Thursday, June 17, 2010

From North Pole to Denali National Park

Today was a leisurely day as our travel time was to be only a little more than two hours. We got to sleep late, take a long shower, and take our time getting ready to leave. Actually, I had the car all connected and ready to go and the motorhome tanks dumped and fresh water filled last night. Most campgrounds do not allow recreation vehicles to be washed in the campground. Santaland Campground not only allows it, but provides a special area just for this purpose. Helen and I worked as a team, with me scrubbing with soapy water and a brush and then Helen would rinse off the motorhome and generally spray me too. I know, it was an accident......every time.

We got to the next campground which was recommended by Santaland and checked out our assigned campsite. WHAT A MESS!!!!! Trash and junk was everywhere! This is McKinley Campground, about 11 miles north of the park entrance. I went back in the office and told them that the site just would not do, and they offered me another. This one was much better, relatively speaking, but was still no prize. There was trash all around this part of the campground also. Although the campground seems to suffer from a general lack of maintenance and care, I'm happy to report that while we were out, someone cleaned up the trash in our area and emptied the trash barrels that were overflowing.

Helen and I took a ride to Denali National Park and made reservations for a bus tour tomorrow morning. There were a number of tour options, but we were limited by the amount of time we can leave Jodie and Coco. A shorter tour will just have to do. Then we drove along the first 15 miles of the park which is the only part open to private cars. We were only a few minutes into the drive when we came to a traffic jam, caused by this:

This is his yard and he was not concerned with the interlopers. The two buses and several cars didn't faze him a bit.

Helen took this picture of the distant mountains across the valley as an example of the vastness of this area.

This fellow was looking frantically to see some wildlife. He used binoculars and finally the spotting scope and still he could not see the seagull that was eluding him.

On the way back we could see a number of cars stopped and we also stopped to see what they were all looking at, expecting it to be a moose or bear, or something. They were looking at Mount McKinley, which is the mountain way back beyond and above the clouds.

We looked for our pal on the way back out. It's easy when there are a lot of people stopped to point out the animal, but not so easy all by ourselves. I started looking near the place we first saw him and did catch sight of him only a few hundred feet away. He's BIG and he's DARK, but he is not easy to see among the spruce trees. Helen took this final picture.

I'm getting the cameras ready and the extra batteries charged. Helen is working on goodies to take on the 6.5 hour tour. Of course I hope to have more pictures to post tomorrow.

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