Alaskan Cruise -- Denali

We left the private lodge and moved on to Denali via motor coach. This establishment was also owned by the cruise line but was better located; a little more polished and had air conditioning. We would stay here two nights. We really arrived a little late in the day to schedule any activities so it wound up being a lazy restful type of day.

As a part of the package we received a motor coach tour of the portion of the Denali National Park that was open to motor coach tours. I mention this because private vehicles may go places that the buses cannot go. If you rent and drive you may be able to get more up close and personal with the wildlife fauna and flora than we did. I think if we ever go back I will rent something and drive myself around the park.

Denali national Park is a must see if your travels take you that far north. When we first entered the park we stopped at the visitor center and watched a short film, then returned to the motor coach to move deeper into the park.

We made several stops as we progressed deeper into the park and heard an interesting lecture on perma-frost. At one of those stops we walked stone trails to see one of the mountain fauna. A few of us ventured off the gravel path and onto the ground which was just starting to thaw. The soil had that puffy feeling of long frozen, ground thawing after a hard winter's freeze. The thaw at this elevation was just a few inches deep this early in the summer. We were told it rarely thaws very deep and never does when you go deeper.

Native American speaker at Denali Park

We did not see any bears in Denali but we saw caribou. We also saw a jack rabbit being chased by coyote and saw everyone do and about face when the rabbit ran into some hikers on the escape path. The last we saw of the rabbit was when he ran into some bushes chased closely by the coyote. Then the bushes shook for a few seconds and I assume the coyote settled down for breakfast. It was like a road runner cartoon gone bad.

We continued on up the road to the motor coach turn around point and heard a brief and very entertaining speech and song by a native Alaskan about Denali and what it meant to the Alaskan natives. I won't ruin that by telling you the details of what she said. I will say I enjoyed it very much.

We enjoyed a nice meal at the lodge with entrainment for the evening at a reasonable price and went to bed before the light went away from the seeming endless day. I was very pleased with this portion of the trip. I saw enough and walked enough to feel good and sleep well even in an almost perpetual day environment.

The following morning it was time to start the extra-long trip back to the real world. We would again ride that wicked Alaskan Railroad but when you have spent all your money they seem to give you express passage out. At least it seemed that way because the long rail ride from Denali to Anchorage was reasonably smooth and uneventful with none of the jerky or stops along the way.

Due to the fact we were flying east we had an overnight in Anchorage and most of the day to kill before we caught our plane the following evening.

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