Hi everyone! As I mentioned in yesterday’s week 4 training recap, we spent our long Memorial Day weekend in Fairbanks, Alaska! We had been thinking about camping somewhere for the weekend but noticed as the weekend grew closer that it was going to be raining everywhere that we wanted to camp. We decided to check out the weather up north in Fairbanks, and it looked sunny and warm. And we’d never been there before! So we threw together some last minute plans and headed out on Saturday morning.
There are three main things you need to know about Fairbanks:
1. It’s the northernmost city in the US, which means that in the summer months the sunlight is seriously crazy. The sunset times don’t really seem to matter because it never gets dark this time of year. I kind of should have thought more about this since I was sleeping in a thin tent…
2. It’s in the interior of Alaska, which is pretty flat. That makes the climate very unique – this is the place in Alaska that gets -30 and below in the winter, but in the summer it can go up to 90 degrees! And NO HUMIDITY!
3. Mosquitos. They’re all over this state, but holy mosquitos up there. They were in clouds.
On the 6 hour drive up there we were able to stop in Talkeetna for lunch at the famous Roadhouse, and then again outside Denali National Park for a beer at 49th State Brewing Company, which we drank outside in 80 degree sunshine. It was at this brewery 2 years ago that Andrew and I had our first serious talk about moving up here, so it was awesome to get to go back!
Once we got to Fairbanks, I was surprised to see how flat the city was – no tall buildings, no mountains. It was mostly farmland around the city! I was also horrified by the amount of mosquitos at our campsite and I’m pretty sure they ate my entire body by the time we were done setting up. We spent the night hiding in our tent trying to sleep under the midnight sun. Not the best start. But it was okay because we woke up bright and early the next day to cross something off my bucket list: Visiting North Pole, Alaska!
Santa let me take a selfie! And then when I asked him why I never got that pony I always ask for, he just told me to keep asking. So I wrote my mom a post card (stamped with the North Pole postmark!) asking her to buy me one this year :)
All of the street lights in the town were candy canes, and the streets were named after Christmas stuff! I am obsessed with Christmas so I had way too much fun there, although it’s a really small town. After lunch downtown, we headed out to the Trans-Alaskan pipeline to act like tourists. It passes right by the highway!
Because there was basically no hiking in the immediate area, we ended our afternoon at Pioneer Park. It’s a touristy area of town where you can look at the oldest buildings in Fairbanks, all of which are only about 100 years old. We were starting to get bored until I discovered that we could rent kayaks from a company at the park! We were able to kayak 7 miles down the Chena river. It was a really lazy, calm river and we had so much fun floating by all the beautiful houses in the warm sun.
On Monday we woke up at 5:30 am to rain, and between getting wet and the mosquitos trying to murder us as we packed up our tent it was not a fun morning. But the drive back to Anchorage was fun and I’m glad to be back home!
Overall, if you are thinking of flying into Alaska and don’t know which city to chose, I’d go with Anchorage. We have the ocean and the mountains, and I just feel like it’s closer to much more fun things like the Kenai Peninsula and awesome hiking trails and has way more stuff to do. But in the winter Fairbanks has the Chena Hot Springs and the northern lights, so it may be worth it for some people. I’m not sure if we’ll ever make the long trip back up there but we had a fun time exploring the north! The best part was finally making it to the final mile marker of the Alaskan Highway, one year and 1523 miles later. So much has changed and I’m glad we finally got to finish our journey north!
Where’s the farthest north you have ever been? How did you spend your labor day weekend?