A short drive north of the entrance to Denali National Park (nee Mt. McKinley National Park), is a mile-long stretch of commercial businesses known, not so affectionately, as Glitter Gulch.
|Entering Glitter Gulch. The Salmon Bake, on the center right, was closed. Darn it.|
|A part of the trinket shops.|
|Some of the mega-hotels.|
|More of the mega-hotels. All were closed for the season..|
Many Alaskans are appalled at the collection of trinket and kitsch shops on one side of the highway and mega-hotels catering to cruise ship passengers and tour operators. In all fairness, though, there are some shops that offer quality products made in Alaska, as well as Alaskan art.
Some of the businesses were already closed and boarded up for the winter, because even the park itself closes the day after the final lottery drive on Tuesday. But, it doesn’t matter when you drive through this area, either at the beginning, mid, or end of their short summer season, you can always see signs promising slashed prices in the trinket shops.
|Note the bright yellow "50 % off polar fleece" sign.|
I was gifted a permit for the annual Denali road lottery, one of five days in which private vehicles are allowed on the park road past Mile 14. Four hundred vehicles a day travel as far as Kantishna, at Mile 92, driving slowly to spot animals, admire the scenery, and hopefully see Denali itself.
My permit was for Tuesday, the final day. I arrived in Glitter Gulch late afternoon Sunday, checked into the RV park that’s right behind the shops, and went to see what bargains the purveyors of Made in China souvenirs had waiting for me.
My first purchase, which I absolutely didn’t need but wanted anyway, was a hand sewn backpack, marked down to $20 from $39.99. I’m not sure, but I think it was made by the owner’s wife.
|One main compartment, one smaller in the front, and a pocket on each side.|
I then proceeded to visit all the other shops that were still open, filling my new backpack exponentially and refusing all offers of plastic bags in favor of my new, reusable, handmade pack.
Here are some pitiful photos of my purchases:
|A notebook for $1.50. This came in handy.|
|Known by various names, such as buffs, bandeaus, bandanas, etc., I was introduced to these hand things in Africa by my traveling companions. You can see below how useful they are.|
|As you can see, their uses are varied. Myself, I find them perfect for disguising neck wattles.|
|This lovely handmade, sand-carved cup was a quality purchase.|
|This fleece throw featuring a photo of the mountain itself, was marked down to $7.99, and is perfect for the RV.|
I have noticed in the last couple years that my apparel choices run heavily to designs in Real Tree camouflage. I acquired this taste while preparing for a trip to my cousins' elk hunting camp in Wyoming, and after attending Jamin Hunter Taylor's Birding Boot Camp. Therefore, this zip-up hoodie in lightweight fabric, gray with light blue, was an unusual choice. I liked it so much, I went back and got another in green and gray. These were marked down to $20.00 from $54.99, which puts them right in line with what they should cost.
And finally, a black cap with colorful embroidery.