This past weekend was the 4th of July. Since the whole family had Friday off and Thursday was my last day at work any way, we decided to drive up to Denali National Park. We headed out Friday morning after getting everything and everyone, including Mac situated in mom and dad's Expedition. Our first stop was right as we were leaving Wasilla. It is really the last good place to stop and potty before the long 4 hour or so drive. I say "or so" because if you are me and want to take lots of stops for pictures then it can take a bit longer. We continued driving until we got to Cantwell which is another two hours from Wasilla. Macintosh did such a good job the whole trip. He of course was very excited every time we stopped because he couldn't wait to get out and stretch is long legs and take a much needed potty break of his own. He did very well though in the car and never once got car sick or misbehaved at all. Nana says she is very proud of her grand doggie! By the time we stopped in Cantwell we were all ready for lunch and decided to try some of the homemade BBQ that they were making. There really is only about two places to stop there in Canwell and about the last place to stop before hitting Denali and Fairbanks. The BBQ was very delicious as were the onion rings that Dan and I had with our sandwiches.
The hotel that mom had gotten for us to all stay in was only about another half an hour up the road. Before we hit the hotel though we stopped at the new veteran's memorial in Denali. They have erected five monuments, each one dedicated to the different branches of the military. Dan stood in front of the Navy and Air Force one to represent his dad and brothers who have all served and then mom and I stood in front of the one dedicated to the Marine Corps in honor of Mike and Howard and Uncle Alan and all the rest of our Marine friends and families that we've come to know and love. I should have taken Dad's picture in front of the one for the Army, but I forgot. I think mom got a picture of it though. It's a beautiful tribute to our men and women who have given their lives to serve and protect our country and it put real meaning to this holiday weekend we were celebrating.
We arrived at the Grizzly Bear Resort about a half an hour later. It is a newer hotel that the owners had decided to add on to their campgrounds and cabins they already had on site. At first I was a bit worried about what their idea of handicapped accessible was going to be like while we waited for mom to check in, however once we got to the room we were pleasantly surprised! I wish I would have gotten a picture of the whole inside of the room so you could see just how nice it was! Each room has a balcony attached to it and all the rooms are built to look like log cabins with very nice cedar wood. Dan and I's room was huge. It had to be the biggest handicap hotel room I've ever seen. The bathroom was also very nicely contructed. Mac was very happy to be out of the vehicle and finally ate and drank something substantial. He didn't eat that much or hardly drink the whole way to the hotel.
We rested a bit before heading to dinner. We decided to go to the Alaskan Nite dinner theater show. The actors were very talented and the food was very good. They served everything family style too. Each table could fit around 10 people and since there were just the four of us we got to meet two other families. One couple was from California and the other family was statioined here in Alaska at Ft. Richardson in Eagle River/Anchorage. He had served in Iraq and we thanked him for serving and protecting our country. They served ribs and salmon and corn and baked beans for dinner and then blueberry cobbler for dessert. After dinner is when the show started. I had taken Mac in with us since I didn't want to leave him in the room or car. He did so good throghout the whole show. I was worried he might start barking when the show started, but he didn't. Even when they turned out the lights for part of the show and did some gunfire type noises, he just stayed right by my side. It was pretty late when we got back to the hotel so we tried to get right to bed. The Alaskan sun combined with the fairly hard mattresses made it difficult to sleep. We all woke up pretty sore the next morning. Oh, I almost forgt to mention Dan and Mac's run in with some wildlife. After we got back to the hotel from dinner, Dan took Mac for a quick walk and bathroom break. He came back in fairly soon afterwards which I thought was strange until I noticed he was limping and that the leash was broken. Apparently two squirrels decided to run across the path right where Mac and Dan were walking. Before he knew what was happenng, Mac had broken free of his leash and had ran after the squirrels and cornered them in a tree. Dan climbed down to get to him when Mac went the other way and was higher up than he was apparently. Mac managed to help his daddy out and back to the room. Dan was limping a bit but otherwise was okay. Squirrel-1 Mac-0.
The next day we got up and had breakfast at Subway (quite tasty if you haven't tried their breakfast sandwiches yet). Then we watched the rafters get started on the river and took more pictures of the mountains...yes, I took tons of pictures and plan on scrapping all of them! Then it was off to Denali National Park for the 14 mile drive into the park. You can only drive your personal vehicle the first 14 miles into the park. There is a visitor's center there that we stopped at for lunch and did some touring of the center to learn more about Denali. Mac did pretty well in there until he saw a stuffed wolf with a bone in it's mouth and started to bark! That was it for Dan and I as far as the visitor's center. We waited outside for mom and dad. This is where round two came in with the squirrel. Now mind you, I doubt it was the same squirrel from the night before, but this one was definitely looking to pick a fight. He came around at least three different times trying to antogonize Mac. This proved though to be good training for Mac to work on his submission toward prey so he doesn't go chase after things! I would say that this one ended in a tie overall! We had a very nice lunch on the patio at the cafe there and then packed up to start the drive home.
The drive home seemed to go much faster then up, probably because we made less stops. We arrived home around 8 p.m. just in time to see some fireworks on t.v. since it is still daylight outside until 1 or 2 in the morning it is very hard to see fireworks so I just watched the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on t.v.
Yesterday we all rested up from our trip. I did want to catch the last hour or so of the Girdwood Forest Festival just to say that I had been at least once. It was rather interesting! I'm glad we went to Denali instead of hanging out at Alyeska all wekeend! It definitely is for those wanting to relive Woodstock! Well, at least now I can say that I've been to such an event and made fun of a bunch of hippies!
All in all it was a great weekend and tomorrow I get to relax some and enjoy my first day out of work....yay!