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A natural log home with all the modern conveniences in the heart of Alaska.
Greetings from Alaska!
My wife and I (retired teachers) are hoping to do a home exchange with someone in England, Germany or central Europe the summer of 2020. We’re eager to see more of the world and we’re ready to share our home with someone who is hoping to experience some of Alaska. All offers for exchange will be considered.
We have a two bedroom, natural scribe-fit log home (built in 1988 and having all the modern amenities) in the hills overlooking Fairbanks, Alaska. Our home sits on a fairly secluded two acres, surrounded by birch and aspen trees in a quiet neighborhood - the neighbors are mostly hidden by the surrounding forest. The deck on the south side of our home has no neighbors visible in the summer, but does have a view of the historic small city of Fairbanks below. Fairbanks, with its international airport, is in the center of Alaska and is just a quick seven mile drive away. You will have use of our 2011 RAV4 Toyota for transportation whether for a three hour drive to Denali Park or a day's drive to Anchorage. Also available are two new, comfortable bikes for your use exploring Fairbanks trails or on your trips out of town.
We do have free WIFI available for use with your laptop or smartphone as well.
As you relax on our deck (perhaps using the grill there) you’ll look out over the vast Tanana River valley to the south; and on a cloudless day, see the pristine snow covered peaks of Mt. Hayes, Hess and Deborah in the Alaska Range about 90 miles to the southeast. On a clear day, the highest mountain in North America, Mt. McKinley, can be seen about 150 miles to the southwest. (We Alaskans refer to it as Denali - Athabascan for “The Great One”.) Mt. McKinley sits majestically within the six million acres of wild land contained within Denali National Park and Preserve. The entrance to the park is just an easy two hour drive south.
So why not come to Fairbanks and explore the land, the culture, and the history of the real Alaska? Experience life here on the “Last Frontier”! Start with a free tour through the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor’s Center on the banks of the Chena River in the old downtown area. The life-sized dioramas and world class exhibits there provide a look into Alaska’s four seasons, and are an excellent quick overview of the history and native culture of the region. The staff at the visitor’s center can be an invaluable source of current information on inexpensive events and activities in interior Alaska.
Consider following that up with a morning or afternoon trip on the sternwheeler Riverboat Discovery. While the paddlewheeler takes you down the lazy waters of the Chena river to a turn-around at the cold, gray waters of the glacial fed Tanana River - you’ll hear from the local guides about the goldmining history as well as native history and culture. At one point on the river, you’ll watch a bush pilot demonstrate their flight skills from a nearby short field landing strip. At another point, the sternwheeler stops at the Susan Butcher Kennels for a demonstration and discussion of the art, science and sport of dogmushing. (Susan was a four time winner of the 1000 mile Iditarod Trail sled dog race.) Lastly, you’ll get off the boat and take a walking tour through an Athabascan Indian village with young Native locals who will demonstrate the skills their culture developed to have survived for over 10,000 years in an arctic and subarctic environment.
If you want to really delve into Alaska’s history, flora, fauna, culture and climate (and even gain an understanding of the science behind the northern lights) - you have to take an inexpensive tour through the Museum of the North. The museum is located in a beautiful new (and architecturally distinctive!) building at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. The museum has many great examples of local art and crafts on display as well, and the gift shop there has uniquely Alaskan arts and crafts for sale.
Be sure to take the 60 mile drive out through the nearby Chena Recreation Area to Chena Hot Springs. On the way to the hot springs, we fairly frequently see moose, beaver and bald eagles in or near the river and ponds along the road. At the end of that road, we’re sure you’re going to love soaking in the warm, all natural mineral waters of the outdoor hot springs Rock Lake, the outdoor hot tub, or the indoor family pool. The lodge with it’s rustic restaurant has an excellent menu. Oh, and if you take the tour through the Aurora Ice Museum there, be sure to have one of their “Appletinis” in a carved ice glass at the ice bar! There are some beautiful trails to hike up into the hills from the hot springs if you’d like; or you can take their guided ATV or horseback rides into the hills surrounding the hot springs.
By the way, there are numerous hiking trails at easy access from Chena Hot Springs road as you drive through the Rec. Area - our favorite is the moderately strenuous Angel Rocks Trail at Milepost 48.9. Our kids always loved working their way to the top of that trail and exploring the rock formations at the top! (We’ll leave books and maps for all of the many hiking trails in the nearby vicinity of Fairbanks.) There’s every skill level of hiking available within 90 miles of Fairbanks. From an easy hour or two stroll through the scenic birch, aspen and spruce forest near Creamer’s Field and within the city limits - to hiking the high ridges and hills of the Granite Tors trail off of Chena Hot Springs Road. The Chena Dome Trail (from that same road) can be a quite strenuous overnight backpacking experience, or a day hike it you’d rather not do the whole trail.
And there are all kinds of camping experiences available in the vicinity also; from tent camping near the car and next to a river or lake; to the completely wilderness backcountry experience of Denali Park. We will leave some camping equipment out for you: a two-person tent and a much larger family sized tent, sleeping bags, mats, cots, Coleman stove and cooler. (You won’t need a lantern - it’s light all night in the summer!)
Just keep in mind - if you do any hiking, camping or fishing - you are expected to educate yourself about the hazards, as well as the beauty, of the particular area you are going into before you go there. We will certainly help with that education, and can point you to the proper authorities who will love to help you out before you begin that day or overnight adventure. The Lands Office at the Morris Thompson Visitor’s Center mentioned earlier, can be an easy, accurate source of current information about trails and trail conditions, camping opportunities, road conditions, and sightseeing opportunities.
