Day 8: Train to Denali National Park and Mt. Mckinley
We have docked in Whittier. We enjoy a last breakfast at the wonderful buffet, and leave the ship to board the train to Denali. Bye bye ship, we are going to miss you. The train ride is 9 hours. We have a wonderful glass domed train where we can see the beautiful terrain as we go on our way. Denali National Park encompasses more than 6 million acres (is that a lot or what?). It is the home of Mt. Mckinley (also known as Denali) which is the highest mountain peak in North America.
Say Hi to Kathy and Dad one last time.
From the train window as we are leaving Whittier
Princess has a lodge in Denali and also in Fairbanks (which is where we travel to next). The view here at the Princess Lodge in Denali is beautiful.
The warm fireplace in the lodge restaurant. It is warm and cozy; we have been a little cold up here, so we are sure glad for the fire.
What a wonderful spot to sit, rock peacefully, meditate, pray and look out at the wilderness.
The flowers are unlike anything I have ever seen before, huge, healthy and beautiful. I believe it must be all the extra sunlight they receive.
Day 9: Touring Denali
We take a tour of the national park. I am wishing to see bears... but we come up empty in that department. We are able to see Moose and end up seeing 5 in all. There are wild blueberries everywhere. They are ripe and sweet. I would sure love to have these in Colorado where we live.
Steve especially likes all the private planes coming and going in Alaska. He has his pilot's license, so his interest is sparked whenever we see them. They are abundant here.
Day 10: Bus trip to Fairbanks
It has been raining off and on for several days. We are feeling the cold more here than we have felt so far. We board the bus for Fairbanks and enjoy a peaceful 2 1/2 hour drive .
The Lodge in Fairbanks is beautiful also. It sits on the river. The food is not included in this part of the tour, and we have been spoiled by the ship, so are feeling the loss of those wonderful meals. :)
Day 11: Riverboat tour
We take the shuttle to the Riverboat Discovery Tour. The sun is shining today. It feels wonderful. This riverboat tour is exceptional. I have included a little video of the tour, which really gives you a nice history of this riverboat and what we see along the way.
This is the home of Iditarod Champion Susan Butcher, who passed away in 2006. Her husband and daughters still train sled dogs here.
We also stop at this Athabascan Indian village. these girls are native Athabascans; I really like them; they were so sweet, well-spoken and interesting. They work on this tour in summer and are back in college in the Fall.
I sure enjoy learning about how the indians and trappers and settlers survived the winters, how they
ate, grew gardens, stored their food, trapped animals and so on.
Here is a cache where a all the furs were stored after they are trapped and prepared throughout the winter.
Beautiful Garden, with all kinds of veggies; the cabbage was enormous and rhubarb... well, I don't want to talk about rhubarb anymore(you know I am fighting the rhubarb failure blues right) hahaha.
Dried Salmon Athabascan Indian way; caught, dried, and smoked. These particular ones were dried for the dogs; it is how they fed their sled dogs(wouldn't you love to feed your own dogs this way; I think they would be really healthy if they could eat like this) The better quality fish were dried for their own food through the winter.
After the river tour, we are taken back and fed a wonderful meal. Miner style. Each table is given a dutch oven full of "Miner's Stew" as well as bread, sides and dessert. We are all hungry, and this hits the spot. Afterwards, we shop a little and then load up onto the bus where we are taken to our next stop.... another gold tour. We learn to pan for gold again. This tour is a little different from the one we went on in Juneau. and guess what? Eureka again!!!!! Dad and Kathy manage to "pan out" a little better if you know what I mean? $35.00 worth for them. We only hit $15.00. Oh well... we weren't meant to be gold prosectors I guess. Heehee
This is Klondike Clara (I think she goes by a variety of names... hehehe). She is actually a veteran gold prospector. She has found some amazing pieces. These will make your eyebrows stand up. They were the real thing. She has paid her dues, however, and it is not as easy as it seems to find these kind of chunks....just incase you were thinking that gold prospecting is calling your name... hehehe.
Inside of an old cabin
View of the river from the Fairbanks Princess Lodge
Day 12: Fly Away Home
Today is our last day. It has gone very fast. We get our bags re-packed, weighed and sent to the airport (they offer that service through Princess Cruises, which is a great help) We have our carry-ons stored behind the front desk. We take an excursion into downtown Fairbanks. We eat lunch at "Big Daddy Barbecue" which happened to have been featured on the show "Drive ins, Diners and Dives". The food was great.
Our final good byes, and we fly out of the airport at 9:20 P.M. from there, to Anchorage, from Anchorage to Denver; from Denver 3 hours south and home. From beginning to end, it is 12 hours, not bad "all things considered".
I hoped you have enjoyed our vacation tour. It has been fun putting up all the pictures. I sure appreciate you stopping by and enjoying with me. Have a great weekend everyone.