While touring I always tried to stay at bed and breakfasts’ to really get the feel of the culture and area. I went to the Midnight Sun Intertribal Powwow and experienced the dancing, food, and pageantry of the event. It was very interesting, family oriented, drum circles and beautiful regalia. It is a nonstop dance-a-thon! They did a potato dance where two people held a potato between their heads and a caller giving them instructions on what dance steps to be doing, the last one keeping potato in place won.
A prominent member of one of the tribes died last year and there was a moving ceremony where the family walked around the arena (a tent with bales of straw in a circle, all goings on in the circle are considered sacred), next the veterans walked in behind them, followed by the different tribes joining in, then they invited everyone in attendance to join in. I spoke to his daughter later and she said it was unexpected, that they weren't even going to come this year, but that her daughter reminded them that he would have wanted them all to dance, so they came.
Took an unbelievable tour on the Riverboat Discovery down the Chena River that flows right through Fairbanks. This multi-generational family has been doing these tours for over 60 years and have it down pat. There is a bush plane that takes off right next to the boat, a stop at the home and kennels of a 4 time Iditarod winner, and then at a replica of an Athabaskan Indian village. Very educational and inspiring. Went halibut fishing in Homer, Alaska, the Halibut Fishing Capitol of the World. There I met up with the son of my boss and mentor, Char, which was very cool.
I was there for a week and a half before I saw the dark of night! It is so strange to see people riding bikes and washing their cars at midnight. The vegetables and flowers are huge with such long daylight hours. A zinnia usually quite small would be the size of a dinner plate and cabbage couldn’t fit into a five gallon bucket! I went to the farmers market each week and really enjoyed seeing all the HUGE produce.
I was amazed to learn how many people went to Alaska to get lost, drop out, and try not to be found. Also there are many there who live in dry cabins, with no bathroom and no running water. The hospital had showers located all throughout the hospital for staff use. Staff really made me feel welcome and eager for me to experience their way of life. Fairbanks is ground zero for the best place to see the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis, and I found a good place for viewing to be on the grounds of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.