A few bunnies came out of the wooded area by the parking lot of our lodge in Healy to say goodbye as we were getting ready to leave. The drive to Fairbanks was relatively short with it being under 2hrs compared to all the driving
we S and J did in Alaska. We got into Fairbanks around 11:30AM, just in time for lunch. We ate at the Great Harvest Bread Co, hands down one of the best bakeries I’ve even been to. And the best part is they give out full-size samples of their bread, cake of the day! We got to try the Coconut Tea Cake and Pumpkin Chocolate Bread the two times we were there. We brought home a loaf of the tea cake to satisfy my sweet tooth for the next couple days. Next stop was the Alyeska Pipeline visitor center (don’t go looking for a building as the visitor center is just maps and signs out in the open). It was cool to see a part of the Trans-Alaska crude-oil pipeline. The Pump station starts in Prudhoe Bay and goes down all the way to Valdez. We were between pump stations 7 and 8 (there are 12 pump stations in total with pump station 11 which was never built). After two days of eating out, we were craving for some comfort food so stopped by Costco and Safeway, which were in the same shopping plaza, and picked up some veggies, and staples to make some home made food while in Fairbanks. After all the shopping, I got dropped off at our AIrbnb off of Old Nenana Hwy so I could make dinner while the rest of them went to the Fountainhead Auto Museum. After seeing pictures of the cars that were in there, I wish I had gone, especially since I love old cars. The vacation rental was set far away from the city lights, with huge windows from every room, perfect for viewing the Aurora Borealis. The Aurora forecast was pretty good for the next day between 1 and 3AM which got us excited. A&B volunteered to stay up and wake the rest of us up in case there were any sightings but unfortunately, the cloud cover made it impossible to see one.
Next morning, after breakfast, we decided to check out the town of North Pole. We’d heard that the town had Christmas decorations all year around. However, after a spending an hour to get there and back, it was disappointing at the very least. The town was pretty much dead except for decorations in the Santa Claus House which is a store with mostly decorations Made in China. I strongly suggest to skip this place. We then made our way to Chena Hot Springs Resort to see the famous Ice Museum and soak in the hot springs. It takes an hour fifteen to get there from Fairbanks (the road condition is terrible) so by the time we got there it was close to 3PM, just in time for the ice museum tour. Admission to the ice museum is by “accompanied tour” only which is $15 per person (tickets to be purchased at the Activity Center). If you want an Appletini served in an ice glass (your’s to keep) during the tour, it’s an additional $15. The tour lasts from 30 – 45min and the indoors are at kept at 25F (brrr..) which is why you want to come prepared. Just in case, they have full-on puffer parkas you could borrow to keep you warm. However, you may want to bring gloves and hat. The museum is really cool, with a workshop area, sculptures (by world champions Steve and Heather Brice), a wedding altar, bar, and rooms (yes, they have 2 rooms which come with bear skin/caribou rugs in case you want to spend the night). After the museum, we went on the FREE Geothermal plant and Renewables tour at 4PM where they take you to the green house where they grow their own veggies (lots of tomatoes), and plants and the Geothermal plant where the water for the Hot Springs come from and also the recycling efforts around the resort which is commendable . By the time we were done with the tour, it was close to 5PM so we decided to skip the hot springs and head back to Fairbanks which was another hour+ drive. On our way back, a fox ran across our vehicle with a stolen chicken from one of the houses – guess it was time for his/her dinner as well. Like the night before, J, A & B stayed up to catch the Aurora, however, to everyone’s disappointment, it was another cloudy night. So I guess we need to make a trip to Iceland or the Nordic countries in hopes of seeing it.