Two Big Send-Offs
Covered Wagon Cruisin'

Inland Alaska to "The High One"


What an incredible week we spent cruising Alaska's Inside Passage on the Coral Princess!



We awoke very early that last morning to a gorgeous view in Whittaker, grabbed a quick breakfast, and disembarked the ship at 6:30 am.  We'd said our good-byes to our family the evening before, as they were all heading to Anchorage for their flights home...Kim and I were headed inland for 4 more days in the beautiful state of Alaska!



We boarded a train (along with bus loads of other Princess guests) for the 5-hour ride north. The scenery was gorgeous, but we were flying too fast to get any good photos.

It was from the train that we saw our one and only moose of the entire trip as well as a beluga photos to prove either.



I texted Dana to have her tell Karter what we saw, including these trumpeter swans (sorry for the blurry photo, but I did manage to snap one through the train window).  Karter's response..."Are you sure they were trumpeter swans?  They could be tundra swans.  They look a lot alike."  That's my boy!!!  And yes, they were probably tundra swans as we were near the tundra....




A blurry eagle in a blurry tree...



Through the city of Anchorage....



...where an osprey makes her home downtown.

It was an interesting train could have been fantastic had there been:  less people (we were literally crammed onto that train, sitting in a small fast-food type booth with a couple from New Jersey/New York that we'd only seen briefly on the ship), and had our train tour guide been a lot less chatty.  Five hours of constant talking was not entertaining to me... But at least the scenery flying by spectacular!



We got off the train in the "metropolis" of Talkeetna, a tiny little historic town of about 800 residents.  During the climbing season (May-June), climbers and drifters and adventure-seekers hoping to scale North America's tallest mountain, Mt. McKinley (also called Denali by the locals, the original name given to the mountain by the Alaskan native tribes meaning "The High One"), congregate there...



...and tourists (like us) visit during the summer months and probably pour enough money into Talkeeta's economy to get it through the long, cold winter.



But there are still the backpackers and drifters....



It was a gorgeous day, and our chatty train guide had told us to walk down Main Street (about 4 blocks) past where the pavement literally ends in a small park and we'd have a perfect, unobstructed view of Mt. McKinley/Denali.



A "clear, unobstucted view" YOU see Denali???



Yep...with my big zoom lens we could kind of make it out, but I wouldn't exactly call it a clear view.

But I took the photos anyway, since we heard that only one-third of summer visitors to Denali even get to see the top of the mountain.  Those gorgeous, snow-covered photos of Denali that we all see were taken in the winter, when apparently the mountain is always visible.  But the summer temperature differences cause lots of cloud cover and fog during the cover months.

So we were feeling pretty lucky to see Denali at all.

Talkeetna is considered to be at the base of Denali...but that mountain is still miles and miles away, even as the crow eagle flies!



We meandered through town...lots of quaint little shops...



...and quirky old establishments,...


Talkeetna-22 The Roadhouse, where some of those backpackers and drifters were staying and we had lunch.

Well, Kim had lunch...I didn't eat much, since I'm not really into reindeer cuisine.

Reindeer sandwiches, reindeer chili, reindeer sausage, reindeer jerky...pretty much everything on the limited menu was made of reindeer.

I had a salad.  Kim is a much more adventurous eater than me.





Just a fun little village, and I did buy a Christmas tree ornament there.



We boarded a big tour Princess coach (by the time we left Alaska, we were totally over the buses...too many people!) with our destination the Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge.



A very nice and fairly new lodge...but the best part...



...a great view of Denali that afternoon!





Yes, I took lots of photos of Denali...



...while this lovely magpie gave me the stink eye...I think he was hoping for a snack!



How did we know it was Denali?  A nice little photo from the exact spot where we were standing was very helpful!  There is a whole range of snow- and glacier-topped mountains all around and we would have been clueless as to which one was which.



Our first day venturing into Alaska was a success...

...we got a glimpse of the awesome majesty of the elusive mountain we'd come to see...

..."The High One."




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