Alaska Trip 2013 travel blog

Goodbye Sapphire Princess - photo taken from our train

Our "table for the day", Jim, Marjie, and Janna

Alaska Railroad station in Anchorage

Typical scenery on our rail trip

Passing through Wasilla - Green roofed house used to belong to Sarah...

More beautiful Alaskan scenery

Ferns grow everywhere

Typical Scenery along the way

Mt. McKinley (Denali) from more than 100 miles away (just right of...

A friendly station agent at Talkeetna

RV park in Talkeetna

Village of Talkeetna from the train

Along the river, enroute to Denali

An eagle flying directly over the train

Jim and Marjie taking it all in

The interior of our rail car with our guide, a retired high...

A helicopter moving what appears to be a large fan

Alaska Railroad rotary snowplow

Station at "Hurricane"

Approaching the Hurricane Trestle

View from the Hurricane trestle

Our train's shadow seen from Hurricane trestle

Ajax, a husky puppy - seven weeks old

Some of the dogs and their kennels

Training the dogs by having them tow an ATV on a sawdust...

Jeff and one of his "puppies"

Wheel used to train the dogs and build up their endurance

Typical Iditarod race sled - note the can on the rear for...

Puppies thoroughly worn out by the tourists

A moose along the roadside

Late dinner at the Base Camp Cafe after a day filled with...

In the early hours of June 8 we arrived at the port of Whittier, AK. After breakfast we boarded the waiting train of Princess Cruise Lines bi-level cars for the nine-hour rail trip on the Alaska Railroad to Denali National Park.

The port of Whittier was built during WWII by the US Army, It, like the Alaska Highway, were part of the efforts to improve the defense of Alaska against a possible invasion by the Japanese. Today it serves the many cruise ships who deliver toursits instead of troops and war material. The Alaska Railroad runs from Whittier through the City of Anchorage on its way to Denali. The trip passes through magnificant scenery, vast, empty wilderness, and a few small towns.

Unlike most railroads today the Alaska Railroad has an extensive passenger operation. It runs trains dedicated to servicing the cruise lines, but it also runs regular scheduled passenger trains serving points all up and down its lines. Arrangements can be made to get on of off the train just about anywhere it goes. That's a real convenience for hunters, hikers, kayakers, and people who just live in the back country.

When we boarded our bilevel rail car we found our assigned seating upstairs at a table for four with the Tuckers. We spent the entire trip at this table and enjoyed table service for both food and beverages.

Along the way we passed through the Village of Talkeetna, a Mecca for artists, tourists, and plain old vagabonds. We also went over Hurricane Gorge. It's famous for the high winds that sometimes blow through the canyon. In fact, we were told that several workers were actually blown off the trestle while it was under construction many years ago.

When we arrived at Denali we were taken by bus to the Denali Princess Lodge. John and Janna had scheduled a visit to the Husky Homestead, a kennel owned and operated by a four-time Iditarod winner, Jeff King. We went by bus to the kennel, also known as Goose Lake Kennel. There we saw many of his dogs, played with some puppies only a few weeks old, and heard a presentation about what a "Husky" really is, about running the Iditarod race, and about dog sledding in general. Jeff King breeds huskies for his own racing team, and he also sells dogs to others who use them for dog sledding. The kennel was fascinating, and we saw and met some magnificant dogs. As a final treat, one the way back to the lodge we encountered an adult moose grazing along side the road. She didn't seem to mind us at all.

When we finally got back to the lodge it was getting late, even though the sun was still shinning. So, we had a late dinner and went back to our room, tired but full of memories from the train ride and the husky encounter.

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