Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chena Hot Springs

Today was nice. We went to Chena Hot Springs and wandered around for a bit. The drive was spectacular, about an hour through the foothills and along the Chena River. With so many things to look at, I should have let J do the driving, as I was swerving around on the road looking quite drunk, I'm sure.

Oh, I should mention that I am incredibly phobic of ANYONE, including my sweet husband driving me anywhere. J and I learned early on in our relationship that it was best if I do the driving, otherwise our trips usually end with my fingernails permanently imbedded into the dash, having a cramp from slamming on the "passenger side brakes" every time we go around a curve, and J with a splitting headache from me screaming, "What are you doing? Are you trying to kill us?!?!?" the whole way to our destination.


The Hot Springs were actually a little dissapointing. I was expecting something really spectacular, and it turns out to just be a small little mud pit of hot water. And, since the Hot Springs are privately owned, they charge $15 per person to get in the water! WHAT????

I probably will go back to get in the water at some point, just to say I've gotten in a hot spring, but I was really expecting something more dramatic.

The surrounding area is beautiful though, and the owner of the campground has several greenhouses and an organic garden, along with about 100 camp sites with cabins, wall tents, and a lodge for renting.We wandered through the campgrounds, along the airstrip, and around the gardens.
There is also an Ice Hotel (everything is made of ice!), but that's a $15 per person tour (and an additional $15 if you want an appletini in a hand carved "glass" made of ice), and we didn't really feel like staying until the next tour anyway.
We ate lunch at the restaurant, and THAT was fabulous. J has a salmon buger (which Beans and I ate nearly half of!), and I ordered the fried halibut and "chips", which was pretty good too. We followed that up with coffee and a delicious chocolate mousse, then walked off a little of lunch, chatted with a few tourists, and headed home.

As a side note, I have to admit I was slightly offended when a tourist scoffed at our move from Alabama to Alaska and actually said, "WHY would ANYONE want to move here?"
Um, I felt a little Alaskan Pride welling up (I know, I know, I haven't been here long enough to have it!), and came very close to telling him to vacation somewhere else. Instead, I smiled politely and walked away, secretly hoping he would be eaten by bears on his guided hike.

ANYHOO (again),
We headed home and stopped at one of the river side pull-offs. I'm sure I've said it before, but here goes again: One of the things I LOVE about Alaska is the ability to pull off and set up camp just about anywhere you want. Seriously, at any of the little scenic view spots, you can pull in and find tent campers and RVers setting up "house" and enjoying the view.
Well, we stopped, adding out minivan to one of the lesser populated views, and I sat on the river bank nursing Beans, watching the river flow and listening to the ravens calling out. It was beautiful. I could have spent all day there. It made me want to go buy lots of camping gear and set up "house" along the river bank.
Alas, we had to return home, as I had left sourdough bread rising at the house and had a tired and cranky baby on my hands.

I have to say that today was a nice break from our usual routine of chores and work. It was nice to not be "landlocked" by the house today, to get out and be tourists for a few hours.

Coming up is a very busy weekend for me and Beans. Tomarrow will be spent getting everything caught up at home so we can:
1. Meet the infamous Susan Stevenson for Coffee
2. Attend the Rubber Ducky Races and other Golden Days festivities
3. Visit the Farmer's Market
4. Visit with our friends
5. Check out a new church
6. Finish sewing projects

BUSHY UPDATE: Stupid Squirrel is still on the loose. Landlord is trying to "build a better squirrel trap" still. Landlord's son was trying to be helpful and dumped about a week's worth of peanuts and squirrel food about 3 feet from the trap, so Bushy is not intersted in the food that she has to climb in the trap for. Husband, ever frustrated that he is not permitted to shoot the RODENT, has taken to throwing javelin-like sticks at the squirrel, in hopes of spearing Bushy. (Hey, the landlord said we couldn't SHOOT the squirrel. She didn't say anything about spearing it!)

Ok. Off to bed to rest up for our busy weekend!


Keri said...

If you're ever feeling adventurous, there's a great hike out towards Chena Hot Springs to the Tors. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Definitely not a leisurely stroll, but worth it.

And everyone tells me the springs aren't worth it until it's winter.

Susan Stevenson said...

I was disappointed with CHSR too, and I've NEVER soaked - although many locals tell me it's wonderful - especially in winter.

I will say that a drive up there in the winter is awesome - especially when it's been -30F and below for some time. The hoarfrost around the steamy springs is magnificent - like Narnia. Super incredible.

We toured the ice hotel in February. It was cool (pun intended) but now that we've done it once, that's enough. The ice festival here in Fairbanks is much more exciting!

Looking forward to coffee and this weekend. I'll call you later today. I'm up early - Steve went back to work on daywork and he gets up at 3:30 on this shift. I usually get up with him.

I second the recommendation for the hike. The hike on Angel Rocks trail is awesome too - but a real challenge when going uphill, if you're not in tip top shape. (Which I'm not! LOL)