A Travellerspoint blog

Denali Camping, Day 1

Camping with the bears

overcast 68 °F

On Friday we made it as far as Denali State Park, where it was raining. We were the only ones in a well-maintained park and camped overnight. We took off early and made it to Denali National Park mid-morning.

There are 7 campgrounds in Denali, 1 close to the entrance of the park at Mile 0.2, and 4 are for tents only and accessible by the park bus.
We love to camp in Teklanika River Campground. There are 53 sites so in order to get what we want and when we want, we reserve months in advance. For this trip, I reserved in the winter. We thought that a stay of 5 nights would work well for these kids.

Teklanika is the last campground one can drive to, inside the park. There is a checkpoint at mile 12.8 and one must show the proper pass in order to drive further inside. Then Teklanika is at Mile 29.1. It is quite a long 29 miles as the road is rough, one-lane part of the way, and curvy. But it is well worth the drive.

The Teklanika River runs along the back of the 2 camp loops with a gravel and rocky front. Then there are trees and shrubs along the rear of the campsites. Campsites are 1st come, 1st serve. So you reserve but not for a specific site.

We found a campsite and sat up our RV. We wanted a site along the rear of the loop, with a path and view of the river, because we knew that kids would be more visible. For this site, we pulled straight in rather than backed in. We did this so we could have a view from our windshield, rather than have a view of the road. From where I’m sitting at our table, inside the RV, I can look out and down the path to the river and have a clear view of the river.
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As soon as we’d parked the kids started running. They’d been in this RV for too many hours. We’d brought walkie talkies for them so that they could run to the river and have radio contact with us. Right away someone came up and told us that bears had been spotted in the campground so to be careful. Then a lady came up and said that a mama bear and her cub had been seen in the site next to ours about 1 hour before. She asked if we had bear spray and I told her that I’d forgotten to buy some.
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We told the kids that they couldn’t go to the river or anywhere we could not see them. They ran around the site for a little longer then came closer to the RV. Just then, as I was looking out of the windshield, the cub came up the path into our campsite. I started yelling at the kids to get into the RV. By the time Sequoia got into the RV, the bear was gone, but Dale and I were well shaken. I didn’t even get a photo
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A few minutes later the same woman and her husband came over with 2 cans of bear spray. They said that they were leaving and couldn’t leave without us having some protection. We were so grateful.

Posted by Miss Chris 10:03 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip nature camping outdoors grandkids_travel rv_travel denali_national_park teklanika_river_campground Comments (0)

A Nice Breakfast Out

And other things

overcast 68 °F

We like to have one nicer meal out with grandkids, preferably breakfast, as it isn’t so expensive. In Alaska, we like to have breakfast at The Princess Lodge in Kenai. It has a nice RV park where we can regroup, recharge our electronics, wash up and whatever else needs modern civilization.
We’d driven to the Princess RV park where we did regroup and in the morning everyone dressed in their best clothes, at least the best that we had along, and went for breakfast. We’d already worked with boys about keeping napkins on their laps, and all of the other manners one can expect from kids their age.

The lodge dining room is beautiful, wood planks with a huge antler chandler. The staff was especially nice to the kids and the kids behaved wonderfully. Having stuffed ourselves on King Crab Benedict and the kids on Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes, eggs and bacon, we were ready to go on our way. We enjoyed the view of the Kenai River from the deck then walked back down to the park and started on the next leg of our journey.

We have normally stopped at the Portage Glacier Visitor Center on our way back up to Anchorage. This time, we didn’t. On our 1st and 2nd trips the glacier was closer to the visitor center and ice burgs were in the lake behind the center. When we visited with grandkids 6 years ago the glacier had receded so far that ice burgs were being towed in. This time, after Exit, we decided to skip Portage. Besides, we had a problem with the RV and needed to get that fixed before heading up to Denali.

Denali is our next stop, so the push is to be there early in the day.

Since I’ve written about a wonderful breakfast, you may wonder what we eat for dinner. Feeding 5 people can certainly be a challenge.
1st we have our “Honcho” system, I believe I’ve written about it before. This is where each kid, oldest to youngest, has their day. So before we left I wrote in my daytimer, who was honcho on which day and each kid had 3 days. I asked each kid what they would want to eat, and, of course, help prepare, for each of their 3 days. Then, because there are 3 spaghetti meals, 2 hot dog meals and so on, I sorted it out so that we didn’t need to make the same thing every night.

As soon as we got our RV we went to Costco and bought the items we could use in bulk then Carrs for everything else. We also bought lots of lunch stuff and a large 2-pk of cereal.
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As we were going thru Anchorage once more, we stopped at both stores for one last shopping trip. Once we are in Denali we will not have access to stores for 5 days so this has taken more careful planning.

Posted by Miss Chris 10:41 Archived in USA Tagged food nature alaska rv outdoors grandkids kenai Comments (0)

Sled Dogs and Glaciers

Visiting some sled dogs and walking up to Exit Glacier

semi-overcast 68 °F

We had planned a surprise tour for the grandkids, a tour of Seavey’s, this is the company that runs in the Iditarod races, and wins.

We got to Seavey’s and sat thru the introduction then the kids started realizing what the morning was about; holding the puppies and riding in a cart being pulled by sled dogs.

The puppies are about 3-weeks old and little bundles of fur. The puppies snuggled up to each kid, Sequoia really wanted to get one, but, we bought a stuffed one instead. I told them to ask their parents for live dogs when they get home.

