Goodbyes have always been hard for me.
The leaves have fallen from the trees and blanketed the wet ground. The air has gotten colder, and chilly walks to the shower building in the morning are making it harder and harder to get out of bed. The shops and hotels in the nearby “canyon” have boarded up their windows for the winter, and soon, the only two stoplights nearby will be turned off for the season as well. More and more people depart Denali every day.
It’s hard to believe that four months could fly by so fast.
Our last day spent in the park was one of the best I have ever had. At the end of each season, Denali National Park opens its roads to personal vehicles for four days. Interested visitors can enter a lottery each May for the chance to drive their own car to the end of the road. Over 10,000 people apply, with only 400 permits awarded each of the four days. This summer, I was lucky enough to win.
At 9 am, the four of us set off in John’s Subaru for the ride of a lifetime.
Halfway into the park we had a Christmas music jam as we stared in awe at the winter wonderland we’d entered. Are you sure Christmas is still three months away?
The ranger at Eielson Visitor Center (Mile 66) even let me draw the mountain for the last time of the season as the visitor center was closing. Needless to say, there wasn’t much for me to draw.
Trumpeter Swans on Wonder Lake
Our entire journey round-trip was around 13 hours. With endless car snacks, good scenery and wildlife sightings, and endless company, it was a truly magical way to end the season.
The past week has been a frenzy of packing, job searching, and cherishing time around campfires with friends. On Tuesday John and I plan to depart Denali and make our way through Canada to Valemount, British Columbia. Future plans are still in the works, but include a seven days in Banff and Jasper National Parks with my parents, working a couple of weeks at a cranberry farm on the coast of Oregon, and hopefully a visit to Minnesota.
“There’s a great big hunk of world down there, with no fence around it. Where two dogs can find adventure and excitement. And beyond those distant hills, who knows what wonderful experiences? And it’s all ours for the taking. It’s all ours.”
~Lady and the Tramp
For now, all I can say is that we’ve reached the end of the road. It’s been an unforgettable summer, Denali, but it’s time to go.
Until next time,