Bookshop Girl Goes to Alaska, Day 1: Moose, Hot Springs, and Sun, oh My.

Last week I took a trip with two of my best friends and a boy who is marrying one of them. So where does a group of Portlanders go on vacation? To the land of the midnight sun of course! We needed to make up for the millions of days a year that we see zero sun, so we hopped on a lovely nonstop Alaska Airlines flight to Alaska! Fairbanks, to be precise. Which I learned is the Golden Heart of Alaska:

IMG_0879

Fairbanks may seem like a slightly random vacation spot, but one of my friends grew-up there, and we stayed with her parents, and dude, Alaska. The sun did not go down! It just kinda got lower. So we got off the plane at around 11pm, when the above picture was taken. Yep. Light outside. Our vacation started properly the next day with breakfast:

IMG_0892(Please note, the Bakery does not have lines all over it. Neither does Alaska. But the rear window of the car did. I think it adds a little something to the picture. Something like lines.)

IMG_0887IMG_0890The Bakery is a lovely diner in Fairbanks. It felt very homey and I enjoyed my corned beef hash and biscuits and gravy. Note: I was on vacation. I know some people try to maintain the whole healthy living thing on vacation. I do not. After we finished our breakfast, including some awesome sourdough pancakes that Whitney ordered, we headed to Chena Hot Springs. On the way one of the most exciting things of the whole trip happened. There was a MOOSE:

IMG_0894Emmalisa’s dad was kind enough to pull over on the side of the road and everyone was kind enough to tolerate my squealing and photo taking:IMG_0898Hello Moose! In case you are curious, this was a girl moose. The boy moose are the ones with the antlers, or moose ears as I call them. Once they dragged me away from the moose we arrived at Chena Hot Springs:

IMG_0903This was my first hot springs experience and I had no idea what to expect. There were all sorts of funny signs: IMG_0908 IMG_0910Luckily we were there in the summer, during a heatwave, so we didn’t have to worry about ice. Instead we got to relax in a gorgeous pool:IMG_0927The hot springs were warmer than I expected–I know, right? And it really felt like floating around in a giant bath tub. We were actually there on one of the cooler days of the trip, so it felt nice to be in the giant bath tub. There were patches that were a bit too warm, but the water circulated, and they had a giant sprinkler in the middle to cool off–whenever we needed some cold water we said we were swimming over to “Little Portland.”IMG_0940I was a little scared to sneak my camera in, but Emmalisa’s dad was kind enough to take a group shot of us. (Emmalisa, Me, Steve, and Whitney) And then we went to the hot tub and Whitney got a shot of us with Emm’s dad:

IMG_0950Moose Ears!!

Chena Hot Springs is part of a resort, and another part of the property is home to the Ice Hotel, which is the world’s largest year-round ice environment. We went from the warm water to hanging out in a giant igloo. Literally:
IMG_0973It was 25° Fahrenheit inside so they made us wear super awesome looking jackets. Whitney modeled hers well: IMG_0974I was just glad we were protected from the mosquitos! The first stop in the ice museum was the workshop, where they make all of the ice sculptures:
IMG_0979If you look to the right of the guide’s hand you can see hanging the 15 awards that the sculptors have won over the years. Our lovely guide showed us how they make their ice martini glasses, which we later put to use at the ice bar. After we looked around the workshop we walked into the main exhibition hall:
IMG_0988It was HUGE. Everyone took pictures. I took pictures of everyone taking pictures. And then I took some other pictures:

IMG_1001 IMG_1010 IMG_1013We paid extra for one appletini to split between the four of us at the ice bar:
IMG_0991IMG_1021IMG_1029Full disclosure: the appletini was pretty gross. But Steve enjoyed smashing the ice glass outside after. The museum is also a hotel, and has different themed rooms, and a wedding chapel where they do one hour wedding ceremonies. Emm decided to take a nap in the polar bear room: 
IMG_1048After we left Chena we drove back to Fairbanks and were ready for some ice cream at Hot Licks:
IMG_1077IMG_1080They didn’t have the blueberry flavor that Emm was raving about, so I got cinnamon shower, which was the perfect balance of sweet and not too fake-cinnamony tasting (I hate red hots. gross.). Then we went back to the house and got ready for dinner at the Salmon Bake:
IMG_1088I’m pretty sure by “True Alaskan Experience” they mean tourist place. But it was fun and delicious, and we were tourists–except our local guide of course. The Salmon Bake is an all you can eat buffet with salmon. When we were there they had crab legs, prime rib, and halibut as well. I’m not sure how often they change the non-salmon options. I walked around the food grounds and filled up my plate:
IMG_1096 IMG_1094Crab legs! The salmon was actually not the best ever, but I really liked my pile of crab legs. And there is some prime rib under there too. You’d think we were done for the day after all of this activity, right? Nope! Us three girls have a monthly tradition where we go out for drinks once a month, because a) it’s hard to schedule girl-time with three conflicting busy-people schedules, and b) it’s fun to dress-up and go out for drinks! We had agreed to schedule our drinks while in Alaska, so we gave Steve a pass, and took him with us to Pike’s Landing:

IMG_1131So it kind of looks like the sun is going down in that picture. That picture is deceiving. The sun was not going down. I mean, it moved down but it was still BRIGHT. We enjoyed our monthly drink, this month we chose the very appropriate duck fart:photoWhisky, amaretto, and Baileys. Much more delicious than the name. We got a round of some sort of berry cooler vodka drink, which looked really pretty:

IMG_1136But tasted not so pretty. After a long eventful day we went home to rest up for day 2! That’s right, all of that was one day. Phew. Stay tuned for more Adventures of a Bookshop Girl in Alaska!

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