Saturday, July 01, 2006

Alaska Day 46

Friday June 30, 2006 Fairbanks AK Log 0 Miles
We start today at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, which features cultural and historical displays from the five geographical regions of Alaska -- paintings, artifacts, and animals. They have the state's largest public display of gold and the world's only Ice Age steppe bison mummy. Unfortunately, they did not allow flashbulbs and some of the pictures do not show well. Herb predicted, and Wilma proved it true -- her excitement over one of the paintings. It was of a sled dog team and musher in a driving, blowing snowstorm. Exudes pure agony! Not surprising was the title, "The Mail Run." Neither rain nor sleet....

After lunch we go out to the Large Animal Research Station of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Be glad you are not a musk ox, as they only live ten or twelve years, and they are UGLY! They don't smell good either. But the babies, which were born in May, are cute. The breed survived the ice age, having lived along with the mammoths. Musk ox are not in the bison family, as we had thought from the looks of them, but are in the goat family. They have an undercoat called qiviut, which is warmer than wool and keeps them warm even in minus 80 degrees F. Because of this warmth property and the fact that they shed only once a year, this raw qiviut sells for $280 per pound -- but you would need less than other yarn because you don't need to knit it as tight.

We also saw reindeer (none with a red nose) and caribou, and learned they are similar, but the reindeer are domesticated and the caribou are in the wild. Racks are not specific in appearance for either one, but simply individual from animal to animal. We also saw some sandhill cranes in the pasture, but they are just visiting and not in the research program.

We cap off our day with dinner at The Alaska Salmon Bake just a few steps from our RV. The entrance is through a mine tunnel littered with relics from the old mining era. As you can see from the pictures here, there was plenty of good salmon, halibut, cod and prime rib. Too much food for any sane person.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

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