Denali National Park

Trip Start May 02, 2012
Trip End Jul 31, 2014

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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Sunday, July 1, 2012

Back again on line.... . Have had no dependable wifi connection for quite a time now. It is so frustrating! At the end of my last blog I mentioned that we were going to "shoot the shit" with the campsite owners. Just so that you know... We had a really nice evening. They were such nice people, and delicious hamburgers appeared off the barbeque for supper... So hospitable and friendly. It was a small campsite right on the cliffs above the sea.

After that we camped on the spit at Homer, on the Kenai Peninsula for 1 night. We then went back to Seward, in the rain, to meet up with Andy's brother and family. It was very basic camping - cheek to jowl with half of America... 2 toilets/2 showers...For about 3 large campsites. The RV's have their own facilities but still! .... The awful weather didnt seem to bother our fellow campers... They all sat outside in the drizzle around their campfires on the seashore and chatted to everyone... Not my idea of fun... Stuart, Shannon and Trevor took a day trip to see the fjords and glaciers, and loved it just as much as we did. The campsite had no wifi, and the few places in town that did have it, were swamped with people trying to get on line, so it was impossible. The huge cruise liners come into Seward every day. When we were there 2 cruise liners came in on one day - one from Japan. The town was full of Japanese trying to find wifi. Starbucks is the place to go, but the locals were all upset because they couldn't even get a table for coffee. The tourists took every available space to work on their computers, with no coffee.... We are now coming up for July 4, so things are pretty hectic here - lots of people on the move...

From Seward we made our way to Denali National Park ( in the middle of Alaska), and on the way stopped at a quaint place (tourist trap) called Talkeetna and had a lovely time just looking at things. We were camped at place in Willow. My tourist brochure says that this is the start of the Iditerod.... So now I am really confused... Seward boasts about being the start.....will have to google this and find out where it actually starts.... Have realized that most of Alaskan tourist things only happen between May and September, so things are very expensive, probably so that they make their annual income in just a few months. Think that a place like Talkeetna just closes down completely for the winter, as it was all just tourist shops, accommodation and activities. It is the start of the climb for people climbing Mt McKinley, the highest point in North America. Mt McKinley is also called Denali which means "the high one". Salmon fishing has been closed down in this area as the fish haven't appeared - rather a blow for those who rely on that kind of tourism. And Stuart now has to go elsewhere to find the salmon.

Denali was just too fantastic. We arrived and immediately made bookings to go white water rafting (category 3/4) down the Nenana River. I only went after they assured me that they had never had any fatalities! It is a glacial river and the name actually means "no river" because it is mainly glacial silt and no fish. It was just above freezing point as the water comes straight off the glacier. The water is a sort of muddy blue color. It was a spectacularly exciting experience. We all had to put on dry suits and then more thick booty things and hoods for the cold. The dry suit was so tight around my neck and wrists, and felt SOOoo hot on the bus to the launch point, but after the first "glacial facial" (huge wave of water onto the face and body) at the beginning of the trip, I felt quite cool. We only got off the water after 10pm and it was like the middle of the day... Stuart was very seasick and spent his time on the rubber duck, hanging over the side - getting lots of glacial facials that he really welcomed! Shame! We just had to hold him in over the rapids as we couldn't really stop. The next day we were up at 6:30am for a bus trip 60 miles into the park. The trips get booked up quite quickly. No one is allowed to drive after a certain point, so the only way you can get around is with the busses that run very regularly. We took the 8 hour trip, and had a wonderful trip as our driver was very informative. We saw bears, caribou, moose, and Dall Sheep. The road is a series of hair-pin bends with a very steep drop down the mountain. Just couldn't look at some points... we didn't get to see Mt Mc Kinley as the weather was too overcast. These big mountains usually have their own weather system, and it is not often that one is able to see the mountain. Our guide said that he has not seen it very often.... and he has been working in the area for about 15 years... But only in the summer... In fact, the whole town of Denali is closed down and boarded up for the winter. The rafting guy works summers at Denali, and then on the oil rigs at Prudhoe Bay for the winter. Lots of people seem to have a summer and winter job..

We now have wifi - at a place near Fairbanks - Chena Hot Springs. Can't get it at our pretty basic campsite... With trillions upon trillions of mosquitos.... So are sitting at the activity centre. We were in the hot springs earlier and it was lovely. It's outside and quite natural, and it started raining very heavily with thunder and lightening while we were in the springs...

Parted ways with Stuart and family. They are off south to find some salmon fishing, and we are headed north. We won't have time to get as far north as Prudhoe Bay as we had planned, but just want to set food (just noticed that I said food instead of foot - Freudian slip?) across the Arctic Circle. There are basically 2 ways of driving there: from Fairbanks along the Dalton Highway, which is a pretty awful, rough route used by those guys in the ice trucking series, or we could go back to Dawson City, in the Yukon and go on a better road , but longer. SO..... Decisions! We think that the time to go is perhaps on 4th July as MAYBE the truckers will be going home for Independance Day... Who knows....

We are now getting short of time to make our way back to either Salt Lake , or California. We have to turn south in the next few days.
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Gill on

I was wondering where you were! I was a bit sick of entry 23.White water rafting -a real adrenalin junkie now! xx

siyaya on

It was very irritating not to be able to "compute" ..... Didn't realize how much one depends on the Internet... We usually check out campsites, weather, news etc... Fantastic about Nicky's music being on that movie... Does that give her cash in the bank? Xx

Gill on

Yes it's great, they do get paid which all helps. I have deactivated my facebook for a while as I was getting strange messages from a person I didn't know. Will go back on in a few weeks. Keep enjoying your trip xx

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