Sunday, July 18, 2010

Road Trip 2010: Day 39: Houston to Denali

Saturday, July 17

This morning we left Houston, AK heading still north on the Parks Highway (Route 3) for Denali country.

The weather had deteriorated from the previous evening and there was a low overcast and some drizzle as we drove. The rain never got truly serious, but it and those low clouds proved a hindrance to viewing Denali (or Mt. McKinley, as it is officially known). We were hoping to see that tallest of US peaks but nature kept it hidden.

What we were hoping to see.

What we actually saw today.

We drove on and came to the Alaska Veterans’ Memorial. Stopping we found a lovely tribute to the men and women of Alaska who have served her and the nation well during time of war. Medal of Honor awardees are honored by name and each of the service branches are honored as well as the Alaskan Territorial Guard (the ATG).

Alaska Veterans' Memorial

Plaque explaining the statue above.

BTW: Did you know that the US Coast Guard holds the distinction of being the first of the services to establish a perminent presence in Alaska? They were in Sitka (then the capital) in 1865--two years before the official transfer and before the Army, Marines and Navy got here. (The Air Force, of course, came much, much later in 1942.)

Once we left the memorial, Mother Nature—being a female—proved to be fickle. The skies began to clear but they did so by means of a strong, strong wind out of the southeast. Gusts easily are reaching gale strength even as I write this. Those clear skies continued to expose marvelous landscapes; although the ones we saw as we approached the Denali National Park Entrance resembled the southwest.

Hurricane Gulch

No stopping or standing on the bridge is permitted...and you'd have to be nuts to try. Still, the view down the nearly 250 deep chasm is incredible.

Looking north through Broad Pass.

Looking to the right (east).

Still looking east...toward Arizona.

And a glance to the west.

We are currently hunkered down against the wind at the Denali RV Park just north of the National Park entrance. Tomorrow we’ll be up bright and early (5:30 AM!?) to catch a tour bus to the park. Then, if we’re not eaten by a bear, we’ll be going to a salmon bake for dinner. (Sometimes I think this whole caraventure is traveling on its stomach!)

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