On to Denali...

We headed to Denali, with some stops along the way.

Steve's folks made this same RV trip in 1992, for the Alaska Highway's 50th. We are retracing some of their path and discovering those places they 'introduced' us to way back then. I dubbed this photo Only in Alaska.
Our next stop was at quaint Nenana and its the Railroad Depot, completed in 1923. That is the year, U.S. President Warren Harding arrived here to drive the final, golden spike, thus finishing the Alaskan Railroad. History is truly everywhere.
This town is also the host of the very famous Nenana Ice Classic, a nature-based lottery. Entrants buy a ticket and pick a date in April or May and a time, to the closest minute, when they think the winter ice on the Tanana River will break up. This lottery began in 1917 among a group of surveyors working for the Alaska Railroad. They formed a betting pool as they waited for the river to open and boats to arrive with needed supplies. This lottery has paid out nearly $10 million in prize money, with the winning pool in recent years being near $300,000.

When the Taku Chief began its career in Southeast Alaska in 1938, the age of steamboating on Interior Alaska rivers was dying. It was the increase in air travel that prolonged this darling tug's life. The Civil Aeronautics Administration  acquired the Taku Chief in 1945 and moved it to Interior Alaska to use to help build and maintain the infrastructure required by Alaska’s fledgling aviation industry. It has a long and interesting résumé. And after 40 years of service, the Taku Chief was retired in 1978. It now rests here, greeting people as they enter town.
Best pseudo- Little Free Library ever.
We stopped at 49th State Brewery to pick up a beer to-go. Located in Healy, it was 20 miles from here the events that were the basis for the movie Into the Wild tragically occurred..
If you're not familiar with Chris McCandless' story, it's a sad one and this bus is the replica used in the film to tell his tale. Chris' life ended here in 1992 after he went on a two year explore to find himself (without proper supplies).

In the bus were props from the movie and actual copies of artifacts Chris left behind or sent to people. This card, signed with his new moniker Alexander Supertramp, was sadly prophetic, "This is the last communication you shall receive from me." This haunts us.
On to our destination- Denali National Park. One hundred years ago, the park was established as a way to protect its native Dall Sheep. Its wilderness is vast and spectacular.
Our first stop was to the Dog Sled kennels to see these animals at work, via a very informative Ranger presentation.



The dogs are led out on their hind legs. If they were to have all four paws on the ground they would be so excited to run, and are so strong, the handler couldn't control them.
Note the jumping dog on the left. You could just hear him saying "Pick me, pick me!"
They ran, as a team, around a track, showing how it's done. We also were told of their importance here in the winter. Because this is pristine wilderness, no snow vehicles are allowed. They work very hard, mushing into the backcountry.

The kennel cabin, built in 1929, is the oldest building in the park still being used for the purpose it was constructed.
Behind Steve is Denali, North America's highest peak. One interesting thing about this mountain is that most of the time it is not visible. Do you see it? Nope, neither did we.
We did see some other beautiful sights, however. We weren't too disappointed.




And we roll along, continuing to be Alaska Gypsies (I love personalized license plates. There are some great ones here).

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2 comments:

Karen Booth said...

It looks like you are seeing more dogs than bears, but they are super cute. Spectacular rainbow!

Cyndy Brown said...

I remember reading Chris's story.
Years ago we rented a B&B in Montana and met two women who race in the ididarod and they let us ride on the dog sleds and steer...pretty fun.

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