Today we started our day with a tour of the El Dorado Gold Mine. It was a little hoaky; it reminded me of a VERY hoaky tour Cori and I took in Scotland about the history of whiskey. That one was completely silly, this one was at least informative and kind of fun. First everyone gets on an open-air train and goes in a little circle through a tunnel, where a guy demonstrates mining for gold under the ground, past a little mining cabin and then to a demonstration of a mining site, with a sluice and dirt and water for panning the gold.
The woman who does the demo actually has mined for gold for 30+ years, so she is authentic. After she does the demo, we all went into a building and tried our luck. Randy and I got 11 grams of gold from our pans of "pay dirt." They said it's worth about $55. Not bad. There's a big store there full of stuff to buy and I did get a couple things.
After that we got on the road again to head for Delta Junction. Yesterday I had told Randy that it worked better if he would put the suitcase on the floor in front of the back seat, instead of on the back seat itself because when he had it on the seat, then I had to put all my books and maps and stuff on the floor and they would slide under the front seat. So he nicely put the suitcase on the floor today. It was quite a cold day and at one point I said to him, "If the suitcase were on the seat, I'd be able to get my scarf out." He was getting an incredulous look on his face until I laughed. Sometimes I highly amuse myself.
We stopped first at North Pole, Alaska. I guess this is where your letters to Santa go. It's pretty much just a big store full of Christmassy stuff. I wanted to buy a couple ornaments made in Alaska and I managed to find a few that were not too horribly overpriced. It's a cute store, anyway.
In back there's a fenced-in area with "Santa's reindeer." They are real reindeer. Our bus driver in the morning told us that reindeer are domesticated caribou. I never knew that. She said they're smaller and don't lose their antlers on the same schedule as caribou.
We stopped to take a look at the Alaska pipeline, too. That's a pretty amazing thing to be stretched across a state. One place it was above ground, another it went under the road (they had to melt the ground), and another it had its own bridge structure to go over a river.
Our last stop before our B&B was "Rika's Roadhouse," a park with an old roadhouse building. You can see from the photos that there was an impressive garden there, as well as the pretty wooden buildings. Our B&B is called "Garden B&B" and it also has a beautiful garden. It's remarkable how many flowers are everywhere, actually. I remember learning about Alaska's short but productive growing season when I studied Alaska history in 4th grade. In fact, I remember being assigned the topic of "agriculture" and I had to look up what that word meant.
So we hit a few touristy spots today. It was a nice drive through very woodsy areas. Randy said a few times that it reminded him of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The trees grow right up to the very edge of the rivers. They would go up to the edge of the road, too, but the edges are mowed. We'd wondered why they do that and that was another thing our bus driver told us: It's because of the moose. So many people get hurt hitting moose coming out of the trees, they've started trimming them back so you have a little more time to see them.
And now, to bed. Our B&B is actually a woman's home. She said she started renting rooms once her kids all grew up and moved out. It's a comfortable place, and wasn't it appropriate that we happened to get a room wth a bunch of cow pictures?