We had planned to drive 5 hours to the Artic Circle and then 5 hours back…. BUT …. Changed our minds. New plan:
Fairbanks, Alaska is the capital of ice art in the world and home to the World Ice Art Championships. Many top ice artists in the world make Fairbanks their home.
The Aurora Ice Museum was built as a way to boost tourism at Chena Hot Springs Resort, located 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks while simultaneously offering year-round employment for Steve Brice 15 time world ice carving champion and wife Heather Brice six time world ice carving champion.
Chena Hot Springs erected the first version of the Aurora Ice Hotel (now renamed the Aurora Ice Museum in January, 2004. The Ice Hotel was the first of its kind in the United States, and one of just a handful worldwide.
The Chena Hot Springs Aurora Ice Museum uses a unique, energy efficient absorption chiller built by Energy Concepts of Annapolis Maryland to keep the Ice Museum 'on ice' year-round.
The chiller uses hot water at 165°F from one of our geothermal wells in an absorption refrigeration system similar to one used in a propane refrigerator for an RV. The absorption chiller pumps heat from the ice museum by taking advantage of the low boiling point of ammonia (used as the refrigerant) and the latent heat of evaporation. When high pressure ammonia liquid is expanded into a vapor as part of the refrigeration cycle, a lot of energy is needed. This energy is 'pulled' from the ice museum via a circulating salt brine. An everyday example of how evaporation causes cooling is how you get chilled, even in warm weather, when your skin is wet after getting out of a swimming pool without drying off. As the water evaporates off your body, it 'pulls' heat (equivalent to the latent heat of evaporation of water) from your skin, making you cold. Without the Energy Concepts Absorption chiller, Chena Hot Springs would need to run our backup 200 ton Trane vapor compressor chiller, which requires 125kW (1/3 of our total on-site power needs) to operate. The cost in fuel alone to run this unit is $500/day! In contrast, the absorption chiller uses about 12kW to operate.
There are 4 bedrooms in the ice museum where you can rent and sleep in.
Three of the beds: The last one is a polar bear laying on his back.
The shower (not real)
It was very beautiful inside but very cold!!! 20 degrees !!!!!!
As we were driving back to the campground we saw a moose and stopped to take some pictures.
I made a appetizer dinner for us. All finger type foods. Salmon dip, sweet and spicy wieners, potato skins, home made guacamole, salsa, chips, crackers, cheese and salami. We were actually able to eat outside. As soon as we were finished it started to rain.
We all came in and we played Sequence. Girls beat the guys 4 games to 1.
Tomorrow we have another adventure planned.