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"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating.   
There is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."  
~ John Ruskin

Now there's an optimist! I like his attitude but still think there are various kinds of bad weather such as too much rain, too much wind, too much snow.

Too much of anything usually isn't a good thing.

I'm generally pretty optimistic but all the rain we've had in Alaska this summer has made both of us rather discouraged at times -- and caused some mildew to grow in/on our camper for the first time.

I'm so, so glad we had a lot of sunshine when we were here at Denali National Park in early August. Our opinion of the place might not be so enthusiastic if the past few days were our only experience here.

Entrance road to Denali National Park, just off the George Parks Hwy. at MM 238

This entry is a hodgepodge of topics from yesterday and today. I don't have as many photos to share as usual because we didn't go very far or do any hiking/cycling other than in the campground.

I took the pictures on this page today (Saturday) in Nenana Canyon and the park entrance area.


When I got up at 7:30 AM yesterday the sky was a little bit blue. Clouds quickly moved in, however, and it was totally overcast by 8:30 when Jim got up. The temperature was 45 F. outside and barely got above 50 F. by afternoon. Although there was a 40% chance of rain it didn’t begin raining until about 6 PM.

Once again, we should have just gotten out early in the day to hike/ride, at least in the entrance area.

Access to the Taiga and Horseshoe Lake Trails are just ahead along these Alaska RR tracks.

The aspens are almost at their peak color at the lower elevations near the park entrance.

I took Cody for a 1+ mile walk through the campground before lunch. There were quite a few empty campsites then, which surprised me since it's Labor Day weekend.

That all changed after supper.

Because of the holiday weekend many of the sites were reserved by Alaska residents. They arrived this evening with kids and dogs in tow, in their own RVs, not rental units. It's the first time in the two trips we've been here that the majority of folks in the Riley Creek CG aren't in rental RVs.

Travel trailers like this Airstream, and 5th wheel coaches, are less likely to be rental units.

Jim and I were on our computers most of the afternoon, staying warm and dry.

If you're a dog-lover here’s a long but very heart-warming story I found about a lost dog at Russian River: http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/lost-then-found-old-dogs-misadventure-alaskas-bear-country


It rained overnight and was overcast and damp when I got up at 7 AM. Temps were only in the 40s F. as it rained off and on throughout the day.

We hung around the campground all morning again, hoping the rain would end. It only got worse in the afternoon, preventing me from wanting to do a hike on the Taiga/RockCreek/Roadside trail loop I enjoyed last week. All I did was take Cody for a 1+ mile walk in the campground again.

Glad I wasn't up on Healy Overlook (above) and Ridge today!

I was hoping to get in two more good ridge hikes on Mts. Margaret and Healy before we leave on Monday but that isn't going to happen -- one maybe, but not both.

Hopefully Jim can get in one more good long bike ride tomorrow. He wasn't motivated to get out today to do even a short ride. Can't blame him! It's easier to walk in rain than cycle in it.

Here's another view of Healy Ridge, taken from Nenana Canyon. Note the little plane in the sky (L).  The
horizontal line across the bottom of the picture is the Alaska RR.  The river is out of sight in the foreground.

The rain is also causing problems with our Cameo.

It’s been so wet and humid this summer, and now colder in the mornings, that we constantly have to get water out of the interior window channels from moisture that accumulates on the glass. We wipe the windows and they steam up again in no time because of the temperature differential between inside and out..

In addition, everything feels damp -- upholstered chairs, clothes, towels, bedding, even hard surfaces like the Corian countertops. I joked with Jim that sometimes I feel moldy!

Jim cleaned off mildew on the outside of the camper today and we're concerned that we’ve probably got mildew in places inside where we can’t see it. We just hope there isn’t any serious moisture damage to wooden structural parts. Hopefully we can get everything dried out thoroughly when we get back down to Montana or South Dakota in a couple weeks. Autumn is usually warm and dry there.


I don't particularly like to shop so I haven't spent much time in the stores at nearby Nenana Canyon AKA "Glitter Gulch."

I made an exception this afternoon. I had three purchases in mind -- a coffee mug, socks, and jacket, all with attractive, subtle Alaska or Denali NP designs on them.

Driving north on the George Parks Hwy. to Nenana Canyon, which is about a mile from the park entrance.

Note to other shoppers:  if you want items that are made in Alaska, look closely at labels. Much of the stuff for sale in Nenana Canyon (and elsewhere in the state) is not made in Alaska! Residents import a lot more stuff than they make.

