Monday, July 16, 2007

Denali Park

Yesterday I drove to Denali National Park to pick up a group and bring them back to Fairbanks. I was SO LUCKY because as I left Fairbanks at 6:30 in the morning, the Alaska Range was still clear and I got to see the mountain! Denali! Mt. McKinley to you Lower 48ers. It was out bright and beautiful in all its amazing glory!! Not very many people get to see it because it is so huge that it creates its own weather and so its usually covered in clouds. I couldn't believe it. I was really excited. Anyway, I continued on to Denali Park, picked up my group, took them to the Visitor's Center for 45 minutes and then we headed for Fairbanks. This picture is at the Parks Monument. The highway to Denali Park (and on to Anchorage) is the Parks highway. The sun had just come out and the fireweed looked very beautiful. Too bad I don't have a better camera so you could really see just how amazing they look right now.

Here is the view from the Parks Monument. You're looking at the Tanana Valley and the Tanana River. Fairbanks is located in the Tanana Valley. The Tanana is a braided river and is either the largest or fourth largest contributing river to the Yukon. File that away in case you're ever on Jeopardy. Oh, I don't know if it's the fourth or the biggest. My tour material contradicts itself. :)

Token picture of my motorcoach.

Here is a gift shop in Nenana. Nenana is a little town on the banks of the confluence of the Tanana and Nenana rivers. It's a cute little town. I thought the flowers were beautiful so I took the picture.
I took this because it shows how they announce the fire danger here. They hang up signs at the little towns you pass through. I'm sure other places do this as well, but fire is a huge threat here. Approximately, 500,000 acres burn each year.

This little boat is next to the visitor center. I have no idea why it's here on display, but since I was taking pictures of the stuff at the visitor center, I felt obligated to take a picture of the boat.

Totem poles are very common here. We even saw one on the side of the Alaska highway out in the middle of nowhere. They are a reflection of the Native culture here.

Okay, now this tripod is cool. It's used as part of the Nenana Ice Festival. Every year they put this tripod on the Nenana river. They hook it to a tripwire which is hooked to a clock. At breakup (when the river starts to thaw and massive chunks of ice flow down the river) when the ice really is breaking up and spring really is coming, that tripod begins to float down the river on the ice, trips the wire, and records the official time of "breakup."
People from all over Alaska buy tickets for $2.50 and guess what time breakup will happen. The winner takes the winnings from the sale of the tickets (minus costs, I'm sure). If they are the only one to guess the right time, they get it all. If more than one person guesses the right time, they split the money. Even people from the Lower 48 can guess.

This is an example of a cache. The natives built these to store food, tools, and goods in. When white people came here, they adopted they idea if they lived out in the bush.

This is the visitor center. It's cute. It has pretty flowers hanging on it.

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