By train to Talkeetna

Talkeetna Travel Blog

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Anchorage to Talkeetna

We were up and dressed by 6:30 and boarded the bus by 7:15 for the short ride to the train. There were 4 dedicated Princess cars, several Holland America/Westours cars and a number of Alaska RR cars on the train. The Princess cars are magnificent. Each has a panoramic dome on the upper level with seating at tables similar to restaurant booths.Tables were pre-assigned. We were seated with a very pleasant retired couple from Devon, England in the first Princess car. On the lower level of our car and 2 others was a dining area with a full kitchen. The remaining car had a gift shop and outside observation platform. Those who desired breakfast were called down as space was available to eat. The meal itself was typically Princess (read: good but not all that great) but the ambiance was fantastic! Upstairs, they had complete bar service plus coffee, tea, etc.

Anchorage to Talkeetna
As we got upstairs again, one of the waiters, with a nametag of "Elvis", was doing a little impersonation act. Not bad and a lot of fun.

After 4 hours, we arrived in Talkeetna and transferred to a bus. Boarding the bus, we were given our hotel keys. Pretty efficient. Lin stayed with the bus for the one-hour ride to the McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge while I got off in town and walked to the airport. I'd signed up on the train for a "McKinley Discovery" flight with K2 Aviation. The visibility wasn't great but I figured there was no guarantee on tomorrow and I'd rather do it now than ride 2 hours round trip on a bus to do it tomorrow. The plane was a DeHavilland Beaver (N121KT), as in the movie "Six Days, 7 Nights".

Anchorage to Talkeetna
I eagerly volunteered to sit in the right front seat. The weather was really pretty poor for this with ceiling at about 10,000 feet. With the summit at 20,320, Mt. McKinley (A.K.A. Denali) was left to the imagination. In any case, the pilot, Jim Okonek, flew us over a lot of glaciers and valleys and between granite walls that appeared awfully close! Coming back, we flew at about 800' AGL and saw grizzlies and a moose. Jim did a lot of turns so everyone could see. Flying time was about 90 minutes. Nice landing at about 2:30 but there wasn't a shuttle to the hotel 'til 3:30 so, leaving some things on the bus, I walked into the big town of Talkeetna. While it wasn't filmed there, I'm told this town was the inspiration for the TV show "Northern Exposure". I had a reindeer sausage melt at a small inn and boarded the bus.
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Slept on and off during the ride and found Lin asleep in the room. This is hard work!

We did a little exploring of the lodge, then sat on the deck drinking more Alaskan Amber and listening to a state park ranger give a lecture. The lodge is quite nice; makes you think you're at a high-end summer camp (I guess we are!) The lodge itself is quite large and has a huge great room with a wall of windows facing Denali (A.K.A. Mt. McKinley) Most of the chairs in the great room and on the huge deck in front of it face the mountain, almost like a theater, It's certainly the best show in town. When we arrived, the mountain was still not visible, being 40 miles away and hidden in clouds.

We got ready for dinner and ate in the "Mountain View" dining room. In making the reservations, Lin had asked for a "good table".

Anchorage to Talkeetna
They had the request written and put us at a window. That was fortunate since the clouds lifted and the mountain made its appearance during dinner. After dinner, we found Frank and Pat having dinner on the café deck so we joined them for a chat while they finished, then all moved to the main deck to stare at the mountain. This thing is a magnificent piece of rock! We sat there a while, trying to guess exactly where the sun would set since it goes down at an angle to the horizon. With the sun still above the horizon, we moved inside. I looked at my watch and it was 11:30! As we were sitting in the great room, there was a big commotion on deck. We looked and a moose cow and calf were walking right past the hotel!. I took my last picture of the mountain at 12:20; it was still pretty bright!

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Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Anchorage to Talkeetna
Hows that for a remore camp?
How's that for a remore camp?
Grizzlies
Grizzlies
Moose
Moose
Talkeetna
Talkeetna
Talkeetna
Talkeetna
Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge
Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge
Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge
Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge
Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge
Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge
Denali
Denali
Denali
Denali
Denali
Denali
Denali
Denali
Denali
Denali
Frank
Frank
Denali
Denali
Talkeetna
photo by: schochon