Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bus humor--

When you go into the Park, you ride on a bus that is essentially a school bus and if you go all the way into the park, you'll be on that bus for about 11 hours.  That's plenty of time to get to know your fellow passengers and bus driver!  Our bus driver told us that some one actually asked him "when do the caribou change into moose?"  Oh my, I know that people from afar are not well versed on the animals that live in Alaska, but really, do you think that animals change from one species to another??  Only in a Harry Potter movie does that happen!!

There's always alot of joking about people encountering animals and being eaten so here are the definitions:

A person on a bicycle - "meals on wheels"
Person walking on a trail -  "trail mix"
Person on a bus -  "canned meat"

Well that's humor, Denali style!

Departure time is approaching...

It’s our last week here at Denali and we will be sad to leave! We’ve really enjoyed meeting people from all over the world and sharing the wilderness of Denali with so many people.   In particular, we've had a lot of visitors from Israel, Switzerland, and Australia.
Last Thursday we were granted a pass to drive the road in our car. Unfortunately, you really can’t see that much from a car so the experience wasn’t all that great, however, we did spot some moose out at Wonder Lake and that was worthwhile! We’ve seen a lot more bears than moose!

The road into the park is all gravel and beyond the first 29 miles, quite narrow. Parts of the road are cut out of the mountain side and are perched on very steep mountain sides. Its really quite scarry, especially if you are on the outside of the road! You look down and it’s a really long way down!! I took this picture of a bus coming at us on a very steep section of
the road. Notice how narrow the road is. Hard to believe but there is enough room for two buses to pass, albeit very closely!! We’ve had a lot of rain so the danger of rock and mud slides also exists and there was a small mudslide late one night. The park service was able to get it cleared and have the road ready to go by the next am.

The road near Polychrome Pass:

A couple of nights ago as I was closing all the shades I looked out and there was a lynx standing no more than 15’ from the camper looking straight at me! What a beautiful face he had with the black tufts of hair on his ears. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo as I was more concerned with radioing Dick to watch out for the lynx. He was walking Chena and I really didn’t want him to come upon the lynx with Chena in tow.

The campground is on the Teklanika River and there are bears moving down the river getting closer to the campground. They’ve been spotted on the river a number of times and are getting closer to the campground every day. The rangers say that its just a matter of time before they come into the campground. They will most likely come in from the river which is the further point away from us so we probably won’t see them. We have been cautioning our campers to be bear aware! There’s never been a bear fatality here in the park so I don’t worry about it too much. It’s really interesting how easily the wildlife and people coexist here. For the most part the wildlife ignores the people. It is really important to never let the animals get food from the humans – when that happens, the animals see humans as a food source and that’s when the havoc begins. The saying is so true, a fed bear is a dead bear.

Some of the animals in the park are wearing collars so that their movements can  be recorded.  The wolf picture in a previous post has a collar.  Yep, I think they're tracking him to see when he will arrive in Raleigh for the first football game!  LOL, GO Wolfpack!!  Many of our visitors have seen the pack - there were 7 pups to start but now there seems to be only 5.  The pack has been seen with the pups in tow and several adults.  We have not been that fortunate and I am soooo jealous!  One of our visitors had a photo of a wolf with a caribou hind quarter in its mouth!!

Time to go, we have to do laundry today!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Only 2 weeks left!

We are in Fairbanks today, grocery shopping and running errands.  Its hard for us to believe that we only have two weeks left as campground hosts!

The last time we were coming into the park we saw a really large wolf just walking down the road.  He walked right by our car.  I have been hoping for an up close and personal view of a wolf so I was excited when we found this guy!

While driving back from doing our laundry we ran into this trio of Dall Sheep on Polychrome Pass.  The pass is the most frightening portion of the road as it is narrow and winding and has dropoffs like you wouldn't believe - 600 feet or more and very steep.  As we go around each curve I mutter the prayer, "no bus, no bus" as my fear is that we will meet an oncoming bus and there will be about a foot between our car and the bus as we pass!   It's not so bad when we're on the inside curve but when we're on the outside, it really scares me to death!!

I don't have much of a lynx picture but this is one that Dick took shortly after we started the camphost gig where the lynx a nd the dog were having a faceoff.

