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FAIRBANKS, ALASKA

Celebrate Spring Alaskan Style: Old and New Traditions Under the Northern Lights

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Road Scholar
Program #17333RJ
7 Days | 6 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Easy
While all of our learning adventures offer extraordinary value, our "Best Value" programs were rated by our participants themselves who thought their dollar went particularly far.
Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
See our Small Group programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Equipment Requirements
Warm boots with good tread. There will be snow and ice on the ground at this time of year. Downtown sidewalks can be slippery. Many of our participants buy heavy plastic snow cleats that slip over boots and provide a better grip on icy streets. These are available for purchase online (Google them) or in Fairbanks. Some participants have brought up walking sticks with non-slip tips or ski-poles to help with balance and support while walking around.

Itinerary for Feb 25 — Mar 3, 2014

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Type: Hotel

Description: In Fairbanks we are staying in one of the newest and fanciest hotels in town. The hotel is located in the heart of downtown Fairbanks overlooking the banks of the Chena River. Shops, museums, restaurants, small museums and historical sites are all within easy walking distance. And bonus-the Open North American Championship Sled Dog Races start right outside the back door of the hotel, on Second Avenue in Fairbanks.

Contact info:
575 First Avenue
Fairbanks, AK 99701 USA
phone: 907-451-6552
Room amenities: All rooms are suites. Queen beds or better. Sofa, armchair, desk, mini-fridge, coffee maker, hair dryer, ironing board, television with cable, desk, and free high-speed internet access in each room.

Facility amenities: 24 hour coffee/hot water available. Small pool and whirlpool hot tub. Workout room. Snack machines. Restaurant on premises, but only open after 5 p.m.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Approximately $90
You must call the hotel yourself for early arrivals or stayovers. There is a special phone number that will be in the letter you receive after you register. You must use this number to get our special rate. The 800 number does not work for this.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day One: Tuesday, February 25 - Program starts with first dinner
Arrive To: Check into hotel after 3 p.m. Earlier check in may be possible at this time of year. Call hotel the first day of the program to find out if rooms are available for early check in. Meet in the hotel lobby at 6:00pm for dinner, followed by orientation.

Evening: Welcome to the program by Road Scholar staff. IMPORTANT NOTE: WE HOPE YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO SEE THE AURORA BOREALIS IN PERSON. WE WILL HAVE SIGN UP SHEETS FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BE CALLED TO GO OUT TO SEE IT NO MATTER WHAT TIME OF NIGHT IT MIGHT APPEAR. BUT THE AURORA IS A NATURAL PHENOMENON AND SIGHTINGS CANNOT BE GUARANTEED. FIRST, THE AURORA HAS TO BE HAPPENING THAT NIGHT. SECOND, THE SKY HAS TO BE CLEAR ENOUGH, WITH NO HEAVY CLOUD LAYER, TO BE ABLE TO SEE THE LIGHTS OF THE AURORA. GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGES ARE GIVING THE ALASKAN INTERIOR CLOUDIER WINTER DAYS AND NIGHTS THAN WE ARE USED TO.

Lodging: Springhill Suites

Type: Hotel

Description: In Fairbanks we are staying in one of the newest and fanciest hotels in town. The hotel is located in the heart of downtown Fairbanks overlooking the banks of the Chena River. Shops, museums, restaurants, small museums and historical sites are all within easy walking distance. And bonus-the Open North American Championship Sled Dog Races start right outside the back door of the hotel, on Second Avenue in Fairbanks.

Contact info:
575 First Avenue
Fairbanks, AK 99701 USA
phone: 907-451-6552
Room amenities: All rooms are suites. Queen beds or better. Sofa, armchair, desk, mini-fridge, coffee maker, hair dryer, ironing board, television with cable, desk, and free high-speed internet access in each room.

