Fairbanks, AK

I recently went to Fairbanks to visit with family and friends. Admittedly, it’s been a long time. Too long in fact. I seemed to be in a pattern of always wanting to make the trip, but never making it a top priority. “I’ll go in the spring,” or “I don’t have the money right now,” became typical excuses. I found myself getting comfortable with those excuses though, and “next spring” turned into 7 years, then another 6.

I’m from Fairbanks, and even though it had been a while, it felt natural being there. I like the people from Fairbanks. They enjoy their personal space (and don’t enjoy unexpected visitors in that space), they generally know how to work hard (at least the people I associate with), and they are genuine. Meaning, if someone says they are a hunter, a welder, or ride their snowmachine across the lake, they’re usually pretty passionate about it.

Golden Heart Plaza

I got there late afternoon on a Saturday. It was beautiful out, I gained an hour of time, and 4 or 5 hours of daylight. Sweet!! On Sunday we had a BBQ get together with family. It was really nice seeing everyone again, and even better seeing my Dad struggle on the grill haha! The food actually turned out excellent. I also learned a new way to cook chicken from Jan (my step-mom). All you do is boil the chicken til it barely starts to fall off the bone, let it cool, put it in a gallon ziplock bag with some BBQ sauce or whatever seasonings you want, then grill it as you see fit. Pretty simple, but it was new to me. My Aunt Liz also made a killer potato salad. After all the potato salad that I’ve eaten over the years, I think writing about it in a blog post is a first for me haha. I probably should have taken a picture of it (DAMN!).

Monday and Tuesday I spent knocking around town checking things out and getting the updated lay of the land. On Tuesday I popped into Pike’s Landing for a beer and saw a familiar face (Chad Wing), so I was happy to hang out with him. Callie flew in on Tuesday night, so on Wednesday Jan took us around town to see the sights. Callie has never been to Fairbanks, so it was really awesome that Jan was able to show us around and take the day off to hang out with us. She took us out to see the pipeline, Alaskaland, and all the way out to Angel Rocks.

A section of the pipeline with a "pig" inside of it. They send those down the pipeline to clear out any blockage.
A section of the pipeline with a “pig” inside of it. They send those down the pipeline to clear out any blockage.
The beginning of the hike to Angel Rocks was a bit wet!
The trail was rocky and wet, but nothing we couldn't handle.
The trail was rocky and wet, but nothing we couldn’t handle.
The first viewpoint at Angel Rocks about 1.5 mi in.
The first viewpoint at Angel Rocks about 1.5 mi in.

On Thursday we went to the Cabin. A lot has changed since the last time I was there. I had previously mentioned that I was away for 7 years, and then another 6 after that. My grandfather (Merlin Barkdull) passed away in 2009, so that was the reason I was back in Fairbanks. There was no time to go to the cabin or do too much of the other things I wanted to do, so this trip to the cabin was my first since 2002.

Let's go to the cabin!
Let’s go to the cabin!

The river has changed, but that’s to be expected I think. They are building a bridge across the river at the landing (which is currently on hold due to a lack of funding), so that was a little bit of a disappointment. My Dad drives the same old boat. It’s refreshing really. I learned to drive that same boat when I was 5. I’m 32 now, so I think it would be horrible if he ever got rid of it at this point.

The bunkhouse
The bunkhouse
The Teklanika River. This picture was taken late in the evening looking down river with my Dad's "Blue Canoe" in the foreground.
The Teklanika River. This picture was taken late in the evening looking down river with my Dad’s “Blue Canoe” in the foreground.

When we were up there we did a little bit of work on the bathhouse, which will function as a building to protect and heat a legitimate shower, toilet, and washing machine. Apparently a drier isn’t needed. My Dad says that they’ll use a method called “freeze drying.” What you do is take your recently washed clothes and string them up on a clothes line outside. They freeze solid, then you beat off all the ice, theoretically leaving a dry piece of clothing behind. I’d like to see that haha!

It was a bummer to leave the cabin, but on the way down we stopped at a friend’s cabin (Pat McGraw), to visit with him and his son Curtis. I grew up as good friends with Curtis so it was really good to see him. I hope I get to see them again soon. Pat took Callie and I on a four wheeler ride out to some of his moose hunting stomping grounds. It’s mostly thick brush and bogs out there, so it got pretty wild at times. I got the four wheeler that Callie and I were riding stuck in the mud. We didn’t have any choice but to step off the four wheeler at that point, and the mud was about knee deep. That made for a chilly boat ride back to the landing, but I’m really glad we went out there.

Sad Callie. This was taken just after we got out of the mud.
Sad Callie. This was taken just after we got out of the mud.

I’m thinking that the next trip we make up North should be in the winter time. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a snowmachine, and it would be a lot of fun getting back up there with a change in scenery. Maybe a trip back up to the cabin or even Artic Man.

I got to see some of the people I’ve been missing, but unfortunately not all. I ran into a couple of people accidentally and it was really nice seeing them too. For those that I missed, know that I’m sorry. I still miss you and love you. See you soon!

2 Comments on “Fairbanks, AK

  1. I loved your Alaska experience! I related to so many things you said! One of my favorites: “They enjoy their personal space (and don’t enjoy unexpected visitors in that space), they generally know how to work hard (at least the people I associate with), and they are genuine.” Thank you for saying “snow machine” I love them, grew up on them and miss them. Here they call them “sleds” or “snow mobiles” that’s just silly! Yes…freeze drying is real. Lastly, I highly recommend a winter trip! Any time late December- February, and if you’re lucky enough to see the Northern Lights, you will feel like you have been blessed by God!

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    • We were doing our best to try to see the Northern Lights, but it was still light out by 10:30, so you had to stay up really late to give yourself a chance. It would be fun to go back up there with YOU sometime! I’d like to go back to Pike’s and through the whole area and hear the stories you remember. When I was sitting at Pike’s I found myself looking up at the ceiling to the wagon wheel light fixtures and other decor and wondering if any of it was original or if everything had been replaced over time.

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