Friday, May 14, 2010

May 14, 2010 - Denali National Park

Denali - what can I say - other than awe inspiring - beautiful - COLD - words just can't explain the beauty of this place. But let me back track a little and start with this morning.

We woke up this morning and drank our coffee (the drink of champions!) then decided to go to Walmart and pick up just a couple of things that we were out of (like bread and butter), and since we only had 15 amp service I couldn't cook anything so we went to McDonald's for breakfast and then over to Walmart where we picked up the bread, butter, potato chips, grape juice, donuts, John Wayne movie McLintock, Alaska scrapbook stuff, and Dan a couple of shirts that were on sale ($3.00 each). Heh - I never said we ONLY buy what we need! Anyway, we didn't spend that much (about $75.00) AND we can use our debit card again! then we headed back to the unit and got packed up and ready to head out. We only had to go about 150 miles today and I called this morning, first thing, to find a campground that was open with water AND sewer. We were on the road by 11.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I got confused this morning and almost had Dan driving in the wrong direction - I wanted him to stay on Alaska highway 3 North, while we were suppose to go on Alaska highway SOUTH. Dan caught my mistake before we really messed up and all was well. Now, in my defense, we have been heading north for so long now I just figured we still needed to be going in that direction - hard to believe that we are actually heading south for a little while!

We get to Healy, Alaska about 1:30 our time and found the campground (with only a little difficulty) and we were set up by 2:00. We actually have electricity (30 amps, not 50 - but heh, you can't have everything! and no, Dan can not use his 'cheater' box - they don't have the electrical boxes set up so he can do that - but I'm not complaining!), water AND sewer! Life is good! We ate a little lunch and then it was off to the park!

Now, Denali is open - sorta. The visitor's center isn't open yet (but they open tomorrow) and the buses aren't operating yet - but in one way that's a good thing - that means we could actually drive 33 miles into the park in our own vehicle. Now, I'm not sure if the buses will start running tomorrow or not - and, if they do, I'm not sure if we will take a bus tour or not - you see, the shortest bus tour is 6 hours long round trip and I don't know if Dan will want to leave the pups for that long but we'll see. I would love to get further into the park and get closer to the Denali (which is the actually name for the mountain we all call Mt. McKinley), but I'll let you know tomorrow. We are staying here two days - so maybe we will.

Anyway, as I was saying - we went into the park and started driving down the park road when what should appear on the side of the road ------------------------

MOOSE! For those of you that have followed my blog since last summer (when we first started our new lifestyle) you know that I have an obsession with moose (and bear, and really any type of wildlife, but especially moose). Anyway, I have noticed that the moose in Alaska are bigger than the moose in Idaho, but they are much lighter in color. They are almost a cream brown while the Idaho moose are a brown/black. I don't know if these will darken up as the season goes on, but right now they are a real light brown.

Now the weather today was beautiful - mostly clear with some clouds, but not enough to hinder your view of the mountains. This is The Denali - I can tell you that this picture does not do it justice - but if you can imagine - this picture was taken with the mountain 75 miles away (yes, I said 75 MILES - that would be like standing in Lakeland, Florida and looking at something in Orlando, Florida - that is pretty amazing!) Anyway, IF we go on the bus tour tomorrow we will get closer.

We were very lucky in that we were able to see the top of The Denali - most of the time the top is obscured with clouds or it is raining (it is suppose to rain here a lot in the summer time). Now, while it was pretty clear - we did have a slight wind - so the 45 degree day was a little cool when you were standing outside the truck taking pictures. Anyway, we drove as far as we were permitted to - then turned around and started back. We drove through the one campground that is opened (they actually have two host sites - but let's not give Dan any ideas, okay!). Then continued on our way out. I look out the window and up on the side of the hill were three moose grazing. We stop and I take pictures (but I didn't post them - still having to wait forever to upload to the blog!) then we drive on. One of the pictures I wasn't able to upload was a picture of a snowshoe hare - he was right beside the road and he hopped inside the bushes, but was close enough that I was able to get some pictures. Once we get to Juneau where I will have better service (I hope) I'll upload all these to the web and then post links so you can see all the pictures.

However, I did want to show a couple more -----------------------

Look what just walked out right in front of us - how could I resist showing you??? Just beautiful (okay - maybe not beautiful, but an amazing creature all the same!) And then we saw something that I have no idea what it is ------------

If any of you guys out there know what this little bird is please let us know. It was beautiful. I'm calling it a bird, but it did not fly. It has red around it's eye and had brown, black and white feathers on top and snow white under its body. Like I said, I don't know what it is, but I thought you would enjoy seeing it (and maybe someone out there knows what it is and can tell me).
Well, I'm going to close for tonight. I hope that you all have had a great week. Thanks for all the comments yesterday - Heh I'm glad to see someone new making a comment - Yes, I learned about moose last year (I don't get too close - and I stay in the truck if they are close to me). Thanks for the info on the bears - that is the one thing we really want to see that we haven't yet - a grizzly! I'm sure that we will get a chance - if not here, then certainly when we are in Juneau. I hope that you enjoy the pictures - we hope to stay warm tonight - oh, by the way - when I went to bed last night at 11:00 pm the sun was still up - didn't need any lights on to find my way to bed - amazing!!!!!
Oh, I guess I should explain the first picture. This was taken where we had to turn around in the park - we walked out to the river (yes, that is the river) and I took the picture. I think it is pretty amazing and it sorta lets you know just how COLD it is here!!!! (but we're loving it!)
Take care guys and -----------------------------
I'll talk to you tomorrow!!!


  1. I think that's a road runner, mom aka "beep! beep!" With a coyote chasing after it...

  2. Actually, I think that is a ptarmigan. The town of Chicken, Alaska, was supposed to be named that, but no one could spell it, so they called it Chicken. Take the bus ride by all means. Many things that you wouldn't see will be pointed out by the driver. Plus, it's always exciting when the bus meets another bus coming down. Coming down you're on the outside.

  3. Great picture of Denali - and of course of the animals. Hope you are able to take the bus tour. Amazing country - maybe you could see a grizzly on the tour. Glad you were able to enjoy the water and elec. in your unit. We are preparing to head out next weekend - doing a "van packing" today to be sure everything will go in ok.

  4. Okay - mystery bird question has been settled and Dennis was right - we saw the rangers today and it is ptarmigan. This was a male and just starting to molt (they are all white in the winter). At least it is good to know that some people know their birds! Hope you read the blog today - have a NEW animal for you!


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