July 30-31, 2011 HOUSTON TO DENALI, AK.
Unfortunately the weather was cloudy and rainy today so there was no chance of seeing the vast Alaskan mountain ranges. One of the best views of Mt. McKinley can be seen from Mary’s McKinley View Lodge but we were not able to see the mountain at all because of low cloud. However, Dwain was able to capture a picture of the view on a clear day from the photos on the wall!! This was a good place to stop for a cup of coffee and a delicious pecan roll fresh out of the oven. Then it was on to Denali RV Park and Motel where we parked for the next two nights. This was another short drive so we were able to relax in the afternoon after getting settled in. At six o’clock the bus picked up those who had chosen the 2 hour white water rafting trip down the Nenana river. There were 33 of us who were brave enough to go!! The bus took us to the Outdoor Center where we were all suited up in “dry” suits and given safety instructions – as well as instructions as to what to do
This is where the mountain is supposed to be.
if you should fall out of the raft!! Then we were bused to our launching spot in the river and divided into groups of about 6 for each raft. WOW, what a fun trip! There were some pretty good rapids and, yes, we got plenty wet, but no one fell out of the raft. It was too risky to have the camera out so we were not able to get pictures while on the water. Buses and trailers met us at the other end to take us back to the center to remove all the equipment, then we were bused back to the RV park. We all slept well that night!
Sunday morning our bus picked us up at 6:30 a.m. for a full day in Denali National Park. Our driver and guide was a young woman who loved her job and kept us well informed all along the way. Any time anyone on the bus saw what they thought might be an animal they were to call out “STOP!” and she would stop the bus and pull as close as she could to what was sighted. An interesting feature in the bus was the addition of small TV screens
every 2 or 3 seats down both sides of the bus. The driver, whose name was Caroline, had a camera with a great zoom lens on it so she could zoom in on the animals and bring them closer for us to see. It also meant the people on the other side of the bus were able to get a good look as well. So we did not see Mt. McKinley or Denali Mountain – the tallest mountain in North America at 20,320 ft., but it had stopped raining so we were able to view a lot of wildlife. We saw 7 or 8 grizzly bears, some were cubs, several herds of Caribou, Dall Sheep, and ground squirrels. Again it was difficult to get a good picture without the help of a strong lens, but were able to get some. As we travelled through the park we were able to experience several different eco systems as we climbed above the tree line into the tundra. Sack lunches were provided for us to eat on the bus whenever we got hungry.
This evening we were taken into the little township of Denali Park for dinner and a chance to do more
This is what we would have seen on a clear day!
shopping!! Thankfully, it is a short drive to Fairbank tomorrow so we can sleep in!!
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