Monday, May 11, 2015

#LCinUSA Apr 2015 Part 4 Fairbanks, Alaska - City of Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

23 Apr 2015, Thursday PST (UTC/GMT -7 hour to -8 hour)
Seattle, Washington to Fairbanks, Alaska

Work's over! LQ and I headed to Sea-Tac International Airport in the late morning to catch our flight from Seattle to Fairbanks. Finally, our holiday began!!!! We booked our flight tickets from about 2 months before departure. Alaska Airlines is a semi-low cost carrier where you get one drink and one snack on board, as well as free seat selection (get the window seat).  It was USD 209 one-way and we need to top up USD 25 for each check-in luggage at the airport, by either cash or credit card. Together with the check-in luggage it's about SGD 325 one-way from Seattle to Fairbanks. Ouch.

Flying Alaska Airlines to Fairbanks! (Taken at Sea-Tac airport in Seattle)

Snacks on board


Flight duration was roughly 3.5 hours. I was seated next to a huge woman.....was really restricted to my seat and she took at least one-fifth of my space too. =/ Luckily, the view out of the window was really stunning and the flight wasn't thattttt long.

23 Apr 2015, Thursday PST (UTC/GMT -8 hour)
Fairbanks, Alaska

Fairbanks International Airport
I booked a car from, picked the cheapest mid-size car (Toyota Corolla or similar) offer from Alamo, USD 84.99 for 2 days of rental in Fairbanks. HOWEVER, when we got there, they did not have mid-sized cars anymore. Guess what? They offered us a mini-van with no extra charge, Chrysler Town and Country. =O It's a 7-SEATER CAR. I've not been driving for quite awhile, never driven a 7-seater car and the driver's seat is on the left. LQ never drive a car after she got her license years ago, so I'd be the only driver for this trip. My goodness... What's worse? Alamo didn't have a GPS for us. We had to rely on a map. It's okay!!! Everything will be alright! 

Hello Chrysler!

Chrysler Town and Country

Best Western Plus Chena River Lodge
Address: 1255 Tvsa Way, Fairbanks, AK 99709, United States
Contact: +1 907-328-3500

Without a map, we chanced upon the hotel we booked while we were looking for a restaurant for food. Lol. I was pretty impressed with Best Western. It's USD 87.20 a night for a room with 2 double beds, including breakfast for 2. 

View outside the window
We rested for a while and set out on foot to search for food! *Famished*

Address: Teddy Bear Plaza, 3578 Airport Way, Fairbanks, AK 99709, United States
Operating Hours: Sun-Thu 10am-10pm; Fri-Sat 10am-11pm
Contact: +1 907-456-2538‎

Brewster's scores 3.5 stars out of 5 on Yelp, based on 37 reviews. We ordered two dishes to share - Brewster's Signature Steak Bits (Seasoned tenderloin steak pieces with fresh mushroom sautéed in their famous Alaskan Amber brew sauce, accompanied with garlic toast) and Brewster Burger (Char-broiled, crisp lettuce, tomato, onions, mayo).

Brewster's Signature Steak Bits was not bad, just a tad too sweet. The Brewster burger was good. By the way, there's NO TAX in Alaska! It's the only state that do not collect state tax. However, please don't forget to include tips of 15-20% when you make payment. =)

Brewster's Signature Steak Bits - USD12.99

Brewster Burger - USD 10.99
We walked to a supermarket nearby, Fred Meyer, to get some snacks & drinks before heading back to the hotel to rest and prepare for northern lights hunting at night. 

Kettle Chips, so cheap here!

On the way back to Best Western Plus Chena River Lodge

Chasing Lights Day 1
Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights hunting in Fairbanks

The staff at Best Western recommended us to head to Ester Dome to catch the Northern Lights. The forecasted Auroral activity for today was average, 3. We used this website, created by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, for the forecast.

Ester Dome was about 10.3 miles/16.6 km, 20 minutes drive away from Best Western Plus Chena River Lodge. We set off at 12am after the sun finally sets near midnight. It wasn't a smooth journey as the road was really dark without street lights and a random wild animal, be it a moose or a bear, may just step onto the road. I was really careful while driving.

We couldn't find a spot to park our car or rather, we couldn't find a safe spot that we could get out of the car. Luckily, I spotted a slot just big enough for our car, facing a nice row of trees. Then, we waited. We were discussing that the sky was really bright, the northern lights would appear anytime. But there's like nothing after a good while. So I just took out my camera, randomly taking a photo of the trees. OH MY GOD!!!! IT'S THERE IT'S THERE!!! We couldn't see the lights with our eyes but our cameras could auto-adjust to capture it!!! So thankful for my curiosity otherwise we would not even know that the lights were already dancing right in front of us!! An advice is, if the sky got brighter, IT IS THE NORTHERN LIGHTS. We could feel it too. Not exaggerating at all. =D

Northern Lights on my Canon S100

Beautiful!!! Even though there's only such a bit. (Credits to LQ)