Facility amenities: 24 hour coffee/hot water available. Small pool and whirlpool hot tub. Workout room. Snack machines. Restaurant on premises, but only open after 5 p.m.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Approximately $90
You must call the hotel yourself for early arrivals or stayovers. There is a special phone number that will be in the letter you receive after you register. You must use this number to get our special rate. The 800 number does not work for this.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day Two: Wednesday, February 26 - The Northern Lights and the people who live under...
The Northern Lights and the people who live under them./Sculptues in Ice

Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel breakfast area.

Morning: NOTE: This itinerary has been crafted a year ahead of time, using the best information currently available. Everything on this schedule will be covered but the sequences may change by next spring. Also, as we get closer to the starting date, events in Fairbanks may be announced which we may want to participate in and these will be added to our program if possible. We begin with a field trip to the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center. Class on the beautiful and awe-inspiring Aurora Borealis, the fabled Northern Lights. Learn about their science, history and their hold on the imagination of people since ancient times. Broad overview of the six major groups of Native Alaskans, their history and culture. Emphasis on the cyclical nature of their subsistence life style. Discussion of what the coming of spring means to cultures that live off the land.

Lunch:

Afternoon: Field trip to the Ice Art Park for the World Ice Art Championship. Watch the artists work on the larger than life size ice sculptures and then root for your favorite to win. Each category has a specific deadline; sculpting is done over the course of one day in some of the single block events, while up to three full days are allowed to create the massive multi-block works of art. In the past, all kinds of animals, people, birds and bees, fairy tale scenes, dragons, jousting knights, castles, cabins, outhouses, phone booths, a children's playground with slides and miniature houses with furniture and just about anything else you can imagine has been crafted out of ice and exhibited at this world famous event. Join with the people of Fairbanks and visitors from all over the world as we celebrate one last time the gifts that winter brings us before spring arrives and it all melts away.

Dinner: We will have our dinners in local restaurants. We will have American food but to give you a taste of the various ethnic groups that live in Fairbanks, we will also have Thai food, Mexican food and southern barbecue.

Evening: Free evening

Lodging: Springhill Suites

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: In Fairbanks we are staying in one of the newest and fanciest hotels in town. The hotel is located in the heart of downtown Fairbanks overlooking the banks of the Chena River. Shops, museums, restaurants, small museums and historical sites are all within easy walking distance. And bonus-the Open North American Championship Sled Dog Races start right outside the back door of the hotel, on Second Avenue in Fairbanks.

Contact info:
575 First Avenue
Fairbanks, AK 99701 USA
phone: 907-451-6552
Room amenities: All rooms are suites. Queen beds or better. Sofa, armchair, desk, mini-fridge, coffee maker, hair dryer, ironing board, television with cable, desk, and free high-speed internet access in each room.

Facility amenities: 24 hour coffee/hot water available. Small pool and whirlpool hot tub. Workout room. Snack machines. Restaurant on premises, but only open after 5 p.m.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Approximately $90
You must call the hotel yourself for early arrivals or stayovers. There is a special phone number that will be in the letter you receive after you register. You must use this number to get our special rate. The 800 number does not work for this.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day Three: Thursday, February 27 - Field trip to the University of Alaska Museum of ...
Field trip to the University of Alaska Museum of the North, an outstanding repository of artifacts and information on all things Alaskan, Opening night of the Festival of Native Arts

Breakfast:

Morning: Class on the history of the city of Fairbanks and the early 19th century gold rush into the Interior of the state. Who came up, why and how they came up, and how they adapted (or didn't) to their new environment.

Lunch:

Afternoon: The University of Alaska Museum of the North is an excellent museum and a premier research center on all aspects of Alaska. Exhibits on the various cultures that live in Alaska, natural history, human history, art, geology, geography, etc. Special emphasis on the Arctic and Sub-Arctic ecology and environment.

Dinner:

Evening: The annual Festival of Native Arts brings together Indigenous people from all over Alaska and from other far northern countries. There will be dancing and singing and artists showing their work. The Native people of Alaska always celebrated the changes in seasons and the gifts that each season brings to the people. They have brought their celebrations with them as they walk within two worlds-their ancient culture now set against the background of modern day America. Many things have changed, but their dances remain essentially the same-a celebration of life in all its variations. For further information on the festival, look here: www.alaska.edu/uaf/festival/index.xml The festival is held on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. The dancing is done mostly on stage in the concert hall. There is also a craft show in the student union building next door featuring Native art and practical craft items for daily life. Most years there is some traditional food also available for sale.

