MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chena Hot Springs

Right on the top of the list of places to visit in north central Alaska was Chena Hot Springs.  Known in the region, and they say outside of it, as a hot spring with healing properties (don't all of them say that), Chena is a natural spring that runs just over 160 degrees...  the area is miles away from the nearest transmission line so the owner/operator has invested in geothermal energy for the entire facility (instead of operating on diesel generators). It was actually quite amazing... a complete closed loop system that used heated antifreeze brought to a boil from the natural water temperature.  No, I am not a geothermal energy genius...  The resort offered all visitors and guests tours of their energy generation plant as well as their greenhouse... because, they grow all of their veggies on site, year round too!  The owner has a reputation as quite the eccentric in Alaska, but he deserves the distinction... he bought this facility that the state operated, and transformed it into a resort getaway that now generates enough energy for it and some  neighboring areas.  The resort is over 20 miles from the civilization (and I use that term loosely).

The Hot Springs Resort reminded me of a summer camp with its cabins, the animal pens, the greenhouse, the pool and mess hall, aka restaurant.  Within the campus were hiking, atv'ing, and sledding trails, a trailer hook up area, a recreation room, a barber (yes, a barber), a ICE carving museum, and, of course the thermal pools.  The museum was very different from the ice presentation in Fairbanks; here was small warehouse, kept freezing cold, that not only housed some amazing sculptures, but included 2 ice hotel rooms and a ICE bar.  I guess staying with a sweetie at such temperature would mean lots of cuddling, but I can't wrap my head around sleeping on ice.  BRRRR!

On the complete opposite extreme was the hot spring.  My day at the Springs was, of course, the warmest of my entire stay in the Fairbanks area.  It was warming up fast, and when temperatures jump up to the upper 60's, nothing says refreshing like 140 degree pool water.  I seriously felt like I was cooking.  I do not think I lasted longer than an hour.  Walked around the water, but never got comfortable... when I got out, I did not get back in... I was done.  But I can understand why people would love the place on a cold night gazing at the aurora.

My way out of the Resort, I stopped at a few pull-outs to feed the mosquitoes.  After being in such a warm area, it was strange to see fresh river water that was cooler (and some ever with ice breaking)... odd place

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