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Location: Fairbanks, Alaska, United States

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Denali and other adventures

So Grandma and Grandpa are visiting, which means trips to the various local touristy destinations....Pioneer Park, Denali, and the rest. Thankfully, they have visited before so we have done the really touristy attractions, such as the river boat trip and panning for gold. These activities in and of themselves aren't bad, but the groups that run them make them into such cheesy tourist traps. Tristan really enjoys Pioneer Park so he and Grandpa spent quite a bit of time in the air museum and wandering about the Nenana riverboat. He also made a new friend in about 2 minutes time while swinging at the park. :o)

We spent a few days in Denali and traveled there via train. For a few days the trip was up in the air because of a wildfire south of Fairbanks. At one time it had jumped the train tracks and suspended train operations. When we traveled south we saw freshly burned areas -- some still smoldering -- but, thankfully, no active fires. Our hotel was close to Glitter Gulch, the touristy "town" right outside the park, and Tristan and I spent quite a bit of time wandering through the shops. He quickly managed to make friends with one of the shopkeepers at his favorite shop and the manager at the ice cream parlor. LOL

Denali sure has changed in just two years. They now have a new visitors center, bookstore/giftshop, and even a large cafeteria. As nice as it is to have these additions (there was NO place to get food/water before), it has really made the lower portion of the park seem more crowded. We didn't take any long bus tours but took our regular hike around the Savage River. The upper portion of the river was closed due to bear activity, but the largest animal we saw -- except for the pinpoint sized Dall sheep -- were marmots. One was so close to the trail that we nearly stepped on him.

We also took a speedboat trip up the Nenana River with Denali Wilderness Adventures, which was a lot of fun. It was amazing how quickly we maneuvered through the winding and incredibly shallow river. After speeding our way upstream about 12 miles we stopped and had a presentation on trapping and tried our hand at goldpanning. Tristan was full of questions in regards to trapping and on the van ride back to the hotel he exclaimed that he wanted to try his hand at it.

Tristan never has small, simple plans and seems to come up with projects that I am simply clueless about. The closest I've been to a trapped animal was a beaver this past October, and she had already been trapped and hauled out of the river. I'm going to check into the local trapping association and try to hook him up with some local trappers.


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