September 5th, 2011

marci

Alaska Travelogue--Days 8 & 9

I'm sitting here in DIA waiting for the final flight home. It was a great trip, but now it's time to get back to the drudgery of work and home. The memories, however, will last for a lifetime. So let's continue the story where we left off.

We had already docked in Whittier by the time we woke up. Princess has the disembarkation process very well organized because some people are going to the airport, some, like us, are taking a tour after the cruise, and some are heading off to other destinations. Only Kitty, Scritch, and I were heading on to Denali, so we said our goodbyes to the rest of our group. The train to Denali was waiting for us at the end of the gangway.

The train was very nice. They had a full-service dining room on board, but we were Jewish and made sandwiches on the ship to take with us. There were open viewing areas on both sides of the car. I spent a lot of time out there taking in the scenery. The weather was just awful in Whittier but gradually improved the more inland we went. The trip was about 9 hours in length. It was a nice way to transition from the ship back to land. One thing we noted was that Fall had already come to the higher country. You'll see in some of the pics that we hit the peak of color in the Park. That was very interesting considering it was just August!

There was not much more to report for that day. The lodge was beautiful and we enjoyed a nice salmon dinner. The weather forecast seemed promising.

The next day we were up early to catch our tour of the park. There is one 90-mile road leading into the park and private vehicles are banned for most of it. We would be taking a school bus on a 13-hour odyssey through the park.

I was hoping that there would be wildlife all over the road. In one sense there was in that we got very close to a fox and a herd of Dall sheep. I was slightly disappointed, however, that the 5 grizzlies we saw were all at quite some distance. I guess I shouldn't complain, however, because I SAW 5 GRIZZLIES! Kitty was hoping for a moose, and we did see a few, although once again at a distance. We thought one bull was going to get jiggy with a cow, but the mood was not right. There were also a few caribou that I managed to get pix of. The highlight, however, was that Denali herself was in full view. There is a running "joke" in the area that if you get to see the mountain you are a part of the "30% Club." On average only about 30% of the visitors to the park ever get to see the mountain. Combine the mountain with beautiful Fall colors, gorgeous blue sky, and bright Sun, and you have some of the most spectacular views in the country. Let the pics speak for themselves!




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