Thursday, July 16, 2015

Fairbanks, Day 3

Sunday morning I got up early and rode my bike to the North Pole!!  I mean, North Pole, Alaska.  There is a bike path right across the road from the RV park that runs about 10 miles into downtown North Pole.  It was very early, and it was a great, invigorating ride!  That afternoon we went to the museum at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which was really wonderful.  First of all, the campus is really beautiful--it sits atop a hill with wonderful views all around.  Then the building itself is architecturally wonderful. And the exhibits in the museum were just amazing.  There was one in particular that our friend, Donna, from Atlanta had told us about--a room entitled "The place where you go to listen". You go into this room and there is just a wooden bench where you sit facing a blank screen that just has blue and green shades of light on it, and you just listen to the sounds of the earth.  It's really impossible to describe, but if you're ever in the area and have a chance to visit the museum, definitely go into this room.  There were also many exhibits of Alaskan history, from the days of the prehistoric mammals to the early human inhabitants, through the modern age.  There was one window marked the Denali viewing window, where on a clear day you apparently can see Mt. McKinley, but not happening on this overcast day!

There is also a huge section of remarkable art, given by Dorothy and Herb Vogel, a couple from New York City.  It's quite a remarkable story of this couple--he was a mail sorter and she was a librarian--who had very modest means, but a passion for art.  They lived very frugally and over their life together amassed a remarkable collection, including works by artists who were little known when they started collecting, but who later became famous.  Their collection was ultimately valued in the millions by the time they decided how to pass it on.  Rather than sell it, they came up with a project called Fifty for Fifty, in which they donated fifty works of art to a museum in each of the 50 states--a remarkable legacy.  We watched a video of the couple, explaining how they came to art collecting through the years and commentary by experts on how remarkable it was that two people who were  not the typical wealthy art collectors could develop such a collection.  Very cool.  We loved the art works by Alaskans, and we just ran out of time to see everything in the place; easily we could have spent several hours more there.  One other thing that fascinated us, seeing as how where we come from we think it's cold when it gets in the teens, was that every parking space had a post with an electrical outlet.  We asked the person at the desk and it was as we had expected--a place to plug in your car engine warmer while you go inside.  She said that if you didn't do this and it was below zero you wouldn't be able to start your car when you went back outside.

Next we went downtown to visit the Yukon Quest Headquarters, especially of interest since we had met Frank Turner.  It was neat to see the videos they had there of past years' races.  One interesting fundraiser they had going was to buy a special bootie to be put on one of the dogs.  All of the dogs wear booties to keep the snow from packing in between their toes and freezing, so you could pay some money, have your name on one of the special booties.  Once they assigned it to a team, you would be notified so you could keep up online during the race to see how your bootie was doing!  Cool idea!!  And the park right by the Headquarters had some beautiful flowers all around, with a fountain and statue in the center.  We also visited a quilting and fabric store called The Material Girls--Trisha and Kathy really went nuts in this store!  There was a prize winning quilter there working on a piece on her special Bernina sewing machine--which the sign said you could have for a mere $12,000!  Trisha and Kathy both got kits and patterns--but no sewing machines!

That evening a group of us went to the Pump House for dinner, which was outstanding.  Such a beautiful building with lots of Alaskan-themed artifacts for decoration in side.  Everyone raved about what they had to eat--of course lots of salmon and other fish, but they did have a wonderful quinoa primavera which was delicious!  Another great day in Fairbanks!

On the drive through the U of A campus, passed a wonderful rec center, which had this big climbing wall outside
Heading through the campus to the museum

the museum
Some new sculpture,
and some traditional totems

Saw this across the way from the building, but didn't go over to read the story boards.  Reminded us of some of the Navajo dwellings we had seen in Canyon de Schelley in Arizona.
Gorgeous flowers as we walked from the parking lot to the museum entrance

This sculpture was inspired by the northern lights
Love this quote from Herb Vogel
Look at the size of this piece of jade!!
Some of the art contributed by the Vogels
Dorothy and Herbert Vogel
Inside the Place Where You Go To Listen

Works by native Alaskans

This exhibit was entitled The Outhouse, and the sign invites you to go in and sit down to view all the things mounted on the walls--what a riot!

Angel with a turquoise heart, carved from a caribou antler

The view from the Denali Viewing Window

More beautiful woven beadwork
Well, here's my Dall sheep with the big horns--stuffed,, to be sure, but there's still hope I may see one live!

A puffin!!

Fish traps--the bait entices the fish to enter from the end on the right, when it comes into the trap, it swims through a small hole to get to the bait, but there are sharp points on the end of the trap so it can't get back out
Spotted seal with a cute little face!
Where you plug in your car in subzero temps!

Some of the flowers at our RV park

Flower boxes on the deck of The Material Girls shop

Sorry, these next two pictures are out of order--Walking from through the parking lot at the Pump House we saw this car with all these pairs of sunglasses on the dash--guess if you have to match every outfit, you need this many different colors!!
Our fellow caravaner, Jack Stuart, enjoying his strawberry/rhubarb cobbler for dessert at the Pump House
This is what should have followed the quilting shop, Golden Heart Plaza downtown next to the Yukon Quest Headquarters.

Picture on the outside of the HQ building

The picture of unconditional love!
Love this sign
Trisha, incognito in her disguise as a sled dog!!  You can see the little fundraising booties hanging on the line behind Trisha

When we got back to the campground, our friends Harlan and Ann's dog, Brodie anxiously awaiting his humans' return!!

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