States visited: 49!

visited 49 states (98%)
Create your own visited map of The United States
Miles driven so far -
LOOP 1 (Aug 2009 - Aug 2010): 29,000
LOOP 2 (May - August 2012): 10,800

Highest altitude with camper: 11,158ft (I-70, CO)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Talkeetna and Denali State Park

 I guess this was the official first day of vacation.  In 1867 Secretary of State, William Seward, bought Alaska from Russia for two cents an acre – the public labeled the vast empty land, Seward’s Folly.  Today, more than 14 billion barrels of oil have gushed through the Prudhoe Bay pipeline, and Alaska’s wilderness and wildlife attract visitors by the thousands!  We were happy to be one of the thousands!

We certainly couldn’t beat a trip beginning right at the start of the day.  Planning to fill our two weeks to the max, Dave listened to the blurb about the RV and we were ready to drive.  The Scarani’s had landed after their long flight from PA about an hour after us, so they were also ready to move our wagon OUT! 

We started out encouraging the kids to sit in the four seatbelt spots - two on the sofa, two at the dinette - that lasted less than two hours!  They all wanted to be together or laying down sleeping on the beds, bench, or sofa!

The day was glorious, what a welcome, we couldn’t have ordered more perfect weather.  Towering snow-capped mountains surrounded the area, and, as we drove by, small planes took off from a number of little local airports – well more like parking lots (plane parks!) really.  Our excitement, already pretty high, was escalating!

We made our way slowly along Parks Highway, stopping for picture opportunities, roadworks (unfortunately a common sight in Alaska at this time of year as it’s challenging to fix roads when they’re constantly covered in snow), and groceries.  We just couldn’t stop commenting on how lucky we were to have clear blue skies and gazing in awe at the beauty all around us.  Everything was stunning.

On our way to Talkeetna, following the Scarani camper, we spotted moose drinking by the water’s edge – I realized this was going to be a trip of emergency stops (photo ops!)!  A short drive off Parks Highway took us to Talkeetna (from the Alaska Activity Guide (AAG)), a town began at the turn of the century as a supply station for miners and trappers.  This pioneer town has maintained its rustic spirit.  Historic buildings line the one-block main street, and many locals still live in log cabins.  Miners and trappers who live in the bush without running water or electricity come into the village for supplies and messages.

We enjoyed meandering in and out of the artisan shops along Main Street, purchasing a couple of keepsakes, and chatting with the artists.  After wandering around the Village Park of artist tents (loved this incredible birdhouse), Karen and I tried some delicious spinach bread most of which ended up in the mouths of the kids!

As we continued northwards up Parks Highway, the sun shone down which meant stopping at the Mount McKinley viewpoint afforded us incredibly fantastic views of this magnificent mountain, also referred to as Denali – an ongoing battle between those who would prefer the original name is used.  This is the highest mountain in North America and also the Northern Hemisphere, towering over 20,000ft.

We felt so incredibly lucky to have had this spectacular view of this famous landmark, only one in every three visitors has this privilege as it is most often shrouded by cloud.  Chelsea and Nate had more fun with the scope than actually standing in awe of the mountain!

A little further along close to Beyer Lake campground in Denali State Park was the Veterans Memorial overlook.  This gave us a perfect head-on view of the peak.  One of the local tour guides was telling her group that during May and June there are usually about 800 climbers on the mountain at any given time – they have to pre-plan for permits about a year in advance.

The Veterans Memorial was also impressive.

We drove into the campground and found a couple of close spots.  We realized we’d have to have a greater awareness of how level sites were as we weren’t provided with any leveling blocks.  At just $10/night, we were happy with our choice.  Without doubt, an absolute advantage of the driveable RV was the great battery life, large water and gray tanks, and simple convenience of driving into a site and being ready to ‘live’!  We are all tempted to rethink our camper choice……if only there were funds to support the thought!  The downside of something this size though is that each night and morning we had to make and then ‘un-make’ the dinette bed for the girls.

The kids had a blast running around while we cooked.  Happiness abounded!

The Daves walked back to the Veterans Viewpoint close to midnight to admire the sunset.  Certainly the sun setting in the middle of the night and rising seemingly minutes later would take some getting used to!


Anonymous said...

Talkeetna-- My cousin was in the army guarding the pipeline back in the 1980's. When he got out, they gave him a homestead 3 miles from the road, about 9 miles from Talkeetna. He lived there, while building a cabin, with his wife and baby. They hiked back from town one day to find that a Grizzly had ransacked their camp. He found and killed the huge bear. Unfortunately, they just couldn't make the lifestyle work, and they came back to civilization.

June Reisz said...

that last was from June Reisz. Sorry. I accidentally clicked "Anonymous".