June 4-5, 2009 – Riverboat Discovery and New Friends

On Thursday morning we met with Alexis, Melissa, and Mark on various questions we had plus about the Sunday event “Wild Arts Walk” and what some of our duties will be (Sat/Sun will be long days for us).

This afternoon we took a tour on the Discovery Boat (thanks to Bob again for the tickets).

We went early and first went thru the museum.  There is an area dedicated to Susan Butcher who was a four time winner of the Iditarod.   Susan was born in 1954 and moved to Alaska in 1975 to “live the simple life”.  In 1977 she started training for the Race and won in 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990 as well as taking place in the top 10 many other times.  She was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and died in 2006 leaving two young daughters and husband David Monson (who won the Yukon Quest in 1988).  In 2007, her husband and 11 year daughter Tekla ran 700 miles of the Iditarod in Susan’s honor.

I am standing by Susan’s actual finishing sled in the 1988 race.

06-04-09 Riverboat Discovery 005

From there we boarded the Discovery 3, a stern wheel riverboat:

06-04-09 Riverboat Discovery 012

We took off down the Chena River and our first stop was to see a demonstration of a bush pilot in action:

06-04-09 Riverboat Discovery 025

06-04-09 Riverboat Discovery 066

In many places of Alaska today, the river barges and planes are used to bring supplies to the villages.  The planes are used year round landing on the ground, in the rivers, in ponds, on ice, or snow.

From there, we cruised to the kennels of David Monson and Susan Butcher.  Dave is on the left.  Susan’s daughter is in the green shirt.  Dave told us a lot about the dogs, how they are raised and trained and handled.

 06-04-09 Riverboat Discovery 073

In the summer, here is some of their training – AND THERE OFF:

06-04-09 Riverboat Discovery 087


06-04-09 Riverboat Discovery 101

It was really interesting to see and watch.  In Alaska, this is the mode of transportation for many.

Our next stop was at the “wedding of the two rivers” – the intersection of the Chena and the Tanana.  This area of Alaska actually has desert conditions.  Rainfall is less than 11” per year.  However, there is a lot of melting of the glaciers.  The Chena is spring fed and the Tanana is glacial fed.  Spring fed rivers are clear and glacial fed rivers are “milky” due to the amount of sand/silt in the glaciers.  When those waters meet, this is what it looks like:

06-04-09 Riverboat Discovery 108

06-04-09 Riverboat Discovery 112  

You can see the sand bars in the above picture.  They are in the Tanana River and are changing all the time.

Our last stop was a guided tour of a Athabascan Indian Village.  We made three stops in this village and our tour guides were Athabascan Indians who told us of life in their village – their lives, traditions, hunting, fishing – how interesting.  Some of the buildings were authentic and some were replicas. 

This is their fishing village:

 06-04-09 Riverboat Discovery 117

The Trading Post:06-04-09 Riverboat Discovery 137

The Post Office:06-04-09 Riverboat Discovery 121

This is a statue of Susan and David’s lead dog – Granite.  They wrote a children’s book about him since he was a sickly pup and became a great dog leader.  We did get a copy and had David sign it for our great granddaughter, Bailey.

06-04-09 Riverboat Discovery 122

And one of the homemade coats:

06-04-09 Riverboat Discovery 131

Isn’t that beautiful.  There were also examples and explanations of the various types of beading.  The girls explained the different meanings on the different parts of the coat.  They told us that if a woman wore this into another village, they would know what village they came from and various things about their family.  WOW!

And look at this little fellow:

06-04-09 Riverboat Discovery 136

On this trip, we met another Escapee couple, Pennie and David.  They will be staying in Fairbanks for another 2 weeks and hopefully we will meet up for dinner.

We then went to Boston’s and had dinner with Charlene and Ken.  We had been communicating by email and on the Escapees forum and met last week.  So it was great to spend the evening with them and we hope to meet up again when we get to the Kenai.  (I just love being part of the Escapees – we have met so many wonderful people.)

On Friday, 5th, we just hung out.  It rained part of the day and I did our bills/budget.  We have also discussed what we will be touring over the next few weeks so stay tuned.

No comments: