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.
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
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.
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.
NOTES FROM FRIDAY, AUGUST 31
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
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:
FROM TODAY (SATURDAY)
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.
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.
MADE IN ALASKA
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
this fanciful little shop. Prices were mighty
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.
stoneware pottery mug I purchased was handcrafted by Ember Haynes at her
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
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
Check out the
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.
LUCK OF THE DRAW
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.
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
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS
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 entry: photos from our last full day at Denali
National Park, including my hike on Mt. Healy's eastern ridge
and another drive to Savage River
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil