Welcome to the fifth installment of the Bucket List: Alaska series. If you are just joining us, you can go back to read the start of our Alaska adventure in Anchorage here. There will be links at the bottom of each post to take you to the next one.
Our Denali Natural History tour was complete by noon, so we headed over to the Denali National Park and Preserve Visitor’s Center, to look around and inquire about the Sled Dog Demonstrations. During the summer, these demonstrations are held several times per day, and we were in luck; we would just have time to grab a quick bite and catch the shuttle bus before the next one.
But back to the sled dogs. Denali’s canine rangers are Alaskan Huskies, and they help connect the past to the present. Sled dogs and rangers continue to work together to protect the wilderness of the park as they have since the 1920s. You can visit the kennels even when there is not a presentation scheduled, and I highly recommend it. If you are really lucky, there will be puppies!
We walked around the kennels after oohing and ahhing over the puppies. These working dogs are just like people, they have unique personalities, and some are far more friendly than others. The rangers ensure those that prefer a little more privacy get just that.
Then it was time for the demonstration. The Rangers have a wheeled sled that is used for training during the snow-less months, and it is also used for the demos. It looked like an adrenaline rush and a lot of fun!
Video links don’t seem too popular on this blog, but I have a short one of the dog sled run that I just have to share. The team moved so fast, photos cannot do them justice. You can view the video on YouTube here: Denali Dog Sled demo
The sled dog demo was really fun and I am glad we were able to fit it into our tight schedule. Just before departing we had to take one more puppy photo…look at this bundle of snuggles inside a doghouse.
Another very exciting thing was about to happen, following our Denali visit. I had been in touch with a fellow motorcycle blogger in the spring regarding a possible meeting at the National BMW Motorcycle Owners rally in July, but that did not materialize due to our change in RV travel plans. Well, lo and behold, Richard Machida, of Richard’s Page, is a long-time resident of Fairbanks, Alaska. He had been following our Alaska journey on FaceBook, and offered to drive two and a half hours down to Denali to meet us! He wrote about our visit on his blog in a very timely manner, unlike me, and you can read his account of our fun meeting here: Day Trip to Denali
Richard met Jerry and me at the main lodge, and we chatted over coffee for a bit, before deciding to take a ride up the road to Healy for dinner at the 49th State Brewing Company. That may sound familiar since we enjoyed a citified version in Anchorage, but the one in Healy was rustic and just what I would picture in my mind of a small town Alaskan watering hole!
It is amazing to meet people in person that you have gotten to ‘know’ in the virtual world. In Richard’s case, we have several things in common; BMW motorcycles (although Richard’s main ride these days is the Ural with sidecar), RVing, and a general love for travel and blogging. The conversation flowed effortlessly, and a good time was had by all. We were so thankful that Richard was willing and able to make the trek down to see us, and hope that we are able to cross paths again one day!
Thanks again for coming to meet us, Richard! What are the chances of knowing someone within two or so hours of Denali??? I am so glad we did!
Just a few more pictures from our walk back to our room at the lodge.
Thank you for joining me for the last part of our Denali experience. Next time, we will be venturing deeper into the interior of Alaska via the gravel Denali Highway, on our way to the Copper River area. Please come along!