Alaskan Adventure, Part 1 – Denali

Our Alaskan Adventure began on August 18, 2015. We flew from Fort Myers, Florida to Anchorage, Alaska via Atlanta, Georgia. This first part is about the land portion of our trip.

When we finally arrived in Alaska it was cool; probably high 60’s or low 70’s. We were met at the baggage carousel and escorted to the motor coach for our ride to the hotel. We were staying at the Marriott. We got the information for our travels, the key to our room and headed out for dinner. It was around 8 PM and it was still light out. We went to a restaurant called “Humpy’s”. The meal was delicious and would definitely recommend it. It was about 10 PM when we left and it was just starting to turn to dusk. Went back to the
hotel local time was 11 PM when we went to bed but our bodies were telling us it was 3 AM.

Tuesday we had to be up and out early. We were taking the train from Anchorage to Talkeetna. Talkeetna is where climbers go to prepare to climb Denali aka Mount McKinley.

The train ride was interesting. Every so often they would come on the speaker about something we were passing. They had drinks for purchase on the second deck (the dome car) and then downstairs you could get breakfast. I had blueberry pancakes with birch syrup. It was wonderful. The scenery on the trip was beautiful.

Arrived in Talkeetna for lunch and for our motor coach trip to Denali. There isn’t much there to see or do. There is some shopping and dining but that was it. There was a bakery in town, the Roadhouse, with the most delicious baked goods. We got some things for breakfast the next day. When we got ready to leave, the motor coach wasn’t operating properly so we waited for another coach to come and replace the one we were on. As a result we were a little later getting into Denali than was planned. The driver said there was a lot of road construction going on, and there was, however we were only stopped once. Every time we approach a construction area we were waved thru.

In Denali we stayed at the Grande Denali Lodge. It was beautiful up there. I would never want to drive the hill up to the lodge as it had a lot of switch backs, but they had funny signs along the way. Things like a mosquito holding a person, one said beware of falling coconuts and another saying wet when raining.

On Thursday we went on the Denali History Tour. We got on an old converted school bus and headed off for the park. Denali is the only national park that operates with a dog sled and the dogs are there all year. We got to see a few of them out for their walks. We stopped at one point and heard about the beginnings of Denali, the roads, the train and the people. While in the park there was a Native American from one of the local tribes who came and talked about Denali and the animals. While in the park we saw moose and caribou. We have some amazing photos. After leaving the park, we met up at the visitor’s center for the drive down to Talkeetna. I will tell you if you plan to go to Denali, be prepared for very high prices. Dinner for two with one beer was over $100.

The Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge in Talkeetna was huge and had beautiful views of Denali and of the Alaska Range. One nice thing about this place is they had carts that would pick you up and take you where you wanted to go. They have the 46′ river rock fireplace. They made a deal with the band of a local school. They would bring in the rocks and the hotel would provide the band with uniforms. Plus the person who laid the rocks put animal designs here and there. You have to look for them, but searching to find the turtle, the starfish and other animals was a fun activity. Here they also honor veterans during their flag ceremony each evening. It was a beautiful ceremony with each veteran being thanked for his or her service and given a small American flag.

We stopped for lunch in Anchorage. We found this new café called “Ghost Light Café”. It was a part of a theatre that had just opened. Our journey continued and we stopped and saw salmon returning to their spawning site. A few people got out of the motor coach but it was raining, hard.

We continued on our way and stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC). This would be a neat place to visit, but it was muddy and the rain was coming down. AWCC takes in injured animals and orphaned calves from the wild. They rehabilitate the animals and provide them with a home until a permanent home is found. They had bears, wood bison, elk, caribou, and birds that were unable to live in the wild due to injury; owls and eagles.

We finally arrived in Seward and were able to get off the motor coach and board the cruise ship; Celebrity Millennium. It was nice to be on board and able to just sit in a roomy, comfortable chair and know I didn’t have to go again until I was ready.

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