Not your average travel blog
We had our sights set on Denali for the mountainous scenery, the remote wildlife, the promise of expansive, lush landscape, and well, now that we’re here: Beer. The drive from Fairbanks to find a campsite in Denali is only a few hundred miles, but when you stop at the rather rustic and tasty 49th State Brewery on route, things just take longer. For our delay (caused also by miles and miles of continuous road works as rock faces are maintained and culverts so big you can drive through them are implanted under the highway), there were no campsites available in the national park when we eventually arrived. We did however manage to put our name on a spot for later in the week (most national parks do not allow reservations, so this was a bonus). I decided to make use of the interim two days by driving the Denali Highway – something we weren’t sure we would do as it’s reported to be a 136 mile drive east, and back again on an unsavoury gravel road. In my defence, both the Dempster and the Dalton Highways are three times that far, on roads which are also supposed to be less smooth and more slippery than a teenager’s face. Knowing that wildlife isn’t as naive as most teenagers (apart from moose, they’re just as awkward as any lanky pubescent), I’m fairly certain the Denali Highway will be hesitant to share with us more than her views. Creatures, much like KP in fact, like their comforts away from noisy neighbours (and unsympathetic roadworks), and the preserve around Mount McKinley (the highest peak in North America at 20,237ft) is a haven for them. Leaving the park for a couple of days, I arrange a date with the Denali Highway to see how she flaunts and flirts her flanking vistas. We also need somewhere to sleep tonight, but I’m not sure she’s that easy on a first date.
Sometimes after a long, hard day, when everything seems to be against you, all you needed is the silent, homely welcome of your saucy lover to just instinctively help relax and balance you again. Today reminded me that travel isn’t always easy, that days can be long and relaxation sometimes hard to find. Seeking a balanced routine for your body to rely on is an exhausting chore and predicting when or where a workable creative thought may occur is impossible. No man can rely on the luxury of inspiration, especially if he is lazy or idol. I am however, blessed with such a harlot to stave off my demons, just when I need her. Turns out Denali is a proper floozy, and is flirtatiously willing with only a little encouragement. Unashamedly, my favourite, and we instantly hit it off. Admittedly not too difficult in the Alaskan summer, but she wasted no time in getting me into bed, well before dark.
Our short but satisfying evening ended by a quiet, mirrored lake, with a vibrant rainbow pinning back a distant, soon-to-be melodic rain storm. A peaceful, comforting hand, calmed and cooled me just enough (like when you hang one leg out from under the duvet on a warm night) as she sent me into a deep slumber in the wilderness. Maybe it was the beer talking (doubtful after just a couple), maybe it’s my lack of lady love for quite some time, or maybe it was just because it seemed like a hellish mission to get here. I don’t know why, and I don’t think I ever watched it past the intro, but as I drifted off, my surreal mind wandered into a lucid, slow motion version of the My Little Pony theme, except we weren’t prancing around in pastel colours with ponytails. Denali and I lay soothed, under a rhythmical blanket of hypnotic droplets. Together we sunk into a cerebral calm as they burst into Rasputins of the ground, carving and moulding, trickling and tempting, sinking an evil dispensation into the quietness of soil’s moral fibre. I was content amongst some seeping persuasion, like an indulgent drip coffee into a morning cocktail, and I slept like a honey badger after ravaging a spoilt toddler’s doll in front of her tearful face. Oddly, my body followed my mind into a relaxing, animalistic dream of teaching a petulant child a lesson as a badger, and as a cunning grub-munching, den-dwelling mammal, I realised I didn’t get past making a sandwich for supper. It had been a long day, and we were spent. The sun wouldn’t set till after midnight as usual, but just as my evening with Denali had ended, the morning was beginning in the same vain – quietly restful, with a rainbow, and a lack of actual ponies.
Although easily seduced and spent in less than thirty minutes by a mature, flirtatious harlot, I’m eager to see what Denali is capable of the morning after. As soon as we’ve stirred, stretched together and felt the morning’s cool breeze over our revitalised rampant minds, for the rest of today, her highway is mine.