Friday, September 7, 2012

From Anchorage to Chena Hot Springs

Wed Aug 15th – We took today as a ‘chill’ day and a day to catch up chores after saying goodbye to kids. We did a bit of laundry and grocery shopping, and cleaned out the camper, then started working on pictures for this blog.

Aug 16-17th We had a few days before our next scheduled ‘adventure’ – a 5 night rafting trip on the Copper River- so we decided to drive on back up towards Fairbanks, just to see a bit of the interior. To be honest, it is always difficult to wrap up one section of our trip and begin another. Particularly difficult, this time, with having to say goodbye to the kids. We felt that it would be better to drive on around, some, than to just ‘hang out’ around Anchorage.

We had heard a number of people talking about Chena Hot Springs, 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks. Chena is a natural hot springs that has been attracting the locals as well as tourists since the early 1900’s. Chena springs became famous for curing crippled prospectors of their aches and pains since 1905. Sounded like a good place to go to relax!

We arrived at Chena campground in the late afternoon. It had been a long drive and we just wanted to settle in and have a nice dinner.


In the morning, we paid our $10 each for an all day pass to the pools. The hot springs are pumped both into a indoor pool and this outdoor ‘lake’ with a gravel bottom, where one can swim or wade in the healing waters. The hot springs pools are beautiful, and we were told that it was an especially popular place to visit in the winter, where you could soak in the hot springs with snow in the background, and enjoy the Northern Lights.


We enjoyed the outdoor pool…soaking all morning. My back had been hurting, so I just soaked in the warmth and stretched my back muscles. It felt really good!


The flowers surrounding the pools were beautiful…..


These geese were also enjoying the day.


After soaking away the morning, we showered and dressed and had lunch in the resort dining room. We both enjoyed a wonderful salad made from fresh green grown in the Chena greenhouse. Chena  uses the geothermal water from the springs to heat a 7,060 sq ft green house, maintaining a 75 degree temperature year round, even when the temp drops to –60 degrees outside!

After lunch we toured Chena’s Ice Museum. This ice museum houses amazing ice sculptures by champion ice carvers, Steve and Heater Brice.The temperature inside this museum is kept at a chilly 20 degrees year round by a unique absorption chiller designed by Energy Concepts Co. and powered by the geothermal water.


Everything inside this ice museum is carved out of ice. In the above picture, on the right, you can see the ice ‘bar’ complete with caribou hide covered bar stools. For an additional charge you could get an ‘Appletini’ served in an ice glass (which you get to keep as a souvenir?). We passed on this.


We put on complementary parkas and hats and gloves before entering this museum. As bundled up as we were, we were still cold! I am standing in front of the ice chapel’s pulpit. Yes, they actually hold weddings in here. I think that might be a strange theme for a wedding……


There were ice carvings everywhere……unusual and beautiful.


A chilly Halloween…… anyone?


These two knight jousting looked almost real…..


And ice rose……or two.


Even a polar bear drinking a Coke outside his igloo……


After about 40 minutes, we were cold through and through….and ready to leave…..


Although, we did have the option of renting out one of their 4 ice hotel rooms for the night. These beds just leave me cold!    ;- )

Later that afternoon, we soaked in the springs again. The weather was cloudy and cool….not a good night for Aurora viewing, so we went to bed. In the morning, I hopped out of bed….my back felt almost cured!

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