By train to Talkeetna
Talkeetna Travel Blog› entry 13 of 19 › view all entries
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.
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".
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".