Museum of the North & El Dorado Gold Mine

Trip Start May 25, 2008
Trip End Aug 03, 2008

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Where I stayed
Chenna Marina RV Park

Flag of United States  , Alaska
Sunday, July 13, 2008

Time to do some touristy things in Fairbanks today. I did try to call a few places for my Barrow trip, but since today is Sunday, nothing is open. Another company said their next flight was in a week - not good for me. Pooh is trying to get to Our first stop was the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska. This was only a 5 min. drive from our place. The building itself is worth the trip as it is built in a modernistic way, or as the architect said as like an iceberg. To me, this was the best museum on the entire trip, so if your ever in Fairbanks, check this place out. I could almost spend an entire day here. I did the full package at the museum which included admission, a movie pass, and an audio tour which is a must to help you understand everything in the museum. Now this museum is totally about Alaskan art, culture, & history. There are two floors with most of the art on the second floor and the history/culture part on the first. We only had 2 hours here in the morning, and I only got through half the museum. Luckily it is open until 9 tonight so we'll return in the late afternoon. Now it is back to the RV for some lunch of a grilled Panini and some chips. We took the dogs for a round and then we were off for the Gold Mine for our 3:00 tour. It was a little outside the city, but on the way was a small place where you could see the Alaska Pipeline up close and learn a little of the history. To see this thing and think that it goes for 800 miles across the rugged topography of Alaska is mindboggling. Then it was on to the mine. Now this is a very touristy place and it is pretty expensive - $35 per person. So why did we go? Well, we had another one of those 2 for 1 tickets here. So $17.50 is not too bad per person. There is a small train that goes around for a mile and stops here and there to give a live recreation of different mining types. In one part, the train goes through a tunnel where a guy talks about underground mining. Then you pull up to a place where you see how a homesteader would mine. And finally you see the above ground type mining. After the train ride, you go to the giant sluice area where they dump dirt and running water together down a chute to separate the large rocks from the small rocks. You want just dirt when you are panning for gold. They call it "Pay Dirt." The owners of the place are true die hard miners - the wife seems like your hard working Texas Type woman who is over the top while the man looked just like a miner that Hollywood would come up with - long grey hair with a large grey beard. Well, either a miner or a Harley-Davison owner. The whole experience was quite educational and a lot of fun. We usually don't like the overt tourist places, but this was a neat experience. Next was the big panning for gold thing. We all got a little bag of "Pay Dirt" and our pan and off we went. Now there were over 200 people on this tour so it was quite a large group panning - not like our smaller groups up in North Georgia. Pooh and I panned very slowly to get the most out of the experience. We both ended up with around 15 flakes each after all the dirt was washed out. We took this in the huge building where they could weigh it and tell us how much it was worth. Now after they did that, the racket they had was to put that gold in a pendent or anything else they could think of. We did not want to do this, but at the end, Pooh got the smallest pendant at $14. Everyone was getting pendants of various sizes so who knows how much this place is taking in. The gift shop was pretty huge too with all the usual Alaska gifts. We are shopped out so we did not get anything, save the pendent. Back in the truck, we drove to this other gift shop we had heard about - at least the ones that sold our favorite chocolate -  called Alaska Feed Co. As the name states, it is a feed shop for dogs, cats, & horses. Great store for pets and they did have the chocolate - hence for 50 cents more. After this stop, we went back to the Museum of the North so I could finish my audio tour for other half of the place. We also saw a few more short movies on Winter in Fairbanks, Native Alaskan stories (cool interviews made in 1974 of men who remember a time before the white man), and the aura borealis. Though it was close to closing time, I could still spend a few more hours here, but I knew Pooh was tired of the place so we left. All day it had been cloudy and rainy, but as we left this place at 9:00, it was bright and sunny. Back at the RV we had a small dinner and I stayed up late getting some blogging and reading in.
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