Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Riverboat Discovery

As part of the Fairbanks city tour, our guests take a riverboat tour on the Chena river. The Binkley family owns and operates the riverboat. They're so rich it's sickening. Maybe they have a son my age.... Anyway, they're the nicest people and take really good care of the drivers. I am not in the picture because I am on the riverboat taking the picture. But when I have guests that take the riverboat tour, I get to stand down on the dock and wave at them as they come in. I feel like an idiot.

I've only included a few pictures from the riverboat tour because it's three hours long and we see a lot of stuff. If you want to see what's on the riverboat tour, you'll just have to come to Alaska and visit me and come on my city tour!! :)

This is Susan Butchers home. She was a three time winner of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, which runs from Anchorage to Nome. I believe she was also the first woman to win the race. Unfortunately, she passed away last August of cancer. One of her assistants that worked with her and is also a dog musher talked to us about mushing and also gave us a demonstration. You can see the dogs lined up on the line ready to pull the four wheeler. You should see them. They bark and yelp and are so excited we could hardly hear the girl as she was talking to us over her microphone. Some of the dogs were literally bounding three feet in the air, they were so excited. I've never seen anything like it. Once they got the command to pull, they went from looking like they were bouncing on pogo sticks to pulling as a team. It was amazing! Incidentally, dog mushing is the state sport in Alaska. Fairbanks is the ending or starting point for the Yukon Quest, a 1000 mile sled dog race that runs between Fairbanks and Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory and is considered one of the toughest races in the world.

As part of the riverboat tour, we dock and get off in a replica of a native Athabascan village. They have reindeer at the village. Their antlers are really soft and velvety. Do you know the difference between reindeer and caribou? Reindeer can fly, silly!

Okay, bad bus driver joke. Actually, they are the same animal. Reindeer are domesticated and caribou are free-roaming out on the tundra.

This is a picture of confluence of the Tanana and the Chena rivers. It's also the point where they turn the riverboat around. The dark water is the Chena river and the lighter, grayish water is the Tanana. The Tanana is a glacial fed river and so the water is filled with silt. The silt gives it that grayish/silver color. Silt is really fine, sandy material. If it gets into your clothes, it will wear them out - and there's a good reason that it does but I can't remember what it is. Anyway, you don't want to swim in a glacial fed river (duh!) because the water is ice cold and hypothermia would set in in a matter of minutes and you would freeze to death. Yikes!

This is a contraption that the Athabascan Indians use/used to catch salmon during spawning season. The flowing water turns the wheel and as the salmon are swimming up the river, they get caught in the baskets. They are dumped into another basket and collected. Some of the salmon are used to feed the dog teams and some are used by the Athabascans for their own food. They keep the nicest fish for themselves. And since the dogs don't know the difference, why not? :)

This is a float plane that took off and landed next to the riverboat. it was cool to watch. When I lived on Afognak island near Kodiak, I took a float plane to and from the island. I thought the landing would be smooth, but it felt just like landing on land.

Oh, this is just another picture of the float plane ... and Matt's arm, which I didn't realize was in the picture until after I took it.

1 comment:

BlaineDwayne27 said...

When did you live on Afognak? I lived there as a kid in the mid 90s. Just curious.