It’s 8 degrees above zero.  When I first rolled thru Fairbanks the night before, this town seemed like “any town” USA.  Safeway, McDonalds, Regal, Sports Authority…, I’ve seen these all before.  Where’s the log cabins?.., the igloos?…, the saloons?, hey…, where’s the Starbucks?

My decision to stay at the Marriott was a good choice.  The sheets were clean and the bathroom was clean.  It did not feel like or look like a budget hotel. It was right next to the river that ran thru town and walking distance to shops and restaurants.  It’s a perfect spot for someone who doesn’t want to drive.

For my first day in Fairbanks, I spent the morning (actually it was late morning) searching for supplies that I would need for my hike tomorrow.  Luckily there was a sporting good store open so I could buy gas fuel for my stove.  Next, I bought some snacks for my hike: apples and stuff.  Note to self:  next time eat the fruit right away.  My apples froze in my pack overnight when I was in the wild.

One of the stores I was hoping to go to was closed today.  I wanted to get some gold panning equipment.  One, the river was frozen solid. Two, if you could find water that wasn’t frozen, it’s too cold to stick your hands in it this time of year.  So I did what most people do.  I went to a jewelry shop across the street from the hotel and bought some gold flakes.  The owner of the shop laughed and said it’s common.

$125 worth of gold.  If I end up giving this as a gift to someone, the story will be: “I fished it out of a freezing cold stream!”

The Alaska pipeline.  I’m surprised they would let people get this close to it.  They say that a million dollars worth of oil passes thru this pipe every hour.  The two fins on top of each column are cooling fins so that the heat from the oil doesn’t thaw the permafrost.  In some areas, the pipe is run in a zig zag route.  They do this in areas where they think the ground will cause the sections of pipe to pull apart (like fault lines).  When they built the pipeline, nothing like this had ever been built before so they had nothing to copy or learn from.

This is another view of Fairbanks from a hill north of town.

The North Pole.  All letters addressed to Santa arrive here.

Arctic Circle 198 miles north.  It looks a lot closer in the Lonely Planet guidebook.

Look at that face.  If I was going to get a dog.  The Alaskan Husky would be on the top three list.  They are a very friendly and powerful dog.  I almost got tackled by one.  Clarification…, I almost got tackled by a Husky 5  times bigger than this little guy.

This picture of a puppy dog reminds be of a study done by a Russian researcher.  The purpose of the study was to determine how long it would take to breed out fear in foxes.  About one in 20 lack the fear gene so they were identified and allowed to procreate while the rest were killed.  It took about 10 years of breeding to breed a fox that was not afraid of humans.  But there were also other interesting discoveries.  The effects of domestication created foxes with ears that drooped, had smaller teeth, had multicolored coats, had smaller bones, and other changes.

Does domestication also have similar affects on people?  Studies have shown that people today have smaller teeth and smaller bones compared to skeletons that are thousands of years old.  Are people becoming more puppy dog like too?