Northern light accompanied by countless stars (Credits to LQ) 

Effect caused by a car that passed by (Credits to LQ)
Mild lights can be seen next to our hotel, in the city
Basically, you can see the Northern Lights anywhere in Fairbanks. However, to catch the best view, it'd be advisable to find a clear spot with no obstructions and of course, stay away from the city lights. It was really fun yet scary (as it's only two of us, females, in a dark mountain). We were lucky to chance upon the lights as April isn't a good month for it. I'd definitely remember this experience. My first Aurora Borealis! <3

24 Apr 2015, Friday PST (UTC/GMT -8 hour)
Fairbanks, Alaska

As we slept late last night due to Northern Lights chasing, we woke up at about 8am+ to eat our breakfast which only available till 9am and got back to sleep till noon.

Breakfast spread by Best Western Plus Chena River Lodge

Breakfast Cereals and Milk

Fruits, Yogurts and Pastries

Microwave, Hot/Cold Drinks

Scrambled Eggs with Bacon and Potatoes

Waffle machine?!

Making my waffle

Waffle with bacon and scrambled eggs

Mixed Breakfast Cereals

The Cookie Jar Restaurant
Address: 1006 Cadillac Ct, Fairbanks, AK 99701, United States
Operating Hours: Mon-Sat 6.30am - 9.00pm; Sun 8.00am - 4.00pm
Contact:+1 907-479-8319

As recommended by our colleague, FW, who visited Fairbanks last year (2014), we drove to The Cookie Jar Restaurant to have our lunch. It was about 10 minutes drive from our hotel, via Johansen Expressway.

The fried steak we ordered was pretty disappointing. I think we were expecting too much. Nevertheless, the toasts accompanying the main dishes and the cinnamon roll were good.

Cookie Jar Country Fried Steak USD 15.99

Beerock USD 7.99

Cinnamon Roll USD 4.99

Huge Cinnamon Roll

Fairbanks Walmart Supercenter
Address: 537 Johansen Expy, Fairbanks, AK 99701, United States
Operating Hours: 24 hours
Contact:+1 907-451-9900

My first visit to the Walmart! Been hearing how significant a Walmart is all the way from Singapore and now I could finally experience it myself. It was really gigantic. They sell literally everything! You name it, they have it. LQ and I did most of our shopping here. *no tax*

Yes, you can buy a gun in Walmart!


Downtown, Fairbanks

Downtown was a short drive from Walmart. We parked at a free parking spot and roamed around the empty downtown. Seriously, Fairbanks was so quiet.


Nice church spotted

Chena River, melting in process...


So pretty!

Surprisingly, there were quite a number of Thai restaurants at Downtown, Fairbanks. We were crazily craving for spicy food after almost a week in USA. Although we weren't hungry, we picked one with a small car park and went in to satisfy our needs. =D

Tiparos Thai Food
Address: 404 Lacey Street, Fairbanks AK 99701
Operating Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-9pm; Sat Closed; Sun 12pm-8pm
Contact: +1 907-455-8424

Operated by Thai immigrants, Tiparos sell authentic Thai food including Tom Yum and Pad Thai. The taste wasn't exactly like the Tom Yum I tasted in Thailand, I bet it was due to the ingredients bought in the US. It was awesome and spicy enough for us.

Tiparos Thai Food


University of Alaska Fairbanks
Address: 505 S Chandlar Drive, Fairbanks, AK 99775, United States

Museum of the North is located in the University of Alaska Fairbanks. However, it was already closed when we got there in the evening. We walked around the campus, and chanced upon a concert hall full of people. Then, um, we took the brochure, went in, sat down and watched the entire concert for free. =P

The campus was so nice!! I miss my school days in university...

Chasing Lights Day 2
Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights hunting in Fairbanks

Creamers Field State Migratory Waterfowl Refuge
Address: 1300 College Rd, Fairbanks, AK 99701, United States

Creamer's Field is a wildlife sanctuary as well as a dairy farm. Sadly, there's too much light which spoils the view of northern lights. And Canon S100 ain't good enough to capture it's raw beauty.

We actually drove back to yesterday's spot along Ester Dome road again. Below are 2 pictures taken by my Canon S100.

Fairbanks is a place to get away from city life as it is really peaceful. In Chinese saying, it would be a 鸟不生蛋 (birds don't lay egg) place - meaning there's nothing much here. Northern lights would be a reason strong enough for people to visit Fairbanks. Thank you mother nature for showering us with such fantastic night view full of stars and a glimpse of the legendary Northern Lights.

Onward to Anchorage tomorrow~~

#LCinUSA posts

2016 Seattle-Arizona (Blogging soon)
  • Apr 2016 Part 1 Seattle
  • Apr 2016 Part 2 Arizona Road Trip
  • Apr 2016 Part 3 Arizona Road Trip
  • Apr 2016 Part 4 Arizona Road Trip
2015 Seattle & Alaska
2014 Las Vegas

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