Week 4 Update

Monday:

This is our week at Denali. We had to get up super early (6 am) so that we could be at the park before 7:30 am to be in line for our tour bus ride into the park (you can’t drive in past mile 17.) It was a cool, damp, and foggy morning.

IMG_1673_thumb[1]We ended up with a great bus driver (Tina) who gave us a lot of information and details in her talk along the drive. She was also very good at getting us close to the wildlife along the road and explaining animal behavior patterns.

We had purchased the bus ride out to Wonder Lake which is most of the way into the park, up to mile 82. Round trip this tour takes about 11 hours.

Along the way we were able to see several grizzly bears, a couple herds of caribou and ptarmigan. No moose today. At the Eielson Lodge there were reports of a couple wolves chasing some caribou down the river plain, but we did not witness it ourselves. Also at the lodge is where you can see the Denali peak, but the mountain was shrouded in fog.

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└ Grizzly Bear with Cubs

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└ Caribou

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└ At the Eielson Lodge

Tuesday:

On Tuesday, we recovered from the very long day before by sleeping in a little. It was raining pretty good in the morning as well. About noon, we headed back to the park with the car. We went to the visitors’ center and looked at the exhibits and watched the video showings in the theater.

Later in the afternoon, we caught the shuttle bus up to the 4:00 sled dog demonstration. Denali is the only National Park with a working sled dog team, and they are used in the winter to patrol, maintain, and do research in the interior of the park.

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└ Sled Dog Team demonstration at Denali

Wednesday:

Wednesday we were supposed to make our way down towards Anchorage. However, about 8 miles from the campground we heard a loud grinding noise and the smell of burnt rubber coming from under the engine compartment as we pulled through Denali village. A quick look at the gauges showed no voltage so I knew something was up with the alternator. We found a roadside pullout about 3 miles up the road and stopped to investigate.

Sure enough, the alternator belt was broken (it had been new just a few thousand miles ago) and checking the alternator, it wouldn’t turn. Bearings were shot. After removing it and unhooking the car, we drove back to Healy (about 15 miles) to the little CarQuest store. He didn’t have the part in stock, but could have it on his next freight truck on Friday.

We went back and got the RV and drove it back to the campground to stay another 2 nights.

Thursday:

Cold, 50 degrees, and raining pretty good. We stuck around and did laundry.

Friday:

On Friday, we got pulled out of the campground and parked at the parts store. The alternator showed up around 1:30 in the afternoon, and then the next 2 hours were spent getting it in and all the belts hooked back up.

Once we were up and running, we resumed our travel towards Anchorage. We stopped about two-thirds of the way there at a state campground along Willow Creek, just before the road to Talkeetna.

Saturday:

Saturday saw us getting into Anchorage. We stopped at the Costco to fuel up and to buy some grocery items (and get lunch from all the free sample stands inside Costco). Their frozen yogurt machine was broken though Sad smile

We continued traveling towards Homer, and stopped for the night in Coopers Landing at the Kenai River campground.

Sunday:

Final travel day. Arrived in Homer in the late afternoon. After surveying the town a little, we found a campground not far from the “Spit”.

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