A week and a day after we'd left home, we boarded the Princess train in Whittier to travel to Talkeetna (and from there, to the Princess Mt. McKinley Lodge). The train ride was fairly uneventful--I slept for a bit and we saw some moose and that's about all. When we arrived in Talkeetna, we took the opportunity to explore the town--which is really just a stretch of road a few tenths of a mile long. We ate lunch at the Talkeetna Roadhouse, which has great food and is also a famous (infamous) place of rest for those about to set out or just coming back from a McKinley hike. We visited all of the [very few] shops that the town had to offer and caught the first available bus up to the Princess McKinley Lodge.
The Great Room at the McKinley Princess is beautiful, and I can only imagine that it offers amazing views of the mountain. Unfortunately, we saw nothing of the sort--it started sprinkling when we were in Talkeetna, and by the time we arrived at the lodge it was downright pouring. We checked into our rooms and headed to the 20,320 Grill for food and drinks. The fare here was delicious, although I will say that it was quite a shock to have to pay for our meal (we'd gotten used to the cruise, what can I say?)! Once finished we went back to the Great Room and drowned our sorrows over the rain with Alaskan beers at the Grizzly Bar.
|The mirage-esque peak in the distance is the best view we got of Mt. McKinley|
I slept through most of the two-ish hour bus ride to the Denali Princess Lodge, but I do know that our bus
|Look, it's 10:45 at night in Denali!|
|Steamboat in Fairbanks|
Once the steamboat trip was through, we
were dropped off at our hotel--and this is where some things got severely, err, messed up. Princess had overbooked their Fairbanks lodge and therefore sloughed us
|It's midnight in Fairbanks!|
Although we wanted nothing more than to leave the next day, our flight was later in the afternoon and we therefore lounged in our rooms until we got kicked out, ate a leisurely (but not exactly tasty) breakfast in the hotel's restaurant, and then hung out in the lobby until they literally practically forced us to "go for a walk". Seriously, a manager approached us and in no uncertain terms told us that they didn't allow loitering and then gave us a couple of "options" for nearby "activities". It apparently didn't matter that we were waiting to leave for our flight--they did not want us in that lobby.
|They've got crabs! (yeah, I know, Ha. Ha.)|
Upon our arrival in Seattle, we came back to the real world when we realized that the Red Sox were in town playing the Mariners! We knew that we couldn't miss out on this and made plans to see the following night's game after our day of sightseeing--and sightsee we did! We spent our morning at Pike Place Market (which was as amazing as I'd imagined), our afternoon exploring the Space Needle and surrounding area (although we didn't go to the top, it seemed just a bit too pricey at the end of such a very long and expensive trip), walked through Pioneer Square (beautiful) that evening, and had dinner and beer at the Pyramid Brewery (yum) before heading across the street to watch the Red Sox lose to the Mariners (sad).
|At Pyramid Brewery, showing off my Curve Ball beer and my ticket to the Red Sox/Mariners game!|