Today is our 22nd day in Fairbanks. We arrived with the intention of staying one week and have had several extensions that have accumulated to 22 days. Fortunately the RV park has been able to accommodate us. This is a favorite park for the RV caravans to stay and there have been many tours in and out. We are glad for touring on our own so we can set our own time table and stop and see things as we like. Tomorrow we are heading East and South which will start us on our slow decent to the lower 48.
There are some things that are unique to Fairbanks and we would like to share some of them with our readers. Since Fairbanks is the largest northern city in Alaska, many of the businesses like to use this fact in their advertising as in: "The Northern Most Girl Scout Council", "The Northern Most Cold Stone Ice Cream Store", etc.
There are many drive up kiosks that serve food. We are familiar with drive up kiosks for coffee as we have seen them in Washington and Oregon but have not seen ones for food such as cheese steak sandwiches, and Thai food. These are very tiny buildings about the size of a fishing shanty. There is a coffee kiosk down the street named "Thanks A Latte".
There are the normal car dealerships that you would find in most cities. They also have what is called "Park and Sell" lots in which the seller pays the lot owner to park a for sale vehicle on the lot in hopes of attracting a buyer.
Many cites have a river running through them and Fairbanks has the Chena River running through it. The current in the river is fairly strong and it is common to see people floating through town on rafts, inner tubes, or kayaks. The city has a contest every year to raise money by selling numbered rubber ducks (plastic) and then dumping them in the river to see which one crosses the finish line first and wins the race and prize.
There is a lack of some of the big chain stores like Target, Kohl's, CVS and Walgreens to name a few. Fortunately they do have the ubiquitous Wal Mart and groceries like Fred Meyer and Safeway. Most shopping is on the outskirts of town and the downtown is mostly offices and restaurants.
One thing that has struck us all is at the ability to identify an Alaskan by his summer dress. Tee shirts, bermudas (sometimes short shorts) and most often flip flops. These are normal summer garb elsewhere but here the temperatures are in the upper forties and low fifties with rain. We are in jeans and jackets and hoping the weather will warm up. I guess when you have winters down to minus 40F you appreciate low 50s. Wouldn't you know, when we were prepared to photograph some of them for this blog, not a one did we see!!
The RV park we have been staying in is next to Fort Wainwright, an Army base. We hear revely in the morning and taps at night. Frequently we hear gun fire from the firing range and often hear machine guns firing. Lucky for us it is friendly fire. As Betty wrote, we were able to tour the base and were highly impressed with the modern housing for the soldiers and the cleanliness of the base.
Fairbanks hosts the annual Eskimo/Indian Olympics and we were lucky to be here when they were going on. We found them fascinating to watch and to learn about the their culture. One applauds the efforts of the elders to maintain the heritage but we wonder how long the younger generation will be able to fit their heritage into the modern life style. One event we found exciting was the blanket toss.
We have certainly enjoyed our stay in Fairbanks but need to move on if we expect to reach the lower 48 before winter sets in.