The next day proved to be a new start away from that dreadful National Park where I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life rotting. We loaded up, left the “butchy baby” cabin (don’t ask), and drove about 2 hours north to Fairbanks. Tom slipped me some Dramamine and I slept the entire way – I remember waking up once and he told me to go back to sleep and I did as I was told. Once we arrived, we went straight to El Dorado & Dredge Number 8 to go gold panning. Last time we went gold panning, 4-year-old Baylee found the biggest nugget and immediately threw it back into the water, so we were hoping for better luck this time. We boarded an open train that took us all around the property while listening to a man that appeared as though he could double as an ice-cream truck driver, sing “North to Alaska.” As usual, Tom was the winner. According to the guide, I found some, too, but I’m skeptical until I get my microscope out back at home. Mine and Tom’s combined loot is supposed to be worth $70.00. Keywords: supposed to be.
After a stop at the Alaskan pipeline, where a creepy motorcyclist watched as I changed clothes in the car (temps change so fast here), we made our way to the North Pole, Alaska, where we had a picnic and went to see Santa and the reindeer. It was 80 degrees at the North Pole. Right in the middle of the town was a huge store filled with Christmas trinkets with Santa Clause sitting on his throne in the middle of it all with a few reindeer in a fence-in area outside. There was also a fudge shop and coffee shop that I took full advantage of. Everything in the North Pole was either red or white, even the light poles.
Back in downtown Fairbanks, we hoped to see some salmon jumping up the river, but no such luck. Downtown Fairbanks seemed desolate – there weren’t many stores or restaurants open, so we took a drive around the city to try to find a place to eat. After about an hour, we ended up just a block away from our hotel at an Italian restaurant (we were all pretty tired of halibut and salmon at this point) where Baylee finally got to order the snow crab legs she’s been eyeing the whole trip.