(Speaking of fishing - if it’s something you enjoy, I can leave out some basic spinning and fly-fishing gear. You can purchase a day or a week Alaska fishing license and try your hand at catching some of those elusive Arctic Grayling or Northern Pike found in the area! Just talk with the folks at the local Fish and Game office - they will give you all of the particulars.)
And just an easy 120 mile drive down the Parks Highway to the south is what many consider to be the premier national park in all of North America - Denali Park!! You absolutely have to go there! Be sure to check out its website noted below. You’ll want to reserve your seats in advance on one of the buses that carry visitors out through its unspoiled wilderness via its one gravel back-country road. A great decision by the Park Service - to not allow any private vehicles to drive that narrow gravel road the winding 85 miles out to the end at Wonder Lake. As people are not allowed to disembark the bus when wildlife is seen nearby ( and of course hunting is not allowed within the park boundaries), the wild residents of the park seem to have lost a good deal of their natural fear for people and vehicles. And so it’s not constant, but seems to happen so often - just as you’re becoming bored, perhaps lulled into napping on your bus seat on that slow, winding gravel road; someone yells out “moose!”, “caribou!”, or “bear!” (on the rare occasion, even “wolf!”) and the bus pulls over to the side. Everyone moves to that side of the bus, all windows are slid down and each instantly fills with cameras and binoculars. If the quarry is close, the engine is shut off, a hush descends over the bus and all that is heard is the clicking of cameras and delighted whispers from adults and children alike. On very special days, the clouds surrounding McKinley part, and the massive snow and glacier covered peaks in the blue summer sky will take your breath away. Mt. McKinley is such a huge amount of rock, snow and ice rising over 20,000 feet from the high tundra, that it’s said to create its own weather, and in the summer can be frequently covered by the clouds it creates. I consider those the mountain reveals itself to as indeed being - “the chosen ones”!
Denali Park has an incredible range of hiking and camping opportunities possible. Consider reserving in advance a tent campsite just inside the park with parking for your car, running water and clean bathhouses; or register to leave the bus for an overnight wilderness camping experience off the road. The Wilderness Access Center and the Park Visitor Center will answer all of your questions regarding safely hiking, camping and sightseeing within the park. (You can get off the bus at any of the scheduled rest stops or viewing areas along the road - or simply ask the driver to stop the bus at any point on the trip and let you off to hike or picnic; and they will do that as long as there is no wildlife apparent in the immediate area.)
And of course just outside of the park there are numerous modern motels, rental cabins, restaurants, and gift shops. There are a couple of incredible “flightseeing” experiences possible in light planes or helicopters - but definitely consider the white water rafting through the Nenana River Gorge! (The rafting charters have excursion options for more gentle “family” experiences - or the “extreme” white water experience.)
Go to http://www.nps.gov/dena/index.htm for information and reservations at Denali Park.
As the poet, Robert Service, said about the Far North, “there’s strange things done in the midnight sun”! Go watch the local “Goldpanners” semi-pro baseball team play a baseball game at midnight without artificial lights. Play a round of golf at the farthest north golf course (we’ll leave the golf clubs out for you) - but watch out for the occasional moose or fox wandering out on the greens! If you’re here around the summer solstice in June, walk or run in the 10K Midnight Sun Run (maybe wear some crazy costume like many others do).
Why not try your hand at panning for gold? Just make sure you’re on public land - ask about it at the Visitor’s Center and we can leave out our gold pan and spade if you would like. Maybe take a tour of the historic Little Eldorado Gold Mine and have the experts there teach you how to pan properly and efficiently.
And there’s just so much more to do! Go to “Pioneer Park” in Fairbanks - rent a canoe or kayak there, for a float down the Chena - and be sure to eat at their outdoor Salmon Bake. (The prime rib and cod are good, but you have to have the grilled Alaskan wild salmon!)
Oh, and be sure to take the short drive out to North Pole, Alaska - where it's Christmas all year! Take a stroll through the Santa Claus house - see his reindeer and have your kids' picture taken sitting on Santa Claus's lap!
Take in the Farmer’s Market on College Road on any Weds or Sat. in the summer - the locally grown produce, baked goods and crafts are incredible. Go to the funky little “Howling Dog” bar just a little north of Fairbanks in Fox, Alaska on a Friday or Sat. night for local Rock & Roll or Rhythm and Blues music and dancing. Walk across the road from there to the Silver Gulch Brewery and sample any of their many excellent micro-brew beers (if you have a designated driver!) - their restaurant has an excellent food menu as well.
So those are just a few of our favorite things about the place we live! Go to the website http://www.explorefairbanks.com/ for a calendar of many other free or low cost activities and events in the area. E-mail us and we will be more than happy to try to answer all of your questions as I’m sure we’ll have many questions for you. Looking forward to meeting you and chatting.
Have a good one - Tom and Di
- 2 Adults
- 0 Children
- 1 Exchanges made
- retired teacher
- retired teacher
- House Type: House
- Floor: 2nd
- Environment: In the country
- Bedrooms: 2
- Bathrooms: 1
- Sleeping Capacity: 5
In my house
- Pets - Not allowed
- Small children - Allowed
- Long-term exchange wanted
- Home exchange
- Free internet access
- Toys and games
- Washing machine
- Clothes dryer
- Terrace or deck
- Park / playground
- Bicycles: 2
- No smoking
- Car necessary
- Use/Exchange of car
Our Destination Wish List
- Open for all offers
- England, UK
- retired teacher
- retired teacher
- We do not have children.
- We do not have pets.
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