Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ultimate Denali Trip Fail

Well, for the 3rd year in a row, I had the great fortune to take a trip into Denali National Park as one of the winners of the Denali Road Lottery. This wonderful chance meant I would be one of the few people chosen to drive my own vehicle the 90 miles back to Wonder Lake, a gorgeous setting where so many spectacular photographs of McKinley have been taken. Normally, access into the park is limited to biking or riding a tour bus. For $10, a person has a chance to drive at their own pace, stop when they want and enjoy the quiet of a small car vs a bus full of people. I had been looking forward to taking this trip once again and for once, I had everything. I left early. I had a reliable vehicle with studded tires, my sisters were coming, so the driving could be divided, coolers packed, snack food ready, fresh batteries for the cameras and an early start. The topper to it all, was the stunning, cloud-free sky.

About an hour and a half into the trip, I looked over at my husband and smiled. We had had a rough year and this was going to be a highlight for us. I squeezed his hand and leaned back as I watched the sun slowly coming up. It was going to be a gorgeous day. My sisters were in the front, one driving, one controlling the screwy heating in my parents' car. Suddenly, they both look at the gauges. I started blocking out everything that happened from this point. The next thing my sister said was, "Folks, we're having technical difficulties." I sat staring in disbelief and disappointment as we pulled off the road and the car died. Of course, the trip was ruined. There were no options. By the time my father would arrive to check the vehicle, it would be too late to get another vehicle and start again. There was nothing that could have predicted the car failure. It needed a fuel pump replacement and a $200 tow. The car wasn't old, it didn't have high mileage, it had just had an oil change and regular tune-ups. Nothing predicted it. Except me. A couple weeks earlier I had awoken from a dream where we all overslept on the day of the trip. I was so upset about the whole thing I told my sisters and said, "We can't oversleep!"

Despite all our meticulous planning, the trip had ended in failure. We all crammed into my Dad's truck, said good-bye to the car that failed us, and turned around. Looking back to the north, we had a clear shot of Mt. McKinley. The mountain that shrouds itself 90% of the year and hides its presence with storm clouds generated from the 20,320 foot peak was towering behind us, laughing.

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