A special encounter at Denali National Park made that day even more special
I make sure to get the front seat on the bus to have a wide view. There is a free seat next to me. “Hi, I am Randal. Can I sit here?”.
I am in Alaska and I am traveling through this marvelous land hosted and escorted by Larry and Adela, my dear friends from Fairbanks. Denali National Park is one of the top destinations, and here we are, on a bus ready for this journey which starts from the Visitor Center.
Entering the park is like stepping in the Supreme Temple of the planet where nature and wildlife are the highest divinities. A ranger at the gate of the Park stops the bus to deliver a presentation speech to us; it sounds spiritual and prepares our soul to that journey in the heart of Alaska. Randal says: “He is not a ranger, he must be a kind of monk who prepares our inner world with his words, making it pure to encounter the peak of Denali”. I like this interpretation, and I make it mine!
Just a couple of kilometers and I already feel enchanted by the view in front of my eyes. But, what I will experience later is beyond any expectation. Yes, expectations! Because I think everyone should be warned about the emotions one could experience entering into Denali Park. They should write a sign telling visitors: “Be aware of probable Denali Park’s effects: You may want to drop on your knees in the attempt of adoring this infinite horizon, mesmerized by the unmeasurable beauty of the landscape surrounding you anywhere. In that state of wonder, you may want to shout to deliver your voice to the valleys, mountains, rivers and up to the white peak of Denali. You may want to cry to free the joy that is tightening your heart, soothing that way the infinite pleasure that feels almost painful…”.
So, be prepared when you enter the Denali Park!
Like two children in wonderland, Randal and I follow the bus driver’s instructions, looking through the windows in search of wild animals. Look over there, now the other side: grizzly bears, moose, caribous, dall sheep and wolves, while artic squirrels cross over the street.
Where do you come from Giulia? I come from Italy, and you? I come from Hilo.
Oh, Hilo! The rainy city on the Big Island, Hawaii, I answer. I’ve been there and I still have in my mind the freak style people and the old buildings that survived the tsunami of 1946. Randal widens his eyes in amazement! He is surprised that an Italian woman knows this small town lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He shows me a necklace that he wears. It has a little pendant, an ampoule with a raindrop of Hilo.
From time to time the bus stops and all the passengers get off and spread around the area to take photos and breathe the pure oxygen of Denali Park. But I can’t take pictures! I can’t look at that beauty through a screen, I can’t miss to fully live that moment, I can’t distract my mind from the sense of happiness, joy, and gratitude I am feeling at that very precise instant… Anyway, it’s easy to live the moment while Adela is taking professional photos that she will share with me. I feel, so blessed!
The sun is setting and after eight hours spent going for miles and miles through the Park, it’s time to get back. Randal decides to stay longer in the Park and takes another bus, but before saying good-bye he asks a strange question: “Do you prefer gold or silver?” I answer: “Silver”. He takes a little silver box from his backpack and says: “This is an artwork of a friend of mine and I want to give it you”. I open up the box and I find a copy of his necklace with the Hilo raindrop in a pendant ampoule. I am touched and at that precise moment, I visualize in my mind my American friend Victor who brought me to Hawaii, Larry and Adela who invited me to Alaska and Randal, an unknown person who is right in front of me giving me a gift. I will wear it thinking of this day. A great day at Denali Park!
This is the amazing power of Human Connections!