We are now on the last leg of our journey back to San Antonio, and most around me are sleeping, or trying very hard to stay awake. Yesterday was a marathon any way you look at it. After we left Anchorage on Sunday we drove to our hotel in Healy which is where we stayed in Denali National Park. That was a five hour van ride. We found a mom and pop diner that agreed to stay open to feed us. Five us our team were immortalized by eating the Grizzly Burger, and getting our photo on the wall of indigestion.
As I said earlier the drive to Denali was so wonderful that it is hard to describe adequately. Everywhere you looked was a different vista that demanded to be viewed and appreciated. It was almost sensory overload. I was also struck by the remoteness of the drive. After leaving Wasila which is just north of Anchorage we would drive for great distances before seeing a gas station, or town, or even a house. No HEB around the corner to pick up milk. No Discount Tire to fix your flat and send you on your way. There would certainly be accommodations to our lifestyle if we ever chose to live there. Solitude and the ultimate majesty of creation may be a worthy trade off.
Our accommodations were Spartan, but comfortable. We started the day back at our new favorite diner and then made our way to our white water rafting experience. This was definitely another highlight to our trip. The company we used was very good, and even our first time rafters felt safe and secure….and we had a boat load of fun! The water was very unique, 36 degrees and grey with glacial silt. It had only been in liquid form for about six hours before it reached us! We were outfitted with dry suits which, for the most part, did a remarkable job of keeping us dry and therefore very comfortable. Most of us even got to jump out and swim for a bit. We only had one fall off the boat, that was Dr. Nelson, but he had paid attention to the safety instructions and was back on board within seconds.
After lunch we were able to travel in to the Park. We could take our vehicles about 13 miles in and there we were able to get out and explore. We saw only a tiny fraction of the millions of acres that make up Denali, and Mt. McKinley was being stubborn with cloud cover, but what we saw was tremendous. We knew we had a long drive still ahead of us and so we all got out and climbed hills, walked streams, searched for bears (no luck) and simply enjoyed our time. The idyllic scene was amazingly quiet. So much to see and so undisturbed by noise and the hustle of life. Perhaps this was better planned than I had originally thought. This was a wonderful reminder of what we need before we headed back to the business of our lives. God’s reminders can be subtle or immense and sometimes both at the same time.
We loaded up the vans and began the five hour trip back to Anchorage. Our drivers are amazing! We departed Alaska at 1:40 AM and began the trek back to SA. There is no doubt that we grew during our time on Mission Choir Tour, and we are all grateful that FBCSA supports these opportunities to share our love for Jesus with so many others.