At Fairbanks we went to the University of Alaska museum. This is a beautiful museum with great displays and some really cool movies. There is a 8'3" bear in one of the displays and some other displays of large animals. I especially like the 1913 descent on Mt. McKinley display. The descendents of the original expedition started an anniversary climb on June 7 and expect to take a month. Another great thing we did was the Riverboat Discovery - going on a sternwheeler up the Chena river. During our time on the boat we saw a float plane takeoff and land on the river, a demo of dog sledding, and presentations of Athabascan culture at a reenactment village. But the highlight of this week was a flight across the Arctic circle to the landing strip at Bettles, Alaska and spending 2 nights at the Bettles lodge. While we were there we took a town tour, talked to the park rangers and watched movies about the Arches of the Arctic National Park, and paddled canoes for 2 hours down the koyukak river. When we reached the end of our paddle trip we explored the ghost town of Old Bettles and waited for the boat from the lodge to pick us up. The mosquitoes were terrible!!! And we waited and waited. Finally, because the boat was not working, the lodge picked us up in a float plane. That was a real treat and a very welcomed sight. The food a the lodge was very good and the staff was friendly and accommodating. And best of all - Chica got to go. She had to be in a crate but all the way back on the plane she had her head stuck out of the crate looking where she was going. We topped off our Fairbanks week with a visit to Mary Shields , first women to finish the Iditarod, and a dog sled demo.
The next stop was Denali. We could not believe the weather we had during our stay - sunny, warm, and clear skies the entire time. Mt. McKinley is usually only seen 1 day in 7 and we saw it everyday. We took the bus the first day we were there to Wonder Lake. That is the long ride for 10 hours. We saw lots of caribou, some moose, dall sheep, ptarmigan, and 3 grizzly bears. One of the grizzly bears was on the side of the road and stayed there for about 20 minutes. Of course, the bus stops the entire time and we take lots of pictures. And the views of the mountain were fantastic. The rest of our time in Denali was spent taking hikes, bike rides,visiting the visitor center, watching a free dog sledding demo, shopping.
We left Denali and stopped over night outside Talkeetna. Six of us went into the town to look around. When Chuck and Jan were getting their mail, they talked to a pilot going to Mt McKinley that afternoon and said he had seats available. All six of us wanted to go so they took a plane just for us. What a ride! It was a beautiful flight through the mountains and landing on Ruth Glacier at the base of Mt. McKinley. We got to play around in the snow for awhile and then flew back. On the flight was Moores, Ron and Bernita Poutney, Sally Schindel and myself.
At Anchorage we stayed for 2 days. There was a summer solstice party going on down town that we attended along with the weekend open air market. On Sunday, I went to the Alaska Native Heritage center with Sally, Sandy Murray, and Keith Forrester. The four of us took a short dog sled ride with an Iditarod competitor named Jake. Then Sunday afternoon Dean and I drove to Soldotna.