Alaska life

Spring Fever in Alaska

What do Alaskans do when they have spring fever? Get outside to enjoy the many outdoor activities. They also go ‘outside’, which is often referred to as the ‘Lower 48’. Many Alaskans plan a trip to warm beaches in Mexico, Central America or Hawaii.

Beautiful highway – near Cantwell. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

This year, my kids and I headed north along the Parks Highway to Fairbanks during spring break. The weather was wonderful, sunny and clear for the whole week. One of the things that drew me up there is to visit family and friends. Fairbanks is the hub city for the interior.

I wanted to see the wonderful ice sculptures that I’ve been hearing about for a few years. Ice Alaska held the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks. It seemed like there were hundreds of ice scrulptures. There was even an amateur section. I posted some pictures in the slideshow below, but you had to be there to really see how it was. There was a huge kids section with ice slides and more. There was something new and exciting to discover at every turn. They had fireworks in the evening. They also released lanterns in the air. It was magical!

We spent a divine evening at the Chena Hot Springs Resort, which is about 50 miles outside of Fairbanks. We had a great soak and swim. The outside pools were great. It is weird to be able to touch snow and be in the hot springs at the same time. Your hair freezes and the steam is rising around you. My kids learned how to swim in the warm pool inside! That was very exciting for them. We all left with a great relaxed feeling.

The Festival of Native Arts was also happening that weekend. We enjoyed Alaska Native singing and dancing. I enjoyed listening and watching the dancers share their culture.

The high school regional basketball tournament was also happening that weekend for smaller interior schools. That weekend, the Jimmy Huntington School (of Huslia) boys high school team won the regionals and later went on to compete in the State tournament. We missed the games, but got to see the award ceremony. It was great to see many of my relatives in one place after not seeing them in a long time.

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No, it wasn’t a warm, sandy beach, but it was fantastic! Fairbanks has a lot to offer, even in the winter. All together, it just turned out to be a great vacation.

Alaska Native culture, Fairbanks

Going Home to Interior Alaska

View of Denali by Angela Gonzalez
View of Denali by Angela Gonzalez

Even in Fairbanks, everybody knows everybody and people are friendly. People ask me my name and where I’m from, and sometimes who my parents or grandparents  are. They may know your family or someone from your village.

You can strike up a conversation with someone while you are waiting at the airport and you may hear stories. An Elder shared a story about the 1950’s. He was driving dogs in the springtime before breakup. He fell through the ice and called his leader to come back. His dogs turned around and the leader jumped in the water and helped him get out. His dogs saved him. It was a true story of survival in Alaska. There are many more stories like this.

Huslia in the fall time
Huslia in the fall time

I love the feeling of going home. I am excited to disconnect from the digital world and go out boating, camping, fishing, hunting and spending time with family. It feels great to be closer to family in the interior. I look forward to seeing family and friends.

I’m going to a place where there are sand or gravel trails, with no paved roads. The main transportation is by ATVs, like four-wheelers or snow machines.

View of a camp along the Koyukuk River
View of a camp along the Koyukuk River

I love the smell of the campfire and seeing wildlife. If I close my eyes, I can imagine hearing loons in the background, an occasional fish jumping, a beaver tail slapping the water, or an airplane or boat near the camp. It is very peaceful. You have to respect the land to survive on it.

It is expensive to travel within Alaska, especially if you have a family. I will continue to plan and save for the trip each year. Each time, I treat it like an experience of a lifetime. I love the Alaska and the interior! There is truly no place like home.

Here is a short presentation my trip to Huslia.
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