It was hard to leave lovely Denali this morning. The park, the people I met, everything was such a soul-stirring experience.
But it was on to Fairbanks, with only four more days of my trip left.
On the way to Fairbanks, I stumbled upon Nenana, a small town south of the city not know for anything much except the Nenana Ice Classic.
An Alaskan tradition begun in 1917, the Ice Classic is a lottery in which folks can bet on when the ice covering the Tanana River will break up in downown Nenana. Gamblers purchase a ticket while the city places a tripod like the one to the right on the frozen river. It’s connected to an onshore clock that stops when the ice breaks up and the tripod moves.
Pretty clever. This year’s winner took home $318,500 for guessing the break-up.
Nearby where I parked, a small park had been set up around an old trapper’s log cabin. It certainly gave me an idea about how hard it must have been to live in this cold state before electricity and modern conveniences.
When I finally arrived in Fairbanks, 265 miles northeast of Denali, my first stop was the Museum of the North.
This not-to-be-missed museum is housed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and has to be one of the state’s premier museums. It explores the history, people, culture and environment of the state.
One of the most fascinating exhibits was within the museum a special room. It’s been created to showcase the combination of the earth and music and the exhibit is titled “Where You Go to Listen.”
A creation of Fairbanks composer John Luther Adams, the sounds come from sensors located at sites around Alaska to pick up sounds. The movements of the sun and moon, the Northern Lights, and even the seismic movements beneath Alaskan soil are channeled into this room after computers translate them into sound.
The sounds/music are breathtaking.
The museum also contains numerous works of art by and about Alaskans. One particular photo really struck me and I’ve uploaded it was the featured photo at the top of this post.
It was shot by Michio Hoshino who found himself in the midst of a caribou herd surrounded by the power and majesty of hundreds of animals. What a beautiful photo.
Here’s a few other images of the Alaskan story it tells.