there was nothing more to see until after we crossed the Alaska Range and started our descent
into Fairbanks. Then the sights consisted of tundra, rivers, and Eielson
AFB. Soon Fairbanks International Airport came into view, near the intersection of the Tanana and Chena
Rivers. There weren't many planes to see as we taxied to our gate after landing, but what there was was
interesting. I later learned that the larger ones were cargo planes, ferrying material and fuel to locations throughout
The terminal was new and still under construction. People we talked to
on the plane said the old terminal had been just fine and that there had been no need for a new one. Pork barrel
spending Alaska-style? We were met by a representative from Cruise
West. She and her colleagues handled our checked luggage while I secured the rental car we had reserved for our
"free day" in Fairbanks before our tour began. Hertz handed me the keys to a Ford Explorer, which already had
a booster seat for Flora.
Dec 3 08 2:06 PM
We woke as the sun was rising. A quick stop in the parking lot on the
way to breakfast yielded a faceful of chilly air and views of the Alaska Range in the distance. One of those mountains
had to be Denali, but which?
After breakfast we headed to the El Dorado Gold Mine, stopping
along the way to see the Alaska Pipeline. It's just off the
road north of Fairbanks, and we were amazed how close we were able to get to it. There was actually a sign warning
against climbing on the pipeline. I suppose there really are people foolish enough to try. Unfortunately we lingered too long at the pipeline and just missed the train at the gold mine, so we left with plans to return in
We headed back into town, stopping at Creamer's Field to see the sandhill cranes and other migrating birds and then Pioneer Park (formerly called Alaskaland) where we saw the Pioneer Air Museum, Riverboat Tanana, other attractions, and (of course) a few shops. There was plenty of Alaskan history to see, and the only entry charge we paid was for the air museum.
After lunch (carryout from Fred Meyer, where we also
bought a compact hair dryer for Mrs. Chipshot) it was back to the gold mine, where our persistence was rewarded with a train ride with lively commentary and
music provided by conductor Earl Hughes, demonstrations of various gold mining techniques, and an
opportunity to try our hands at panning. For the record, Chip Junior and Flora each netted $12.50 while I got $7.00 and
Mrs. Chipshot $3.50. After panning we were given ample time to spend at the large shop where there was much to see
without buying (OK, so we purchased a couple of trinkets) and also fresh cookies and hot chocolate. The train then
returned us to the parking area.
I dropped Mrs. Chipshot and the kids at the hotel and returned Hertz's Explorer to the
airport. Back at the hotel, we attended a wine and cheese reception and tour briefing on a deck overlooking the
Chena. There were 26 of us taking Cruise West's Glaciers of Prince William Sound + Kantishna
Roadhouse tour. As expected, Chip Junior and Flora were the only kids. The
other passengers were from all over the U.S. and seemed very nice. We looked forward to getting to know them over the
next ten days.
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