RIVERBOAT DISCOVERY III CRUISE
Thursday, 5 June 2008, was when we were still in Fairbanks, Alaska, that we took the Riverboat Discovery III
Cruise. It was a three-and-a- half hour cruise which took us along the Chena and Tanana Rivers near Fairbanks.
There were a number of homes and log cabins which we saw during the riverboat cruise. How I wish I
had a home like one of those that I saw. Just to give you an idea as to how these beautiful homes by the river
looked like, I have included some photographs which I took during the cruise. I also remembered the bush pilot
taking off from the river and demonstrated to us the landing and take off capabilities of his light aircraft.
Bush flying involves operations in rough terrain, necessitating bush planes to be equipped with tundra tires,
floats, or skis.
A bush plane only require a short take-off and landing distance. A typical bush plane has wings on top of its
fuselage to ensure that they do not make contact with any overgrowth in the landing area. Bush planes also
have conventional landing gear as it has a greater aeronautic ability than tricycle landing gear. This allows
for quicker take-offs as certain conditions such as a wildfire may force the pilot to evacuate the area.
The early bush pilots of Alaska brought supplies to remote villages and encampments as there were few or no
roads connecting communities. They also ferried people and goods in and out of the wilderness. In most cases,
the planes were going places that had never been visited except on foot. The pilots themselves endured the
realities of frontier living, where parts, fuel, food, and friends were often far away over the next mountain
The highlight of the Discovery III Riverboat cruise is a one-hour stop at the Chena Indian Village, where
Alaskan Native guides took us on a guided tour. We saw an Athabascan Indian village with cabins made of spruce
logs, a cache used for storing supplies, and fur pelts. Our guides explained to us how the wolf, fox, martin,
and beaver were used to provide food and protection in the harsh Arctic climate.
At the village, we visited the home of renowned Athabascan beadwork artist Dixie Alexander and saw the garments
she's sewn from animal hides. She also showed us her latest projects such as the Yupik Eskimo winter parka which
one of the pretty young models tried out so we could take pictures of it. To the side of Dixie's cabin were
hides of the largest game animals in the Interior such as moose, bear, and caribou. We were told how Athabascan
Indians tanned the hides and also how they preserved them.
Also at the village was a fenced dog yard where the late four-time Iditarod champion Susan Butcher's Trailbreaker
Kennel keeps some of her dogs. We were able to see them up close and hear stories about how these champions
helped Susan win four Iditarod races.
The attached photographs should give you a better idea as to what we saw during the riverboat cruise. Just
click on the link shown below for the slideshow:
Discovery III Cruise
Enjoy your cyberspace cruise on the Discovery III Riverboat.