Day 79 - Tuesday, June 18 - Milepost 6254 - Birdcount 268 - Fairbanks, AK
(BF's Journal). With sunny weather and temperatures in the high 70s we bicycle to the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and visit the exhibits open to tourists. We see fat swine nursing newborn piglets beneath glowing heat lamps, gardens of experimental vegetables protruding from punctures in black polyethylene sheets or probed with hydrometers or nestled in competing weeds, lush flower beds in radiant colors enhanced by the pleasant weather and abundant nearly continuous sunlight, a small herd of lumbering Musk Oxen grazing behind double fences to protect us from them (or is it the other way around?) and a fascinating museum specializing in Alaskan natural history. The Musk Ox are shaggy beasts ideally adapted to Alaskas cold climate, but they were exterminated by rampant hunting in Alaska and Europe. Fortunately, some still existed in other more remote areas of the world and these successfully have been reintroduced in northern Alaska. To reach the oxen pens we are challenged by a formidable hill which I bicycle slowly and with great effort while Shari elects to walk, bracing on her bike, but an energetic student, clad in racing gear and riding a thin wheeled competition bike, climbs and descends three times to my once. As a further reminder of our age, at the top of the hill lies a cemetery with a disproportionate number of residents who died in their 40s and 50s. Life can be short; Im glad we are enjoying this adventure while we are vigorous enough to explore it fully.
(SF's Journal). What a lovely day for a bike ride to the University Botanical Gardens, Musk Ox Farm, Golf Course and museum: all told 13 miles. Our stops include the university farm where huge white pigs in cages so small the pigs are forced to remain in reclining positions while their 6-8 young ones nurse at their sides. Miller Hill Road is a challenge and my old body can only make half the uphill climb. While Bert pedals slowly to the top, I walk and some young whipper snapper passses both of us by. At the top we rest , in all places, a cemetery. We coast down to the golf course where we sit on the lawn and eat our lunch. We walk up and ride down more hills as we try to find the museum at the university. Upon our return Bert decides it is time to fasten the screening onto the front grill of R TENT to prevent rock damage. After surveying the problem a very long time, he measures and carefully cuts the screen we bought in Soldotna, fastens it with elastic bands and asks for my advice. I think it needs more stability so we get some paper clips and fasten the screen down in four to five places with them. It still looks homemade and iffy but better than nothing. I have seen many an outfit on vehicles everywhere we stop and ours is about average. We then visit AlaskaLand and have an all-you-can eat Salmon bake. The trick is not to fill your plate with the mediocre beans, cold slaw, macaroni salad and potato salad and just eat the salmon, ribs and fried halibut which is delicious. After stuffing ourselves with the salmon and halibut we waddle around the park and visit shops housed in original preserved log houses, one room each with short doorways we have to duck into to enter. The area is a cute, if a little amateur, Disneyland Main Street in miniature. The goods in the shops are nice but not enticing enough to part us from our money; since we have enough T-shirts and knick knacks for awhile.
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