Fairbanks, Alaska Aurora-chasing - Part II (March 10-23, 2015)

The Aurora was so active this year that our chasing had left us little time for much else besides trying to catch up on sleep during the day.

Not everything in Fairbanks is about the aurora :-)

We never tired of our view of the birch forest around "our house"

"Our house"

But there were a couple of local attractions we wanted to visit, or revisit, so in between naps and our obsessive monitoring of space and local weather, we managed to get out a few times to do something during daylight hours.

We dropped in to Creamer's Field Migratory Wildlife Refuge a couple of times, once getting in a walk when it was about -20F. Not much to see there yet in the way of birds, though we saw quite a few common redpolls around our house and the UAF campus.

Sunny but -20 Fahrenheit walk at Creamer's Field

We also didn't see any snow buntings this year, though we did last year. And we looked for the Bohemian Waxwings again at the Georgeson Botanical Garden at UAF, but they hadn't made their appearance just yet.

We really enjoyed our visit to the World Ice Sculpture Championships at the Ice Park in Fairbanks. Susan had stopped by the Ice Park last year, but only during daylight and after warm weather had degraded a lot of the sculptures. She was keen to go back with me. We went during the day, but returned later that night with the tripod to get some photos of the illuminated sculptures. The artistry and detail in these sculptures is incredible, and reminded us a lot of the snow sculpture competition held in Breckenridge, Colorado each year.

Susan at the Ice Park entrance

Moonlight Courtship

Some cold ice-carving conditions

Susan "lost" in the ice maze

A real ice house!

Still at work after dark

Staying warm

We also visited the outstanding Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum in Fairbanks. This museum is a real treasure for car lovers and has over 85 antique cars, many of them found only in this museum, all lovingly restored in-house, and most of them still driven at least once a year on public roads!

Susan at the entrance

And while we were dressing up for the picture below, I ran into Zane Giles, an aurora-chaser and photographer from Anchorage we met at Two Rivers at the Pi Party on 3.14! He was kind enough to take our picture.

They let us dress up and sit in one of the cars :-) Thanks for the photo, Zane!

1903 Cadillac

Susan with the 1912 Peerless Model 36-K Touring

1909 Whiting Model A Roadster

1906 Pope-Toledo Type XII 7-passenger Touring

Us with the spark plug collection

1911 Ford Model T C-Cab Depot Hack

1936 Packard Dual Cowl Convertible Touring

1932 Chrysler Custom Imperial Series CL Convertible Sedan

We also visited the University of Alaska - Fairbanks Museum of the North. Unfortunately, none of the movies we wanted to see were showing the day we were there, but we toured the main exhibits and definitely enjoyed our visit.

Susan at the Museum of the North at UAF campus

Every parking spot on campus had a power outlet to charge our iPhones! :-)

A new museum exhibit was the Arctic Odyssey: Voyages of the R/V Sikuliaq. This interesting exhibit had a lot of information about life and scientific work aboard this arctic research vessel.

R/V Sikuliaq model and arctic research exhibit

Cool illustration of deep ocean pressure literally shrinking a styrofoam cup

Susan noted that among the many fine exhibits in the natural history section of the museum that there were no mentions or displays of the Collared Pika, a cousin to the American Pika we have here in Colorado.

Petey Pika searching for his collared pika cousin :-)

The 2nd floor gave us a better view of a cool "snow drawing" art piece in a field across from the museum. It was made by volunteers who left tracks on the field under the direction of the artist.

Snow drawing art piece across from the Museum

On our last day we treated ourselves to dinner at our favorite restaurant and watering hole, the Silver Gulch Brewery and Bottling Company in Fox, but not before refilling our water reservoirs from the Fox spring.

Mike getting the good water at Fox Spring

Silver Gulch Brewery and Restaurant -- good food and drink!

Susan on our last aurora outing near LARS

Goodbye from Alaska this aurora season


  1. Wow! Great chronicle and writing, your story-telling is quite good. We truly appreciate the details and will be following in your footsteps to the best of our soon-to-be-chilly mucklucks!

  2. Friends of Fox Spring would like permission to reproduce the photo of Mike at Fox Spring, please. Melinda friendsoffoxspring@gmail.com