Although the shops near Denali began marking t-shirts and some other clothing items down in early August, the jacket I liked the most when I was here several weeks ago was still at full price. I didn't get it. I did buy a pair of mostly-blue wool and acrylic knee socks with a moose-bear-spruce tree design at half price; they look good with jeans. For those, it didn't matter to me if they were made in Alaska.

Since I enjoy quilting and scrap booking I had fun browsing in 
this fanciful little shop.  Prices were mighty high though.

I did want the coffee mug to be locally made. I know there are potters in Alaska. I went into all the shops that had pottery and finally found an attractive mug I liked that was made in Alaska. Most I saw were made in China, Mexico, or South America.

The stoneware pottery mug I purchased was handcrafted by Ember Haynes at her Tundra Mudd Pottery Shop in Willow. I found the mug at the Jeff King sled dog store. It has a raised dog or wolf paw print and is painted in attractive muted blues and browns. It is microwave, oven, freezer, and dishwasher safe and is now my favorite coffee/tea/hot chocolate mug:


On the way back to the park I stopped at the Nenana Canyon Overlook and took some pictures of the river and the clouds over Mt. Healy. I didn't see any activity on the river and because of the rain, no one was walking or cycling on the bike path that connects the canyon to the park.

The aspens are quickly turning gold and orange. On this gray day the bright colors just pop.

Didn't see anyone kayaking on the Nenana River today . . .

Before going back to the camper I spent almost an hour at the Alaska Geographic bookstore next to the main park visitor center.

I've been in there several times in our two trips to the park. It's more fun to me than the shops in Nenana Canyon. The bookstore has lots of interesting engagement and wall calendars, books, note cards, postcards, photos, DVDs, food items, and other items specifically relating to the park. I especially enjoy looking at the photos in the books and calendars to get more ideas for good locations and angles for my own photographs.

I bought more of those delicious dark chocolate bars Alaska Geographic sells (I first found 'em on the Kenai Peninsula) and a handsome 2013 wall calendar with photos of Alaska wildlife and wilderness:


Check out the Alaska Geographic website. You can order just about anything that's in the bookstore online. I'll probably order a 2014 wall calendar from them next year.


Speaking of calendar dates . . . this wouldn’t have been a very good day to take a bus ride into the back country at Denali, although a lot of people are probably signed up for one today since this is a holiday weekend.

I hope they are at least able to see lots of wildlife because it's doubtful they saw very many mountain peaks or distant vistas.

Unpredictable weather is the main problem with making bus tour reservations at Denali very far in advance but it's probably a good idea if you're going to be at the park for only a short time. Otherwise the tour type/time/destination you want may be booked up.

Nenana River

I recommend waiting to make reservations until closer to the day you want to go on a bus tour in the park if you'll be here three or four days or more. Ditto for plane and boat tours just about anywhere in Alaska.

That way you'll have better odds of getting a good-weather day for sightseeing.


We got a call from one of our Virginia neighbors this morning; when I didn’t answer (because I didn't recognize the number), she left a message. It took a few minutes to reach her back.

Of course, we worried that something was wrong with our house. We know the remnants of a hurricane are heading that way. Did a tree fall on our house in high wind? Was part of the roof blown off? Did the house catch on fire from a lightning strike? Did someone break in?

These are all concerns when we're gone for four or five months and especially this summer because we're really far away this time.

The good news is that our distant property is OK and we don't have to cut our trip short or drive 5,000 miles with the camper to get back there in a big hurry. (As if we could get back there in a big hurry hauling a 36-foot trailer through Alaska, three provinces of Canada, and a bunch of states between Montana and the East Coast!)

Vehicle (L) and pedestrian/bike (R) bridges over the Nenana River in the canyon area

The very bad news is that our neighbor Bob died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack at his house last night. He was in his mid-70s, physically active, and appeared healthy. It's a shock to everyone who knew him.

Bob was not only a friend, he was also our “caretaker” when we’re gone, mowing the lawn and checking doors and windows periodically to be sure no miscreants had gotten in (or tried to). He was such a likable guy and totally trustworthy. We are among many who will miss him.

We’ll have to arrange for another neighbor to mow our lawn and provide some minimal security until we go back in October. We have great neighbors so that shouldn't be a problem.

Another reminder why we hope we can sell the place next year . . .

Next entryphotos from our last full day at Denali National Park, including my hike on Mt. Healy's eastern ridge and another drive to Savage River

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the ultra Lab

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© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil