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UK rifle's trip north: Day two - Getting to know Alaska

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The Kentucky rifle team visited the Trans-Alaska Pipeline on Friday. (Will Kindred, UK Athletics) The Kentucky rifle team visited the Trans-Alaska Pipeline on Friday. (Will Kindred, UK Athletics)
On Thursday, the top-ranked Kentucky rifle team departed for Fairbanks, Ala., where the Wildcats will compete in two No. 1 vs. No. 2 matches with Alaska-Fairbanks on Saturday and Sunday. To help the Big Blue Nation keep up with their trip, student-athletes from the team will take turns blogging about their voyage. Today, sophomore Connor Davis describes a tourist-activity-filled Friday.

By Connor Davis

Not having adapted to the four-hour time change, our first morning in Alaska came early. Being used to Eastern Time I woke up around 3:30 a.m., luckily I managed to fall back asleep until around 7.

We all met downstairs at 8 for our team breakfast and ate before we started our full day of tourist activities and exploring the area.

We opened the day by heading a few miles out of town to the see part of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. The pipeline runs from the north shore of Alaska at Prudhoe Bay to Valdez in southern Alaska. It was neat to see how it weaves through the mountains and frontier of Alaska.

Driving around up here is a very different experience. A layer of snow covers most of the roads but it doesn't seem to affect any of the drivers. The views driving out of Fairbanks are impressive, with snow-covered trees followed by mountain ranges in the distance.

After the pipeline we went to the University of Alaska Museum of the North on campus. The museum had a lot of interesting items on the history of Alaska. I was most fascinated by the exhibit showcasing the progression of the weapons Alaskans have used for whale hunting. It was wild to see how whale hunters overcame the challenges before the technology and tools we have today existed.

Following the museum we headed to North Pole, Alaska, to check out the Christmas themed town. All the local businesses in the North Pole were decorated with Christmas decor in some fashion.

To get the full effect of the North Pole, we stopped by the Santa Claus House. As we arrived we were greeted by reindeer to the side of the building and proceeded to go inside and buy some gifts for friends and family. Santa Claus was there and not only admitted to being a Kentucky fan but also mentioned our national championship in 2011.

We listened to Aaron Holsopple's lunch recommendation and went with Chinese restaurant Pagoda in the North Pole. Aaron did not let us down, the restaurant featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" with Guy Fieri was delicious. (Elijah) Ellis and Coach Mullins were the only ones able to finish their plates and they deserve some sort of award for that. The portions were huge.

On the way back from the North Pole we stopped by The Great Alaskan Bowl Company and the Alaska Raw Fur Company to check out a few local shops. It was crazy to see all the animal furs; I would have loved to have been able to take one home with me.

Of course we finished the night by doing the non-tourist thing and going to see "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." I won't ruin the movie for any of you with spoilers but we all enjoyed it to say the least.

I'm looking forward to Saturday. Emily (Holsopple), Heather (Kirby), Sonya (May) and I will be competing in the first relay, while Aaron, Ellis and Cody (Manning) will shoot in the second relay. I've been pleased with how we've competed to this point in the season and I'm looking forward to seeing if it carries into a big match on the road.

I plan to stay for the second relay to see Aaron, Ellis and Cody. Normally you don't stick around because you'll go get lunch with family or something but I'd like to come back tomorrow after lunch and support the guys.

The trip has been fun so far, Coach Mullins has made sure to show us around. He's been here so many times for matches in the past that he seems to know everything about it.

While we spent today having fun and being tourists, the reason we're here is to compete and I'm ready to hit the range.

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