Athabascan Dress

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Aug. 23-27.   Bummer! We are stuck 200 miles from the Arctic Circle waiting for our car to get repaired. We were warned that the Ford Dealer, where our car was dropped on Sunday, was jammed with other jobs ahead of us, but they did manage to diagnose the car by Tuesday and determined that the fuel pump needed to be replaced. Although we were told earlier that they had them in stock that was not the case for this model and further more it was on “national back order.” Then our hopes went up on Wednesday when we heard it was shipped and as late as Friday we thought it would arrive and we would be on the road by Saturday (today). However, late on Friday we learned it won’t arrive until Monday afternoon, so now the best we can hope for is to get underway on Tuesday, August 30. To add insult to injury we learned that on Tuesday our car was one of 91,000 in a recall for this fuel pump problem.

Despite the delay, we don’t feel like “rushing home,” but would rather continue to see the points of interest we had identified earlier, so we are not likely to be back in Olympia before September 8 or 9.

We only planned to spend one day in Fairbanks, but now have had a chance to explore the area more deeply. Some of our activities have included:

  • A leisurely exploration of the Museum of the North at the University of
    Museum of the North

    Museum of the North

    Alaska ( ).   This included movies about the bowhead whales, dinosaur excavation and auroras—and two great art galleries for Cynthia.

  • Walking the X-country ski trails at the University, but not for long because the mosquitoes were active.
  • Watching the Sandhill Cranes “kettling” (wheeling around in circles preparing for the trip south) and song bird banding at Creamer’s Field Wildlife Refuge ( on the edge of town—and walks along the nature trails. We are taking other activities related to the Sandhill Crane Festival here this weekend.
  • Taking a riverboat trip on the Chena River that included demonstrations of sled dog training and a review of a typical Athabascan native village
  • Visiting the Morris Thompson Visitor Center ( —with movies and exhibits of native and early pioneers.
  • Exploring the Fountain Head Automobile Museum (, containing well restored cars dating from 1899-1938.

    Moose Antler Arch

    Moose Antler Arch

  • I got a tour of the Poker Flats Research Range ( , which does sub-orbital rockets launches to study the Aurora Borealis and other scientific pursuits. We got to see the launch block house and went to the vehicle assembly buildings on the range itself. Meanwhile, Cynthia has explored a number or art galleries.

    Ducks on Chena River at our RV Park

    Ducks on Chena River at our RV Park

  • Five loads of laundry. And, some great meals, including Thai and reindeer beer soup.