Sunday, June 30, 2019

Day 24-29 Alaskan Adventure Denali

Day 24- We left our little spot at the fishing pond early. We wanted to stop in Fairbanks to resupply before we got to Denali National Park. We were going to be there for 4 days and new there wasn't much for groceries there.

We checked into the Denali National Park Campground, Riley Creek. That is the campground closest to the park entrance. We found our spot and then started planning our days here.
Our first full day we decided to hike to the visitor center to get some information. It was a mile and a half to the visitor center along Riley Creek.

It was a nice hike and it goes underneath this trestle bridge. Once at the visitor center we got some information and we needed to go to the bus depot to purchase our tickets. I snapped a picture of the Denali model in the visitor center.
Little did we know that that was the best picture of the mountain and the closest we would get to it. So we then hiked to the bus depot, purchased our tickets for the following morning and then hiked back to the  campground with high hopes of our journey yet to come. This is fair warning that the rant is on the way. 

Now we took the shortest bus ride there was. It was six and a half to seven hours for that tour. The park road is, I believe 91 miles, and after mile 12, you can't drive your vehicle past that. So you have to take some kind of bus to get back there. Our bus was going to take us to mile 56. The Toklot River area. Also after mile 12 it turns to gravel. 

The preferred mode of transportation in the park is a vehicle designed to carry children to and from school. 15-30 minutes tops, usually. Also kid's butts are a foot wide and they weigh 50 pounds. Last time I checked, my butt was wider than a foot and I was 1 or 2 pounds heavier than 50 pounds. As I looked around, I found that to be the case with most everyone else on the bus, except for the few kids that were there. Thankfully it wasn't sold out so there was a little room to spread out.
The weather here in Danali has been beautiful. Maybe a little bit on the hot side as you can tell from our bus windows all being open. So we board hoping to get some glimpses of the mountain. The bus ride didn't disappoint because thats all we got, was glimpses. We got going and the rest was just a hazy fog of a day. We saw a bear.
A few shaggy Caribou.
But mostly what we saw was the backs of people's heads.

Which makes me wonder how many pictures of the back of my head are out there now. The glimpses of the mountain? Here they are.

Do you think we could stop and get out and take a picture? Nope. We were able to get out of the bus twice. Once to use the bathroom. That stop lasted 5 minutes and our next stop was at the top of a pass called Polychrome which took us 10 minutes there.

We finally got to Tolklot River and do you know what was there? A bunch of out houses and a gift shop. We had 30 minutes before the bus headed back down the road. No view of the mountain from that point.

I got the window seat on the way back this time and took some photos of the road that we had to go over. It makes me ask again why people put roads in some places.

The drop off where immense and it was kind of nerve wracking when you would meet another bus out there. Our driver kept asking us if we had our seat belts on. I said to Lisa that if we went over the edge, we may not want to live through that. We had one potty stop on the way back. Saw a moose near the visitor center.
Well our day cost us $67. We got a couple of glimpses of the mountain and saw some critters. If you want to take a bus out to see the mountain, you have to take an 8 to 12 hour bus. They go the furthest out into the park.

Our final day in Denali, we took our truck and headed south on the parks highway to see if we could see the mountain. Nope.

We left Denali and started making our way to Anchorage. At the south viewpoint we could see the mountain. But there is so much smoke here due to wildfires that it was pretty poor viewing.
Lisa in front of Denali.

As far as seeing the mountain it was a bust. Even though we had such perfect sunny weather to see it.

Oh well. 

"Gladys! Lets go see something we can see!"

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Day 21-23 Alaska Adventure.

Day 21- I guess I left off here. We left Valdez after stocking up on groceries, fuel and propane. You have to do that when you can. We got an early start so that we could stop at the Worthington Glacier. We passed it by on our way into Valdez and said that we needed to stop on the way out. That glacier is near the road and you can hike up to it.

It's not a large glacier like the Columbia but it is a glacier. That is ice under the dirt and rock. So we hiked to it and after watching the calving of the Columbia glacier we really didn't want to stand underneath it.

We were inspired by some Asian tourists that we watched all day on the cruise. Everytime they were taking their picture in front of something they would point, like you couldn't see it behind them. So we had a little fun. After that we headed north to Fairbanks. Delta Junction is at the end of the Alaskan Highway. Selfie spot!
Lots of scenery in between Valdez and Fairbanks.
Mt. Blackburn. A 16,000 foot mountain. That was our lunch view for the day.
We followed alongside this range for many miles. I don't remember the name of it though and I am too lazy to look it up. Maybe I should have a micro recorder going as we drive by these things. I know i said it before but the scenery is always changing.
This is the Rainbow Mountains. Very different looking and out of place. We were on the Richardson Highway which parallels the Alaskan pipeline. So we had many views of that.

