Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Golden Fleeced

There’s gold in them thar tourists’ pockets!

Riding the rails of the Alaska Railroad as I write this; on our way south from Fairbanks to Denali. Day before yesterday was spent on the train—eight hours northbound from Talkeetna to Fairbanks. Yesterday morning we boarded a stern wheeler for an excursion on the Chena River—watched a float plane take off and land, saw a team of sled dogs pulling a four-wheeler, and trooped ashore to be herded through a replica of an Athabaskan Indian Fish Camp. Typical tourist-trap trek.

Yesterday afternoon we boarded a bus for the El Dorado Gold Mine outside of Fairbanks. El Dorado is a “working” gold mine, and although they do extract gold from the hills, they extract a lot more green from the daily trainload of tourists that visit. But, I have to admit that I was pretty excited to find gold flakes in the bottom of my pan when we were given the opportunity to try our luck. The 5.5 grains of gold is probably worth about 11 bucks, but the taste of gold fever was priceless.

When we get to Denali this afternoon, we are taking a white-water raft trip. The prospect of such adventure used to be fire me up. Guess I’m getting old—I’m trying to decide if I would rather ride a rocking chair at the lodge instead.
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