We left Denali by bus headed to Fairbanks. We stopped in the town of Nenana, AK, the home of the Nenana Ice Classic. This contest has been running for the last 106 years. A large wooden tripod is placed on the ice in the Nenana River and participants try to guess when the ice goes out of the river (date, hour, and minute) such that the tripod goes through the ice and starts to flow downstream. Tickets are $3. Last year’s prize was almost $243,000. All proceeds go to charity.
When we arrived in Fairbanks we boarded the Riverboat Discovery III for a tour of the Chena River. The Binkley family has provided transport of people and freight along these rivers for over 100 years. The Riverboat Discovery III holds 900 people.
They have built a small village of historic-looking buildings with a dining hall and souvenir shop. Here is the Discovery II which still is in operation.
And, where there is a Discovery II and Discovery III, there must be a Discovery I. I’m glad they upgraded to the III.
Sea planes are an important means of transportation in Alaska. There are more licensed pilots per capita in Alaska than any other state.
It was a lovely view down the river to the mountains in the distance.
We passed Trail Breaker Kennel, the home of Susan Butcher, the only woman to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. This race travels from Anchorage to Nome, a distance of over 1100 miles. Susan held the Iditarod speed record from 1986 until 1992, at just over 11 days. She has passed away and the kennel is now run by her daughter.
I learned that reindeer are a domesticated caribou. These reindeer are kept at the Chena Indian Village, a restored Athabascan Indian village.
This fish wheel was used to catch fish. The arms would turn as flowing water would push the lower arms with nets. Any fish caught in the nets would be dumped from the nets into a holding pen.
We were shown how the Athabascans cleaned, dried, and smoked fish.
The Chena Village Post Office has a monument to Granite, Susan Butcher’s lead dog for her Iditarod victories.
The village displays traditional canoes, tents, dress, and buildings.
This beautiful coat is not old, but was made with traditional materials and patterns.
Two bull moose fought to the death. Their antlers became tangled, locked together. Neither animal would win this fight. Both perished. They were discovered in a nearby river and brought to a taxidermist who recreated this action scene.
This concludes our time with Holland America Cruise and Land Tours. Thank you Holland America for a great itinerary. However, we aren’t finished, yet. Tomorrow we fly back to Anchorage for a bit of time on our own.