I am from Texas. We don’t know what to do in the cold. In fact, we figure only two out of twelves months are actual coat and boot wearing months so I still have tank tops on stand by in November. Alaska didn’t make it’s way into travel conversations because it’s winter paradise. It made it’s way because the Northern Lights were on my bucket list. Sub-zero temperatures just happened to be attached to the deal. Either way, I took it.
When we flew into Fairbanks, I didn’t know what I was in for. I stood waiting for my luggage and staring out of the window at the ice-coated roads wondering if we should simply sleep in the airport and wait for the ice to magically disappear. After all, that’s the Texan strategy for winter weather. The taxi driver, however, seemed fairly confident that ice on roads was no hazard and we would get to our lodge in a jiffy. In a 40 mph jiffy, might I add. The entire ride, I glanced at my cousin in amazement and impending terror that we were even moving across ice-click roads with such ease.
After weather shock, something like culture shock, I settled and embraced Chena Hot Springs with open hands. Literally, my hands were always free since we have no cell phone service (something I was not aware of before the adventure). It served as a blessing in disguise since I had every opportunity to absorb the experience rather than trying to document and post it every step of the way. Between the fresh food, pleasant sights, unique artistry and even the surprising OK-to-drink-any-hour-of-the-day culture, Alaska turned out to be one of my favorite destinations.
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT ALASKA
- Chena Hot Springs
I was incredibly impressed with the Chena Hot Springs resort. We had large lodging space, access to a full service diner with a to-die-for breakfast, hot springs, snow machining, dog sledding and so much more. Whether you are here for a relaxing getaway or for snowy adventures, the resort has your interests covered. Strangely enough, we were able to leave our lugage and valuables out for hours with comfort and assurance that they would stay put. That alone served as culture shock.
- The Northern Lights
Aurora borealis is one of those things you cannot forget to include on your bucket list. if you happen to find yourself noticing nights when the stars fill the skies or the moon vibrantly shines just right, this is right up your alley. aurora borealis can only be seen from the right place at the right time and that’s part of what makes Alaska extra special. For us, we had an opportunity to go to the top of a dome for a few hours and wait for an appearance from 10pm to 2am. Plus, they had ramen and hot chocolate to keep us company.
- Ice Bar
Ice Bar is worth the visit even if you don’t drink. The magnificent sculptures you will find in a highly refrigerated bar will take your breath away! Drinks are served out of goblets of ice – go figure – and even the seats are made of ice. Wrap up, cover your bum, once you see what an ice bar is about, you won’t want to leave so quickly.
- Santa Clause House
North Pole, Alaska is a real place. In fact, there’s even a high school that I had to pass by for myself before I believed the locals telling me, “Go to North Pole!” It’s not just a city name, you will find Santa Clause house, an elaborately decorated store dedicated to Santa Clause and all things Christmas. You will also find a dessert and coffee bar hidden in the middle of the shop that has irresistible fudge of all sorts!
- The Relaxation
When you think of a getaway, you often picture beaches but don’t forget about the relaxation offered in Alaska. The city is full of peace no matter where you go and I found Chena to be far more relaxing than any beach I have ever been to. Here, you don’t have to constantly have your cell phone in hand and you don’t have to tune out the sound of the city shuffling about.