Early the next morning, we boarded the McKinley Explorer for an 8-hour ride to Denali National Park. This train had a glass-domed observation area up top and a dining room on the first floor. It was another gray and rainy day. It’s funny how we had mainland weather along the coast and coastal weather on the mainland. We LOVED this train. We will definitely be seeking out more of these observation trains as part of our future vacations! If you have been on one of these anywhere in North America, I would LOVE to hear about it. Even with the rain, the scenery was pretty spectacular.
Along the way, our tour guide gave us all kinds of information. I should have taken notes, but I was too busy taking it all in. One of the places she pointed out to us was a house nicknamed the Dr. Seuss house near Talkeetna. My picture turned out pretty lousy but I found lots of information online. He had to stop building because he was approaching 200′ which is federal air space. Take a look at this place!
We had another “sighting” near Talkeetna. Our train made a stop to pick up the group of passengers waiting in line. If you look closely at the picture below, you will see a blond lady with an aqua colored jacket and backpack. That, ladies and gentleman, is none other than Mary Gibble–the President of the Hancock County Community Foundation where I work! Now, this isn’t some huge office, this is an office of seven in Greenfield, Indiana. How crazy is it for use to run into each other in the wilds of Alaska and be on the same train! As you will see, this is to the be the first of many encounters with this particular “wildlife!”
This stretch of the Alaska Railroad is the only remaining flag-stop train in the country. People live out here WAY off the grid with no roads, electricity or phone. To get to town, they just make their way to the train (we saw several 4-wheelers) and flag down the train and it stops to pick them up. The photo below shows a very distinctive blue house with the title of “Sherman City Hall” near Hurricane. Turns out this place is owned by the Clyde and Mary Lovel family that homesteaded and has lived off the grid since the 1960s. Mary Lovel has even written some books about it. You can find them on Amazon here.
About the only town we went through on our journey was the town of Wasilla. It looked like a pretty ordinary town with an absolutely gorgeous backdrop! Guess who lives in one of those houses on that lake? (I have to admit I wasn’t clear on which house.)
There are a LOT Of pine trees in Alaska!! Pine trees and water–lots and lots of water! Here is another example of mountain streams and glacier water coming together.
So pretty–I don’t think I would ever get tired of riding that train!
But we did arrive at the Denali train station. We boarded a coach for the short drive to the McKinley Chalet lodge. We had a great view of the river right beside our room door!
We checked out the main lodge a little bit and I gawked at the amazing photographs for sale at the gift shop.
There was another of those “wildlife” sightings up close!
and of course…there was food….Larry was unimpressed with his meatballs with green hair!