For your 45th Birthday - you really are "Denali Bound" - Complete w/final thoughts - 2/17/2013 - Page 8 - PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel
For your 45th Birthday - you really are "Denali Bound" - Complete w/final thoughts - 2/17/2013
About This Page: This is a discussion on For your 45th Birthday - you really are "Denali Bound" - Complete w/final thoughts - 2/17/2013 within the Globetrotting: General Trip Reports, part of the PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel; About ½ way back to town, Chris started to get a really ugly sinus headache – luckily I always carry ...
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About ½ way back to town, Chris started to get a really ugly sinus headache – luckily I always carry Sudafed in my purse for this exact reason (and also when I get them too...) – we stopped at a gas station on the way into town and bought some water. After that, we headed into town to find a restaurant called Brewster’s. Chris and I had been told that this place had the best hamburgers in all of Fairbanks – so George navigated us there and we opted for lunch.
I had been getting more and more frustrated with my phone. While we waited for our lunch (I got the fish and chips sandwich, wasn’t in a burger mood) – Rachel tried to find me a Verizon store... and then I borrowed Chris’ phone to search Verizon’s website for Network data problems... and tada – I found the answer! For some reason – the checkbox for “get data while roaming” had been unchecked... as soon as I rechecked the box – the GPS, Foursquare, Facebook, etc – all worked!! Yeah!!
After we finished lunch – we decided to head to the North Pole – North Pole, AK that is. Rachel and I wanted to do some shopping, and Chris wanted to set up in a parking lot somewhere to photograph the eclipse... ok – we can do both! After the tour of the North Pole, and after a chat with Santa about who’s been good, who’s been bad and who has a lot of explaining to do.... we headed back to the hotel to relax a bit.
George with the polar bear
A cute moose!
Taking photos of the eclipse. Before we left Jacksonville, Chris picked up some eclipse viewing sunglasses at our science museum and brought them with us. We discovered that if we held the lens in front of the camera lens, we could get good photos of the eclipse.
After a couple of hours, we decided to go to dinner and then return the car to the airport. Our dinner choice was highly recommended on both Urban Spoon and Trip Advisor – it is called the Pump House and is located on the banks of the Chena River. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places. We made a reservation via Open Table for 730pm. Before we went to the restaurant, we stopped by Fred Meyer to pick up some meds for George, since he was having some stomach issues.
We drove over to the Pump House and were seated immediately. I didn’t take pictures of dinner... completely slipped my mind. George and I both had the prime rib, Rachel and Chris had the reindeer tenderloin. I has high hopes for this place – but my hopes were dashed. The prime rib was overcooked and Chris said he didn’t like the reindeer. Both of our meals came with mashed potatoes, but I asked to substitute a baked potato and was told that I could add one on, but not substitute... plus the iced tea was “from a gun” and not fresh brewed. YUCK! One decent thing was dessert – New York style cheesecake with a thick sour cream.
George and Rachel at the Pump House
Chris and I...
After we finished dinner – we filled the SUV up with gas, and drove back to the airport. I dropped the car off, turned in the keys and then caught a cab back to the hotel. We decided to call it an early evening – because in the morning we leave for Denali!!!
Next - Denali Bound!!!
Meeting Jacques in January 1976!! My first WDW trip.
WOW, where to start? The ice bar looked cool - pun intended. I would love to stay at an ice hotel sometime, and right now, would pay about anything for a cold spot to sleep at night, if you know what I mean!
Great eclipse pics - very neat to have figured out putting the glasses over the camera lense!
Sorry dinner was a bust. Frustrating, when you think you've done your research and are going on the advice of multiple sites.
Looking forward to Denali!
DisneyLand too many times to count; DisneyWorld: ('82; '94; '00; '04; '05; '08 - twice!; '10;'11 - twice); DCL (3 ships): ('00, '05, '06, '10, '11); DVC Hilton Head Resort ('06, '07, '08, '09, '10, '11, '12, '13)
This morning we had an 8am train from Fairbanks to Denali National Park. We had arranged for the hotel shuttle to take us to the train depot – and it was so funny I wish we would have thought to take a photo of the 15 bags (8 checked, 7 carry on) and 4 adults plus the driver all squeezed into this minivan for the 5 minute ride to the train depot. It was like a clown car when we all unloaded.
After unloading us from the minivan, we hauled our stuff into the train depot and checked in for our train to Denali.
George and Chris checking the baggage onto the train. The bags would be delivered from the train depot directly to the hotel and we would see them there.
Fairbanks Train Depot
The train was scheduled to leave at 800am, so we were there and inside the train depot at 730am -- Chris went to explore the model train which George, Rachel and I sat and relaxed.
Not too much later, we were called to board the train and pointed to our car.
