This evening we find ourselves camped near the entrance to Denali National Park. We are headed for the Denali Highway, which is 145 miles of mostly gravel. There is a huge fire south of here in Willow that has the Park Highway closed north of Anchorage. It is the main artery between Fairbanks and Anchorage. The fire has consumed 6,500 acres and 45 structures, with many more in danger. From time to time a pilot car had been leading vehicles through the smoke on the highway.
This morning we cruised on the Paddleboat Discovery for three hours. The weather was ideal. We experienced beautiful views and lovely homes along the shoreline of the Chena River. We learned about the Fairbanks area and Athabascan Indian culture. We also viewed Iditarod champion Susan Butcher’s kennels from the stopped boat. She died in 2006 from lukemia but her legacy lives on with her husband and daughters. We also met and talked to Laura Allaway who ran the Iditarod this year. There was a bush pilot who took off and landed on the river. It was a very good tour and over too fast.