We arrived in Fairbanks on Saturday after flying from Chicago to Seattle on AA and then from Seattle to Fairbanks on Alaska Airlines. Both flights were on time and uneventful. It seemed like the middle of the day at 10:30PM with the bright sunlight. We had made our own arrangements to stay at Sophie's Station, and called to have their shuttle pick us up. Sophies is a real nice hotel, but there was no AC and it was pretty hot. Inspite of the sun and the heat, it didn't take us long to get to sleep. One of the things that really struck me when we arrived was all the beautiful flowers. With the long day light hours, the flowers grow huge.
On Sunday morning we took a cab over to the River's Edge Resort where the official tour would begin. Our tour guide was there already and gave us the info we needed. Our room wasn't ready so we took a shuttle to the botanical gardens at the college. In spite of the big write up about it, it was very small and our shuttle driver suggested we walk up to the college museum and he would be back to pick us up in a few hours. His 1/2 mile walk turned out to be more like 1-1/2 mile up a long hill in the heat. :-) I just figured he was saying "dumb tourists" as he left us off. The museum was fantastic and well worth the hike.
We made reservations at the PumpHouse Restaurant for dinner and took the shuttle over there and back. The food was delicious and we got to sit out on the back deck by the river as we ate.
Monday morning we were picked up at 8:30 AM on the tour bus. We headed off to see the pipeline and then on to the El Dorado Gold mine to pan for gold. The couple who gave the talk and demonstration there were a riot and did a great job. That panning is really for the patient ones. Although they tell you the gold will stay on the bottom of the pan (and you know there won't be much) you still keep worrying that all your gold will wash back into the water as you pour the dirt off. Many people took their $8-10 worth of gold into the gift shop to be made into necklaces that they paid $30 for. Not a bad deal for the gold mine. :-)
The tourbus took us back to Fairbanks where there was a festival going on for the summer solstice and we enjoyed lunch on our own down there. Then it was back on the bus again for a trip on the Riverboat. This trip lasted about 4 hours, and we got to see a bush pilot take off & land on a very small strip of land, a home of a sled dog racer and the dogs, an Athabascan native woman who gave us a demo of how they would prepare the salmon and then a tour of an Athabascan village. This was one of the nicest tours on the trip even though by the time we were done the heat had really done it's work on me. We had dinner at the nice little restaurant at the River's Edge and got our bags ready to put out early the next morning.
I forgot to mention that at the River's Edge, each room was in it's own individual little cabin. The accomodations were wonderful, and at this place we did have the much needed and enjoyed AC.