The last day of adventure. The only plan for today was head back into Denali and do whatever we wanted. Choices included hanging out at the visitor center, going on one of the many ranger led walks and talks, taking a free bus out to Savage River and go on a hike (and risk waiting forever to return), checking out the sled dogs that live in the park or just hang around the campsite and take it easy. I know it was lame, especially since I went on the Helidog adventure, but I wanted to see the sled dog demo in the park. I didn’t want to go on a ranger hike or sit on the bus for an hour each way and go on a really long hike out in Savage River. I wanted to keep it low key, as the weather looked a bit iffy and I didn’t really want to hang out with the group.
The day started slow, but we finally piled into the van, leaving a few lazy bones at camp to make the late morning bus up to Savage River. I left the group in the dust and bee-lined it to the visitor center to see what that was all about. I missed the morning demo, which was fine and the next one wasn’t until 2pm, so I had tons of time to kill. Turns out, the guide made a mistake on the bus timing and our group had just missed the late morning bus to Savage River and now had to wait until the next bus in the early afternoon. Most of them hung out in the cafe, but I wanted some time alone and I didn’t want to buy anything, so I set up camp near a plug in the visitor center and sat on a bench and read and wrote while charging my phone, as the only outlets in the campsite I could find were in the bathrooms or laundry and I didn’t want to leave my phone in either place unattended. TM found me and she was going on a ranger walk when I was supposed to leave for the dog sled demo, so we chatted and gossiped about the group for a while, as the tour was winding down, it was time for guide evals and tip talk. We talked for a while before we went our separate ways.
I was wicked early for the bus pick up, but that didn’t matter as they always have enough buses for everyone who wants to go and there were three that day. Another tourmate joined me, as she didn’t go on the helidogs and wanted to keep it low key that day too. We took a bus to the demo, which was very controlled. A walk down a long path to the kennels were all the dogs were either tied up and if they came up to you, you could pet, or they were in dog runs and going nuts. Most of the dogs were really chill and not nearly as crazy as the ones on the glacier. Plus, throw in the fact that there were just tons and tons (for Alaska) of people and I wasn’t used to the crowds anymore. That was a bit much for me. But the puppies were so cute! They were my favorite part.
The demo started and most of us had to stand and watch the ranger drive the sled a short distance around and then another ranger told us about what happens to the park in the winter and how they are used, which was interesting. We then got to ask questions and most of the questions were surprisingly pretty good, so that was a treat. I hate dumb questions. Then was picture time, if you wanted to hop on behind the sled and get your picture taken like you were “driving” the sled, which actually was kind of lame, but that might have been because I had actually ridden on a dog-pulled-sled already.
My favorite part was after the show ended. Instead of being lazy and taking the bus back to the visitor center, tour mate and I decided to walk it as it was a really easy, well paved walk. The Roadside Trail goes along the road, so it’s hard to get lost, is less then 2 miles and is relatively flat. Since we were spending the following day in the van, I wanted to do a short hike, but something easy and this was perfect. We had a few good views, but it was mostly tree covered. We chatted the whole way, to scare off any bears that might be around and we actually ran into some people walking the other way, but it was pretty quiet otherwise.
We came up behind the visitors center and went our separate ways before we had to meet everyone at the cafe in a bit. I called my parents, because I hadn’t talked to them in a few days and then I had a wonder around the gift shop before heading to the cafe. The same thing happened again with the group out at Savage River and they waited nearly 2 hours for an empty bus to take them back to the Visitors Center and of course, arrived later then planned, but once again, no one cared too much. We then went into the main drag of town where there were a ton of tourist shops and people wanted to have a poke around and buy stuff, as the trip was finally winding down. We poked around for a bit before heading back to camp for our last night!
We had some sort of stew for dinner that was spicy and mostly we just gossiped about the guide tip, as the guide never spoke to us about it, which was a bit weird. The weather changed quickly and it got so cold and looked like rain. Lo and behold, right when we started eating, it started spitting down and kind of came and went for the rest of the evening. I had showered two days before (a lot, for this trip) and we were headed to the hotel the following day (hallelujah!!!) but I wanted to take a shower and spend some time in the bathroom, if only to charge my dvd player, which had oddly died. Annoying! I trekked in the mud covered road, in the rain, to the bathroom and when I was done, unfortunately, had to trek back, pretty much undoing all the cleaning up I did. All I can say is, thank god, we had these picnic covers as I spread my stuff out everywhere and even changed my pants out in the open (it was pitch black, no one could see me) and everything stayed dry. My dvd player didn’t last long, but oh well. It was the last night!!