HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED what a puny little star Polaris is? If you didn’t have the Pointer Sisters on the Big Dipper steering you directly to it, you’d never find it. Except, of course, that it’s the only star that doesn’t move. Not to mention which it’s on the Alaska flag. I was standing outside the yurt on a hill overlooking Chena Hot Springs, and on this March night there were so many stars crowded into the sky that I had a hard time picking out the constellations. After that, you’ll understand why the northern lights were just an anticlimax.
Chena Hot Springs is what you might call in the parlance of the travel trade a single-destination resort. Tucked into rolling hills fifty-plus miles east of Fairbanks, it is 440 acres of fun in the sun, winter or summer. Your only problem is going to be stamina, trust me. “People tell me they find peace here,” says Joe Juszkiewicz, the Springs’ manager. “We had a couple of high- powered doctors from New York City. They lit into me when they found out their cell phones and pagers didn’t work here and that they couldn’t get faxes. I said them, ‘What did you come here for?’ They wound up staying an extra three nights.”
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