Chena Hot Springs

We traveled to these springs last Friday for some rest and relaxation with my father and Mo.  Before we left I was watching the snow geese migrating from the north.  Our county’s geese come from Wrangel Island in Russia.

We flew from Sea-Tac.  There I enjoyed this Halloween music display at their Sub Pop shop.

These cute kids were on the flight with us.

I finished this great kindle book on the flight.  It is about
Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir, an explorer, farmer and religious figure who travelled as far as North America and Rome, Italy roughly 1000 years ago.  Her life is completely fascinating, and this book chronicles it well.

When we arrived, we first shopped and had dinner at a local restaurant.  There we saw Marty from the show Mountain Men, which was fun.  After we arrived at the resort we unloaded our stuff and headed to the hot springs.  They were magical, particularly at night.  The next morning we started exploring the grounds, getting oriented.  There is a lot of old equipment covered in snow.  It was fun trying to figure out what their purpose was.

We checked out their power and manufacturing plant.  They power the entire resort with electricity from geothermal energy.  They are also trying to manufacture their own products for the resort, like stairs, gift shops items and name tags.  It was fascinating.

On the walk back we checked out the goats, the dragon, and the ducks.

There was also repurposed items which were fun.

Even the tables in the restaurant had repurposed items in them.

The resort was heated with the hot water from the springs.  Ours was quite warm so we kept the windows open at all times and adjusted the temperature by opening and closing the windows and blinds.  But one of these windows served well as our refrigerator.

We headed to the large hot springs after lunch and warmed up.  It was really nice and fun exploring the nooks and crannies and figuring out the hot spots and the sitting places on the rocks.  They also had water jets, some of which were wonderful to give you a back/neck massage.

Later in the afternoon we took a tour of the geothermal greenhouses.  They heat them with the hot springs water but light them with LEDs powered by the plant.  It was a fascinating system and produces quite a bit of the food served in the resort.

We then checked out the plane that the owner Bernie bought and somehow moved to the property.  He then recently purchased a fire truck to use the ladder to be able to access and fix it.  They are hoping to have tours of it next year.  We loved the logo.

We then did the ice museum tour.  It was fascinating and beautiful.

They had an ice bar, and they were serving apple martinis in glasses that were hand made from ice made by one guy there.

We went outside with our drinks and were supposed to break the glasses on the ground and make a wish.  Tom and Dad did this, but Mo and I didn’t.  I just couldn’t bring myself to break something that was handcrafted and used so briefly.  So I used mine to cool my sparkling waters that I brought to the springs with me to try to stay hydrated.

Warning: these drinks were quite strong so a couple in our group needed to nap afterwards.  We went to dinner in the restaurant afterwards.  They had really good food there.  Because it was the evening before the Seahawks game we decided to ask the bartender to make Seahawks themed cocktails. Here is what we got.

Once again they were really strong even shared with 4 people.  It had the napping effect again so we learned not to order their cocktails anymore.

I do want to do a shout out to some of the locally crafted beverages.  Tom found two hard ciders he really liked (this is one of them), and I found a winery I enjoyed.

Sunday morning we had a lovely breakfast there.  Here is a caricature of the owner Bernie (who is also depicted on the plane).  It sounds like he is quite a character.  The restaurant and activities staff were all great so it was really a nice environment.

Unfortunately the resort had limited television stations and did not include the one the Seahawks game was one.  So we made a plan  to go to the cafe down the road (which is part of Angel Creek Lodge) to see if they would have the game.  The woman who answered the phone was noncommittal if the game would be on or not.  We arrived, and it was unclear if they were open or not, but Tom was able to determine that they were.  It is rustic, let’s say.  But we were able to having good hamburgers for lunch and intermittently watch the game as the owner flipped through the football game channels.  It worked out and was a memorable experience.

We headed back to the hot springs.  I wanted to try to capture the magic of the brightly lit snow coming down in the dark,

Our hair became really icy, but you can’t really see it in the photo.

The next morning we walked to check out the sled dogs.  There were plenty to pet.

