June 29, 2009

We woke up to a foggy, cloudy morning but by noon the sun peeking through the clouds. We took a cruise on the Riverboat Discovery III and about halfway through the cruise the sun came out and it was a great afternoon. This boat is a little bigger than the one Rex works on in Arizona (280 tons with a passenger capacity of 900). It is owned by a family that has been in the riverboat business in one form or another for over 100 years.

We cruised past the Discovery I and II.

Once we got under way on the Chena River a bush pilot gave a demonstration with his float plane. He took off and landed next to the boat. It was exciting to see this so close to the action.

We then stopped by Trail Breaker Kennels, owned by the late Susan Butcher and her husband, Dave Monson. Susan won the Iditarod Dog Sled Race 4 times and led the only climbing party to conquer Denali (Mt. McKinley) by dog team. She was stricken with leukemia and passed away in 2006. Dave gave us a great demonstration on how they train puppies and ran a team of dogs (pulling an ATV with no motor).

We stopped at a replica of a Chena Athabascan Indian Village. Everyone got off the boat and were given demonstrations on Alaskan Native traditions and culture. We finally saw some caribou though they were in a pen – this may be the only time we see live caribou!

On our way back we got to see some of the original riverboats – unfortunately some of them are almost totally gone and others will probably never be restored.

This is a former governor’s campaign barge. Looks like it would make a good summer cabin or boat or….

This was a great cruise and we would recommend it to anyone visiting Fairbanks.


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