June 6 – Fairbanks

Our first day in Alaska began with a three-hour river cruise on the Chena River into the heart of Alaska where we were introduced to the world of bush pilots, sled dogs, and the Athabascan heritage.



The bush plane was the commuter vehicle for most of the year, covering the huge distances of the Alaskan wilderness in much shorter times than any other means.  Depending of the time of year and the weather, the planes were outfitted with wheels, floats, or even skis.


The sled dog is a universal symbol for Alaskan transportation and it represents the only true Alaskan sport: mushing.  The Iditarod race represents the ultimate challenge of this sport, and dogs are trained for this race throughout the year.


The Athabascan heritage was demonstrated during our visit to the village alongside the river.  The fish wheel was used to lay in a supply of salmon during the spawning run each year and the fish were prepared and arranged in the smoking and/or drying shed to preserve them.


We were lucky to have wonderful weather on the cruise on this beautiful river (and almost every other day of our trip).


About Tom

Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Appalachian State University.
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