Denali: So big you can’t enjoy it :(

The one thing people ask me when I tell them I went to Alaska is “did you take a cruise”? No, we decided to brave the roads and trek across the massive state in our rented Malibu Chevy. Our Alaskan adventure started with a brief stop in Anchorage for a quick night’s rest and breakfast at Snow City Café (great salmon cakes) before heading north to the Denali area.

First up was Talkeetna, a small town ~2.5 hours from Denali National Park. If there’s one thing that you do here, it should be the “flightseeing.” You get a spectacular aerial view of the park with incredible views of Mt Denali in the clouds. We used the K2 Aviation company and opted for the landing on Ruth’s Glacier. So cool. We played in the snow too and built a mini man (below)!

The downtown area has cute shops, restaurants, and gift shops. Don’t be weirded out by the white fluffies floating in the air. It’s just cotton wool, not pollen. Oh, and make sure to swing by the silver airstream for some Talkeetna Spinach Bread (basically like spinach dip on bread).

And now for the grand Denali. Not going to lie…I had high hopes for the majestic Denali, the highest point in North America, but as the highly suggestive title of this post indicates, it was really was “too big to enjoy.” From the edge of the park at the Visitor’s Center, you have to take a school bus into the actual park to get to the heart of it (Eielson), which takes 4 long excruciating hours. It takes that long because every other minute, the driver will stop because somebody will yell “STOP” when they spot a tiny dall sheep miles away on the top of a mountain that is only viewable by binoculars. This drove me crazy! When we finally got to Eielson….torrential downpour. No way we were going hiking now, so back on that damn bus ride back. You feel like you are in Jurassic Park with endless land of green and mountains, but the weather was so rainy, cloudy, gross that we didn’t even see Mt Denali. Not once! Poo! The only redeeming apart of this experience were the sled dog demonstrations at the end. Per my last post, you should definitely visit these guys in the kennel. Oh, and the wilderness safety video! I was terrified that at any moment a bear would attack me, so I made BF watch the video. Now I know how to handle myself against grizzlies and black bears…and where to cross a river. Good things to know in life. After a rough day in Denali, I highly recommend grabbing dinner at 229 Parks Restaurant and Tavern. Amazing New American cuisine that reminds me of some of my favorite SF joints.

OK, signing off for now. Tired after that long post. I think the next one will be the Cliff’s Notes version of the Kenai Peninsula and Girdwood.

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