CFFC: The “Necessary”

In the times before plumbing, people built outhouses behind their homes, which were sometimes called “the necessary.” In Fairbanks, Alaska, we came across two outhouses, one in Chena Village, a Native American village for tourists, and another outside the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors’ Center in downtown Fairbanks.

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Neither of these looked as though they were available for public use!

When we were in São Paulo, Brazil later that year, we visited A Casa das Rosas, a 19th century house with rose gardens * on Avenida Paulista. There were two bathrooms in the house – presumably also not for public use, as the house was a museum, but my husband, not finding any other facilities close at hand, actually used the green one! He reasoned that since it was not cordoned off, it could be used. I hope the plumbing worked…




Dale let me take this picture after he had used the “necessary!”


*See my post about Avenida Paulista .

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Bathrooms and Outhouses, July 11, 2017

Alaska 2016: Our last days – Fairbanks (Part 2)

September 1, 2016

We had some time after checking into our hotel to walk around that part of town. That evening we were scheduled for dinner at the Alaska Salmon Bake, followed by a show in a nearby theater, an excursion I had booked before the cruise. (Note: All pictures at the Salmon Bake, the environs, and the theater were taken by my husband, Dale Berman.)


A rattly green school bus arrived at the hotel to take us to the Alaska Salmon Bake. Only a few people boarded the bus. The bus driver drove her mostly empty bus to a large park.


There was an area that had a lot of rusting equipment.



The park was pretty, though, and although it was past 8 pm, the sun was still shining.


It’s a good thing we were having nice weather – the buffet area was outside, and from there we had the option to sit inside a warm dining hall or on a picnic table outside. We chose inside, as the day was cooling off fast.


Dale was relieved there were other choices besides salmon – he was getting a little sick of it!  We were in luck – they had Bear Creek wine, which we had discovered our last night in Denali!  It was sweet and smooth, and can ONLY be found in Alaska.


The theater where the show was to be was only a short walk away; however, the rattly school bus did arrive on time to take anyone to the show who didn’t want to or couldn’t walk.

We passed a stadium decorated with native designs.



We arrived at a tourist trap “town” made up to resemble early 20th century frontier towns.


This is where we found the Palace Theatre and Saloon.


The show was a revue entitled “Alaska, The Last Frontier.” No photography was allowed once the show started.


September 2, 2016

Our luggage was picked up outside our hotel rooms early in the morning. We took our carry-ons downstairs to store until it was time to go to the airport. There was a long line to check flights, but it was a good thing we did because we were put on a different flight than originally booked!

We had a very good breakfast in the hotel restaurant, served by a nice middle aged waitress who had lived in Alaska all of her life. In spite of this, she spoke like a Southerner!

After breakfast, we went out for a walk to explore the town. Downtown Fairbanks was only about six blocks away.


We first went into a very bizarre store which sold every sort of thing imaginable, much of it looking as though it had come from a salvage pile or was picked up during excavations of old Indian villages. In fact, it was referred to as the “Alaska Museum Room.”




20160901_183904The prices were very cheap, and I was on the verge of paying for an Ulu knife that was only $3.75 (usually they are quite expensive) when Dale reminded me that we didn’t have our luggage and wouldn’t be able to take such an item through security. The store owner was already in the process of wrapping it in newspaper. Too bad!

We continued on down Noble Street toward downtown.  I was amazed at how many flowers there were everywhere.



When we reached the end of Noble St., we turned right onto Wendell St., heading for the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center, which claims to “Celebrate Interior Alaska’s People, Land, and Culture.”



This mosaic was inspired by beadwork on moosehide slippers, made by Judy Thomas of Northway, Alaska. There were five such mosaics based on Athabascan artwork on the sidewalk surrounding the Morris Thompson Cultural Center.

Many of the exhibits featured Athabascan arts and crafts.


Chief’s Basket made of king salmon skins, dentalia shells, glass beads and moose skin.



"Mountains and Willows in Fall" (2009)- fabric art quilt by Ree Nancarrow

“Mountains and Willows in Fall” (2009)- fabric art quilt by Ree Nancarrow

Surrounding these exhibits were Alaska’s four seasons: Summer features the village of Tanana, where Morris Thompson was born and raised, and the Tanana River.  In autumn, Alaskans prepare for winter and this exhibit features colorful fall scenes.  Winter has a Public Use Cabin you can enter to experience a dazzling winter night with northern lights shimmer beyond the window.  There wasn’t a specific area for spring, except as “the end of winter.”

Outside the cultural center were some outbuildings and a vegetable and flower garden.


Adjacent to the Cultural Center’s property is the Antler Arch, which is said to be composed of more than 100 sets of moose and caribou antlers, collected from all over the interior of Alaska. It didn’t look like that many to me, but I didn’t count them!



