We Joined the 30% Club

bearpicThat is, wind-blown and breathless, we became part of the select few who actually get to see Mount McKinley. The winds broke the hold the clouds had on the mountain – revealing its majesty and beauty. The Great One – or Denali – as the locals had named it, long before President McKinley could ever have imagined he would have had the honor, looms big on the horizon and in almost every story Alaskans love to tell.

We are having fun traveling through Alaska – a land of the midnight sun. It is light when we go to sleep and light again when we wake up. On our Tundra Wilderness experience, we traveled four hours to a spectacular view of Denali and another four hours on the return trip. Along the way, we saw a lot of big, brawny grizzly bears, one beautiful blond teen-age grizzly, and one momma with two cubs – nature at its best – at once intimidating, exhilarating, graceful, and beautiful. In addition, we saw moose and caribou, which, by the way, look strikingly like Santa’s reindeer!  Hmmmm…  makes me wonder…  it is just a short hop to Santa’s workshop as we are a mere 1200 miles from the North Pole.

Everything grows big in the Alaskan tundra: the mountains, the bears, the moose, the caribou, even the rabbits; that is, everything grows big except the trees. There are no really big trees here because they don’t get enough sunlight to grow very much in year’s time. Varieties of spruce and birch mostly, these trees only grow to be 10 or 12 feet tall and ever-so-skinny but beautiful none the less. The spruce trees bundle all of their pine cones at the very top so they can gather sunshine – as much as possible to continue their species!

As we write, we are traveling from Denali to Anchorage on the McKinley Explorer scenic railroad, which follows the Nenana River – milky with its glacial sediment – braiding its way through the Alaskan mountain range. Diminished by the sheer size of the mountains, left breathless by beauty of the river and the clarity of the skies above, we are refreshed and uplifted with our travels.  “What a Wonderful World” indeed!

Eager to see everyone when we return home, we send our love to Tel Hai all the way from Alaska,

Harold and Fran Atkins

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