Lodging: Springhill Suites

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: In Fairbanks we are staying in one of the newest and fanciest hotels in town. The hotel is located in the heart of downtown Fairbanks overlooking the banks of the Chena River. Shops, museums, restaurants, small museums and historical sites are all within easy walking distance. And bonus-the Open North American Championship Sled Dog Races start right outside the back door of the hotel, on Second Avenue in Fairbanks.

Contact info:
575 First Avenue
Fairbanks, AK 99701 USA
phone: 907-451-6552
Room amenities: All rooms are suites. Queen beds or better. Sofa, armchair, desk, mini-fridge, coffee maker, hair dryer, ironing board, television with cable, desk, and free high-speed internet access in each room.

Facility amenities: 24 hour coffee/hot water available. Small pool and whirlpool hot tub. Workout room. Snack machines. Restaurant on premises, but only open after 5 p.m.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Approximately $90
You must call the hotel yourself for early arrivals or stayovers. There is a special phone number that will be in the letter you receive after you register. You must use this number to get our special rate. The 800 number does not work for this.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day Four: Friday, February 28 - Afternoon at the Morris Thompson Cultural Center/...
Afternoon at the Morris Thompson Cultural Center/Welcoming the spring with dance at the Festival of Native Arts

Breakfast:

Morning: A very informal presentation on life in Alaska presented by Road Scholar staff. We will discuss politics, economics, medical care, schools, plumbing, or lack of, which brings us to outhouses, keeping cars running at way below freezing temperatures and other varied topics discussing how we cope with a temperature range in the Interior from 99 above to 68 below. And how nice it is that we have survived another winter and spring is here again.

Lunch: Lunch

Afternoon: Road Scholar is hosted in Fairbanks by the local Athabascan people, the indigenous tribe of the vast Interior of Alaska and Canada. The Morris Thompson Cultural Center is a small museum and cultural presentation center that focuses on Athabascan life in the past and in the present. Tea with Native Elders and Denakkanaaga Staff.

Dinner:

Evening: Evening at the Festival of Native Arts

Lodging: Springhill Suites

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: In Fairbanks we are staying in one of the newest and fanciest hotels in town. The hotel is located in the heart of downtown Fairbanks overlooking the banks of the Chena River. Shops, museums, restaurants, small museums and historical sites are all within easy walking distance. And bonus-the Open North American Championship Sled Dog Races start right outside the back door of the hotel, on Second Avenue in Fairbanks.

Contact info:
575 First Avenue
Fairbanks, AK 99701 USA
phone: 907-451-6552
Room amenities: All rooms are suites. Queen beds or better. Sofa, armchair, desk, mini-fridge, coffee maker, hair dryer, ironing board, television with cable, desk, and free high-speed internet access in each room.

Facility amenities: 24 hour coffee/hot water available. Small pool and whirlpool hot tub. Workout room. Snack machines. Restaurant on premises, but only open after 5 p.m.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Approximately $90
You must call the hotel yourself for early arrivals or stayovers. There is a special phone number that will be in the letter you receive after you register. You must use this number to get our special rate. The 800 number does not work for this.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day Five: Saturday, March 01 - Symbols of the Alaskan Arctic: Musk ox and the pi...
Breakfast:

Morning: Field trip to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Large Animal Research Station. (Familiarly known as "The Musk Ox Farm"). The station has been conducting research for decades on the large ungulates of the Arctic and sub-arctic. We will see musk ox, caribou and reindeer and learn about their biology and their very separate and distinct adaptations to life in the far north. Field trip to the Alaska Pipeline. See the pipeline and hear a presentation about planning it, building it and maintaining it today.

