Saturday, August 18, 2007

Scared spitless ... but alive!

Everyone knows how amazingly graceful I am ... Also, my family knows what happened when I learned to ride a bike ... (I couldn't steer the stupd thing) Well, two other tour directors, Scott and Diane, decided they were going to rent scooters from the Harley store in Denali. How hard could it be, right?

We went to the bike store, got a brief lesson, and were told that anyone could ride these things. We began on the George Parks Highway toward the park. It was incredibly scary since there were very fast cars, and we were only going 30-40 miles per hour. I was last in line and when I began to turn into the park, I was trying to slow down and turn. My feet touched the ground and my legs flew about, but I kept control of the scooter. It seemed that my scooter had stiff steering and veered to the left.

We went 13 miles into the park, stopping at Savage River, just before public vehicles can't go any further. Mt. McKinley was out and very beautiful during the ride. After we got out of the park, we went toward Cantwell, but didn't find much. We turned around after the McKinely Villages. We then drove back toward the Chalets, drove up the switchbacks toward the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain to the Grand Denali Lodge. Again with the massive curves/turns, braking and accelerating ... not my forte.

It was about 9 p.m. at this point - we started at 5:30 - and we decided to drive up the steep hill to the Crow's Nest restaurant for a wonderful bleu cheese burger. This hill has major speed bumps and ditches that nearly made me bottom out.

We got back on the road around a quarter till 10 p.m. and decided to drive out to a bridge where the train crosses. We went there and drove back. On the way back my scooters balance got worse, and it's actually getting dark here. We had to where our sunglasses for protection, so it was getting hard to see.

After gripping the handles of my scooter for dear life for five hours, I was done. I gladly turned in my key, felt good about overcoming a fear and not becooming a grease spot on the pavement. Celebrate the small victories!

P.S. I have no clue why this is underlining everything!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

People are Leaving!

A lot of the tour directors are beginning to go home so they can start school. This makes it hard because it gets me thinking about home. I miss you all very much and I can't wait to see you.

Levi, Wyatt and Chase - I'm sending big hugs and kisses your way! Mwaaa!

My 28th birthday was spent in Denali on the Tundra Wilderness Tour. It was great! I lost count on how many bears I saw. I know it was over a dozen. One of the bears was in a river bed feeding on a caribou carcass. I don't have pictures of it because I could only see it through binoculars.

Don't I look older here? I'm 28 ... closer and closer to the dreaded 30 ...

This caribou got close to the bus. The antlers on this thing were massive and it still had its velvet on.

This is the Sourdough Cabins the tour directors stay at while working in Denali. They have two double beds, a shower that spits water and gets more on the floor of the bathroom that the person in the shower. And the water smells like sulfur. Other than that, they're great. The water is my only complaint there. It's almost like I'm at summer camp when I stay there.

I took a motor coach up to Denali while deadheading to Fairbanks, and on the way we stopped in Talkeetna for a potty break. This is the town the television program Northern Exposure was based off of. The show began taping here, but the actors complained that it was too cold so they moved production down to Roslyn, Wash. It is a tiny, quirky town! They have all kinds of odd festivals that go on including the Moose Dropping, Mountain Momma and Wilderness Woman festivals to name a few. (I tried uploading the pic, but the connection is too slow ...)

Update ... I wrote this a couple days ago in Fairbanks. I arrived in Denali around noon, and my day is now complete. My tour - a tour 16 - is going well. It goes to prove my theory that land first people are happier!