Wednesday, August 31, 2016

usbackroads--Chena Hot Springs, Fairbanks, Alaska

usbackroads destination-Chena Hot Springs, Fairbanks, Alaska

travel dates: August 9th, 2016

The black holding tank in the Casita is fairly small and that means after five days a laundromat, fresh water, and a dump station are all in order. For some reason a six pack of wine also seems to last five days or so.

The resupply town of choice was Fairbanks, Alaska. The RV park in North Pole, Alaska had the required laundromat and was on a direct road to Chena Hot Springs.

Fairbanks is a nice tank. Perfect size for a resupply town. Well worth exploring, but the focus was on the hot springs and laundry. The surprise was the Chena River State Recreation Area north of Fairbanks on the road to Chena Hot Springs. Lots of great lakes, rivers, campgrounds and all the amenities of the great outdoors.

Air boats were quite popular in Florida, but they are also present in Alaska. This fellow was parked at a boat launch on the Chena River. Wonderful down home craftmanship to put a boat like this together.

If we had known about the Chena River State Recreation Area prior I would have stayed up "north" rather than in North Pole, Alaska. Great area, don't miss it on your trip. Here is the link: China River State Recreation Area. It was cloudy and wet during my visit, but even in that weather it is a very interesting area. Close to Fairbanks, yet a real highlight of the trip to Alaska.

Hot springs. Cold, wet weather means hot springs on the agenda. Chena Hot Springs is private property and there is a fee for entering the hot springs for current information.
Here is the link to their web site: 

The hot springs are not really hot, but kids under 18 are restricted to a couple of hot tubs at the entrance. Around the edges of the pool there are pockets of fairly hot water. Search them out.

The only issue I had was with the coin lockers. A nightmare to operate.

The grounds are fairly neat and landscaped in the Alaska and Yukon tradition. That is old vehicles in flower beds.

The star of the grounds was this 1959 Polaris snowmobile dating from the first year of manufacture. I am not a fan of snowmobiling, buy I took enough rides on Forest Service snow machines to understand the attraction for some people. This 1959 machine is light years removed from today's snow machines.

There is also the characteristics "landscaping" for the region.

 Chena Hot Springs also has a small RV campground if you need a hot springs fix all day long.

A early dinner, late lunch for on the agenda at the restaurant and comes highly recommended. The seafood was ordered "rare" and cooked perfectly. The service was outstanding since there were few people eating at the time.

Chena Hot Springs. Recommended for your stay in Fairbanks.

The other agenda item in Fairbanks was the "infamous" Alaska pipeline. Way back in 1971 at UC Berkeley in a Forest Policy class we had the lead for the Alaska pipeline Environmental Impact Statement give a presentation to the class. I innocently asked if the pipeline would be approved. The presenter looked at me like I was from Mars. Of course, he replied, the pipeline will be built the country is running out of energy as the Arab embargo proved just a couple years late.

Later in my career I quickly recognized that decisions were made and THEN justified in the Environmental Review process. AND that happened on BOTH sides of environmental issues. The only downside is the taxpayers are paying lots of money.....for political cover.

But here is a picture of the pipeline, running at 100 degrees even in the dead of the Alaska winter. So there it is a survival tip. If your up in Alaska in the dead of winter and spending the night just throw a tarp over the pipeline and soon you will have a well heated little tent!!

There is a lot to like about Fairbanks the surrounding countryside. It is, unfortunate, that even for Alaska it is so far away. Nice town, too bad the Forest Service never had a presence to speak of in Fairbanks. I would have loved to spend more time in this part of the world.

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