It was midnight and I was in a dimly lit basement of a tiki bar designed like a pirate ship in San Francisco. I had a drink in my hand. It was a Friday night and the bar was too small for the number of people it housed.
Strangers were standing, touching each other’s shoulders drinking the bar’s famous rum cocktails. There was a mini waterfall in the corner ending in a small pool with couples sitting next to it. They were drinking beer, smiling and talking passionately while Pink Floyd played in the background.
I sat there thinking about my recent trip to Alaska. A week in Alaska was much better than the last 4 months at my new job in California. It was not that I hated my job, on the contrary, I loved it but there was something special, magical to say the least about Alaska.
I found myself thinking about John Muir who said that a young man should never go to Alaska because he will never be satisfied with any other place as long as he lives. There is indeed a lot of truth in that.
My Alaskan trip began with spending couple of days at Chena Hot Springs Resort which is one hour drive from Fairbanks.
1. Chena Hot Springs Resort
It was 2 am and the temperature was as low as -30 C/ -22F. Then again, I did not expect anything different in mid February. In the shivering cold, I somehow managed to plug the car into the electric socket so that the engine does not freeze. I made my way to the resort where I booked a room with a bed, study table, a chair and a window which went from floor to the ceiling. The wooden interiors gave it a rustic look. After throwing the luggage in one corner, I fell on the bed and instantly fell asleep.
Next morning, I woke up, walked up to the window to see the resort covered with snow. The sunrise made the snow glitter like gold. The snow was falling from the trees and the fog rose from the ground.
Heading out, one could see a few buildings scattered around the resort wrapped in snow hats and jackets. As I walked on the snow, I could hear the snow breaking under the feet.
There were reindeers, sheeps and mountain goats in a gated area running around in childlike excitement and feeding on the trees. This was the first time I saw a reindeer and honestly, I knew there are many more things which are going to happen for the first time. I was pumped.
After roaming around the resort till the sun was shining right above the head, I decided to have a hot toddy, waffles and pancakes at a restaurant in the resort. Later, I headed out to explore the wilderness near the resort using a Snowmobile.
The yellow snowmobile body, juxtaposed in the pristine white snow, was sitting on its long black skis with a big red button next to the steering wheel. As soon as I turned it on, the sound of the motor filled the otherwise quiet surroundings. I pushed on the accelerator and there was no looking back.
While riding my noisy snowmobile, I realized that there was something special about being in that Alaskan wilderness uncorrupted by humans. It’s you and the nature with majestic snow capped mountains, tall trees swaying in the cool breeze with small animals running around. The sunshine added an orange tinge to everything. There were no obligations, no rules, you can be you and no one will come to change that.
I felt free and continued riding my snowmobile swerving around the obstacles and was entertained by the breathtaking landscapes of Alaska.
2. Hot Springs
I was pulled out of my thoughts when the bartender called my name to give the rum cocktail I ordered, aptly named “The Painkiller”. The guy sitting next to me, got up hurriedly, bolted to the restroom but ended throwing up all over the table next to the bar. He was immediately thrown out of the place. Meanwhile, I sipped on my drink and tried to relive my best moment in Alaska.