Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Alaska RV Tour - Denali to Anchorage, Alaska

We left Denali on Wednesday, July 21st and our caravan made its way towards Anchorage, heading southwest along the Parks Highway. 

After about an hour, we pulled off to get a closer look at an odd structure built to look like a giant Igloo. The story on this, according to Spike, is that this building was intended to be a hotel but it has never opened because it does not meet codes.

Apparently various people have owned the Igloo but no-one has been able to renovate the structure as needed.

So, the giant igloo sits on a huge lot, crumbling at the side of the highway.

We took a lunch break at Sheep Creek Lodge, a gorgeous 10,000 square foot restaurant and lodge that (according to their web site) is constructed of Alaska White Spruce harvested from Nenana, Alaska. At the time of the harvest, the logs were standing beetle kill (you can see the holes created by the spruce bark beetle in the logs) and the logs range in age from 80 years old to well over 300 years old!  Sheep Creek Lodge really is a striking place and we would love to stop there again sometime and perhaps spend the night. 

After Sheep Creek Lodge, our caravan made another stop in Wasilla to visit the Iditarod Trail Race Headquarters and Museum.  Because there is limited parking space at the Iditarod Headquarters, we left most of the RVs at a nearby VFW post.  We did take our Trek, however, and the Kurz' and Rozenboom's rode with us. Lynda had to keep a death grip on Sydney, who growled and glared at our passengers the entire time. "Crazy Girl" is aptly named!

At the museum, we watched a video about  the history of the Iditarod and some standout participants such as Joe Redington Sr. (considered the Father of the Iditarod), Rick Swenson, Dick Mackey, Norman Vaughan, Susan Butcher, Jeff King, and Libby Riddles.

The Iditarod race covers 1150 miles over some of the most rugged terrain in the world: jagged mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast. On top of all that, dogs and mushers are working in temperatures far below zero, buffeted by winds that can cause a complete loss of visibility. Hearing about the challenges of this amazing race and the fortitude required of the dogs and the mushers was humbling.

After visiting the museum, we went outside to visit some husky puppies. And wouldn't you know it: Lynda struck up a conversation with Joe Redington's daughter-in-law. And, as it turns out, they know some of the same people from the dog racing scene in New Hampshire, where Lynda had been a junior musher in the late 1970s and early '80s.  Its a small world, which is even more reason to treat it well!

Unlike Lynda, I have never been on a dog sled and so we went ahead and took a ride on a dog cart, which is used in the warm months to keep the dogs trained and fit. It really is amazing how strong those wiry little dogs are!

Well, here we were in Wasilla, also famous for a certain Vice Presidential candidate - Sarah Palin.  I have to be honest and say that I have sub-zero interest in anything Sarah Palin, but there were several in our group who wanted to see her house. So our little convoy followed Papa Spike to a nearby hotel and went down to the dock to look across Lake Lucille to catch a glimpse of the Palin residence.  Yes, we could see it.  Yipee!

After this little side trip, we returned to the VFW and reassembled our caravan and off we went to the Golden Nugget Camper Park in Anchorage. 

Click here for some photos of our drive from Denali to Anchorage, and stay tuned for more news on our Anchorage visit!

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