So I finally caught my 2nd flight the other night. I was exhausted. I had been walking around in circles for several hours in the Seattle airport and ran out of things to do. Luckily this time I had a window seat so there would be room for me to lean against something. Missing my flight actually turned out to be kind of fortunate. The person who sat next to me was a really nice auto mechanic/teacher woman in her mid thirties. She and I spent almost the entire flight talking and she even bought me a beer. She gave me her contact info and said that if I ever need help around Fairbanks, or if I just want to come watch football and have some beers, to call her.
I landed in Fairbanks around 10:30 their time. Amazingly my bag was sitting there waiting for me. I checked in with the car company, got my keys, stepped outside and into the 7 degree weather. It wasn’t a blast of cold like I was expecting. In Las Vegas I got blasted with heat, like standing in front of an oven whenever I left the hotel. Here the cold just kind of sinks on you. I dragged my suitcase through the snow, the little wheels not doing much, and started wandering the parking lot looking for my car. When I found it I hoped in and waited for it to warm up a bit. All of the cars here have electrical cords hanging out of the front of them, for when the temperature is so low outside you need to plug your car in and warm the engine. (Though this is usually only for when it’s below 0)
My gps took me to the hostel where I was staying. I almost missed the turn off. For some reason up here my gps won’t auto reroute. I’m not sure if it’s a bad connection with the cellphone towers or what, but it will always just stay at “rerouting.” Upon entering the hostel I was greeted by two very loud and fat pug dogs. I said hello, paid the hostel owner, and went upstairs to bed.
It turns out that my hostel is full of several German backpacker women and a British guy. They’re all very nice and I’ve been getting to practice my German with them. I’ve really enjoyed staying in this hostel so far. Getting to meet and chat with foreign travelers is always a load of fun. The morning that I woke up I gathered my things and went to this place called “The Cookie Jar” for breakfast.
Afterwards I drove down to prospectors to pick up some thermal clothes. Also, it turns out Alaskans have a thing for letting their dogs drive.
After picking up some gear and breakfast I decided to drive around town and find a scenic outlook. I ended up going up to this cemetery on the top of a hill overlooking the town. The roads here can be really beautiful.
Earlier in the day I found a place in town that would let you go on a walk with their reindeer. I called them and asked if they had a tour I could tag along on and they said to stop by at 4pm.
They had this lovely dog, Candy, that really reminded me of my dogs, though a lot more well behaved and not afraid of giant reindeer.
In a funny twist of fate the tour I was tagging along on at 4pm turned out to be all the Germans at my hostel! I joined up with them and we got to take the reindeer on leashes through the forest.
I got to take one on a leash for a bit, but he really wanted to go back to his mom who stayed behind in the pen and ended up butting me with his antlers and running off through the forest. The guide said it was fine, that they all know their way back home. Sure enough when we got back to their house he was hanging out eating grass next to his mother.
The guide, Jane, has a beautiful home in the woods up here in Fairbanks. I was thinking to myself “Man, it would be great to just live here and have hot chocolate.” Funny enough, after the tour she took us into her home and we had hot chocolate and cookies by a wood burning stove. It was a great evening.
Today we’re going to all go out to Chena hot springs to try and see the northern lights over the water. Right now though I’m going to go get some breakfast.