Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fairbanks, Alaska's Golden Heart

From 2014 07 10 Fairbanks
Fairbanks is farther north than Hudson Bay in Canada. It's farther north than the northern tip of Scotland. It's north of Reykjavik, Oslo, Stockholm, or Helsinki. There's no larger city farther north anywhere in the world. Fairbanks residents know this. That's why when you drive north out of Fairbanks up Alaska Highway 2, the tour guide informs you on the outskirts of town that you just passed the northernmost traffic signal in the United States. That's why Big Daddy's restaurant bills itself as the "Northernmost Southern BBQ" in the world (passably authentic, by the way).

More about Fairbanks after the jump.

To understand how far north you are, all you have to do is watch the sun. This far north, you can't go by the rules you learned in childhood to orient yourself or judge the time ("the sun rises in the east and sets in the west"). Instead, as someone in Fairbanks told us, "Up here the sun just goes around in circles and does any old thing it wants to." Sunset on the northern horizon after midnight. Sunrise still on the northern horizon at 3:30 am. We watched both the sunset and sunrise from the same hotel window. The sun never goes far enough below the horizon to ever get dark. So, our tour of Denali National Park the day before left at 5:00 am, but that was long after sun-up. Somehow knowing intellectually how the "land of the midnight sun" works doesn't completely prepare you for experiencing it personally. D*mned strange. I'm just glad we weren't visiting in winter. Stranger still, I imagine.

From 2014 07 10 Fairbanks

From 2014 07 10 Fairbanks

All photos from our day in Fairbanks can be seen on Google Photos.

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