Friday, June 22nd - Back to Fairbanks, Eldorado Gold Mine:
With a short drive back to Fairbanks, we took our time to have some breakfast and pack up the camper. I had reservations for Donna and I to visit the Eldorado Gold Mine at 3pm.
After helping Steve to unload the camper, she and I took off for Fox. On the way, I stopped at the pipeline so she could get a few photos, and pick up some literature (as well as more souvenirs).
Last year was the first time I tried the Eldorado Gold Mine tour, and I really enjoyed it. It's really a neat excursion for visitors to Fairbanks. You first ride on a smaller scale train through a gold camp, where you learn about the mining process of days gone by.
When you arrive at the gold camp, you are greeted by Yukon Yonda and Dexter Clark - a married couple who have been in the gold mining business for quite a few years. They've certainly made their share of riches mining the rich land of Fairbanks, and still mine their claim.
It's a more modern process now, and they showed us a little of what's involved.
A front loader dumps dirt from the claim sight into a hopper of sorts. Then water is released out of a flume above the hopper and it washes the dirt down the sluice box - a series of bigger slats that gets smaller as the dirt/rocks travel. This is to sift out the big stuff.
Dexter Clark then took several shovels full of dirt from the sluice box and dumped them into gold pans. He handed them out to a few of his helpers and Yonda and they sat in front of us showing us how to swirl the water around in the pan to find gold. They made it look awfully easy, but it's not that easy for us novices! We're so worried we're going to throw away some gold, and are quite timid with the way we swish our dirt around.
Once the demonstration was over, we filed into the panning area, getting a bag of dirt on the way in. We found a seat at a trough and dumped our bag into the pan. Because it was my second time panning, I was feeling a little less anxious about throwing away gold and got right into swishing and tossing rocks and pebbles. Donna was a lot more careful.
When it was all said and done, I ended up with $10 worth of gold, and Donna only ended up with $2 worth. She wanted a glass pendant to put her treasure in, but her gold wouldn't have looked very nice. I gave her mine to add to her own, making that pendant look quite impressive. *grin* She also bought more souvenirs for her family, and I found a t-shirt on sale for $6.99 that said "The Great Land Alaska - Established in 1959" (which happens to be the year I was established too!)
We had a very enjoyable afternoon panning, and called Steve as we left the Eldorado to let him know we'd be meeting him at Bostons Pizza for dinner. After dinner, he went home again, and Donna and I did a drive around the city.
I drove into downtown Fairbanks to point out the statue of the First Family in Golden Heart Plaza. Then I took her past some of the old log cabins that are still being lived in, and pointed out some other historical landmarks. We then headed off to Pioneer Park. I thought she would enjoy our little frontier town and some of the little museums and she did.
Much to my surprise, the Tundra Caravan (Middle Eastern Dance Troupe), was performing at the gazebo, so we stopped to watch for awhile. Their dancing was wonderful, and I loved the colorful scarves and skirts they wore and the way their spangled belts glittered in the sunlight.
One girl had purple dyed hair to match her outfit. Their movements were so graceful; it made me entertain the thought of learning the dance. However, the thought of baring my midriff made that thought fly out of my mind fairly quickly!
I took additional photos at Pioneer Park. The bright colors of the flowers and the cabins caught my eye. I was pleasantly surprised to see a few character actors from the Palace Saloon show and just had to get a photo of them.