Before planning this Alaskan adventure I was not familiar with the phrase "dry cabin". As I've mentioned in previous posts I'm not really an outdoorsy camping type gal. Now, that said, I have roughed it a few times and once even had to get creative opening a wine bottle without a cork screw in a hotel that had neither a bar or room service (gasp!). That event is a blog post unto itself but rest easy that no wine was wasted and I learned two valuable wine hacks from the experience (1) get screw tops if you can; and (2) a front door key can be Magyvered into a multi-tool when necessary. Ok back to the dry cabin story.
We were hoping to goodness that we'd get to witness the Aurora Borealis a/k/a Northern Lights phenomenon while in Alaska and that's the reason we took off on our road trip from Anchorage to Fairbanks. Chena Hot Springs (about 50 miles outside of Fairbanks) looked like a great spot to park a couple of nights and chase the Lights.
You know you can't control Mother Nature - heehee - was starting this sentence in reference to the unpredictability of the Northern Lights (so be sure you go somewhere you really want to be and that offers other activities just in case the lights are taking the night off) but then laughed to myself about the wording "you can't control Mother Nature" because, as I found out, a 'dry' cabin means no bathroom or running water.
There is a resort at Chena Hot Springs but they didn't have availability for both nights we were in town so I looked on Home Away and found a cabin that was available. This cabin is the only privately owned cabin on the property and gracious it looked charming. That's it in the photo and I took that picture so you know the pictures on the website were even more enchanting. It's located right there in the resort and if you stay at the cabin you have access to all the resort activities/amenities. My daughter (an avid hiker & camper) didn't hesitate to say book it but I paused a bit and kept rereading the Home Away description ["... Cabin is DRY with NO BATHROOM or running water .... Restrooms are a short 1 minute walk to Resort restaurant or pool lobby. Purchase ... swim pass for ... shower privileges."] No emphasis added here by me the words DRY and NO BATHROOM are in uppercase on the site. (Was that a warning or simply a way to ensure you know the facts about the cabin?) Ultimately, I booked the cabin because part of traveling is having new and different experiences and, I mean, since the bathroom isn't part of the cabin surely I wouldn't have to go my usual 5 times each night, right?
We arrive at the Hot Springs just in time to get the last two passes of the night for the ride to the top of the mountain to look for the Lights and have an hour before we need to get on the snow coach (um, nope a snow coach is not a bus- that's an entirely other post though).
Over the hill and through the forest to the cabin we go. Oh my goodness, the cabin is even cuter and cozier in real life and pretty darn close to the activities center, restaurant and pool/hot springs entrance. We layer up and head out to spend 9:30 pm - 2:00 am on the top of the mountain. We see the lights! (another post)
The snow coach drops us at the activities center at 2:30 am and we take the opportunity to use the bathroom then walk over to the cabin. Because I had been on Lights lookout the night before and got only a few hours shut eye I was super ty ty. The mattress felt like heaven and we were quickly off to sleep.
Weather.com said sunrise would be 9:15 but I woke up around 7:30 and, yep, had to go. Opened the door to see if perhaps -37 degrees felt warmer after a good sleep but that was a resounding NO! Yikes - it's pitch pitch pitch dark out there. Wait, did I hear a moose moving around? I'm sure it was a moose and thanks to my girl Googling them on the trip from Talkeetna I know they are one of the most dangerous animals ever. And, they aren't afraid of humans so don't move when they see you because the modus operandi of moose is to let you get right up next to them and then run your tail over with their 1200 pounds. Ok. I'm scared to walk over to the activity center by myself and my daughter is zzz'ing away over there under those warm covers. Now I've goofed around and really gotta go. Oops, I think I woke my daughter up when I scrambled back in the cabin closing the door quickly shrieking "moose moose on the loose". Oh well since you're up may as well walk over to the bathroom with me, eh?
You know how when you're in a hurry and have ten layers to put on to in all seriousness prevent frostbite and the first pieces are Under Amour that go on with the ease of a wet one piece bathing suit that is stretching to accommodate the winter hibernation pounds that haven't been lost- yeah - I hate it when that happens. Approximately 8 minutes and 14 pounds of clothes later we walk over to the activities center. Ah, the pause that refreshes (as my dad used to say). We wash up and start the day.
We aren't really back in the cabin until much later that night and we decide to watch one of the 67 dvds that are in the cabin. No internet or phone service when you're this close to nature (except in the activities center area) but that didn't bother us (not too much anyhow). Can't remember the movie but while watching it we started talking and then got to laughing. Most girls reading this will know where this is leading ... we started really laughing and then almost immediately we both had to use the bathroom. I guess all that practice this morning (or the fear that any potty accidents might attract a moose) paid off and we were layered up and on the path to the center in olympic speed!
All joking aside staying in this dry cabin was fun! (I'm told 'real' campers wouldn't even consider it dry since the facilities were so close.) The cabin itself was lovely and comfortable. Since camping isn't something I do often there's no need to speculate as to whether I'd stay in another dry cabin. However, if I'm ever at Chena Hot Springs again I wouldn't hesitate about booking this cabin again!
Happy & Safe Travels.
Come along with this southern girl on my fun travel adventures! I’m taking the tours; seeing the sites; trying out the hotels; dining at the restaurants; cruising on the cruise ships; and sharing the experiences on this blog. I hope you enjoy reading about my travel escapades and that they will be inspiring and helpful when planning your own fabulous adventures.