Denali and Talkeetna
July 18, 2021 (continued)
We enjoyed breakfast on the train and great views from the dining car windows!
The train arrived in Talkeetna and, after many discussions with many people, we finally found the shuttle to get to the Talkeetna Lodge. A beautiful place in a beautiful setting!
An option with our tour was to take a flight seeing tour around Denali (North America’s highest peak) and the entire Alaska Range. When we arrived at the little airport we were told that the clouds and ‘smaze’ were obscuring Denali and we could only do a tour at lower altitudes. We had a choice of taking a lesser tour or cancelling. We decided to go ahead and go…when will we ever get the chance again? And were we glad we did since things cleared up and we had great views!
The flight before ours didn’t get to see Denali. There’s only a 30-40% of catching a glimpse of it. But guess what. We did. We are now in “The 30% Club”! We also saw Kahilltna and other glaciers, a gorgeous blue sky, and so much more. The term “experience of a lifetime” barely describes it.
After the flight we headed back to the Lodge but our rooms weren’t quite ready so we took the shuttle into Talkeetna. Cute little town with fun shops and lots of cut-out boards for photo ops.
We ate dinner at the Denali Brewing Company which had a nice patio and good local fare.
July 19, 2021
Another fun event awaited us today with Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures.  We explored Susitna River and Wild River Park of the Devil’s Gorge.
The description of the tour said, “A jetboat river excursion on the Susitna River and into the nationally registered Wild River Park of the Devil’s Gorge will offer a safe, dry and comfortable way to experience whitewater. This is the trip for those wishing to experience the thrill of the ultimate Alaska river experience. Includes a narrated quarter-mile nature walk to visit a trapper’s cabin and an early Indian Encampment to see how these earliest inhabitants survived.”
Little did we know what those words meant. This adventure takes place in a boat that seats ~50 people and is “propelled by a jet of water ejected from the back of the craft.”
We went through calm water and rapids—at times we were going nearly 60 miles per hour. And then we got to Devil’s Canyon. Rapids out here are rated on a scale of 1 to 6 and these were 4s and 5s. At one point, our captain drove the boat upstream at the same speed the water was going downstream and we hovered for quite some time while everyone took photos and marveled at both nature and the captain’s talent at keeping the boat in place.
We traveled nearly 65 miles in the water from Talkeetna to Devil’s Canyon…and back. We also stopped at an island to learn of indigenous people and how they lived in the past. There were animal skins on display and the guide gave an explanation of each.
After returning to the lodge and a brief respite in the lobby, we took the shuttle to the train depot and then got back on the train to sit in our favorite dome car. We headed back to Anchorage and enjoyed the same gorgeous scenery as before, except in the evening ‘golden hour’ light this time. When it was our turn for dinner, we went down the spiral staircase to our dining car. The menu: reindeer bolognese and cheesecake plus a Susitna Sunset (a Screwdriver with an Alaskan twist: vodka, orange juice, and Grenadine).
We met a couple on the shuttle bus from Lancaster, CA (where Karen was born) who were on their belated honeymoon. He is a Navy SeaBee (Karen retired from the Navy), and she is a teacher (Theresa is a teacher). We ended up running into them two more times even though they weren’t even on our tour!
After another night in Anchorage, we headed out the next morning for another train ride and then a 110-mile cruise around Kenai Fjords National Park.
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