Porcupyn's Blog

July 11, 2017

Alaska Trip – Day 8

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 11:06 pm

The plan for today was for DD and my mother to stay at the Talkeetna cabin and relax for the day. The Wifi and smartphone combination was enough for DD and my mother was OK to sit and read whatever info material we had collected around Alaska thus far. As for Mrs. Porcupyn, Baab and me, we planned to go upto Eielson and check out the visitor information movies and also hoped to spot some wildlife as well.

When I went up to the office clubhouse to get some coffee, I learned from the staff that the office would have a bonfire going at seven pm that would last through ten pm if guests were interested in hanging out. The impression I got was that if guests were not out there, it might die down quicker than that. So, I thought that it might be a good idea for us to return by about eight pm so we could take Katya and my mother to the bonfire.

But as we really did not have a set plan (the Eielson visit was still a bit loosy goosy), we all lazed about more than we should have. The result of that was that we were a bit later there than our scheduled time. Now, per the website, it is difficult to accommodate you once you miss your scheduled; however, our actual experience was that they try their best to accommodate you. In our case, we were able to get into the next available shuttle to Eielson. The problem now was that it was right after noon. A quick calculation showed that if we were to go all the way, the earliest we could expect to be back here was 8:30 pm, which would put in Talkeetna at 10:30 pm!

Needless to say, we revised our plan for the day (so, what’s new?!). Now, we would just go up to Teklanika and return, hoping that we would be able to a) see some wildlife by then and b) catch a quick return shuttle. To be honest, I was also a bit intimidated by the slopes of the mountainside where the park road is cut into, and I felt that the bus drivers (especially on the return trip) hug the edge too closely. So, I was not too miffed at missing out on Eielson (though we could’ve stuck to the itinerary and informed Katya and my mother that we would be late returning to the cabin, and gone all the way there).

Also, the quick return would give us a chance to watch the entire dog sled presentation too. Moreover, we would be able to visit the post office and mail ourselves some souvenir cards stamped at Denali!

Like yesterday, the day was not too bright and we did not expect to be seeing Denali. When we got onto the shuttle, we informed our driver that we would like to be dropped off at Teklanika and we would catch the first available shuttle that was returning. In about an ninety minutes, we were at Teklanika. By now, I had remembered that I had left my sweater in the car, as this was the coldest of the three days we were at Denali! Hello Murphy!!

The Alaskan state bird is all the wildlife we saw today

The Alaskan state bird is all the wildlife we saw today

Back I went to talk to the driver, asking him if we could stay in the bus and he could ask the nest returning bus driver – as we were about to cross – if there was space for us. He didn’t have an issue with that, though he said that we might not be able to return on the first bus we encountered. We were OK with that, because the situation would’ve been the same even if he were to leave us at Teklanika.

In any event, as we were about to get to the bridge at Teklanika, we saw a bus coming in the other direction who had space for us. The minute we climbed on, the other passengers said, “So, you didn’t want to see the bears, eh?” It was just our luck on that day – those folks had seen a sow and her kiddos not five minutes past that point. Had we stayed on our shuttle, we might have right now been seeing them! Bah, humbug, we said, and took our seats.

I forgot to say one thing – our bus drivers for the day were the least vocal of the ones we encountered. In fact, the bus drivers’ communication about the parks kept going down on each bus – Courteous Ken from Kentucky was the best, then it was T.P., followed by the two drivers of today. They had not received the gift of the gab!

We were near the dog kennels and it was not yet even three pm. The driver asked if anyone would like to be dropped off here. I said sure, we would. But just as we were about to get down, I remembered my missing sweater. So, I asked Baab and Mrs. Porcupyn to get down but I would stay on the bus, so I could go and get the car and return here with it.

And so it was that we got to watch the dog show. When we told her about it a couple of weeks after we returned, Katya was not too happy to know about that. The dog show was underwhelming, though Mrs. Porcupyn said that she did not expect to have seen much more than she did. But it was a fun experience nevertheless.

Once we were done with the dog show, we drove to the Visitor Center as we had not been inside even once (we had stopped by the first evening when it was pouring, but the Center had closed for the day by then). Soon, we heard the whistle of a train. Baab and I came out and realized that the train station was just a short walk away. Mrs. Porcupyn not being interested, Baab and I walked over for some more railfanning.

The five pm departure for Fairbanks had just arrived ...

The five pm departure for Fairbanks had just arrived …

... and it soon departed

… and it soon departed

Later, we visited the Post Office and mailed our souvenirs, and posed for some photos by the park entrance

Later, we visited the Post Office and mailed our souvenirs, and posed for some photos by the park entrance



Alaskan summer sun at ten pm!!

Alaskan summer sun at ten pm!!

By the time we then returned to the cabin, it was past eight pm, and we then visited the office to check out the books they had (there were a lot of Alaska related books that I had never seen in the libraries or bookstores here). The bonfire was a bit of a letdown, and – hindsight being 20/20 – we probably would have been better off going to Eielson and returning later than ten pm. Oh well!

So ends our visit to the Denali area. Tomorrow, we head for our final (and longest) base in Alaska at Cooper Landing!

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