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Haines & Denali National Park & Preserve, AK  09/06-07/06 (Day 134-135)
Fall Forward

Suddenly, summer is over. Clouds are gathering as we drive out of Haines and the thermometer in our Chevy Silverado reads 43 degrees. A steady stream of RVs is headed south but we are going north and the further we go—across the 60th parallel (again), through British Columbia and into the Yukon—the more we are surrounded by fall colors. As a kind of testament to the power of the approaching winter around here, the road starts to show signs of frost heave which turns the pavement into an undulating roller coaster ride as the ground underneath freezes solid and expands and contorts awkwardly.

At a gas station we talk to a couple in an RV who are, oddly, also headed north and they tell us that on some of the more sever sections of frost heave they can actually hear their dishes jumping up then lading with a crash in the cupboards behind them. One word for you: plastics.

The minute we cross back into Alaska and get onto a road that’s maintained by the US Department of Transportation the frost heave miraculously disappears. We may not be doing much else right lately, but we do seem to have the frost heave thing down pretty well, so we’ve got that going for us.

Under clear blue skies we get our first views of imposing, big-shouldered Mt. Wrangell as we approach Delta Junction. As we head out of Delta Junction we realize that we’re driving along part of a route we biked back in 2000 when we took part in a 500 mile fund-raising ride to benefit researchers looking for a viable AIDS vaccine.

We did that bike ride in the month of August and even then there were mornings when we had to chip the ice off our bike seats before heading out for the day, so we are doubly grateful for the  sunshine as we wind our way along the spectacular drive up to Denali National Park & Preserve where we bed down in the Riley Creek Campground at the entrance to the park and dream of the treat that awaits us tomorrow.



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