We decided not to camp when we go to Denali for the road lottery on the 15th and 16th. Alex talked to someone who said that it would be down in the high 20s to lower 30s at night. While I think we'd be fine, I guess Alex has thinner skin than I do. He booked us a room in Cantwell for the night of the 15th and one at the Denali Princess Lodge on the 16th. I'm not complaining! We haven't had a get away from the kids in... oh... EVER.
The weather is getting cooler here. I have pulled out my sweaters and am in the process of storing all of my summer wear. Pulling out the fleece and the flannel is like greeting old friends! I love sweater weather. I'm looking forward to wearing my Cabella jacket with the wolf pelt lined hat in the next few months. When my friend Connie moved from Anchorage to Tennessee this past Spring, she gave it to me. When I tried it on in April, I could only keep it on for about 5 minutes before I was broiling! It's going to be awesome this winter.
Alex got the kids and himself ski passes for the season at Alyeska already. They don't know yet, but I know they will be excited once the first substancial snowfall hits. I have no interest in downhill skiing, myself. I know, I know... I've been told that if I try it once, I'll love it and get hooked, but I just don't think I will, and it's not worth the money to me to purchase all the gear I'd need to go just one time. Alex and the kids can go skiing, I'll go snowshoeing and cross country skiing on the paths around Alyeska while they are zipping down the hills and doing face plants into snowbanks.
The leaves on the trees are beginning to turn yellow. Further up on the mountains, the low lying bushes are turning red. Fall is my favorite time of year for color. I love the colors of fall even more than I love the colors of the flowers that line the streets of Anchorage in hanging baskets during the summer. I love bundling up in a jacket, feeling the cold air on my face, wearing gloves. I love making fires, drinking hot cocoa, and snuggling to keep warm. I love watching the dogs bury their noses in the snow and chasing snowflakes as they fall. The darkness that lasts so long during the winters here doesn't bother me either. I have an aunt who has Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that makes her very depressed and lethargic during the winter. She has to spend time under an ultra violet light lamp in the winter. I'm so glad that it doesn't effect me like that in the least. Winter here is my favorite time of year, hands down. The trees, bushes, ground and mountains are covered with a layer of white that reminds me of wedding cake. It's beautiful when the light hits it, or moonlight reflects off each snowflake. The small waterfalls that usually flow down the sides of the mountains on the Seward Highway freeze into magical ice walls, the inlet freezes to a mirror like sheet of ice, and the path to Winner Creek just about evens out to be elevationless with the snowfall. The last time I snowshoed to Winner Creek last winter, I could hear the creek beneath the snow and ice, whispering as it fell over the cold rocks. I took the hand tram over Glacier Creek and couldn't tell how far above the ground I was because the creek was blanketed with a 20 foot layer of snow! It was amazing. I won't be snowshoeing unprepared like I did last year again though. I'll bring an emergency pack this year.
I'm getting all caught up in dreaming of winter already, when I should be looking forward to my Denali trip! This is a possible once-in-a-lifetime trip! Winning the Denali Road Lottery is awesome! Having sent out 10 entries, and winning with one, was great! I'm definitely entering again next year. The opportunity to drive in our own vehicle the entire length of the road is really special. Being able to stop whenever we want to, spending the day in the park from 6 am till midnight, not rushing, breathing in the air and the magesty is going to be amazing. I'm going to have to read up on Denali before we leave. I'm going to make sure I have plenty of batteries for my camera, the appropriate NON COTTON attire (no folks, here in Alaska, cotton is NOT our friend!) for layering, I'm going to crochet a hat just for the occassion, and I'll make sure we have healthy food in the truck to eat! Ok, getting psyched about the trip again! Angie won for the same day. I wonder where they are staying. I could let them use our camping reservations if they wanted. It's already paid for.
I've been here for a little over a year, but I still enjoy Alaska every day, just as much (actually probably more) than I did when I came to visit in 2005. I look forward to every sunset in Alaska, every change of season, every animal I see I feel I'm seeing for the first time, I love the abundance of the land and the secret beauty it holds. I still tape every documentary (thank you Jeff Corwin) on Alaska, bears, and Denali. I look for books about Alaska at every bookstore. I wonder, do people in Iowa enjoy their state as much? How about Oklahoma? There's just something about Alaska, there really is. There's a spirit here that grabs hold of you and just doesn't let go. I have a friend, Mary, who decided to move back to the Lower 48 a few months back. She made it for 41 days before the longing for Alaska brought her right back to it's awaiting, open arms. I love it here! Bring on the Northern Lights! YIPEE WINTER!