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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Alaskan Adventure (Day 3)

Alaska Adventure Day 1
Aurora Adventure Night 1
Chena Lodge Day 2
Aurora Adventure Night 2

Another really long, cold night, another day to sleep in late. Because we had gotten a late start yesterday, we needed (Or rather - I needed) to head back up to Chena Lodge to finish out all the things to do up there.

That day, I had resolved to ride in a dog sled. It hadn't been on my list when I was originally planning, but I quickly thought about how unique it was to this region and it would probably be my only chance. So I had to do it. No matter what. #Determined

Mom was pretty much drained at this point, though. In fact, all she wanted to do was sleep in the car while I did my Chena exploration. I was pretty disappointed, and I tried to convince her that this would be her only opportunity, but she had refused so I let it go. I went into the Lodge to sign up for the dog sled rides, but it turns out that guests get first priority and the only available spot wasn't until 4:30 that afternoon. It was already past 11 and I didn't want to wait that long, so I left dejected. However, my next stop was to check out the Chena Hot Springs.

I had brought my bathing suit with me and had every intention of getting in. It was the perfect day to do so - bright and sunny, (which it had been the whole trip - I get so lucky with these things) and probably 10 degrees outside (you wouldn't think that would be a plus, but in this case it definitely was).

After paying their fee and changing in the changing room (using a bathroom stall of course [horrible high school flashbacks]) I was already pretty warm because the changing room was humid as all get-out. It actually felt good to get out of that humidity and make my way down the ramp and into the water.

It was hot. Like, too hot. Not scalding-my-skin hot, but as the heat warmed my core, even the part of me out of the water was unbothered by the cold. I was to the point where I had to find a bit of shade from a rock outcropping and raise my arms above the water to cool off. I hadn't put on any sunscreen, and I knew just standing there in the sun with the reflection from the snow would burn me to a crisp if given the chance. That didn't give me much opportunity to enjoy the springs because there was really no where to sit. The water was chest deep when walking, and I didn't want to wet my hair because then I'd be really cold afterwards. So in the end, I probably only stayed in there for about 15-20 minutes, and I was way too hot to enjoy it much longer anyway.

After changing back into my clothes (which was the most insufferable part, because my core was burning up and I had to put on 20 layers for the temps outside) I woke mom up and we started to drive back. I was still determined to get in a dog sled ride however, so we needed to find something today. I cursed my lack of internet service out here. Alaska had Verizon towers (while I had T-mobile), and Mom had Verizon, but not a smartphone. Curses! We knew, though, that we had passed a number of private dog sled places on the way up here, so we kept our eyes open for those signs coming back down.

The first one we saw, we turned into. I don't even know if it had a name. We just drove to these people's house, and saw all the outside kennels. (By the way, the dogs really do hang out on the roof of their huts!) Mom chose to stay in the truck again as I went in to see if I could procure a ride.[You could tell I was a tourist because of how careful I was on the icy ground. Of course, I also had an unprotected camera around my neck.]

I was in extreme luck. Turns out, they had a spot for a single rider right that moment, and it wasn't even as expensive as I'd feared - I think $60, which was a lot cheaper than Chena. He told me about Chena's dog sleds too, how they run them all day long every day. To run them often was good, but not to the amount that those guys did. So it made me happy that I hadn't signed up for that.

Pics of the ride:

The dogs were young, and we were probably only going about 7 mph, but it was a pretty good clip. A few times she stopped to correct the dogs, and the signals and words they knew were astounding. I think that was my favorite part - just how well trained they were, even so young. 

This video is just the informative bits while we were talking. Good facts about sledding! 

It was probably a good idea mom hadn't joined me, because it was pretty uncomfortable, and every time we went over a snow bump and the sled became airborne, it was a hard landing for sure. This was where the good advice of Jason (the tour guide) came in when he said that no one really needed more than a 30 minute ride on a dog sled. I'm glad I heeded that advice!

When that was all said and done, we made our way back to town and got ready for our last night in Alaska. Fairbanks was known for the World Ice Sculpting Championships being held there, and we were just in time to see some of the results, which will be in the next post!

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