So, this morning started at about 7:30 when someone knocked on the door and came in.  It was Cathi, letting Courteny know that she was two hours late for work.  Yup, that was an interesting wake up call….but definitely could have been worse.

Next, I took a nice long shower, got breakfast, and started my days journey of wandering with no real purpose (it’s so awesome to be able to DO that now!!).  Today, I had wanted to finish exploring Hill Top road and find Otto Lake though.  DEFINITELY a good decision 🙂  Eventually it led to  a gulf course (I know, right?  It was hilariously sad, really) and the launch site for Denali ATV Adventures and Denali Outdoor Center.  It was still a beautiful day, but I kept seeing these huge clouds that looked like rain.  Well, Stina finally followed those clouds with her eyes until she realized that they were actually all the smoke from one of the fires up the mountain that had really taken off.  It was a bit scary and riveting actually, especially since the biggest cloud seemed to be hanging over where I knew my camp was. 

Anyways, I FINALLY found a spot worth writing home about: Lion’s park in front of Lake Otto. B-E-A-U-tiful!!!  I put the pictures on FaceBook in the Alaska II Album, check them out.  The sun was out, the waves were gently crashing on the shore, a breeze blowing, with plenty of picnic tables facing the water and looking out on Mount Healy.  I took off my sneakers, tested the water (which was actually warmer than most of the Vermont waters at home…one guy even waded in up to his chest before coming out), and then settled down on the picnic table for about three hours.  I have never tanned so fast, I was a bit shocked, but still pleased 🙂  I met a woman and her son who I had seen in the Miner’s Market a few days before and they offered me a ride to wherever I needed to go.  I said thanks, but that I was good with the walk. 

I wound up making a list of all the tours I would like to do when my boyfriend arrives and I went into the Denali Outdoor center and talked to a woman about the rafting trips.  She was incredibly nice and helpful, just like everyone else I’ve met here.  I was a bit inspired by her kindness, so I walked back to camp and made a bunch more phone calls to other tour companies.  The biggest surprise was in calling the Fly Denali company, which offers a glacier landing and sight seeing tour.  I mentioned that my boyfriend was in the army and was about to ask if they did discounts when the guy told me he would fly us for free!  If we reserve ahead of time, we’d have to pay but it would be half price.  Either way, everyone I talked to today was making cuts left and right to accommodate us.  I can’t wait to start planning in more detail! 

After that, I took a quick shower, changed, and took the shuttle into the canyon for dinner with Kayci!  We ate at Prospector’s and had the Boreal Forest pizza, which consisted of reindeer sausage, feta cheese, their special sauce, and something else which I can’t remember.  It was awesome!  Thin crust, good flavor (the sausage was amazing), and crunchy.  We couldn’t pass up the dessert trays going around either, so Kayci got the cheesecake and I got the chocolate moose cake.  Both were delicious.  The place was packed, but fun to look at and we still had pretty good service.  It was neat that I actually knew some of the people because they come into Miner’s Market and they knew me which was totally cool.  I definitely need to make a trip to the canyon and look through all the shops – there are sooooo many and the variety of food and merchandise is really wide.  I caught the bus home and am definitely ready to tuck in.  I need to figure out the laundry situation tomorrow, along with a few other things, but I’m trying to leave it pretty open 🙂 I bought a combo lock for our door and almost wish I hadn’t.  The thing takes me like twenty minutes to get in because it’s cheap.  Oh well, I guess I feel safer that it’s on there.  On the other hand, if someone actually really wanted to break in, the door is made of really cheap plywood and wouldn’t take much, so really, am I actually preventing much? 

Peace of mind over practicality maybe.  *sigh* the brain has officially clocked off folks, I’ll write more tomorrow.  For now, enjoy the shotty pictures and fuzzy interpretations of life on the other side of the states.  Much love and dusty thanks for reading this!