Kenai to Mt McKinley (Denali)

We still can’t get used to the long daylight hours – last night after dinner, we went back to our cabin, lit the log fire and relaxed for a while before having showers and hopping into bed.   However, because of the skylights in our cabin, even with all the curtains drawn, at 11.00pm we were able to take a photo in our cabin without using the flash and at 12.00 midnight, Richard opened the curtains and took a photo of the Mount Cecil Rhode.

After breakfast, we retraced our steps in the bus, back along the Kenai Peninsula, where we saw a Golden/Blonde Grizzly Bear but he disappeared down an embankment to a creek in amongst some trees before we could get a good photo.  We drove past the turnoff to Whittier and continued on up the peninsula.  There is only one road in and out of the Kenai Peninsula – the Turnagain Pass Highway.  The government couldn’t build a bridge from Beluga Point (called this because you can see Beluga whales from there) over to the other side of the Beluga Bay because when they drilled down 950 feet, they still had silt.  The bay has a 30 foot tide and a 5 to 6 foot wall of water comes in at the end of the incoming tide – would be fascinating to see – apparently some people even try to surf it!  The tide was going out when we drove past it so we got a view of some stretches of water and some silt/mud flats.  This area would be quite spectacular when the tide was completely in.  We saw some fishermen netting hooligans (fish).

One of the funny signs we saw while driving along was for a Pit BBQ place at the Turnagain Arm – the sign said “Turnagain Arm Pit” – cracked us up!

We drove into Anchorage which has a population of 300 000 and in the outskirts, we saw a Moose and her twin babies.  Our driver took us to Lake Hood, which has a huge seaplane/floatplane terminal, with hundreds of docks with small lockup sheds for their gear, including big tyres for landing on glaciers and the tundra in the winter.  There are 300 landings per day on the lake – a huge number!

Adjacent to the lake was a small plane airport with hundreds of light aircraft parked.  We followed a light aircraft as it taxied along our road to his parking special parking lot.

Alaska has approximately 3 million lakes that are over 20 acres, the size required to be allowed to land a floatplane on and as there are not many roads in Alaska, lakes and planes are the way to go!  The Kids in Alaska even get their pilot’s licence before getting their car licence.

Our driver took us for a drive around Downtown Anchorage to point out various locations, amenities and points of interest, including where the Ceremonial Start of the Iditarod Sled Race takes place, before the two of us headed off to have lunch at the Bear Paw Bar and Grill and then had a wander around the town.  We were surprised at the number of lovely flowers, flower beds and handing baskets around the streets as they are just coming out of winter and it snowed a matter of weeks ago – apparently they had a huge delivery of flowering plants, which they planted last week.

Then, on our way out of Anchorage just past the Knick River Bridge, we saw another Moose and her two calves.

We continued on our journey passing through much flatter country than we have been seeing for the last couple of weeks.  The landscape was still thickly forested and lots of lakes.

We passed through a place called Wusilla, whose Walmart is the No 1 best seller of duct tape in the world – how interesting!  The restart of the Iditarod takes place here and goes for 1049 miles.  We saw a sign for fuel that was $3.99 per gallon, which is $1.05 per litre!

Our next stop was a place called Talkeetna, which is where we will catch the train tomorrow to Denali National Park.  Talkeetna is a small community that services this section of the Denali National Park – the majority of the shops catered to the tourist for the five months of the tourist season, selling arts, crafts and gifts.

It took another ¾ hour to get to the Mount McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, which is in the Mount McKinley National Park, arriving at around about 5.20pm!

The name of Mount McKinley National Park was subject to local criticism from the beginning of the park.  The word “Denali” means “the High one” in the native Athabascan language and refers to the mountain itself.  The mountain was named after president William McKinley of Ohio in 1897, although he had no connection with the region.  In 1980 Mount McKinley National Park was combined with Denali National Monument.  At that time the Alaska Board of Geographic Names changed the name of the mountain back to “Denali”, even though the U.S. Board of Geographic Names maintains “McKinley”.  Alaskans tend to use “Denali” and rely on context to distinguish between the park and the mountain.  Very interesting.

We settled into room, which has 2 small double beds (first time we haven’t had a queen or king bed since we left home) and took some photos of Mont McKinley, (20 320 feet), in the distance and shrouded by clouds.  We are hoping that we can get a clear photo tomorrow, weather permitting.

We had a lovely dinner with Fay and Ray before returning to do our blog.


One Response to “Kenai to Mt McKinley (Denali)”

  1. Katharine says:

    Maybe you had more room with the 2 double beds – 1 each!!

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