Friday, June 22, 2007
Fairbanks City Tour
After spending the day doing refresher training and dual driving (driving around Fairbanks for four hours with another driver) I decided to go downtown this evening and get some pictures of Fairbanks. Some of these pictures are stops we make along our tour. For example, the picture on the left is a statue that represents the people that first came to Alaska. The faces don't have any nationality to represent that many races have built up Alaska and that everyone is welcome here.
This river is the Chena river. Chena is an Athabascan word that means "rock water." The Chena flows through the center of Fairbanks. Our guests take a riverboat tour along the Chena. The Chena river was the river that E.T. Barnette, the original founder of Fairbanks, used to get to this spot in Alaska and open his trading post.
This is the Visitor Center. I took a picture of it because it has a sod roof. Some of the people here put sod roofs on their homes because the sod works as an insulator and helps keep their homes warmer in the winter. They also use their roofs (I kid you not!) to plant their gardens so the moose can't come along and eat their vegetables.
I can park here! How cool is that!? :)
This is an example of a shotgun cabin. Early settlers built these cabins. They built them small because they were easier to keep warm than a big house. As they needed more room, they would just add on to the back of the cabin. They originally got their names because you could open the front and back doors and shoot a shotgun through the doors without hitting anything. (I don't know why you would want to shoot a shotgun through your front and back doors even if you could!)
This is part of 2nd Avenue (Two Street). This was where the prostitutes would hang out back in the day. They were easy to pick out because they were the only women in short skirts and heels during the long, dark, bitterly cold winter months. Now 2nd Avenue is filled with tourist shops, an extension office for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the back of the Marriott hotel.
Fairbanks actually has an ice museum! I've never been in it, but I understand it's where they keep the ice statues people carve during the February ice carving festival they hold in Fairbanks. Plus, who has an ice museum, really? :)
I took a picture of this porch because it's such a great example of common Alaskan decoration. The people here love to use burls. These people used this wood to create their porch. There is a shop called the Knotty Shop that has used burl wood to create mosquitoes, moose, and other animals.
This is the branch building. (I went to Institute - a church class - last night.) It's hard to tell from the picture, but this building is tiny! It's maybe a fourth the size of a regular church building - and it cost $2 million to build. It's not uncommon for buildings to be crazy expensive because when you build on permafrost, you have to either dig it out down to the bedrock or insulate the ground so that your foundation will be stable. If you want to build a home here, you have to get a notarized statement that the ground is free from permafrost before the bank will give you a loan.
Well, there you go! Thanks for visiting Fairbanks, and don't forget to tip your driver (really, really well!! :) )