A branch of the Chena River at Chena Hot Springs
Fairbanks, AKI am still up surviving the snow and cold in Alaska. Yesterday proved to be a bit trying however. In my searches for things to do, I came across a resort that offered dog sled rides! Well, that's not something you stumble upon in Montana very often so I jumped at it. It meant an hour and a half drive out of Fairbanks however. I was under the impression they would take care of their roads like we take care of ours back home. Cities are always a little rough, but the highways are fine. So off I went, heading east toward fun and snow. Well, after about 45 minutes my road conditions got worse and for the rest of the trip I would have an internal battle with myself "should I turn around? No, you've already made it this far. But what if the road gets worse? You'll be there soon, keep going..." Well, I did make it to the resort, but it was a very tense trip. (It may be useful to mention that I only have 2-wheel drive. I'm used to driving in MT, but generally in a better car!) The resort was situated over some hot springs and was a rather odd establishment. Not the fancy resort I expected, more like something you'd find in back-woods...Montana. LOL. The folks were nice though and hooked me up with a dog sled appointment at 1pm. I bought a few souvenirs and then went and hung out in the warm car. After gloves, hat, snow pants and coat were on I trudged to the dog kennel site. This is basically a big field dotted with little green boxes (dog houses). As I walked up they all came out of their houses and started barking. There were so many of them! They sure sounded angry but what I learned was that they were only excited. They wanted to run! The dog handlers showed up shortly after I got there and the dogs went really insane. They told me I was the first guest of the season to take a ride! Yay! They asked if I had seen any dogs I'd like on the team. I pointed at a black and white one that had been staring at me, silent, since I got there. "Oh, that's Mao! He's a good dog!" They built the team around Mao with a total of six pups. They were rearing to go! I got in the sled, covered in furs, and off we went with the driver behind me! What an experience! It was so much fun! I can't imagine some of the professionals who use 25 dogs on a sled! I got to pet all the dogs at the end and they were so friendly and sweet. This is what they live for! Click HERE for a short video I took of being in the sled!
Me and my sled dog team. Mao is in the very back.
Feeling happy and up I headed back to the car. The sun would go down at 3:30 so I wanted back on the road. The drive home was easier because I knew how long it would take, and what the road would be like. I felt pretty confident on the return trip. But then it got ugly. Only a couple minutes from Fairbanks, I missed my left turn into the city. No biggy, right? I would just go down this street, stop, and take a left to turn around. That was the plan, but not what happened. As I came down the hill to the stop sign I tried to brake. Nothing. Brake brake brake. Nothing nothing nothing. I realized very quickly that I wasn't going to stop, and I wasn't going to turn. I looked ahead of me and could hardly take in the scene. I was heading toward a street where you had to take a left, or a right. I chose neither. Instead I screamed "Shit! Oh Jesus!" and flew over the embankment...into some poor guy's yard. At the bottom, I realized I was alive. Yay! No airbag deployment. Yay! I got out, shaky, and a car above me asked if I was OK. I turned toward the house and a rather tired looking man on the porch put out his cigarette and said he'd get his coat. I was the third car to do that to him today! He had put big logs at the bottom of the embankment, and that's what eventually stopped my car. I broke one in half! As I stood there waiting for his help, a young girl (probably 16) came running out of the house next door. She hugged me and got her mom. It ended up being five of us out there, removing the log, moving the car, and driving it out of the yard. Everyone hugged and laughed and I joked about my "grand entrance." I apologized for all the dirt I moved around and they just smiled and waved me on. I got stuck once more before I was back on the road, but then the 16 year old led me to my hotel by driving in front (she wanted to make sure I didn't get lost or stuck). I hugged her again back at the hotel and thanked her over and over. What nice people to crash in front of! I owe a lot of sanity to these people. Now it's time to head back to the rental car folks and explain what happened...wish me luck? There was a wee bit o' front end damage...the irony? This rental car has a sticker on it that says "new vehicle." Not so shiny and new, now is it? Oops!