To Anchorage and Home

Seattle  |  The Grand Princess  |  Katmai  |  Kenai Peninsula  |  Wrangell-St. Elias  |  The Interior  |  Denali  |  Anchorage and Home

Thursday: Denali to Anchorage

This morning, the kids gather sticks and cones during breakfast, anticipating another fire. We don’t have much time for a real one, so I douse everything with some leftover sanitizer and introduce them to the brief but huge flames of ignited alcohol.

Down the road, we see a moose running in the brush. Yan and I switch spots, and I get out my camera. It’s an elusive apparition, now vanished into the forest.

We stop by the park’s sled dog kennels and catch the tail end of the ranger presentation.

On the way to Anchorage, we’re supposed to get lunch an hour after departure. Everyone but me is asleep, so I keep driving. Bypassing Talkeetna, we pull up to the Susitna Bar and Grill in a town called Houston. It’s a Thai restaurant, and the taste is authentically spicy, except that the drunken noodles are the thick yellow kind, rather than thin and flat. The kids drink a lot of water to quench the hot chili.

Soon, we check in at our hotel in town and shower off camp grunge.

Eric had arranged a get-together with Ryan and Andrew. While they were residents, Ryan and I summitted Mt. Whitney from its back side, and Eric joined Brad and me on Haleakala. I remember Andrew when he was a medical student rotating on our service. Meeting their families for dinner at South Restaurant + Coffeehouse is a wonderful reunion, the perfect way to end our excursion in Alaska.

Friday: Full Circle Home

It’s early, and I wake up the family to begin packing. The flight out of Anchorage is smooth, and the kids are glued to the window, marveling at the vast mountains stretching beneath us. They are on the lookout for Denali, since it was obscured, veiled by clouds during our time there.

The generous layover in Seattle allows us plenty of time for lunch at Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen. I order too much food, so we walk around to get digestion going.

Alice picks us up in Ontario, and we make it back to the comforts of home. In the warm hugs of our own beds, the memories of Alaska remain vivid.

This adventure, with its milestone birthday celebrations and Yan’s professional embarkation, isn’t just a chapter closed. It’s a tapestry woven with accomplishments, a gallery of cherished moments, and bonds that are stronger than ever.

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