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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Chena Lodge (Day 2)

The original plan had been to do everything Chena had to offer in one day, including things like snowmobiling (snowmachine), dog mushing, Ice Museum tour, the hot springs, and ending with their Aurora tour. Unfortunately, due to having such a late night prior coupled with mom being sick, that didn't quite pan out. Instead, we slept in until almost 10am (Woohoo almost 7 hours! Score!) and got a ride from Enterprise to pick up our rental vehicle for the rest of the trip.

Pro tip: If you intend on traveling to a place that you know needs a big truck in the middle of winter, like say, Fairbanks, AK, pre-order their tiny car and get a free upgrade.

Not all the rental places only had trucks, but this Enterprise in Fairbanks was tiny-ass. As in, "we have 3 vehicles to choose from and they're all trucks", tiny-ass. So yeah, free upgrade to their Dodge RAM 4WD. In blood red; my favorite color.

Side note: Dodge RAMs have this really weird key fob. Turns out said key fob is the key to start the vehicle. Also turns out the actual key they give you that looks like a key is for the tailgate. Mom had to call and ask how to start the truck because originally they had started it for us. We laughed the rest of the trip at our stupidity. 

Anyway I'm getting way off course here. We decided to drive down to North Pole (Not the North Pole - the town will quickly correct you) to check out Santa Claus House. It was pretty neat, but I've never been a super Christmas-y person. I'm in it for the family get-togethers and gift giving; the whole decorating thing I find expensive and pointless [says the Spock inside me]. 

I did find a shot glass and a pretty ring there, though, so it was worth it for me. The part I liked even more was the ice sculpture drive-thru area next to the Reindeer farm (which was closed for the season, unfortunately!)  

After that quick jaunt to North Pole, we drove up to Chena around 3-ish, which is 40 miles away from Fairbanks. This is the point that I tell you that mom almost ran over a red squirrel and that was the only time I saw anything besides the bird on the whole trip.

We arrived at the Chena activity center and phased-warped to Japan. Seriously. There were more Japanese people than Americans. All the signage was in both English and Japanese. They had Japanese-only tours. It seemed strange that it was Japanese-specific. Why Japan? Turns out...

This was in their bathroom. With the heated toilet seat. My favorite feature of the whole lodge.

It's apparently not that far from Alaska?? 

Anyway, since we'd arrived so late, we didn't have time to do much, so I signed us up for the ice museum tour and the Aurora tour for later. 

The ice museum was kind of cool. Due to geothermal energy, they are able to keep the structure below 32 degrees all year long, even in the heat of summer, and with 30+ people inside at once.

They had an ice bar that served an apple martini in an ice glass that you could pre-purchase (mom and I did not partake), and 4 rooms each with an ice bed and other small items, plus sculptures throughout. Including a playable xylophone. 

After the ice museum tour we had some time to kill, so we checked out the hot springs and saw that they had laid out a nice long, covered ramp into the water to ease my fears of having to run half naked through the snow and jump in feet first before you froze to death. We were planning on coming back tomorrow to try it. In the meantime, we decided to have a nice meal in their lodge. I had their rib eye steak and it was pretty darn good. We also checked out their gift shop where I ended up buying David something he already had (figures).

Then it was tine to check in for our Aurora Tour! Check it out in my next post!

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