summer is coming

Photo of Primrose Ridge and Mt. Wright seen from the north

The hills here at home are turning gold and every day someone asks when we’re going to Alaska. Unlike last year’s big adventure, I won’t head north until summer’s almost over, at the tail-end of August. Stewart will go earlier, but I have two reasons for waiting.

Photo of first snow falling at the cabin
First snow

First, I’ve never seen snow at the cabin. Every year, I get home around Labor Day and Stewart calls me from the satellite phone to make sure I arrived safely. Usually he says, “It snowed!” Later on, he brings home photos like the ones in this post.

Photo of the Alaska cabin in snow

I’d like to see our cabin in snow at least once. (This makes me think of another question for the Cabin FAQ: Have you ever stayed all winter? It’s time for us to get back to work on those answers.)

Photo of snow on Primrose Ridge (Mt. Margaret)

The other reason to make a late trip is that we just entered the Denali Park Road Lottery. It’s the first time we’ve signed up to win a golden ticket — in the form of a one-day permit — to drive the Denali Park Road as far as weather will let us.

Photo of snow at the Alaska cabin during the first week of September 2015
What Labor Day can look like in Denali

Each year, the National Park Service issues 1600 permits to drive the road at the end of the summer season. For 2016, that means 400 permits per day over a four-day period from September 16-20. (You may notice that’s five days, not four. One day is set aside in a special program for military folks.) Earlier in the summer, you’re allowed to drive only a short distance on the road (as far as the Savage River Trailhead, shown on the map below). From that point, you take one of the park’s lumbering, green buses, or you walk.

Map of the Denali Park Road

It costs $10 to enter the lottery and $25 to purchase the permit if you win. The NPS website says our chances are about 1 in 6, and we’ll be notified of the drawing results in a couple of weeks.

I do realize my longing for snow and my desire to drive the park road could work at cross-purposes. More snow means less chance of driving all the way to Wonder Lake. (Some years the NPS completely shuts down the park road before the lottery days.) Or, a trip to Wonder Lake might mean no snow at all. Then again, maybe we won’t win the lottery and there won’t be a single September flurry.

Do I care? No!

We’re going back to Alaska, and nothing about that makes me unhappy.

Photo of vivid fall colors on the tundra
The cabin’s front yard in fall

Photo of rocking chair, binoculars, and a glass of scotch

P.S. I’ve started building my cabin reading list for 2016. I’ve decided to keep reading lists in the sidebar because they’ll be easier to update, and there’s plenty of room over there. Take a look and please add suggestions in the comments!

7 thoughts on “summer is coming

  1. It’s gotten so I think about your trip every year. Which scoots out into thoughts how fabulous you two share so much. And that maybe I need to go to Alaska. And then, HERE YOU ARE! Can’t wait for the updates. :)


    1. I hope you do go sometime, Heloise! Meanwhile, I’m grateful you follow along with us here. It was a little strange to write this post knowing we won’t actually leave for a few more months, but I bet we’ll find some things to share before then.


  2. These photographs are incredible. I look forward to reading everything you write, Shae! And as far as a suggestion goes, The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane. Just finished it–can’t say enough superlatives about it.


    1. Jules, thank you! Stewart saw your comment and felt sure we have that book somewhere in the house, but I’ve never seen it. On that kind of recommendation from you, I’ll definitely go looking.


  3. Oh, Shae! How your writing and photography have my heart signing! The colors and contrasts are extraordinary. It sounds like this later travel will be exciting and new no matter what. So glad you’re picking this writing back up and I look forward to each and every post with great anticipation: Honestly! Much love, Aziza


    1. Aziza, your enthusiasm is powerful inspiration to keep us posting here. Thank you! I was excited to see that you peeked in all the way from Mexico. :-)


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