After Denali it would be hard to beat the absolute beauty of the National Park. With that we went on to Fairbanks. We found a state park campground close to the University of Alaska that sits on the Chena River and has great campsites built among the trees. We camped there with Pete and Bunny Warenski the first night and enjoyed a good steak dinner at the picnic table, along with good wine. We built a campfire and continued the cocktails into the evening.
After a good night of sleep we started out for golf. There was one golf course that we had to play because it was the most northern USGA course in America, the North Star Golf Club.
Meeting Pete and Bunny, we joined Patrick and Anna Carney of Ticonderoga NY, had lunch and headed out for the first tee.
The staff was great, the head pro, Drew Wahlin, took pictures of the group and shared a lot of fun stories about golf in Alaska.
We were all given certificates, suitablefor framing, for playing the most northern golf course. The golf was fun and the rain waited until the 6thhole!!
Janice finished the front 9 in 2 over par, 38. Her game is still there, even with the only occasional round. We stopped at the end of 9 and were given “rain checks” for the back 9. Getting early to the “nineteenth hole”, we enjoyed a beer and asked for suggestions for dinner in the area. They recommended the Silver Gulch Brewery, just north of the course. The eventful part of the brewery and dinner, was that it was the most northern brewery in America!
The only way to make this a “hat trick” was that it was the farthest north we had been!!
Fairbanks origination is a great story, founded by the swindler E.T. Barnette, who decided to start a gold mining boom town like the others spreading from Dawson City to Hope to Nome. He boarded a paddle boot up the Tanana river, telling the captain that if he needed to lighten the load, to drop him off on the riverbank. The captain got lost (GPS was a problem back then) and ended up on the Chena River where the riverboat got stuck. He dropped Barnette with his materials to start the town on the bank along with his Japanese cook. This is how Fairbanks was founded. Barnette then met a Italian prospector named Felix Pedro who had stacked a claim just a little north of where Barnette was left, not a big claim, but enough that Barnette sent the Japanese cook to Dawson City to spread the word that there was gold in Fairbanks. The news hit the local papers in the states and a stampede started for Fairbanks. Some gold was found and the city began to grow. Barnette eventually founded a bank where the minors could deposit their gold. An audit took place and Barnette had swindled the gold, gee, no FDIC for protection. He was found guilty of bank fraud, disappeared to the lower 48 so is not held in any esteem by the locals. The locals take the gold and oil industry as their center of attention, there is a group that would like to succeed from the state of Alaska. They hate the EPA and other government controls that don’t allow them to pursue their free endeavors. All Alaskans love the environment and live in it all seasons of the year. They take care of it on their own.
July 3rd, our anniversary, was raining and the first event for the day was laundry, followed by a visit to the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska. It was excellent, the interesting aspect was that we had visited so many of the local museums it was almost a summary of what we had seen. We met the traveling crew back at the camping grounds and proceeded to have a few cocktails. Hal, Kim, Pete and Bunny wanted to join us for our dinner and we all went to the Pump House Restaurant and Saloon.
It was a great old tin building on the National Register of Historical Places. We had, of course, brought some wine for the special day. We had the restaurant serve us a bottle of the Stanley Lambert Sparkling Chardonnay, a great wine made by our friends Jim and Pam Lambert at their winery in the Barossa Valley, Australia. A wonderful evening was had by all. On July 4thwe went to the Chena Hot Springs Resort about 50 miles east of Fairbanks. It was a beautiful ride. Hal and Kim, along with Benny, joined us and it made for a great trip. The highlight of the trip was the Aurora Ice Museum which has ice carvings made by Steve and Heather Brice. Between them they have won 16 Olympic Gold Ice Carving Championships.
There are four ice bedrooms available for a nights stay, you must be nuts to do it! There are many other carvings including a ice polar bear that was used in a Coke commercial several years ago. Back to the campground, the weather cleared and we had a wonderful 4th of July picnic. The next morning it was a departure from Fairbanks and the start of the trip to the “lower 48”