Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chena Hot Springs & The Arctic Circle

Monday Rowdy picked us up and we headed out to Chena Hot Springs.  This is a resort with a natural hot springs lake.  They have kept it pretty much in its natural state.  The water temp is 106 degrees and some people claim it has medicinal properties with the combination of all the minerals in it.  It is drained weekly and naturally fills itself back up.


Then it was off to lunch before our tour of the Ice Hotel.  Actually they are no longer allowed to call it a hotel because it doesn’t meet fire safety codes.  Huh?  It’s made out of ice!!  LOL.  So, now it’s called the Ice Museum.  I had heard that you could rent a room there but according to their website they don’t (not that I would even consider it).  It was created from over 1,000 tons of ice and snow all harvested at the resort and is kept at a constant 20 degrees.  We brought our own jackets but they do have parkas you can borrow.  The floor is carpeted so you don’t slip because even the floor is ice.  The lighting is spectacular.

The front of the building


The ice bar


The altar.  They actually have weddings here.


The polar bear room.  Yep, that’s the bed.


Another room


I really don’t think you’d be able to use this potty.


When you’re all finished with the tour you are welcome to purchase an appletini and enjoy it at the ice bar which has caribou covered ice bar stools.  Even the martini glasses are made of ice and you’re welcome to take your glass with you.  I left mine there.




LOTS of glasses


We also visited the greenhouse located here on the grounds.  It lists itself as the  farthest north greenhouse in the United States.  They operate year round, even when it’s –40 outside.  They have found a way to harness all that warm water underground and are growing things hydroponically (in water).  It’s amazing to me that they can grow these huge tomato plants in just a cup of water.  They sell some of the produce but it’s mostly used in their restaurant.


Look at all the basil!!!  I can almost taste the pesto…


These artichokes were growing outside the greenhouse.


From there Rowdy took us to his cabin in the woods.  It’s hardly what I’d call a cabin.  It’s a beautiful house that he built mostly with his own hands and the help of friends.  When he purchased the property there was a little cabin but they moved that one aside and built the new one.  It’s right on the river in the wilderness, it’s absolutely gorgeous and sitting on the deck was SO relaxing.   We really didn’t want to leave that spot but Rowdy had to get home to make dinner for Missy and us.

The road to get in is really bad but it keeps the riff raff out (as Rowdy says)



The “cabin”




Right on the river


It has a wood powered hot tub


The sauna


The fire pit


The original cabin


From there we went to Rowdy and Missy’s house in town for dinner.  Rowdy is quite the cook (he’s a fireman) and made a couple of homemade pizzas.  They were so good and we gulped them down so fast I neglected to take a picture.

This moose was enjoying Missy’s garden before Rowdy chased her away!!


Yesterday we had to be up at 0’dark thirty for our trip to the Arctic Circle.  It’s only about 200 miles from us but it’s a mostly gravel road so it’s slow going.  The only road to get there is the Dalton Highway and if you’ve ever watched Ice Road Truckers you know what that road looks like.  This is the only road to get supplies to/from Prudhoe Bay and it’s used mostly by semi trucks wh0 “fly” up and down the highway.  We decided to go with a tour company because of the condition of the road.  We really didn’t want to tear up our truck.  After doing it I’m really glad we didn’t drive it ourselves.  It was kind of disappointing once we got to the Arctic Circle as it was just a long, long, bumpy drive to get there.  We saw no wildlife except for 3 caribou that were pretty far away.  The only thing at the Circle was a sign that the BLM had put there.  Oh well, at least I can now say, “I’ve been to the Arctic Circle”.  Oh yeah, we also got a certificate stating that fact.

Look what people have done to the highway sign!!  You can hardly even see the word “Highway”.


We followed the pipeline for most of the way



We also stopped at the Yukon river. It begins in the southwestern edge of the Yukon Territory of Canada, and then flows northwest across the border into Alaska.  It continues southwest across central Alaska, ending at the Bering Sea.  Most of it is navigable, however, it remains frozen from October through mid-June.  They even have a lottery here where they sell tickets with the winner guessing the day in which the ice will break up.



We made it!!



Now to go back


We stopped for dinner at the ONLY place to eat on the highway and it was surprisingly pretty good.  Rod had salmon, which I had to laugh about because of the 50 pounds of salmon we have in our freezer.  I had chicken caprese on pasta.  We stopped here on our way to the Circle, put in our orders, and on our way back it was ready and waiting for us as our driver told them what time we’d be there for dinner.  Pretty cool way to do it.


Our driver, Bryan, is in the middle


My chicken caprese


Our tour van (it got A LOT dirtier)


Today we’re having a “down day”.  Rowdy has invited us to spend the weekend at the cabin so we’re thinking we’ll probably do that.


Jim and Dee said...

That's great you got to go! Thanks for the travels.

Sandra said...

Neat-o! Even if there wasn't much to see there's not a lot of people that can say they've been to the Arctic Circle.

Great that you can spend time with Rowdy & family!

Karen and Al said...

I am a fan of Ice Road Truckers, so this was particularly interesting for me. Great trip!

Karen and Al said...

I am a fan of Ice Road Truckers, so this was particularly interesting for me. Great trip!