Lunch:

Afternoon: There are dog sled races held on many weekends in the winter. The schedules for these are not set yet-global climate change has "changed" the regular dates and locations of our past sled dog events due to much less snowfall than usual over the last few years. We HOPE to be able to take in a sled dog race. But race or not, we will have a field trip to the Yukon Quest Race Headquarters. We will have a presentation on all aspects of sled dog racing, which is the official state sport of Alaska. See the dogs, the sleds, the musher's clothing and the equipment needed for specific races. Discussion on the various Alaskan races. These include the epic thousand mile International Yukon Quest Race between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, the capital city of the Yukon province of Canada, and the Iditarod Race, the thousand mile all Alaskan race between Wasilla and Nome. We will also learn about the short but intense 3-10 mile sprint races held locally at the The Mushers Hall at the Jeff Studdert Race Grounds.

Dinner: yes

Evening: Final night of the Festival of Native Arts

Lodging: Springhill Suites

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: In Fairbanks we are staying in one of the newest and fanciest hotels in town. The hotel is located in the heart of downtown Fairbanks overlooking the banks of the Chena River. Shops, museums, restaurants, small museums and historical sites are all within easy walking distance. And bonus-the Open North American Championship Sled Dog Races start right outside the back door of the hotel, on Second Avenue in Fairbanks.

Contact info:
575 First Avenue
Fairbanks, AK 99701 USA
phone: 907-451-6552
Room amenities: All rooms are suites. Queen beds or better. Sofa, armchair, desk, mini-fridge, coffee maker, hair dryer, ironing board, television with cable, desk, and free high-speed internet access in each room.

Facility amenities: 24 hour coffee/hot water available. Small pool and whirlpool hot tub. Workout room. Snack machines. Restaurant on premises, but only open after 5 p.m.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Approximately $90
You must call the hotel yourself for early arrivals or stayovers. There is a special phone number that will be in the letter you receive after you register. You must use this number to get our special rate. The 800 number does not work for this.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day Six: Sunday, March 02 - Winter jobs: Trapping in Alaska. Evening at the I...
Breakfast:

Morning: Trapping has been a part of subsistence living in Alaska since ancient times and many people still run trap lines today. Trapping continues to provides food for the table and fur to use for winter clothing. It is also a way to make money when many jobs are "closed" for the winter. Some people who trap but don't live off the land consider trapping primarily a sport, just like hunting and fishing. But for others it is an important part of their yearly economic cycle and a way to continue to participate in a cultural heritage, no matter where they came from or what their ethnic background is. Come learn about modern day trapping from trappers. There will be pelts exhibited at the lecture so people can feel the fur and learn about the different qualities in touch, warmth, size and value of various fur-bearing animals.

Lunch:

Afternoon: Free Afternoon. Lunch on your own-get money from the coordinator. A chance to explore on your own, revisit some of the places we've been already or to just relax and enjoy your last day on the Last Frontier.

Dinner:

Evening: Evening field trip to the Ice Art Park. At night, colored lights are played upon the ice sculptures, creating a fantasy world of amazing and poignantly ephemeral beauty. It's a totally different experience than seeing the art in the daylight. And just MAYBE we'll get a view of the Northern Lights while we're out there.

Lodging: Springhill Suites

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day Seven: Monday, March 03 - Program ends after breakfast. Check out time is n...
Breakfast: The only thing scheduled our last day is breakfast. Breakfast runs from 6:00 am to 9:00 am weekdays, 7:00 am to 10:00 am Saturday and Sunday. The program ends after breakfast. Hotel check out time is noon.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Important information about your itinerary:
Please know that while we do everything we can to finalize all aspects of our programs well in advance, there are logistics that occasionally must be altered. Our website will reflect the most recent information, and we are committed to providing you with final program details no later than eight weeks prior to the start of programs outside the U.S. and three weeks prior to the start of programs within the U.S. If you ever have questions about your program, please don't hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.
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Included
at no additional cost on this date ...
6 nights of accommodations
16 meals: 6 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners
7 Expert-led lectures
11 Field trips
1 Hands-on experiences
3 Performances

Ratings

4.8
Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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