Thursday, June 24, 2010
The Great One (Day 11)
Denali is the tallest peak in North America. The name means "The Great One" in Athabaskan. When McKinley was running for office, a local prospector pushed for the mountain to be named after him because he was a strong proponent in The Gold Standard. The name was denied because of law that said the mountain could not be named for anyone who is living. So, when President McKinley died, the mountain was officially named after him.
Since then, Alaska has formally requested from congress that the name be changed back to the native name of "Denali". The problem now is that there are other laws which state that these requests will not be considered if there is pending legislation on the matter, and there is a congressman from the same state McKinley is from who purposely keep pending legislation to avoid any name change.
The mountain itself is pretty impressive and there are a few pull-offs outside of the park on the way where you can get a pretty good view. On this day there were clouds at the top of the mountain, which is common because of the micro-climate of the mountain.
After about an hour and a half, we were back on Parks Highway heading north to Fairbanks. About 20 miles north of Denali National park, I saw my first fox. He sprinted along the right side of the highway and stopped fast to look back at something.
You didn't have to talk to the guy to know get a sense of his world view as Glenn Beck was blaring on the TV in the background, Sara Palin signs and newspapers were featured all over, Illegal Alien and Atheist jabs on merchandise here and there, etc. I've never seen a place like this and I don't think I ever will again unless I travel back up that road. I did end up picking up a couple Alaska plates since there's not many souvenirs I can pack in the bike easily.
Fairbanks has a much better feel than Anchorage. There's still a lot of businesses, but nowhere near as much traffic. Everything is much more spread out. There are rivers that run through town and it looks to be a very inviting place to explore.