Solo Chick Alaska Adventure

I'm making one of my dreams come true by doing a solo chick adventure to Alaska. I’ll chronicle my trip here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Crossing the Arctic Circle

I’ve been so busy since returning from my trip that I didn’t have time to finish my blog. It took me over a week to recover from all the activities topped by a 15 hour overnight trip home. I left my hotel at 7:30 to return my car and check in. Then a short flight from Fairbanks to Anchorage. From there it was a longer flight to Chicago. I got home after 1PM on Tuesday. Slept for 10-12 hours each night for over a week. Never did that before!

Now to finish telling about my trip. My last Saturday in Fairbanks I took a full day Arctic Circle Fly/Drive Adventure with Northern Alaska Tour Company. They have a variety of tours up north of Fairbanks, including to native villages and the Arctic Ocean, by bus, plane or both. I went on my tour in a van bus. We drove to Coldfoot, north of the Arctic Circle and returned by air.

I had to get up at 3:45 AM in order to get there at 4:45. That was tough!!! There were 5 of us, plus our guide Justin, who was very knowledgeable about the region. We headed north in the interior region of Alaska and then beyond. It was rugged and bumpy, though we were told it’s a lot better than it used to be.

This was the unpopulated Alaska – rugged and stark. We left real toilets in Fairbanks. There were outhouses in other places but these were the toughest. In Denali Park they had dispensers with anti-bacterial Purell hand sanitizer. Here there was a door and stench. In the first one we went to, we laughed at the décor – paintings in each stall. It sure didn’t fit the rest! But one gets used to it if you want to explore this amazing state.

I almost said country, because Alaska is over one fifth the size of what they call the lower forty eights – the states except for Alaska and Hawaii. It’s a very big place – almost like a country on its own. Most people never see more than a fraction of it, even its residents. I feel blessed that I got to go on this adventure, despite the early hour.

The terrain wasn’t as beautiful as down south. But heck! I was going north in Alaska, seeing things I’d only read about and that always had a sort of mystical sense about them. We watched the Alaskan Pipeline wind it’s way up and down the hills bringing it’s black gold down from Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean.

And I saw the Yukon River. Wow! It’s in my history books and in movies. But there I was, on its banks! And Hallelujah! They had real bathrooms at that stop, and the nice box lunches we’d ordered in advance. ☺ After enjoying having running water, we continued north and watched the scenery change as we went. Much of Alaska is tundra. I’d heard that word many times but never knew exactly what it meant.

I discovered that much of Alaska has areas called tundra, where soil grows over permafrost, a permanently frozen layer of ground which is often 2000 feet thick. After the ice age, soil was blown over the ice and eventually seeds were able to grow. But only plants with shallow roots can live there, so trees don’t grow too tall. But it does get green. We stopped at a place that had a small hole already dug and people were able to put there hands down into the mud to feel the ice below the surface. You can tell by the growth were the tundra is.

Eventually we reached the Arctic Circle. Justin put out a mat by the sign with a line down the middle and we all crossed it and got certificates showing that we had. It felt wild to actually be there. It really doesn’t change that much but the idea of going beyond the Arctic Circle felt surreal. The Arctic Circle! Yee-haw! I crossed the Arctic Circle and have a certificate to prove it. ☺

It rained/drizzled on and off all day. Justin was concerned that our plane wouldn’t be able to land. But I put my spiritual power to work and the plane arrived. It was a pleasant flight back and I had the evening free to chill and get to bed early.

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