Monday, February 12, 2018: Fairbanks, AK
A light snow began falling early this morning and the temperature was in the 20’s (as warm as in Iowa!) but we were not hurry getting around. After breakfast we stopped by the business of our previous host Bob. Bob & Jean have gone to Korea for the Olympics, but their daughter is an engineer for the business. She showed Cal what Bob showed me last week. The Artic Septic systems are their bread and butter of the business – right now they are designing one for Denali National Park hotels. But to keep their innovative engineering spirit alive, they are moving ahead with designing and building this indestructible plastic boat with an inboard motor. After much testing – running the boats on rivers with debris, in all kinds of weather (they do a run each month of the year when the rivers are open) - they have their first special order. A boat for 4 people and 1 ATV. These boats are wonderful, but due to the expense, it will keep them in a niche market. You can buy 2 metal boats for the price of one these, however this boat will go anywhere. They have begun advertising in Outdoor Magazines. Cal enjoyed our time at the shop.
I also wanted Cal to see the museum section of the Morris Thompson Visitor Center. The YQ 1000 Starting Line was behind the museum, however on starting day, we only went inside the Visitors Center to warm up!!
We were near the Red Couch café where we shared a lunch of fish & chips, before stopping by the Wilbur Brother’s sheet metal shop. This is the family business of our host Jean, and the oldest business in Fairbanks. Jean’s grandfather came to Alaska with sheet metal skills, and Jean’s brother is now the owner. However, no one was there. The door was open, so we went inside. The walls are hanging full of old antique tools and items used in Alaska (not very organized) – it is a shop!! Someday a pioneer museum will love getting these items!
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a Fur shop. They have not only furs, but a large section of quilting fabrics. I am not into piecing quilts, but if I were, this would have been the shop to spend money! In the fur section, they had all kinds of furs for sale – even skunk! This company trap themselves, flying into remote lakes and sites, but they also buy furs from hunters and trappers out in the bush. They even fly into the bush to pick up furs from trappers who live there. When Cal was in Eagle he chatted with a trapper who has caught 7 wolves this winter. The wolf population is growing, so conservation thru trapping and hunting is important. We admired the coloration of the skins and felt the weight/thickness of them – We had seen mushers with Beaver mittens, and after feeling them today, I understand why they have them for the elements. It was an interesting shop.
We were going to fill the car with gas this afternoon, as we are going to return the car to the airport. However, as we entered the gas station an attendant met us, saying the electricity was off!! No pumping any gas! The electricity was off at the hotel too. We walked the steps to our 3rd floor room, with only emergency lights in the stairwell. The electronic room keys are on an emergency system. This was a perfect time for an afternoon nap! No TV to watch the Olympics! Electricity was off for over an hour. Finally, we could watch the Olympics again!
By the time we returned the car, it was snowing again. We have ordered the shuttle for 4:30 am!! Our flight leaves Fairbanks at 6:03am. We will be leaving in the dark! We are to arrive in Cedar Rapids at 11:00pm! Cal’s brother Wilbur will be there with our vehicle.