There are three options on the train – 1) Book your train trip through the cruise line. They will put you on a car limited to just cruise passengers – it is a double decker car with dining and a bar in the bottom of the car and dome seating on top. All the trip narration will be conducted by cruiseline personnel. The other two options are through the Alaska Railroad. The first is Adventure Class – this is the most basic train service. You have a seat reserved for you – a roomy seat that reclines. There is baggage storage in the back of the car and overhead, access to the snack bar and dining cars. The second is Gold Star Class – and it’s like the cruise line – dining car (not private though), bar access, snack bar, and a domed car. I booked us in Adventure Class – we had purchased the “Buy one get one free book” and so I was able to get our train tickets at the cheapest option – but you could not do BOGO for Gold Star Class – only adventure. We were fortunate that the train was rather empty most of the trip – which made the trip very pleasant.
Our train car - basically empty!
We boarded the train, got settled in and quickly decided we wanted breakfast - so we headed to the Wilderness Café.
George and Rachel at breakfast on the train
Chris and I waiting for breakfast.
I think all of us had the quiche – it was SO GOOD!! That plus a side of fruit and pico de gallo – train food beats plane food hands down.
We made our way through central Alaska, following a river or two and getting closer and closers to the mountains where Denali is located.
Moose (didn't respond fast enough with the camera and had to ZOOOOOM)
We passed a US Air Force base that is (and was) part of the Strategic Air Command's missile defense system - they have HUGE radar screens to detect incoming missiles from the USSR - and like the USSR - the radar system is now defunct and they are trying to figure out how to remove the radar towers - because they can't use explosives (not allowed on the base due to security and all the very sensitive systems) - so removal will take lots of time and lots of $$!!
Chris and I took LOTS of photos of the scenery and attempted to get photos of moose along the way. Chris practically lived in the vestibule...
We had been warned that many animals avoid the tracks because of the noise from the train. One of the nice things on the train was guides who narrated for you and pointed out towns, historic places, interesting facts and wildlife.
During the train ride, other than taking photos - Chris, Rachel and I downloaded each others photos (Rachel's seat had an outlet at it) - George slept, I read my textbook and Kindle and just watched the scenery go by.
Then the train stopped. One of the crew said a moose was on the tracks. Everyone ran for the vestibules and saw that it was a HORSE on the tracks!! It was funny to watch all the people race to the vestibules and lean out to saw was going on. The horse was wearing a bridle – so this was not a wild horse.
The conductor got off the train, got the animal under control and walked it away from the train. While this was going on – they somehow determined who the owner was and called them. The owners asked that the horse be tied up by the railroad and they would come and get it – it appears that it has gotten loose and was being searched for.
She didn’t seem very happy to be tied up – but they gave her some water, tied her up away from the tracks near a switchhouse and we were underway again.
Flooded wetlands and beaver lodge
Seam of coal in the rocks above the trees
We continued on our way south – and the train entered Healy canyon – where the Nenana River has carved a gorge from the rock and the railroad has carved a small shelf above the river for the train to pass along. It was breathtaking. The train made many twists and turns, and it was a great time to get photos of the train.
Engine, baggage car, Gold Star Car
domed viewing car, two cruiseline cars
I think we rode this entire section of the trip in the vestibule taking many photos, even getting some video and being blown away by the beauty of the area.
Neanana River below the train
Taking photos from the vestibule.
Rachel and I in Healy canyon taking photos.
We even passed along a section of the river that has quite a few rapids – they call them the “Train Wreck” rapids – and I later realized this was the river, the canyon and the rapids that Chris and I would be rafting through later in the day.
Trainwreck curve and rapids. This used to be a tunnel the train went through - then they removed the tunnel. Remember that stripe of rock for later!
We passed over tresle bridges -- and got so close, if we'd been hanging our heads out of the car, I think we may have had issues.
And you can see how close the train gets to the edge...
There is a bridge over Healy canyon - called windy bridge - it gets so windy it causes drivers to lose control - they have a wind sock on the bridge to show drivers how windy it is.
As we approached the National park - we could see all the hotels and businesses right outside the park entrance.
It took 4 ½ hours to get from Fairbanks to Denali. It is supposed to take 4 hours, but we had a delay leaving, and with the horse on the tracks during the trip...it took a little longer than planned.
We walked from the depot, up a hill to a line of waiting buses, talked to the drivers gathered there, found the Princess Wilderness Lodge bus and were on our way!
The train depot is actually IN the National Park and Preserve - so we had to drive out of the park to get to the hotel - but we were here!! DENALI!
Next - Rain, Rain Go Away....Lunch, Checking in and Exploring the Resort
Meeting Jacques in January 1976!! My first WDW trip.
What a great train trip! I've seen this train featured on the Travel Channel and it always looks wonderful. It's a great service that you can leave your luggage at the originating depot and then see it in your hotel room. Denali Magical Express!