Four Down Two Across: Eagle River, Wasilla And Mt. McKinley

Sunday is the 160th day of the year, and my 160th consecutive day playing table tennis — on my quest to play table tennis every day in 2013.

As I mentioned yesterday, Robert and I stayed overnight in Eagle River, at the home of Boyd and Shirley Bennett, who could not have been more hospitable hosts. Also, they happen to have a professional-quality table tennis facility above their garage. Players started arriving around 11:30 am, and we played nonstop, both singles and doubles, until 3:30. Karl Augestad, of the Anchorage club, took lots of pictures and video, some of which he’ll probably post at Boyd doesn’t play anymore, but he watched and conversed with us from the sidelines, smiling the whole time.

At one point Shirley brought out Boyd’s Golden Ulu, a gold medal he won in table tennis at the first Arctic International Games. An ulu is a curved Eskimo knife, a word I knew previously only from crosswords.

After a late lunch and a shower, Robert and I hit the road, heading north to Denali National Park, passing through Wasilla (Sarah Palin’s home) on the way. From the highway at least, Wasilla is just an undistinguished commercial strip.Around 7:30 we reached the edge of the park, where we’re staying at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. It’s on top of a mountain, facing Mt. McKinley — unfortunately obscured by clouds this evening. We hope to get a better view in the morning.

Regarding yesterday’s puzzle, there is an almost-answer in 4 steps — EAGLE, GLARE, GRAVE, GIVER, RIVER. However, the directions specified that there must be a rearrangement of letters at each step. So I think the best answer, in 5 steps, is EAGLE, GLARE, RAVEL, LOVER, VIREO RIVER. If you can do better, let me know.

Meanwhile, here’s an easy new teaser: Rearrange the letters of DENALI in three different ways to spell common, uncapitalized words. One of the three words is hyphenated. The other two are solid. I’m not counting ALINED as a common word. Can you do it?

Follow Will and Robert’s Trip across Alaska through next week at “Four Down Two Across.”