Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chena Hot Springs Resort

11.15.11 Chena Hot Springs Resort, an hour from Fairbanks

When we woke up at 6:00 a.m. and, of course, it was dark, but by the time we were done with breakfast about 8:00, the sky had started to lighten. It didn’t really look like “morning” until about 9 a.m.

We decided to check out the indoor pools today, so we got our swimming suits and went to the pool. The regular swimming pool is about 80 degrees, and if it were always that warm, I’d swim more laps! Then we got into one of 2 indoor hot tubs where the temp was about 100 degrees. We decided to save the outdoor hot tub and Rock Lake for tomorrow around noon when you can see where you’re going. The wooden walkway to Rock Lake is not covered in plastic yet (it will be about December 1), and it’s about a half a block to the natural hot springs—in your swimsuit and flip flops which they provide. There is snow on the railings and under your feet to get to the hot springs. They call it Rock Lake because big boulders surround the springs. Supposedly our hair will get frosty while we’re in water from 80 to 120 degrees, depending on where you sit. The indoor pools are chlorinated, but the outside ones are not, and you can smell the sulfur.

Our room at Chena Hot Springs Resort is in one of several 2-storey buildings. There are 4 rooms on the lower level and 4 rooms on the upper level. The d├ęcor is again “north woods” with a wallpaper border of moose, evergreen trees, and bears. The room has 2 double beds, a 3/4 bath with a shower and toilet, and the sink inside the front door. There is Direct TV with about 6 channels and no phones in the rooms. BTW, no cell phone service here at the resort. And I’m in the Activity Center to get a better Internet connection than in our room. There is also a newer Moose Lodge with fancier rooms.

This afternoon we’ve signed up for a tour of the geothermal heating/cooling system and the greenhouse. Hopefully tonight we’ll see the Northern Lights. Tomorrow we’ll tour the Ice House Museum.

How cold is it, you ask? This morning it was 33 degrees below zero, but it doesn’t seem that cold because there’s little humidity. We have our parkas and boots and fleece-lined jeans and are quite comfortable, except if you’re outside for 5 minutes you notice the cold on your cheeks and in your nostrils.

After our sojourn in the hot tub we took our wet swimsuits back to our room (if they’re outside very long wet, they get a little crispy as they start to freeze!). Suddenly I heard a noise on the roof and noticed snow falling outside our window. There were 2 guys with shovels who had gotten up there in a lift with a front end loader, and they were shoveling the roof of about 8 inches of snow—just like they have to do in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Many of the young people working at the resort came here because they dreamed of living in Alaska. The Activities director is a 21-year-old from Michigan, and the pool attendant from North Carolina is studying to be a special ed teacher and wants to teach in Barrow. I guess it’s on their bucket list to visit Alaska in the winter time, too.

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