Sheesh! We took this trip over a week ago and I'm finally sitting down to write about it. We've been pretty busy around here!
Moo Grandma (Scott's mom, Penny) arrived here on 9/16. As usual (since she flies standby as a former airline employee) we didn't tell the kids she was on the way until she was in the sky. Stacy and I went and picked her up and surprised Kelsey after school...lots of smiles, all the way around!
On Saturday, Scott and I headed out for Denali National Park. We stopped along the way and bought a new camera. The drive to the park was beautiful! We were blessed with fantastic Indian summer weather for the whole weekend.
As with many national parks, you can't drive all the way into the park. You can go as far as Savage Creek (15 miles in) any day with no pass. To go beyond (the other 77 unpaved miles) you need to take a bus. The one exception is a 4 day weekend in late September when they hold the road lottery. You pay to enter the drawing and if you're chosen you can buy a road permit to enter the park. We didn't enter, but some friends of ours did and won. Then they were kind enough to invite us along. Denali is about 4 hours out of Anchorage (without kids!), so we asked Moo Grandma to time her visit so that she could stay with the girls while we went.
I'm sure there are many theories and strategies among veteran road lottery winners, but our strategy was to drive all the way in to Kantishna (the end of the road) and then meander back. It worked out pretty well! We left the hotel at 5:15 and got to the Savage River just before 6am, so we didn't have to wait long to begin the drive, as they don't let you off the pavement until 6am Along the way we saw a mama grizzly and her two cubs, four wolves, some sheep, and some birds. On the way home the next day we saw a bull and a cow moose as well. Not to mention that we watched the sun come up on Mt. McKinley!
Overall it was a very fun trip...the scenery was breathtaking! I'd love to visit in the summer and see it all green...since it was already cold up there (23 degrees the day we drove in) all of the plant life had already died--it had a very desert look to it.
I'll spare you from posting the hundreds of photos I took here...if you'd like to look at them you can check out the drive up to Denali, the drive in the park, and the drive home over on Fotki.
Soooo...it was fun and I want to go back! And *many* thanks to Moo Grandma for staying with the little ladies so we could make the trip in 3 days instead of a week! :-)