Brandon and I kicked off 2014 adventure-style and flew to Fairbanks, Alaska on January 1. After spending the night in Fairbanks we hopped on another plane – a very small plane in which Brandon rode shotgun/co-pilot – and spent three nights in Bettles. On Sunday it was back on the mini plane (a little bigger this time) and headed back to Fairbanks for another night. From there, it was back to home and work. And… here we are.
Here are some of the things I learned on our Alaskan adventure:
- There are some very interesting characters that live in or choose to visit a city (it’s incorporated, there’s a mayor, we met her) with a population of 29 people in the winter.
- But, those people are truly very interesting and have some of the best stories I’ve ever heard.
- Everyone becomes a weather expert when they’re searching for the Northern Lights. We’ve all done our research and have checked the solar flares coming off of the Sun, the Aurora forecast, the weather forecasts and the thermometer and sky hourly.
- Chewing gum is banned in Singapore. We stayed in Bettles with a group of five (two of them on their honeymoon) from Singapore. This made for some great conversation.
- Of all the tourists and guests we met, we traveled the least amount of distance to visit the lights. We met northern light fanatics from Brazil, Osaka, Singapore, North Carolina and Texas. The honeymooners and their friends won the award for longest trip to Alaska at 37 hours one way to get here. Yowza. And SeaTac saw all of these visitors on their way north. Go, Seattle!
- Sled dogs take Prilosec OTC. Our dog musher was full of information and offered us this interesting tidbit on our two hour dog sled ride. He’s a previous Iditarod competitor/finisher and said that most good mushers give it to their dogs to prevent stomach ulcers during races since they’re eating 12,000 – 16,000 calories EACH DAY when they’re running it. Fascinating stuff.
- Amazon ships to Bettles for free. But, it takes 5 weeks for a bag of dog food to arrive.
- The North Pole is a real city, about 20 minutes outside of Fairbanks.
- Bettles in the summer sounds like a beautiful, horrible place. We visited the Gates of the Arctic National Park visitor’s station and saw a video and photos of the bugs that hatch once the snow melts. Apparently 500-1,000 mosquito bites per day is to be expected. And those mosquitoes appear to be super-sized. Thanks, but no thanks.
- Since it’s best to stay up all night to watch the lights, sleeping in late and lots of naps are encouraged. I have to admit that I got used to our 9 a.m. wake ups and after lunch and dinner naps.
- The northern lights are fickle and clouds are not your friends. If you’re going on a trip like this, make sure you stay more than one night. Our first night in Fairbanks and Bettles did not include really seeing the lights. Our second night in Bettles we had subdued lights and the third was by far our best! They were spectacular!
Enough of the fun facts. It’s time for some photos!
We would highly recommend this trip and would love to hear about your adventures if you do go!