Driving to Alaska Day 16: Denali State Park

Welcome to post 16 of 18 in our Driving to Alaska Series. We hope you enjoy the stories from this unforgettable 4,000 mile road trip. //

It was a cold, windy night and the morning was met with another thick layer of grey clouds.  We woke and set off in search of either better weather or a cafe where we could thaw out.  The nearest cafe was closed so we did what we’ve done every morning and prepared breakfast on the tailgate of the truck, this time in a gas station parking lot.  The idea for the day was to see what Denali State Park had to offer and then venture down another long, dirt road to nowhere in search of a place to camp.  

Not long after traveling down Highway 3 and descending 2,000 feet in elevation, we returned to spring.  Thick groves of birch trees lined the highway and shone vibrant shades of green.  Our time on the Denali Highway was stunning but winter still held its grip up there.  As we drove south the temp climbed into the 50s and I exhaled with relief.  Maybe tonight I could wear just one puffy instead of two.  

The K’esugi Ken campground offered a nice day use area where we made lunch and reveled in the sunshine that began to peek out from the breaking clouds.  The more the sun appeared, the less inclined I was to get back in the cab of the truck to continue driving.  We rarely stay at campgrounds but in this moment amenities such as bathrooms, walking paths, and clean sites where we could explode all of our gear and reorganize the mess held far more appeal than venturing back out into the wilderness.  Mark didn’t disagree and so we found a nice little campsite to call home for the night and were delighted to cease driving.

It was no question that I’d reached my saturation point in the last 24 hours.  Recognizing this is a vital lesson I’ve learned in the last year.  Whenever I reach a feeling of being “over it” is when I need our travels to slow down.  This feeling used to instill fear, making me wonder if I’d reached the end of my rope with our full-time travel lifestyle.  But then I learned from the wisdom of a long-time traveler that I’ve not hit a wall as much as I’ve become oversaturated with new experiences.  When the experiences are happening faster than I can process them is when I no longer garner much enjoyment from traveling.  Luckily it takes very little for me to feel refreshed and reinvigorated.  We spent the afternoon at the campground reorganizing our mess of belongings, charging all of our batteries and devices, and for the first time in a week getting a chair out and sitting in the sun.  The sunshine was glorious and by the end of the day my enthusiasm for our time in Alaska had returned. With only two days left before returning to the lower 48 and a few short miles left to our final destination, I was ready to savor the last little bit of our remaining time in this unique and captivating state.

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We’re Mark & Michele, modern-day nomads perfecting the art of slow, full-time travel.  Our tiny home on wheels and slow-paced travel style allows us to minimize our expenses while maximizing our freedom.  May our unconventional way of life inspire you to design a life that you love.


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