And it is a major crime to tamper with that. Amazing piece of engineering in its own right. The pipeline is free floating and just rests on the supports because of earthquakes. It's made to move around. We also saw the most amount of moose in this area also.
Getting pictures of them was another thing. 2 came bounding out of the ditch and we almost had 2 moose hood ornaments. We got to our campground. Another Alaska State Park. Donnelly Creek.
We went for a little walk to stretch our legs and saw some storms across the valley.

I liked the looks of those pictures and would have been really happy with those. Later on I walked back out there with my camera and captured these next few photos. I like to call them my quintessence  of life borrowing from one of my favorite movies, "Walter Mitty".

I was not even taking pictures in black and white. Here's a picture of a Moose with his lobster.
And a picture of our Journey.
Critter count- 7 Moose.

Day 22- It was a short drive to Fairbanks. But before Fairbanks you go through North Pole Alaska. So we had to stop. Lisa did some negotiating with Santa to convince him how good she was. I kept telling him how naughty she was. So we will see at Christmas.
I guess by the looks on their faces she convinced him how nice she was. Only I know different. We got to Fairbanks and pulled into Wal-mart. I needed a prescription filled and we needed groceries. Good thing we did because as we were sitting in Camp Wal-mart I noticed water dripping from the underside of the camper. Sure enough there was a leak under the sink. Now our sink moves in and out with the slide so the flexible hose they put there just wore out from the bending. Well Lowes was next to Wallyworld so I went to get parts. 
Everything under the sink here in this part of the slide has to be flexible to move in and out with the slide. I saw where it was leaking and made my cut of the hose at that point.
I had to purchase this tool. These are not cheap but I hope to get other uses out of it in the future if something else breaks. So I spliced the hoses back together and then crimped it.
Put everything back together and then leak checked it. No leaks and I am glad it happened when we were in civilization, otherwise we would be leaking for a long time.
Like I always say, "it is always something." At least this was kind of minor and we were near stores. We are in Fairbanks and they just had the summer solstice, meaning the longest day of the year. I think it was like 22 hours of daylight. Which isn't really the case here. It does not get pitch black at all for a long time because as the sun sets in the west, it is also coming up in the east.
This is a picture of us at camp Wal-mart around 5 in the evening. It was overcast and cloudy that day and we just decided to stay after I had fixed our leak.
This was a picture Lisa took out of her window at 2 in the morning. See, they have the lights on for safety. So we now go through a new ritual we call the darkening. We try to get it as dark as we can so we can get some sleep.

Lisa starts putting towels over all of the windows after she has closed all of the shades.
We have a skylight right over our bed. That was a challenge. It comes with a pretty good night shade but we discovered that a map of Iowa also helps. 
We even had to recycle our aluminum hats for some of the smaller windows. So we have it as dark as we can get it. One night in camp wal-mart was enough. That was our first time staying at a Wal-mart. It may be our last. Who knows. 

Day 23- We wanted to strike it rich at the gold mines so we drove out to Gold Dredge Number 8. Very interesting to learn about the hardships these people went through in hopes of hitting the mother lode. You board a small train that takes you to the dredge.
They talk about what was involved, how it worked and what it took to mine like that. Another piece of amazing engineering.

It was pretty much a strip mine. That machine could tear up some dirt. They let us have a chance at panning for gold. I always wanted to try it.
Lisa counting her riches and how she was going to spend it.
I was Mr. Serious. I have never had this much gold in my hands, ever. I was not going to lose it.

See all of the gold in my pan. It's the little sparkly stuff at the top. Well we didn't strike it rich. We put both of our gold together and they weigh it for you so you know what you have. Together we had $28 worth. 

So we put it in a magnet which cost us $25 and we have a cool little souviner. The tour lasts for a couple of hours and it was fun. Bucket list item crossed off. 

There is a state park in Fairbanks called Chena River Rec Area. So we went there. The view was better.
But we learned that we were under the flightpath of all of the planes landing and taking off. Plus our neighbors were some crack heads or something. The f bombs were flying like crazy. I was waiting for some gun fire. We didn't want another night of that so we decided to get out of Fairbanks and head to the Chena Hot Springs about 60 miles away. It was a good choice. We looked at the hot springs, decided that there was nobody in there we wanted to bathe with and then stopped a fishing pond for the night.

That was our spot and that was our view. Not long after being there we watched a mother moose and her two calves feed in the lake for about an hour.

It was $5 to camp there overnight. Well worth it. 

Critter count-Lots of Moose.

"Glady's, what's in Denali? Donuts I hope!"