DAY 25: SUNDAY, JULY 22: After four days, we are saying good bye to Denali National Park today headed to Anchorage, 250 miles away. Not far on our journey we stopped to get pictures at a place called Hurricane Gulch. This is a 550 foot bridge with a drop of 260 feet down into a canyon. Just looking down that canyon made my stomach turn.
Now comes the first "Unexpected" of the day. I need to digress and update you on the fact that my cousins, Ken and Kim DuBois (that is Mrs. DuBois for all you Buttons-n-Bows Alum) we're coming to Alaska on a cruise! But when i left i wasnt sure when. I had called my Uncle Dale on Friday to let him know we were alive and having fun and he said Kim and Ken had flown into Anchorage Thursday and planned on coming to Denali. I couldn't believe it. I called them and left them messages as to where we were. Well, Saturday night they called back and said they were at Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge. We had seen this lodge, or so we thought, last night at dinner. We loaded up and raced over to
find out it was the Denali Princess Lodge and the one they were at was an hour and half down the road. So today we are driving down the road and BAM! there is the Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge. Aaron pulls the 5th wheel in and drives right past the entrance to the main lodge and everyone is staring at us. We must have been a sight to see. We decided instead of calling we would just try and surprise them and right away we spotted Brad, Nick and Daniel playing Monopoly with their grandpa. Kim's whole family is on a land and sea cruise for her parents anniversary. We ended up seeing Ken too, but Kim and the girls were in Talkeetna shopping. Still how unexpected that on our crazy trip the timing would be right that we would be able to run into family over 4,000 miles from home. Now I probably shouldnt have called this "unexpected" because for those of you who don't know we actually ran into Aunt Ruthie and Uncle Ted in a little town near Farge, ND on our way home from Yellowstone two years ago. We pulled into gas station in the middle
of nowhere, pulled up to the pump and out of Subway comes Aunt Ruthie running, yelling and waving her arms. It was crazy. We ended up having lunch with her, Grandma Mitch and Uncle Ted.
After an hour we were back on the road to Anchorage. We passed thru Talkeetna, a small town with a population of 848. The town itself dead ends on a 14 mile long road that veers off the Parks Highway. It is an aviation and supply base for Mt. McKinley climbing expeditions. We also passed thru Willow, another town with an intersting history. It got its start in 1897 when gold was discovered there then it soon became a ghost town. It made a comeback in 1972 with the completion of the Parks Highway. In 1976, Alaska voters selected Willow for their new capital city. However, funding for the capital move from Juneau was defeated in the 1982 election. Interesting. Now we couldn't just drive by Wasilla?... The Iditarod Headquarters is located here, and of course, it is the hometown of Sarah Palin. We toured the headquarters, the girls fell in love with more dogs and now the other "unexpected" of the day. Aaron
The Top of Hatchers Pass
Can you believe all this snow? The kids had a blast playing in it...note Maggie is in flip flops.
struck up a conversation with a local police officer who stopped to buy a pop and he gave some great sight seeing tips and a told us there was a state campground on Lake Lucille right around the corner. We decided since it was already 6:00 on a Sunday night and we were still an hour from Anchorage we would just stay here. We got set up in the campground and took the officers advice and drove up to Hatchers Pass. We had seen this road on the map but had decided even though it looked like a good drive we might not want to take the camper there. Wow, was it a beautiful drive. It followed a raging river and some of the most amazinmountains that the kids looked like they were from the King Kong movie. Huge and full of green trees. This road is full of unexpected turns and switchbacks and ended at the Independence Mine. We took some pictures and headed back when we came to a dirt road that led up and up and up. There was snow everywhere and because it was so cold and raining we actually thought it was snowing. Well we
made it to the summit, 3886 feet up and way up ther is Summit Lake. It was so gorgeous and we didn't care that it was cold and rainy we got out and walked around the lake anyway. I can't telto you how Brett and Maggie were to actually be "in the clouds". And we were literally in the clouds. Brett said it was more fun than gold panning. What a great way to end the day.
Total Mileage: 290 miles
Plate Quest: PA
Wildlife Report: nothing today
Crazy Small Populations: Cantwell: pop. 153. Trapper Creek: pop. 426
Funny-but-Not-So-Funny: As we were driving today Brett started messing with Maggie AGAIN. Well she warned him to stop AGAIN and AGAIN, but he didn't listen AGAIN. So she tried to claw his eyes out. Seriously, she her fingers dug in his eye sockets. I told her to put her claws away and Domyou know what she said to me, "Mama, I don't even have my claws out.". Aaron and Ibooth bust out laughing and I told her she didn't have retractable claws...Aaron thought she probably really did.
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