Tom & Charlene's Excellent Adventures travel blog

Tom's plane

View from Tom' plane window

Anatuvik Pass, AK

Gold Dredge #8

The miners!

The Museum of the North

with Les & Norma

Tom's new friend, Otto

This Outhouse was displayed as a work of art

Saturday, July 19 & Sunday, July 20

What a weekend! Hard to believe we were in Whitehorse just last Sunday. This has been a busy week.

Wake-up was early Saturday – 5:30 AM! Tom had to be at the airport by 7 AM for his flight with Warbelow Air Adventures. He flew with the bush pilot on the mail route. His goal was to cross the Arctic Circle. There were seven passengers and the pilot. Their first stop was Anatuvik Pass where 5 people deplaned to spend the day on a tour of tribal lands. They then flew to Coldfoot to drop off one passenger and pick up two more. Besides the mail they deliver groceries and any other supplies needed in the outlying towns. Warbelow also has a contract with the Aleyska Pipeline Company to deliver to Prudhoe Bay and any other area along the pipeline where parts are needed.

I spent part of the time he was gone to do some housekeeping. Time to clean the bathroom and give the floor a good sweeping. Also put away all the Canada info and brought out the Alaska info needed for this leg of the trip. Waded through lots of paperwork – you know how one thing leads to another- before I knew it 11:00 had arrived.

I went back into the terminal to wait for Tom’s plane & catch up on the blog. The seats were full. Apparently there was a potlatch (where we get the name potluck?) going on up north and about 12 people were waiting to fly out. One Grandma was taking her dog, two girls brought a pizza to eat on the way and two babies were in the group. They all seemed to be one happy family.

Tom arrived safely and received his official certificate stating he crossed the Arctic Circle. It was either that he take this flight or I would have to accompany him on a 12 hour bumpy gravel road trip to the Arctic Circle and back. I’m very happy he took the flight!

We then had reservations for the 1:45 tour at Gold Dredge #8. Only three tour buses there on this day. Started with a narrow gauge train ride back to the Dredge. Before the train left we were serenaded for about 20 minutes by a local musician with songs by Johnny and Willy. Gold Dredge #8 was one of the last large dredges working in the Fairbanks area. The gold in this area is in the bedrock and they had to dig down through gravel and permafrost to the bedrock in order to mine it. In the Dawson City area the gold was in the gravel in the creeks and surface dirt nears the creeks. That gold was found by panning.

After touring the dredge we were each given a bag of “dirt” and panned for gold. Everyone was guaranteed to find gold. These are gold specks as opposed to nuggets that were found in Dawson City area. We were seated at long benches over the “creeks” and taught to pan and pour off the gravel and dirt. Sure enough there were flecks of gold in the bottom of our pans when we finished. After we joined the long line of those having their gold assayed. Our gold combined is worth $27.00. Of course they didn’t offer to buy it from us, but would sell us a charm to put the flecks in that I could wear to show off our find – NOT. It was a fun afternoon.

We attended Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. We then checked in at the Tanana Valley Campground. They have electric hookups, sani-dump and showers! Time to charge all the batteries. We had a nice spot in the woods. Very quiet area.

Have we told you about the mosquitoes? They may not be huge but the travel in packs and are very tenacious!

This morning we went to the Museum of the North on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. We were looking at the Museum guide when I felt a tap on the shoulder. Norma & Les Monnin from Versailles were there. They are with 2nd National Bank Freedom Years and are taking a land/sea tour with Celebrity Cruises. They will be sailing on the Millennium, the same ship we sailed on in 2008. It was nice to see friendly faces. Found out today that Sue & Jim Christian are here also with Princess Cruises.

We had heard the Museum was very interesting. We arrived at 10:30 and left at 5:30! A day full of interesting information, excellent exhibits, movies, and native art. We were exhausted! Had a nice meal at Wolf Run Restaurant. Now at our old standby campground – Walmart. Goodnight all!

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