05 August 2014

Fairbanks, AK

August 1st - 3rd

Last weekend, we took a trip to Fairbanks, AK. Hubs got off work at noon on Friday, and off we went. The drive itself is an adventure through Denali National Park. Unfortunately, it was super overcast but what we did see was still so amazing. Due to the two lane highway under lots of construction, it took us a full eight hours to get to our hotel. Eli slept almost the entire time. We were so afraid he'd be awake all night in a strange place. He slept straight through from midnight to 8:30am. 
And the Best Baby Award goes to….!!!
So, I was unpacking. Turned around to see these creepers.
Jessie loves a good hotel bed apparently.
Cutest Tummy Time Ever
Saturday morning, Hubs walked over to the Starbucks to grab breakfast. While he was gone, Eli made up for that good-boy act the day before. A diaper explosion was followed by a pee surprise with a encore of throw up. By the time Hubs walked in, this grinning naked baby was on his best behavior. I was still cleaning the triple threat off the wall, from the sheets, and out of my hair. And I no longer felt silly for bringing extras of everything.
Once we were all cleaned and ready, we had a full, fun day about town! Our first stop was the Farmer's Market where we saw local food, art, clothing, and jewelry. We ate an Elk dog, tried a strawberry pineapple lemonade, then bought some hot raspberry salsa and birch syrup cotton candy to take home. Yum! 
Next on the rainy day to do list was the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. It is free for Alaska-stationed military. We walked through a diverse collection of art, artifacts, and wildlife. A chronological evolution of civilization was displayed at the entrance, while the historical overview of Alaska was set-up inside by region. 
Jessie's Arctic Cousin
The biggest reason we came to Fairbanks was because my friend Krista was visiting! I met Krista in Florida- our husbands were stationed at the EOD school at the same time. But she grew up here in Fairbanks and had come home for her high school reunion and birthday. Anyways, she recommended places to go, and obviously more importantly, places to eat. Hubs and I decided to try Silver Gulch Brewery. We split a buffalo burger and halibut fish and chips for lunch. Amazing.
On the way back to the hotel from lunch, we stopped to see a very small part of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
After a nap, we met Krista and her parents for dinner at an amazing all-you-can-eat buffet called Alaskan Salmon Bake in Pioneer Park. Pioneer Park, formerly Alaskaland, is this great little village with shops, playgrounds, gazebos, an air museum, center for the arts, and a small train that travels the perimeter. The Alaskan Salmon Bake is on one side of the park. Buying a ticket gives you a plate and access to a number of outdoor stations, all offering different fare. There are picnic tables and a couple of covered dining areas to choose from once your plate is full. We hit the salad bar before piling on crab legs, grilled salmon, prime rib, beer-battered cod. The dessert house is available too, as if you would have room. Luckily for me, I have an extra dessert compartment. Hubs and I were thrilled to meet Krista's mom and dad. They were so warm and welcoming. Hubs loved getting to chat with Guy about all things Alaska. We totally get why Krista talks them up: they are wonderful.

Sunday, we woke up and had breakfast at another one of Krista's must-eats, The Cookie Jar. This restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Then we took a quick trip to the Santa Claus House in North Pole, AK.
After a little Christmas in August, we headed back to Pioneer Park in Fairbanks for a birthday party! Krista's daughter, Camylle, was turning four. We have loved Camylle since she was a teensy two-year-old in Florida. She has grown so big, but is still so sweet! And we got to see her 14-month-old sister, Molly, for the first time since she was just a few weeks. I was so excited to hang with these precious friends, even for such a short time! Of course, I got zero pictures with Krista, her girls or family. I'm pretty sure she snapped a couple, so I'm hoping to nag her enough to have a few soon.

We began the trip back directly from the party. We were so bummed that it was such a cloudy day again. We made it through most of the construction and stopped for dinner at 49th State Brewing Co. The sky cleared up, and the rest of the trip home was incredibly beautiful. We kept trying to judge where Mt McKinley might be from a map, just in case she wanted to peek through at us. It wasn't until we had to pull over for Eli to be fed and changed that I thought I caught a glimpse right before we pulled off the road. I didn't get a picture, but it came into full view in our rear-view mirrors as we drove on for the next half-hour. Such an incredible and majestic sight. It was getting late and our check-engine light came on (just the O2 sensor), so we didn't stop. But I can't wait to take our next drive up to take it all in.

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