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Old July 7th, 2004, 02:53 PM
Phyllbo's Avatar
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Join Date: Apr 2002
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Default Day 3 Denali / McKinley Village

This was the longest day of our trip. We were up at 5:30, and had our bags outside our room for pickup by 6AM. We had some time before boarding the bus, so we went to the breakfast buffet at the restaurant next door, and then took a walk along the river.
At 7:15AM we all loaded on our beautiful coach and headed for the train station. The train was running late, and we learned that in Alaska things are on the "ish" system for time. The wait wasn't too bad, and we were amazed at how beautiful and comfortable the train was once we got on. The dining room is on the lower level of the train car and we were told when it was time to go down and purchase our breakfast if we wanted to. The food was very good; although things weren't as hot as I normally like them.

The train ride lasted about 4 hours, and the scenery really got pretty as we neared Denali. We did see a large mother moose and her 2 little ones along the way. Not much else for wildlife along the tracks that we were able to view. Our tour guide on the train, John, was very knowledgeable and fun.

In Denali we were picked up by our coach and taken to the McKinley Chalets for lunch. Service was slow ,and a number of people ended up taking their lunch on the Tundra Wilderness Tour bus that we boarded after lunch.

Our Wilderness bus driver and tour guide headed off to Denali National Park at 1PM and we didn't return to the McKinley Village until around 10PM. The bus was a "coach", but not in the same class as our Cruisetour coach. We were fortunate to see some wildlife as we drove through the park. There was a mother Grizzley and her 3 cubs romping on a hillside, and we also saw some more moose, Dahl sheep and Caribou and even a black red fox. It was really neat to see all of that.

We were able to get glimpses of Mt. McKinley every once in a while, but the clouds covered it most of the day.

McKinley lodge was in a real pretty location overlooking a river, but there was no AC and the accomodations weren't as nice as the rest of the places we stopped. Our room was noisy because it faced the outside bar/lounge porch, and it was a toss up whether to open the windows for air or to close them and get some sleep in the heat. We were so tired that sleep came easy. We were also glad that we hadn't booked any early morning tours for the next day. In looking back, I do wish we had signed up for the river rafting or the flight seeing.


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