Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

"I reject your reality, and substitute my own." -Adam, Mythbusters

We recently went back to Denali, to show the visiting relatives a little of Alaska. The choice given to them was to head up north, toward the Arctic Circle, or to head to Denali. Denali, being a big mountain, won over the concept of a line that's way far north. I mean, without surveying it, how would you know you had been there? Sure, there would might be a sign, but what does that really prove? That you visited the sign that some guy put up to tell you that you've been to the Arctic Circle? That takes a lot of trust. And, the roads are bad. Which really says something since most roads in Alaska might have been paid for by dentists so they can drum up a few bucks replacing fillings. So, we headed south. Above is the bridge over the Nenana River near the Denali National Park entrance. Below is the raft launching facility into the Nenana. Steeper than it looks. I didn't measure, but it looked to be about forty feed down. Nearly straight down.

Getting to Denali was nice. Part of living in Fairbanks is like being on the television show Survivor. You and a group of other folks walk around naked are pretty physically isolated from the outside world, and Mark Burnett follows you around with cameras all of the time. Forget the Supreme Court, I just want Jeff Probst out of my bedroom.

Alaska is like a reality show. Denali is one big reality set. So, we went up to visit some of the reality crew at Denali.

If you're coming to the park from the north, the first think you visit are a large number of tourista gift shops and hotels. You can stay in a wonderful hotel (pictured below) on a hillside. Quite a marvelous vista, and that's just looking at the hotel. I would definitely be worried about falling out of bed at this place.

Most of the gift shops were getting ready to close when we got up there; some already were closed. The clerk I talked to came up in summer, and had done so for 17 years, to sell t-shirts and fuzzy bear slippers. He spent the rest of the year in Arizona. Now, I might be a caveman, but though he's logged a lot of time here, I don't think you can be called a local if you spent every summer up here. At some point, you've got to get to winter, or you're as real as a FEMA official before a disaster. We bought stuff at the gift shop. Signs around the gift shop indicated it was GOING OUT OF BUSINESS. Further conversation with the clerk revealed the reality: FOR THE WINTER. Most of these shops are open for exactly four months. Yet, mortgage payments are longer. Therefore, profits during that three month period must be good. I actually did find some bargains at the shop, and bought The Boy a compass to which the idea of "North" was only a passing suggestion. Its matching thermometer seemed to understand temperature a bit better, but it was always 80F in the car, since the thermometer never left The Boy's sweaty palm. And, whatever direction he was facing was always north. Not bad.

So, the crew was packing up for the winter, to head to the places they came from, to come back next year for more.

Next: The Visitor's Center From Beyond


Blogger chaipo said...

This is very odd. We just got back from Denali today (we got a ticket in the road lottery and got to drive all the way to Kantishna on Friday), and stayed at that hotel up on the bluff, which was very nice!

I'm still working through the 200+ pictures from the trip...but when I'm finished, I'll post them on my site if you'd like to view.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

Where do I sign up for that gift shop job? I think I can handle Alaska in the summer, even for 17 straight summers.

9:23 PM  
Blogger GreyGuy said...

If I were a visiting relative, I would have chosen the Arctic circle. When I was travelling through Scandinavia about 10 years ago, I had to chose between going to the Arctic or taking a boat across the Baltic to Estonia, which, at the time, was brand newly independent - there wasn't enough time to both. I chose Estonia and I don't regret it, but I wish I had been able to do both.

By the way, I give you permission to send Jeff Probst to my bedroom ...

4:12 AM  
Blogger Garry Nixon said...

As Alaska's so big and remote, and given that visiting relatives can be tiresome, was there not a temptation to bash them on the head and feed them to bears?

In my urban environment, such wilderness opportunities seem fascinating. Also, I've had some terrible visits from in-laws.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope it isnt too creepy but I have decided to copy you John. I am going to list all the reasons why Alaska seems more fun than the %^$#hole state I live in now. http://fairbanksorbust.blogspot.com

12:06 PM  
Blogger the Witch said...

A duct tape-less post?


4:55 PM  
Blogger John said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:33 PM  
Blogger John said...

I am SOOO all over the lottery next year. (For those Outside, the lottery allows you to drive on non-public access roads in Denali one weekend a year).

Let me know, buddy.

me too. And as far as Jeff Probst goes . . . well, he left in a snit after kept relighting my tiki torch. No sense of humor.

My relatives are too stringy. Bears won't touch 'em.

Hey, that's not creepy, I hate your state too!

Actually, Fairbanks is quirky. Not boring at all.

Ohhh, you had to drag this down into the dirt. Actually, I just used duct-tape to mend a styrofoam plane that The Boy and I threw out into the yard. See, duct tape is practical, and fun, too. Maybe I should just give that out for x-mas.

Maybe . . . hmmm.

8:10 PM  
Blogger John said...

update, I say!!!!

8:18 PM  
Blogger John said...

I say update!!!!!!

5:58 PM  

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