a couple of the guide books we had mentioned the great hot springs on the way to fairbanks. craig had also read about the chena hot springs in some travel magazines and also, for some reason, he was convinced that this is where the show "looking for love: bachelorettes in alaska" was filmed back in 2002 (yes, we watched it) and the location on the show was amazing. but alas, this was not the place it was filmed (if craig looked on imdb he'd see that the filming location was alyeska resort which looks like a true resort). for starters, i was overlooking that fact that i have sensitive skin and cannot handle really hot water. i always get made fun of in my family because i take lukewarm showers and i wash dishes in lukewarm water. also, the idea of hot tubs and jacuzzis kinda gross me out with all that warm bacteria floating around. so anyway, the "resort" was kinda dumpy but the drive there was neat - a 57 mile road that ends at the resort. supposedly the rooms at the hotel part of the resort were new but otherwise the whole place was kind of ramshackle. the hot spring was discovered over 100 years ago and the original pond is still there but the owners built this cool rock pool and diverted the spring to the pool (i don't know what visitors did before the new pool was built because the original pond was tiny and muddy). the water is so hot that it was only bearable for me for a few minutes. and when i got out of the water i discovered that someone had stolen my cheap, RV rental towel. on top of that, the water in the locker room smelled so sulphury that i was wishing they diverted the spring water in there too. i overheard a lot of people talk like they've been there before so mabye the lore of the "healing waters" is true. we also saw several handicapped people partaking in the waters and i was hoping that they were getting some relief from their ailments.
while we were there (we stayed one night in their camping area) we met a man selling some art. eight months of the year he lives in the bush with his two dogs in a tent and he had the photo album to prove it. not to mention that he was probably only in his 50s and looked like he was 70. truly a backcountry homesteader (except no log cabin). he takes small pieces of wood and seals the wood side and writes quotes on them (the one we bought just says "alaska - the last frontier" in a nice script). he bores a small hole in the top and gives you a root wrapped around a king salmon vertebrae to hang it with. all very cool. he has an old old truck that he calls "ol' blue" and since we never found out his name or took his pic, we call him ol' blue too (it started to rain and he disappeared before we had a chance to go back and photograph him). he appeared in the film "white fang" (the casting director saw him in town and said he looked "poor and mean" and he got a small part in the film) so i guess i have to rent that and figure out his name.
on the day before we left alaska, we were driving along and spotted two gals hitchhiking. they weren't hitchhikers in the body-sized-dufflebag sense of the word but backpackers making there way through alaska. so we picked them up. then, of course, they pulled the "we have two friends down the road...can you pick them up, too?". what could we say? no, we have an RV that seats only 100? so we drove down the road a bit and there were two boys hitching. they weren't all traveling together but the girls met up with the guys and were traveling in the same direction. they were nice and young and i felt that my karma was notched a little closer to its equilibrium for picking them up. the funniest thing was that the boys had a few goals on this backpacking/hitchhiking trip and one was to get picked up by an RV (another goal was to make it from michigan to seward, alaska before june 19 as they were slated to become deck hands on a charter fishing boat). they said "in all the years" they've been backpacking, they've never been picked up by an RV (they couldn't have been older than 22). i figured that craig and i were the youngest people ever to be driving an RV in alaska and that's why we picked them up. we only took them about half an hour down the road and by the time we dropped them off and made our way back to the highway, we turned around and they were hopping on a school bus full of kids. i wish i had it in me to do something like that. but for now i will have to settle for armchair travel in between adventures.