Denali

We got another amazingly nice day for our bus tour into Denali Park. Bright sunshine all day long, and some excellent views of Mt. McKinley. We drove maybe 10 or 15 miles into the park, well past the point where they stopped private vehicles.

At the turn-around point we were met by a very knowledgeable British/New Zealand guide. He ran over the various theories about how people got to North America. The traditional view that they came across the Bering Strait when there was a land bridge is becoming more and more dubious. One of the reasons is that the oldest evidence of people in Alaska is about 12,000 years old, and they’ve found evidence of the same kind of people in Patagonia, at the southern tip of South America, that is about 13,000 years old. Makes you go "Hummm. Wonder how that happened?"

On our way back, we got more good views of Mt. McKinley. Here’s one of them.

The locals tell us that less than 20% of the visitors to the park ever get to see the mountain at all. When the sky is clear, they say "The mountain is out" as if it had earlier been "in" somewhere hiding.

As we drove back out of the park we saw a young moose off to our right, then a bit later we ran into a "moose jam", a bunch of people looking at a large bull moose maybe 30 yards away, who just looked right back at us.

Our driver, Clay, was 30-ish. He’s been driving tours for 12 years and loves Alaska. He and his new bride are living in a 16x16’ cabin. No water, no electricity. With outhouse. When the park closes Sept. 19th, his nearest gas station will be 20 miles away. A trip to town means driving 120 miles to Fairbanks. What do these folk do in the winter? Mostly they go on unemployment, helped along by the oil royalty checks every Alaskan resident gets every year. This year it was about $1100, down $400 from last year.

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