I didn’t even notice it was 4th of July until I saw posts on FB this morning. We are really lost as to which day it is…either the day or date. I guess it’s Sunday! LOL!
We started out the day with an alarm going off at 7:30. Eric got up but I stayed in bed for a little bit because it was a perfect sleep-in day~ cool & rainy! He went up to the Mercantile to see if there were any cancellations, but there weren’t. We had to pack up and vacate our spot. Before I left I went and knocked on Gloria & Dennis’s trailer. They were the camp hosts on duty. I have been following their blog for a while now as friends of ours who met them in Denali last year told me about it. It was nice to meet another blogger and they remembered our friends from last year.
We then drove a mile and a half up the park road to the visitor’s center…the kids were actually still in bed. LOL! We quickly got them up and headed over to board the bus to the dog sled demonstration. Jake stayed in bed instead. Dori & Parker really enjoyed being able to pet many of the dogs and hearing all about how the sled dogs work. It was very interesting. The sled dogs are used to transport rangers into the park and move supplies, especially building supplies around the park. Right now Eric is reading Dori a sled dog book I purchased for the kiddos. It was specifically written for Denali.
After we got back from the demo we explored the visitor center and science center. Dori worked hard on her Jr Park Ranger activity book over the past few days and earned her Denali Junior Park Ranger badge. She was very proud. We saw the most adorable little park ranger vest on sale in the store, but we resisted as we figured she would just wear it for a day or so and then give up on it. LOL!Around 2pm we headed south from Denali and with no real plans. Really we have no plans for the rest of the trip. Yes, there are specific things we want to do, but there is no timeline. Pretty nice with 3 weeks left in the trip! I read the Milepost as we headed south and hoped for the clouds to clear. No such luck, in fact the clouds just got lower and lower and it rained on and off. We saw many beautiful areas along the road which would have been fantastic with the mountains in view, but it just wasn’t in the cards. We had heard from a few people that Denali State Park (which has several areas with great views of McKinley) was a great place to visit. We ended up stopping at Byer Lake Campground, which is tucked back behind the Alaska Veteran’s Memorial. The campground book we had said it was great for big rigs. When we pulled up we asked someone walking if there were spots open and they said that about ¼ of them were. We drove around a few of the loops and picked out a spot. There are no hook-ups at all (and no phone reception) so we were set up quickly. We walked up to pay the $10 for the spot and then climbed the hill to go see the veteran’s memorial. It’s very nice and it’s supposed to have one of the best views of McKinley in the area. After dinner we decided to go take a short hike by the lake. It turned into about 80 mins through the forest with some fairly steep parts. We sang the whole time as there are bears in the area. (There is a grizzly that frequents the campground.) We didn’t think we’d hike so far, but we saw a suspension bridge listed on a map. We almost gave up a few times, but we stuck to it and were rewarded with finding the bridge. It was a true suspension bridge and it was pretty rickety in spots, but it was lots of fun to travel over. The mosquitoes were starting to get the best of us (even though we had bug stuff on), so we headed back. Eric carried Dori on his shoulders most of the way. It’s quite tired now! We got about 3 miles of hiking in today total. Pretty good if you consider we’ve been sitting on our butts most of the trip.We got back and made a small fire for s’mores and everyone is in bed by 10pm. It’s stopped raining, but it’s still pretty damp and cool out. For it being a holiday, I think the campground is quiet. The sites are spread out enough that you feel like you are camping off by yourself. Our plan is to lay around a little bit in the morning and then either play around here (hike/bike/look for the mtn) or head down the road to Talkeetna. That is only about 50 miles south of here. Not sure if we will stay 1 or 2 nights there…we will see if we like it. We are looking forward to checking out the Talkeetna Roadhouse which we saw featured on the Travel Channel. They have huge cinnamon rolls.