Friends, Museum, Bus, and Berries

We have spent a few rainy days in Fairbanks taking care of the business of life.  We have done laundry, spent a record amount of money at the grocery store, gotten some prescriptions filled, payed bills, and edited and uploaded a video.  The weather hasn’t cooperated for us to get outside much, but there have still been a handful of enjoyable activities mixed in, too.

Jeff, Heather, Helen, Joyce, and Anita

First, we have some friends that were in Fairbanks for a day, and surprisingly, we found a time that was mutually agreeable for us to get together.  The visit was short, but it was so nice to have time to connect.  These ladies have been part of Heather’s life since she was very young!  Helen lived next door to Heather’s grandparents for many years, and both Helen and Joyce were among Heather’s grandmother’s best friends.  Anita is the mother of one of Heather’s best friends from growing up and also served many years as her Sunday School teacher.  These are folks who helped shape her as she grew up and seeing them was like seeing family.  It felt great!  As we have said before, our travels are amazing, but it is sometimes difficult to be so far away from family and friends.

We also had the chance to visit the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Museum of the North.  This is a museum that came highly recommended by many locals we have met, but we ran out of time to visit last time we were in Fairbanks.  Since we had time, and the weather wasn’t conducive to being outdoors, we hit it on this visit.  It is a very extensive museum that explores Alaska’s five geographic areas.  The displays cover everything from the people, wildlife, geography, and history of each region.  There is also an art gallery area and a room in the museum called “The Place Where You Go to Listen” that we found fascinating.  The lighting and sounds in this room are directly related to the immediate environmental conditions of Interior Alaska.  The lights change with the time of day and phase of the moon, different musical sounds occur depending on the weather outside, bells roll across the ceiling when the aurora are dancing, and thundering sounds shake the floor and walls during seismic activity.  We so wish they had a live stream webcam because we would love to see and hear the differences as the conditions change!

Bus 142

We had heard that Bus 142, also known as “Magic Bus”, “Stampede Trail Bus”, and “Into the Wild Bus” was on display at the Museum of the North as well, but that isn’t exactly accurate.  They are currently working on an outdoor display area for the bus, but for now, it is located in a testing lab in the engineering building on campus while it undergoes restoration.  Fortunately for us, the engineering building was open and the lab has some huge windows that you can look through to view.  If you have read the book or seen the movie “Into the Wild” this is the bus that Christopher McCandless lived in, and where he ultimately lost his life, in the Alaskan Wilderness.  We won’t go into all the details of how this came to be, but we recommend the book and movie if it is something you would like to learn more about.  Seeing the actual bus was sobering.  Knowing the struggles that had happened within made us pause to reflect on and acknowledge how precious life is.

Finally, during our time in Fairbanks we have thoroughly enjoyed the fruits of our labor – blueberry fruits, that is!  We have enjoyed blueberry pancakes, blueberry drop biscuits, and blueberry crumble, and there are still many more of those little drops of goodness in the fridge waiting for our next inspired idea!  Heather has spent hours pouring over the internet to find easy recipes that we already have the ingredients for, so like we said in the last post, if you have a recipe we should try send it our way!

Tomorrow we hope to head away from town and back into wilderness for a few days, but we will be back in Fairbanks by the end of the week to get some new tires put on the truck in preparation for our journey back to the lower 48!

Until next time!

9 thoughts on “Friends, Museum, Bus, and Berries”

  1. Looks like a really cool museum! The concept of that special room is fantastic.

    Glad you got to see Helen, Joyce and Anita. They are all very special people in my life, as well. Seeing them makes me think about Mom!

    Enjoy your final stretch in Alaska and come up with great adventures once you get back to the Lower 48!

    1. The Place Where You Go to Listen was so intriguing! Like we said in the post, they really need a livestream so we could continue to check it periodically. If we lived here, it would be worth a museum membership just to visit the room occasionally!

      We are so sad that our time in Alaska is coming to a close, but we know there are other adventures to be had! Maybe other parts of Canada? Idaho? Wyoming? South Dakota? The possibilities are endless!

  2. Cool to see that you got together with mom’s friends. Sad to see the bus where the guy from Into the Wild lived. Sad story. Hope everything goes smooth preparing to leave Alaska.

    1. “Into the Wild” made a huge impact on both of us when we read it years ago. Seeing the bus was heartbreaking, but like we said, it caused us to once again reflect on life and what a blessing it is.

      The tires came for the truck earlier than expected and we had them installed today, so we think our needed vehicle maintenance is taken care of. Now, we will just spend a few last weeks soaking in Alaska before we head out. We will be sad to go!

  3. Glad to see you got together with friends of mom’s and ours. Sad to see the bus where that guy lived. Sad story. Hope everything goes well as y’all prepare to head back to the states.

  4. Joyce Stephenson

    I hope to read one of the books about bus 42. If there is one of the books that stands out as the best, well I would love to read it. So happy you got to see some of your favorite people.

    1. There is both a book and a movie about the life of Christopher McCandless. Both are called “Into the Wild” and the author of the book is Jon Krakauer. We enjoyed both, but felt like the book gave more details. Be warned, though…it is a very sad and sobering story.

  5. Just catching up on your last 3 blogs. Love your recap and all the pictures. So envious of all the time you’ve been able to spend around Alaska. Hope you have lots more adventures as you work your way back home.
    I know yall have been to a lot of places throughout the west, and you may have already visited, but an area that we really liked was Scotts Bluff National Monument. It has remnants of the Oregon Trail, and it’s relatively close to Devils Tower, the Black Hills, Mt Rushmore, and the Badlands.
    Also, if you’re not too eager to get home by then, would love to have you stop by Westerville on your final leg.

    1. Thanks for the tip. We have not been to Scotts Bluff and are always on the lookout for new places to visit! We aren’t sure what our route will be once back in the lower 48, but will keep it in mind if our travels take us through there.

      We would love to see you all before we head home but will have to wait until it gets closer. We don’t even know what direction we will be heading home from at this point! Clearly we have no idea what we are doing! LOL!

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