Well we have to get on with the shopping so good bye for now.  Will try to write something more intelligent next time I'm on a computer!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Laundry day again -

Here it is July already and before long we'll be packing up and heading home.  We are hearing how horribly hot it is on the east coast, we're not looking forward to returning to that!!

The last 3 days have been unbelievably gorgeous in the park.  It's supposed to hit 80º here in the park.  that's unusual!  Today there's hardly a cloud in the sky and Mt McKinley is out for all to see.  It is soooooo spectacular!

We will get a pass that will allow us to drive our car the entirety of the park road (about 90 miles) for the 3rd week of July.  Although only 90 miles, it usually ends up being a 10 hour trip all the way in and out as the max speed is 35mph and often less.  we also have to pull over and stop when any vehicle larger than ours approaches and there are a lot of those (buses and construction equip).  We are looking forward to that and are hoping for some great wild life viewing although it is hard to see from our car so we will probably "hang" with the buses so we have the advantage of all the spotters on the buses.

Not much else to report - all is well and COOL in Alaska.  80º is considered a hot day here!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Another day in paradise! We’re still having fun here in the wilds of Denali National Park! We begin each day with a walk through the campground with Chena. By the time we have walked both campground loops, Chena has calmed down and walks on the leash like a normal dog rather than the excited, darting every whichway, dog that she usually is! She gets lots of walks throughout the day and is loving RV life!
Yesterday we rode the bus further into the park and finally we saw a wolf up close and personal. It was kind of fun as we were observing a lone grizzly bear when the wolf happened along. The bear picked up the scent of the wolf and started following the wolf. Meanwhile the wolf is “trucking” through the area giving the occasional glance over his shoulder to check on the proximity of the bear. Then the bear lost the scent and gave up the chase. Bears and wolves don’t normally fight each other, I think they are both at the top of the food chain. The only thing that bears have to fear is another bear. A male bear will kill cubs because a female bear will not mate if she has cubs.
We also saw a hare running through the brush with a coyote hot on its trail. We’re not sure if the hare escaped or not, as we lost sight of them in the brush. Other than that, it was sort of a dull day on the bus, the animals were mostly hiding out. They were probably being lazy and hiding out in the shade as yesterday was a gorgeous sunny day. Even the mountain was out for part of the day which is a treat in itself as only about 25% of the visitors to Alaska ever see Mt McKinley.
Dick stays busy during the day playing Mr. Fixit for our campers. We have a lot of first time RVers so they often need a little help. We’ve had several who have run their batteries down. NPS has given us a battery charger to help these folks out. We had another camper who thought he had no propane and he had just picked up the RV. Well, it works better if you turn the propane valve on! Many of our campers are foreign and I particularly enjoy visiting with these folks. Although foreign, many of them are living in the US right now. Had some kids that just graduated from college and they are taking the summer off before entering the workforce; good for them!
Me, I stay busy reading, scrapbooking and cooking. I bought a cast iron dutch oven to use in the fire pit. I made a beef roast in it the other day and it was really really good!
We will be heading to Fairbanks a little later today to grocery shop and hopefully get the parts we need to install the inverter. When we got back last week we discovered that we needed additional parts before installing the inverter soooooo…..we’ll try again today.
It looks like a gorgeous cloud free sunny day today, I almost hate to leave the park on days like this. We had several rainy days this week so we really appreciate these nice days!
Enough rambling, hope you are enjoying your summer!


Thursday, July 1, 2010


We happened upon this "little" oops when we were in Fairbanks the other day.  They are building a new bridge over the Chena River downtown and this crane toppled over into the river.  The boom hit the pilings for the new bridge.  Fortunately, no one was hurt.  It sure did mess up traffic downtown!  One of those rare instances where there is "traffic"!

Thursday, hello!

We are at the Toklat camp today doing laundry.  On our way here we saw two grizzlies taking a snooze in the grass beside a stream.  Then one of them got up and started digging around the tree roots.  Before long out popped a ground squirrel.  Two quick leaps by the bear and he had his lunch.  I guess the rule here is eat or be eaten!

When we drove to Fairbanks the other day, the mountain was out.  Mt. McKinley is often referred to as Denali which is "the Great One".  Only about 25% of the visitors to Alaska get to see Denali as it is often hidden behind clouds.  It is so much taller than anything around it, that it has its own weather system.