The rides are fun for us IMG_20160728_102800266.jpgIMG_201607..1010102_HDR.jpg but are actually training runs for the dogs. Experienced dogs are in the front and young dogs in the middle and rear. The experienced dogs bark to get going while the younger dogs look around. Our experienced dogs were part of the team that won this year’s Iditarod race.

From Seavey’s, we went to Exit Glacier, this is off the Harding Ice Field. The Bear Glacier that we saw from the boat is also off of the Harding Ice Field.
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We hiked up to the ice field on one of our first trips to Alaska. When we came with the older grandkids there was 6’ of snow on the trail. This time, we decided that kids were not ready to hike this. They could have made it but the trail is steep and round-trip 8+ miles. We did not want to subject ourselves to this.

The glacier has receded quite a bit since we were here with the older grandkids, Dale is guessing 2-3 football field lengths. All of our glaciers are receding but to see the evidence is quite shocking. I will try to find a photo from our prior trip and post that with the current photo, side by side. Exit has receded to the extent that it is too far away to touch. I wonder what will be left for our great grandkids.

Posted by Miss Chris 18:21 Archived in USA Tagged nature travel alaska outdoors grandkids kenai rv_travel exit_glacier Comments (0)

Grandkid Travel in Alaska

And the Alaska Adventures Begin

After about 4 delays, and 1-1/2 hours our plane took off. Kids had been jumping up and down and were ready to get on any plane to anywhere.

We got seated and the plane started the take-off process. The plane powered up, in order to take off and the boys’ eyes got big. Sequoia was trying to sit up, on the edge of the seat and was hanging on for dear life. Finally, I convinced Sequoia to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Our flight into San Francisco was so late that there was no time to buy our sushi, we could only look longingly as we ran for the next gate. Huffing and puffing we arrived at our gate, and fortunately the plane was waiting for us. They’d saved the entire row for us. It was on that flight that Sequoia announced that he wanted to be a pilot when he grows up.

On Tues, we picked up our RV, shopped in Costco and Carrs, then drove down to Seward in the Kenai Peninsula. We found a camping spot along the shore. Kids were happy to run along the shore finding jellyfish and shells, with a sea otter following them as they ran up and down.
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Wed was the first day of our planned adventures. We had a 5-hour cruise out into the Kenai Fjords. The boat left at 12 noon but we had to be at the harbor by 11. The harbor was just a 5-minute drive away but we still wanted to be a little early to park and stop by the National Park Visitor Center.
We like the Major Marine Tour because they have a Ranger on board and now, also have a representative from the SeaLife Center. The ranger was pointing out the wildlife and was answering questions the entire cruise. The woman from the Sea Life led the Jr. Ranger program, holding short informative sessions throughout the 5 hours. She gave examples of various ways animals keep warm, skulls, pointing out glaciers, and giving pointers on how to remember the 5 kinds of salmon. A Jr. Ranger ceremony was held a little before docking so that the kids received their badges on board the ship. IMG_20160727_162849059.jpg

I was a little disappointed that kids did not see many whales or any dolphins, but wildlife cannot be counted on to show up for any particular person. However, we did see lots of other wildlife and kids didn’t seem to care. IMG_201607..4810151_HDR.jpg

When the cruise started back for the harbor, all of us went and sat down at our assigned table. We’d been standing in the cold wet wind for nearly 4 hours. Dale was already at the table sleeping, he’d taken some medication for sea sickness and it had finally kicked in.

Lucian and Zaya started singing and playing arm wrestling games, which Zaya always won. They also talked and talked, completely oblivious to everyone around them. There were several older couples around us who became completely enthralled with the kids. I realized that they were laughing non-stop at the kids’ antics and were entertained until we arrived back at the dock. A woman from one table came up and told me that the kids were so well behaved, she thought they were so great. Another told me that what we were doing with our grandkids was what she wished she could do.
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Yes, we are lucky that we have good health and that I can work so we can make these trips. We also have great kids who trust us enough to take these banshees.

Posted by Miss Chris 09:59 Archived in USA Tagged ocean nature travel alaska outdoors grandkids kenai rv_travel Comments (0)

Alaska Bound

We were concerned about security lines, we have Global Entry but didn’t know if it would extend to the kids. We decided we’d leave really early so that 1. We could avoid traffic, 2. We’d make it to our plane in the event of long lines. 3. In the event, the truck had trouble we’d make it to the airport via Uber or Super Shuttle.

Sunday, the kids were so excited. We had a few last minute errands to run; pick up camera cards for kids cameras, food to bring along, a few odds and ends.

By 6pm, as per our usual, kids things were together but nothing of mine or Dale. But the evening was early so wine was in order.

We’d given grandkids their dinner and they had baths, then a movie. By the time the movie was over kids were wide awake. They went into the kitchen and just jumped up and down for a while. Finally, grandkids went to bed and actually went to sleep.

It was a really early wake-up call for grandkids, 5:30am. The jumped up, got dressed, then ran to the truck to wait for us. Someone was excited.
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We made it to LAX in record time and with our Global Entry we got to our gate with no problem, except for 1 little thing. I’d forgotten to dump our coffee out of our travel mug and thermos. We are so accustomed to dashing thru the airport and didn’t think that we had several hours to kill. When TSA asked it we wanted to run out and dump the coffee we said no, just throw the mug and thermos away. As we walked away we realized that we were in no hurry, but it was too late, we couldn’t change our mind.
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One good thing I did was to buy new movies for kids. The movies are a great distraction for the downtime IMG_20160725_113238981.jpg in a packed airplane terminal.

Posted by Miss Chris 13:36 Archived in USA Tagged travel alaska grandkids_trip airplane_travel Comments (0)

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