Many of the antlers were autographed either by the collector or in memory of someone.


Beyond that is a walkway along the Chena River which takes you through Griffin Park and along which there are monuments, statues and monuments, including the Land Lease Monument, commemorating Alaska’s role in cooperation with the Soviet Union to defeat the Nazis in World War II.



This was explained on plaques alongside the monument.



To our left was downtown Fairbanks.


We had a wonderful lunch at a crepe place someone had told us about. They served both sweet, breakfast-type crepes, and “lunch” crepes filled with cheese, ham, sausage, etc.

There were large vents along the street which had been painted by local artists.

By mid-afternoon, we headed back to the hotel to wait for the shuttle which would take us to the airport, where we flew to Seattle, and then took a connecting flight to Chicago.

This ends my travel series Alaska 2016. Stay tuned for our next trip, to Brazil!


Alaska 2016: Our last days – Fairbanks (Part 1)

September 1, 2016

We were on our way to our last destination in Alaska – the city of Fairbanks. We took a bus and had a young, attractive guide named Aubrey. I wasn’t able to take pictures because I didn’t get a window seat. Here’s the one good shot I got:


My husband was next to the window, however, and took these pictures of the scenery:



We made a stop in the town of Nenana, which is on the Nenana River. It is distinguished by two events:  It is the first stop along the route of the Iditarod,


and the “Ice Classic”, which is a contest held annually since 1917.


In the Ice Classic, a tripod made of wood is placed in the middle of the frozen river in late winter.  Townspeople bet money – usually consisting of only a few dollars – on when the tripod will fall into the river; in other words, when the river will thaw. In spite of the relatively small amount of cash that the winner will receive, people in Nenana get very competitive during the Ice Classic, and with the access to the Internet, some people do scientific research to find out what are the meteorological forecasts for the arrival of spring in that region.


Nenana has a small sled dog kennel, where they raise dogs to compete in races like the Iditarod as well as for personal use to get around in the winter. The training the dogs receive is basically the same as we saw in Denali, and visitors are encouraged to hold puppies that are as young as three weeks old!


I held a warm, furry black puppy that trembled the whole time that I, or anyone else, held him. I asked one of the trainers if he was cold or just scared. She replied that the young pups are very new to the socialization process, so they become nervous when held.



Upon arrival in Fairbanks, we were taken immediately to a steamboat dock on the river. First, we had lunch at long dining tables in a room filled with tourists from cruise and land tours like ourselves. Except for our group, the majority of the tourists had been on a Princess cruise.


Line to board the steamboat (taken by Dale Berman)

After lunch, we had a few minutes to shop, where we bought a couple of t-shirts, before we were to board the steamboat. Someone had told me to go directly up to the third level and sit in the front to get the best views.  Rows of chairs were set out all along the open deck. We got good seats next to the railing in the front of the boat.

The steamboat took us on a leisurely cruise up the Chena River.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

float plane landing

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KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

The boat stopped in front of a dog kennel. The trainers told us about their dogs and the training they do with them. Ten dogs had been selected and were harnessed for a short run.

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All the dogs get very excited.

And they’re off!

They run by the back of the kennel, a “caboose” behind them!

When they get back, the dogs are hot and tired and ready….

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…for a frolic in the river!

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Our steamboat ride continued.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

We  saw captive caribou.

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We arrived at Chena Village, where Athabascan youths show tourists different aspects of their ways of life. This village resembles the original Athabascan village of the early 1900s and is located near the original site.

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First, while we were still aboard, we saw how the salmon are caught, cut and dried.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Fish drying shed

The steamboat docked and we got off. We were divided into several groups, each with a guide who took us around to different areas where we learned about the activities that would have taken place in the village.

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This young man was our guide. He showed us each of the pelts – what animal they were from and how they were used.


Transportation: canoe, snow shoes

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KODAK Digital Still Camera

Clothing – a young woman models a warm fur coat.

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KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Examples of clothing for men (left of door), women (right)

Animals: Moose were a good catch for trappers, but the people relied on domesticated reindeer for various purposes. (A reindeer is actually a domesticated form of the caribou.)


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Housing: Summer and winter camps

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An outhouse was a convenience in a settled village!

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Winter trapper’s cabin: Most trapping was done in the winter because that is when the animals’ fur would be thickest and warmest. The trappers had to set and maintain their trap lines in the worst winter conditions. “Line cabins” would be built about a day’s journey apart from one another along their winter trapping routes. Simple and rugged, they provided the trappers with adequate shelter during Alaska’s harsh winters, and were meant only to rest, dry out, heat up, and sleep.  Although built for their own use, anyone needing shelter would be welcome to use the cabins.20160901_160514

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Permanent house in the village

All too soon, it was time to board the steamboat once more.

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