These are some of the adoptable ones.

This was my favorite.  His name is Jabba.  Fortunately for me and our pets, you have to adopt him with his brother Solo so I was no longer tempted to take him home.

Here are some of the playful puppies.

On the way back we checked out this old snowmobile.

Monday afternoon we attempted to take naps to get ready for the Aurora tour that night.  They take you up in the top of a nearby mountain with a Snow Cats and have a somewhat heated yurt on top to stay warm.  Although it had been clear in the morning, it had clouded up by the evening and no Northern Lights were visible.

We slept in Tuesday morning and that afternoon I walked around checking out the sights.  Here are more ducks.

And more snowy equipment.

Here is a selfie our last evening.

I tried to capture the lights on the steam which attempted to replicate the Aurora lights.

It did clear up again Tuesday night we did shifts trying to see the lights.  I got up at 1 AM, and it was still cloudy.  Dad and Mo got up at 3 AM, and it had cleared up.  They watched for one hour and didn’t see anything.  Tom and I got up at 6 and watched until sunrise mostly from the springs around 9 and didn’t see anything.

Wednesday morning we packed up and headed to Fairbanks to catch our flight.  We had a  little extra time so we went to Soba Moldovan restaurant for lunch.  It had been recommended by a couple of people at the resort and was amazing.  I had Mămăligă, Dad had Sarmale, and Tom and Mo had Colţunaşi cu Cartofi.  All was truly amazing.  Here is my lunch, and I had plenty leftover for dinner on the plane.

There was nice museum upstairs that we visited.  It had information on the history of Fairbanks, the gold rushes and dog sledding.  Here is one of Lance Mackey’s dog sled from 2004, his epic year.

There was also a knife store downstairs that had an incredible knifes and wonderful hand crafted belts.  Dad got a new belt (his current one was 40 years old) and Tom got one too.  Tom couldn’t resisted getting a hunting knife with a Damscas blade that is incredible  Unfortunately (maybe) for me, the sweater shop nearby was closed.

I started getting a slight cough in the morning that felt like a tickle in my throat.  But by the time of the flight, it had turned into a full blown cold.  I did wear an N-95 mask on the flight trying not to spread it and had tested Covid negative.

I feel like crap today.  I was able to do some chores this morning, noting that when we left it was nice autumn weather with tomato, cucumbers, etc harvest still happening.  This morning though it was frosty.  I did pick the last of our produce.  With the squash leaves wilted from the cold, I could see our squash production in the garden.

Unfortunately almost all of the “squash” in the garden were just thin shells, and the insides had been completely emptied out.  Here is the total of my squat harvest from three rows plants in our vegetable garden.

Pretty pathetic and sad.  Thankfully we still have lots of squash in the pig pen.  I need to harvest those as soon as I am able.  I napped all afternoon and now feel crappy.  I always seem to get sick in Alaska.

We had an amazing trip.  We didn’t get to see the aurora lights but were able to enjoy the incredible hot spring waters, rest, relax, and eat and drink well.  It was much needed for me with my recent stressors.  We also met some wonderful people, guest and staff.  People who pull up all stakes and move to Alaska are an interesting bunch.  I am not one of them but do enjoy visiting.

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6 Responses to Chena Hot Springs

  1. Michelle says:

    Sounds like a fascinating trip! Some of it looked a bit familiar (hot springs, sled dogs) from our trip to White Horse for a family reunion, but no snow when we went.

  2. Jeanne says:

    Okay! I’ve gone through this twice and thoroughly enjoyed all of your pictures. I would think a highlight would be the Ice Museum. Your pictures of all of that were really interesting. I’ve always wanted to cruise the inland passage to Alaska.

    Oh, and my son was in Alaska on a job for the company he works for, he flew up on Monday and home again on Friday. He did say that he was able to finish the work. He drove from Fairbanks to Healy, where the business he worked at is located.

  3. FullyFleeced says:

    that looks like quite an adventure! i keep thinking that one of these days I’ll get to alaska. maybe in the summer tho 😉

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