Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Heading Home

Vince and I woke up to a beautiful morning in Healy! The sun was shining, the clouds were sparse, and the coffee shop at The Earthsong Lodge was open. We got dressed, ordered some coffee, and bought a few breakfast items to enjoy outside.

The coffee shop

Our breakfast in the sun

The lodge is owned by an avid outdoorsman who has his own sled dog team;
we were invited to come meet the dogs after breakfast- very cool!

One of the dogs basking in the sun

We had a great time learning about the origins of sled dogs, 
getting to know our host, and meeting the team

The dogs enjoyed it too ;)

It was time to head home after meeting the dogs, so we bid our host
farewell, packed the car, topped off the gas tank, and hit the road

We stopped to pick blueberries off the Denali Highway on our way-
can you see Vince in the berry patch?!

Not all the berries were quite ripe yet,
but we found a few patches of good ones...

...just enough to take home and enjoy before heading back to work

A lone caribou off the highway

We wrapped up our berry search just as the rain started

Home sweet home

Making Plans

After a good night's sleep, Vince and I were ready to do some scouting. We had a quick breakfast, helped Vern load up his 4-wheelers, and the three of us headed out to search for a good site for our moose camp.

My view from the back 

Vern led us to an area with lots of willows (a.k.a. moose food!) 

Vince and Vern discussing our options

It wasn't long before we settled on a spot. We found a location close to a clearing that would give us a good vantage point, marked our site, and headed back to Vern's to unload the ATVs and firm up our plans for September. With that taken care of, Vince and I had to begin our journey home- our 3 weeks off was quickly coming to an end! We thanked Vern for his hospitality, packed up the car, and started back toward the Denali area for one more night near the park.

We found a great place to stay!

The office yurt at Earthsong Lodge

We checked in, grabbed our keys, and headed for our cabin

It was the perfect place for the final night out on our trip :)

Eastward Ho

The North Pole was charming, but it was time to move on after our visit with Santa. Finding places to stow our increasing amount of goodies was interesting, but we eventually got everything tucked away and we headed out of town.

The weather was beautiful, so we stopped to check out a park off the highway

It turned out to be a place listed on the Nation Register of Historic Places- cool!

Rika's Roadhouse- constructed in 1909

We did a quick tour of the interior and moved on to the rest of the grounds

There were goats and chickens on-site (cared for by the local community)

This lil' guy was too cute! 

An old wagon inside the barn 


Refreshed from our quick detour, Vince and I drove on toward Delta Junction. We were off to our friend Vern's house to do some catching up and pre-planning for hunting season ;)

Almost there!

We made it to Vern's, unpacked the car, and offered to take
him to dinner before taking care of business...

Local Thai stop

Now that we'd had some time to talk (and pacify our growling tummies), the 3 of us headed to the local shooting range to fine-tune our scopes :D

Vince dialing in the cannon ;)

Vern showing us how it's done- impressive!!!

It had been a busy day for all of us, so we headed back to Vern's to relax and make plans for the next day. Checking out a moose-hunting spot was on the agenda, so we set our gear out for the morning and tucked in early... to be continued :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Next Stop: Santa's House!

After a nice quiet evening and a good night's sleep, Vince and I were ready to continue our road trip. We had a beautiful sunny morning, so we did a little shopping and walked down the street for breakfast before packing up and heading out of town.

Cappuccinos were a must!

 Our savory ham and cheese crepe...

...and a sweet strawberry cream cheese one (YUM)

Our hunger was satisfied, but needed just a little more coffee, so
we walked a little further down the street and found a new place to check out

Local art at the coffee shop- cute

Caffeinated and content, we packed up the car, checked out of our hotel, and set out for the North Pole (yes, this is really the name of a town in Alaska!). We were off to see Santa :)

Made it!

 The elves had been busy; there was a TON of toys to check out

Santa wasn't there when we first arrived, so we spent some time looking for ornaments and Christmas decorations

There were some great t-shirts too haha 

Santa eventually arrived- fresh from cookie-tasting...

...we're still on the "Good List" ;)

Monday, August 29, 2016

On To Fairbanks

Although I could easily spend a month or more in and around Denali, it was time for Vince and I to move on to the next destination on our list: Fairbanks. We checked out of our room, grabbed a quick snack, and hit the road!

Our first stop in town- coffee!

From there we headed to The Museum Of The North. It was an excellent stop; exhibits included photography, animals, dinosaurs, local history, and state history :)

Gorgeous photography from a local artist

Alaska brown bear (this one is 8'9" tall and weighed 1,250 pounds!)

Polar bear and seals

A caribou


Dall Sheep

Ermine (weasels!)



A Steppe Bison

Mammoths & Mastodons 


Local paintings- beautiful

It was time to check in to our hotel when we finished touring the museum

Our check in complete, it was time to make a harder decision-
where to eat dinner!

Eventually we agreed on The Pump House; a restaurant that was reconstructed from a pumping station that was formerly used to process gold :)

We had a nice dinner on the patio and decided to stretch our legs downtown. It was turning out to be a spectacular day outside, so we wanted to make the most of it!


 Historic Catholic Church from 1904

 WWII Monument

The Antler Arch

The Visitor's Center- very nice!

Me next to a HUGE sunflower in the Visitor's Center gardens

We walked around for over an hour and decided it was ice cream time :p

Hot Licks is the local favorite, so that's where we went!

 We made it just before the line got long- YES!

There were lots of choices, but we eventually made up our minds... was a great way to end our first day in The Golden Heart City :)