05 September 2010

Alaska Adventure - Day 9, 10, & 11 - July 10-12, 2010

Previously: [Day 1] [Day 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Day 5] [Day 6] [Day 7] [Day 8]

All my trip photos

"Bags Out" at 6:00 came all too soon, but it was well worth it when we boarded the McKinley Explorer bound for Denali National Park and Preserve. The only train ride I've ever had that comes close to the awe-inspiring scenery of this trip was years ago in Switzlerland (though the Amtrak through New Jersey is nice, too). Breakfast in the diner car was fun and tasty - the best salmon breakfast burrito I've ever had on a train. For the rest of the four hour trip we alternated between looking out the windows in the top deck of the dome car, and standing on the outdoor platform with the wind in our hair.

Two Rails Diverged

Shelley Express

Random Observation: As the trip progressed it seems all the other members of the Mighty 7A Tour Group were slowly and completely replacing their wardrobes with clothing acquired along the way that advertised all the places we'd been.

Once at our destination, we grabbed lunch with my dad at a special Denali sandwhich place called Subway then visited a couple shops to gather supplies for our trek into the park. On the deck in front of one of the stores we saw a coin. When we went to pick it up (all the day to have good luck) we discovered it was permanently affixed. A good trick.

At 2:00 we boarded a modified school bus for the Denali Natural History Tour. Yes, it was a school bus, but part of what helps preserve the Preserve is they don't allow private vehicles into the park, so these school busses are actually a great way to go. Indeed we went up and down all through the town, but it was worth it.

Before the trip I predicted that Denali would be one of my favorite parts of the trip and we weren't too far into the park before I was congratulating myself on my prognostication skills. Even after many, many days of experiencing views that I could hardly imagine, Denali was something special. I wished I'd had eight more eyes to see all there was to see. The five hour tour was at least a week too short.

The Cousins Off the Bus

After the tour we returned to the Village Of Shops where we discovered Prospector's Pizza - a pizza place with 49 beers on tap. I did not make it through all 49, but the ones I did try were all wise choices, and the food and atmosphere were great too. It was definitely one of my favorite meals of the trip.

We only had a short time to spend in Denali the next morning, and it was raining, so we went to the visitor's center where the kids earned their second Junior Ranger badges of the trip. Sadly we had to be back on the train and gone for the trip to Anchorage. Maybe we had finally seen enough scenery, or maybe we were just tired and depressed becuase it was the end of the trip, but that train ride was not very memorable.

I could say the same thing about Anchorage, though we basically spent just one night there. In the morning we were up and on our way to the airport before I had time to notice. The flight back via Utah (another new state!) was fine, though I now have a theory that Mormons always recline their seats on airplane, which I don't like.

As I write this it is nearly 2 months later, and still I keep thinking about Alaska, the Yukon, and the things we saw and did on our odyssey. The scenes we experienced are burned into my brain and will continue to provide a backdrop to my dreams for a very long time. We feel very lucky to have made this trip, and very grateful to my dad for making it all possible.

All that is left now is to answer the question that has been repeatedly asked by my kids and by my soul: When will we go back?

No comments: