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 range.

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:

The Riverboat Discovery III Cruise

Enjoy your cyberspace cruise on the Discovery III Riverboat.



junylaputt@yahoo.com