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

Program Number: 17333RJ
Start and End Dates:
2/20/2013 - 2/27/2013;
Duration: 7 nights
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Price starting at: $1,098.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: History & Culture; Festivals, Misc.
Meals: 18; 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Here comes the sun! In the far north, winter fading into spring is a magical time. Join the people of Alaska in celebrating the arrival of spring in both traditional and contemporary ways. Learn about the six major Native Nations of Alaska as they showcase their culture, art and music at the Festival of Native Arts in Fairbanks.




Highlights

• Weather permitting, observe the Northern Lights as you learn what powers them and what impact they have on cultures that viewed them.
• Junior North American Championship Sled Dog races, and watch artists competing in the World Ice Art Championships as they begin to sculpt huge blocks of ice into beautiful works of art.
• Study contemporary life in interior Alaska, the impact of statehood on indigenous cultures and the resulting economic, political and social issues.



Activity Particulars

Walking less than a quarter-mile on flat streets or gravel. Some standing on field trips.



Coordinated by Denakkanaaga.




Fairbanks

The indigenous Athabaskan tribe had fished in the local area for centuries before it was settled in 1903 as a trading post for riverboats and gold prospectors. Fairbanks today is an important player in interior Alaska’s oil fields and pipelines.



Accommodations
Modern hotel downtown overlooking the banks of the Chena River. Rooms are spacious studio suites. Museums and historical sites nearby.
Meals and Lodgings
   Springhill Suites
  Fairbanks, Alaska 6 nights
 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 allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: 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
  Additional nights after: 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 out time: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel check in at 3:00 p. m. Meet in lobby of hotel at 6:00 p.m. to go to dinner. You will be staying at Springhill Suites that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after breakfast. 12:00 p.m. hotel checkout. You will be staying at Springhill Suites the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Participants will have to sign a release from Denakkanaaga to participate in this program.
  Parking availability:
Permit required. Free from registration desk.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Fairbanks, Alaska
  Nearest city or town:  Anchorage (365 miles south)
  Nearest highway: Four highways come through Fairbanks-Steese, Elliot, Parks and the Alaska Highway
  Nearest airport:  Fairbanks International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Fairbanks

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Hotel Shuttle
phone: 907-451-6552

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Free
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

15-20 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

4 miles

   

If the shuttle is not available, the hotel will arrange for a taxi to get you and they will pay for it. THE HOTEL HAS TO ARRANGE AND AUTHORIZE THIS. DO NOT TAKE A TAXI WITHOUT TALKING TO THE HOTEL FIRST OR YOU WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYING FOR IT.

 

Fairbanks

 

From Train Station

 
 

Service:

 

Hotel Shuttle
phone: 907-451-6552

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Free
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

10 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

Under 2 miles

   

If the shuttle is not available, the hotel will arrange for a taxi to get you and they will pay for it. THE HOTEL HAS TO ARRANGE AND AUTHORIZE THIS. DO NOT TAKE A TAXI WITHOUT TALKING TO THE HOTEL FIRST.

 
Driving Directions
  Fairbanks International Airport Drive east out of the airport unto Airport Road. Continue east on Airport Road for about five miles to Cushman Street. Make a left on Cushman heading north. Drive north on Cushman until you hit First Avenue, the street just before the Chena River and the Cushman Street Bridge. Make a right on First and then an immediate right into the parking lot of Springhill Suites Hotel which is located at First and Cushman.
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.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Program starts with first dinner
(Wednesday, February 20)
   
 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.
   
Accommodations: Springhill Suites

Day 2: The Northern Lights and the people who live under them. Visit with locals at the Morris Thompson Cultural Center. Opening night of the Festival of Native Arts.
(Thursday, February 21)
   
 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: Lunch included.
 Afternoon: Road Scholar is hosted in Fairbanks by the local Athabascan people, the indigenous tribe of the vast Interior of Alaska and Canada. Denakkanaaga's office is in the Morris Thompson Cultural Center, a small museum and cultural presentation center that focuses on Athabascan life in the past and in the present. Come have a cup of tea and visit with Denakkanaaga staff.
 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 may also have Thai food, Mexican food, Italian food or southern barbecue.
 Evening: The annual Festival of Native Arts brings together Indigenous people from all over Alaska, the lower 48 and from other countries worldwide. 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 living. Most years there is some traditional food also available for sale.
   
Accommodations: Springhill Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Learn about the history of Fairbanks and see and learn about one of the icons of Alaska--the musk ox
(Friday, February 22)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast included.
 Morning: Class on the history of the city of Fairbanks including 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: Lunch included.
 Afternoon: 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 oxen, caribou and reindeer and learn about their biology and their very separate and distinct adaptations to life in the far north. Musk ox are truly icons of Alaska. In the same way that seeing giraffes and zebras tells you that you are in Africa, seeing musk ox means you are in the far, far north.
 Dinner: Dinner included.
 Evening: Continue to welcome Spring with dance at the Festival of Native Arts
   
Accommodations: Springhill Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: A discussion of life in Fairbanks. Field trip to the University of Alaska Museum of the North, an outstanding repository of artifacts and information on all things Alaskan
(Saturday, February 23)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast included.
 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. 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.
 Lunch: 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: Dinner included.
 Evening: Closing night of the Festival of Native Arts
   
Accommodations: Springhill Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Cheer on the mushers at the Junior North American Championship Sled Dog Race. Field trip to the Alaska pipeline
(Sunday, February 24)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast included.
 Morning: Field trip to the Junior North American Championship Sled Dog Race at the Jeff Stoddard Race grounds. And we do mean "junior"--the competition is open for mushers from two to eighteen years old, racing in age separated categories. Join with the people of Fairbanks to cheer on the kids and the dogs.
 Lunch: Lunch included.
 Afternoon: Field trip to another Alaska icon--the Alaska Pipeline. Stand under the pipeline and hear a presentation about planning it, building it and maintaining it today.
 Dinner: Dinner included.
   
Accommodations: Springhill Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Winter jobs: Trapping in Alaska. Presentation on working on the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
(Monday, February 25)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast included.
 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: Lunch included.
 Afternoon: Presentation: "Daily Life of An Oil Spill Worker". A medic who worked on the Exxon Valdez oil spill will give a presentation on the spill, the people who tried to clean it up and the long term effects of "The summer everyone went to Valdez"
 Dinner: Dinner included.
 Evening: There are often plays, musical performances or special events in town. We almost always find something to do at night aside from watching for the aurora.
   
Accommodations: Springhill Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Field trip to the World Ice Art Championship to watch the artists begin their sculptures
(Tuesday, February 26)
   
 Breakfast:
 Morning: Field trip to the Ice Art Park for the beginning of the World Ice Art Championship competition. Watch the artists working on their sculptures, under a tight deadline to create these beautiful and ineffably ephemeral works of art. In the past, all kinds of animals, people, fairy tale scenes, castles, cabins, outhouses, phone booths, a children's playground with slides and rides, 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.
 Lunch: Return to downtown.
 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 already been or just relax and enjoy your last day on the Last Frontier.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Program ends after breakfast. Check out time is noon.
(Wednesday, February 27)
   
 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: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.


As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.



Specifically, this program includes:

Plus these special experiences...

View the Daily Schedule to see more

And included with all Road Scholar programs:


© Road Scholar 2014 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768