In The Distance

Talkeetna is a fun place to stop in late August and if it had not been raining, I might’ve been tempted. The worst of the summer tourists have moved on, most of the shops and cafes are still open, and the town folk are mostly friendly.

However, as I bopped along the Parks Hwy and approached the Talkeetna cut-off, windshield wipers swishing steadily, this turn in the road held little appeal. Nope, that’s gonna be a hard pass. It was raining as hard here as it had been at home.

More determined than ever, I drove on. My weather apps all indicated warmer temperatures and no rain … if I could just drive far enough north.

My only goal this day was to outrun the rain before I stopped for the night. I wasn’t sure how realistic the goal was – the weather was lousy and I was running on flagging energy reserves.

As you can plainly see from these screenshots … the sun WAS out there. So, onward I traveled, slowly but surely driving towards a break in the gloom.

Trapper creek was another possible stopping point for the night. The Trapper Creek Inn and RV Park was, I knew from previous stays, quiet and woodsy, with ample drive-thru sites and full hook-ups if I wanted them.

But no … darn it. Although the rain had lightened in intensity by the time I passed through Trapper Creek, it continued to fall, so I pushed on, giving the charming but very damp RV Park a regretful glance in passing.

At this point, I knew the foothills of the Alaska Range were in the distance and would normally be a lovely sight about now, but I might as well have been in “Anywhere, USA”. Dark clouds obscured any glimpse of mountains.

It wasn’t until I was actually starting up the first pass and saw the small brown sign announcing entry into Denali National Park and Preserve that I realized I was nearing my next two options for an overnight stop.

With windshield wipers on a slower tempo, but still in use, I decided to stop for a rest break and potty walk at Denali View South. It was only sprinkling, I reasoned with myself. Maybe it would stop.

A short, brisk walk brought me to the [usually] breathtaking stone platform high above the expanse of forest encompassing the huge nature preserve. On a good day, the panoramic vista of the entire Alaska Range, featuring Denali front and center, would draw oohs and ahhs from the admiring throngs. Today, the gloomy view elicited a disgusted “Bleh” from me.

Clouds, clouds and more clouds – not a mountain in sight. Rhonda gave an equally disgusted shake of her whole body, pointing out that the sprinkle was quickly turning back into rain – and she was getting wet!

K’esugi Ken State Campground (one of my favorites) was just up the road from Denali View South and turned out to be no drier, so Rhonda and I motored on. This was turning into a long, wet day.

On the bright side (very literally), twenty minutes later, I was finally beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel/rainstorm. Look closely at the horizon – I wasn’t sure whether to be thrilled or horrified. I could see the first signs of blue beyond the storm clouds … but, oh geez. Is that snow I’m heading towards?

With the rain seemingly behind me, it felt prudent to go ahead and find someplace to pull in for the night before heading any higher in elevation. It might be sunny and warm in Fairbanks, but I needed to climb higher before descending into Alaska’s Interior. Tomorrow would be soon enough.

With 160 miles to my final destination, I pulled into a Rest Area about 15 miles south of Cantwell, Alaska. Not exactly a campground, but there was an attached, way-side behind the Rest Area, which is a sort of an unofficial free camping area.

After slowly idling through the small way-side loop, noting a travel-trailer and two tent campers already settled in for the evening, I deemed it good enough.

Choosing site #10, I parallel parked on a happily level, paved pad, with my RV facing towards the highway. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to be ready for a quick departure if needs must.

We even had our own picnic table and fire pit, although having seen a rather large brown bear just off the road’s edge only a mile back, we eschewed eating dinner in the woods. One quick potty walk later and Ronni and I were safely locked in for the night.

Pleasant thoughts of dry, sunny Fairbanks lulled me into a blissful sleep. We would be there tomorrow.

Then it started raining.

Published by 2dachsnite

I’m a RV Sometimer (less than full time, but more than a weekend warrior) living in Alaska, with dreams of seeing the country in my RV. I am 70 years old and married, but my husband isn’t a fan of RV travel, so my journeys are mostly solo except for my navigators; dachshunds Baxter & Rhonda. I’m also a spinner of tales - and a spinner of yarn (my other passion). My spinning wheel, along with the dogs, go along on all my travels. I look forward to sharing my stories, including photos and videos, with you.

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