Dashing Denali NP!
Denali National Park Travel Blog› entry 94 of 167 › view all entries
If it's just 90 miles from Fairbanks to Denali on the fast Parks Highway, why did it take us until 5 pm to drag into Denali?
Well, there were chores to do and fun things along the way:
Chores- We needed:
- Propane (not easy to find in Fairbanks, and I'll bet a lot more challenging in Denali!)
(All of which we could have done ahead, but forgot to)
We had to eat:
- Lunch camp along the beautiful mountains outside of Fairbanks
- Pizza for a scrumptious snack in Nenana
- Smoked Salmon Chowder- purchased in Tatlanika's cool gift shop at Mile 276, which we had for dinner in Denali- YUM!
Nenana deserved a visit! http://fairbanks-alaska.
- It is an authentic, year round village camp- total population around 400
- Transportation of both river and railroad makes this a hopping commerce site. In Texas, we found things were settled around railroads and a water source. In Alaska, it is all about the rivers because that is the best mode of transportation in summer (by boats) and winter (by sled dogs on the iced rivers).
- Nenana Ice Classic: this is the town with a $2.50 lottery guess for when the ice is going to go out (break up and float down the river)- a town game since 1917! This is a worldwide guess for the exact minute that the river breaks up. A special tripod is placed on the river and iced in place in February.
- Train museum with town history, including old books of the guesses for the tripod time. The nice lady running this area is from Texas!
- Two plaques commemorating the 1923 visit by President Harding to drive the golden stake in there to complete the Alaska Railroad.
- An old church from 1905 that has hand-beaded moosehide alter covering. It is small, intimate, and feels like a very special place in which to worship.
- You know the Iditerod Dog Sled Race? www.iditarod.com/ Well, Nenana was actually the place upon which this race is based. Wikipedia says it best: "Nenana was the starting point for the Nome" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1925_serum_run_to_Nome">1925 serum run to Nome, where diptheria antitoxin was transported by rail from Anchorage, and continued by dog sled to Nome.
- There are gift shops, salmon drying on a rack, a few cute lodges (including a "Bed and Maybe Breakfast" place- haha!), and of course the pizza place.
When we went back to the Visitor's Center log cabin, a woman in there mentioned she was selling her own cookbooks and she was so earnest and nice that we bought one for Jazy. We'll have to look up to see if it really is "the best selling book in Alaska right now!" as she indicated. Regardless, Jazy seemed interested in the recipes and we got the author's picture with the book, so that was fun.
Then today we also got white fur for Lia to craft her own mocassins (they cost well over $100 a pair for the finely made ones we've seen) and we were assured the fur is fake (solved that ethical delimna), but it sure feels real.
We're in Denali at a dry campground ("dry" means no electric, water, nor sewer hookups), which is beautiful. We've scoped out the transporation center for the shuttles tomorrow, etc. We enjoyed about 5 minutes in the Visitor's Center before it closed, but will be visiting the Eielson Visitor's Center way inside Denali on the shuttle tomorrow.
Since we learned the hard way in Big Bend, we spent about an hour tonight preparing EVERYTHING for our trip tomorrow. The kids took turns being the "leader" to direct progress.
There is no food or drink in the park, but they said we could refill water bottles. Wow. Really barren, it sounds like, but lots of fun. It's hard not taking the RV with us! We're not used to that. So we've made the food, packed the fanny packs and backpacks- we used the list we made in Big Bend after we were lucky to make it back from that late, hot hike.
The weather has not been the warm, sunny summer that they expect here in the Interior, and the Alaskans are not pleased with it. I feel sorry for them, since they have such a long winter, I'd like them to enjoy their summer. But it has rained to the point that Nenana was under a flood watch. It's cold too and I'm so grateful for the heat (and that we remembered to fill the very low propane tank this morning!).