Friday, July 22, 2011

Denali National Park - 1

While we were in Anchorage I touched bases with my friend Suzy, who had been spending the summer in their RV in Fairbanks. She said they were borrowing a friend's Eurovan and were going to be in Denali NP on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of a trip that also included Homer, Seward, and Valdez. It was fabulous timing as we, too, were going to be in Denali those two nights.

For those of you who don't know me well, I was president of our local teacher's union the last 8 years of my teaching career. For 7 of those years, Suzy was the secretary (and her son Patrick was vice president and is now president.) She retired last year, followed shortly thereafter by her husband Gary. They left the second week in May for Alaska, and we'd hoped to meet up with them sometime while we were in the same state.

We left the Elmendorf FamCamp around 8, and had a lovely drive up the Parks Highway. Here's a bit of interesting trivia (at least I think it's interesting): Up until now I'd thought the Parks Highway was named because it went by two big parks - Denali State Park and Denali National Park. But no, it's named for a man named George Parks, the territorial governor of Alaska from 1924 to 1933.

At the interchange with the Glenn Highway, we saw this interesting Rav from Germany.

We stopped for gas in Trapper Creek, and Denali came into view. (I'm going to call it Denali, and not the unpopular name, Mt. McKinley.)

We then stopped for lunch at a rest area alongside the East Fork of the Chulitna River. We made it to Denali NP around 1:00, and checked into the Riley Creek Campground. I called Suzy, who said they'd be there about 2:30. We saved them the site next to ours.

We sat around for a couple of hours, talking about our trip (it was so nice to not talk about work!) and then we got cold and went inside for dinner. I was so cold that we didn't come back out, and went to bed early.

However, the next day, after our bus trip (next post), we enjoyed a warmer evening, a campfire, and long hours of conversation with Suzy and Gary.

Then yesterday morning (Thursday) we fed them breakfast before they left for their trip south. It was so nice to spend time with friends thousands of miles from home.

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