What an amazing experience. We started the day with a walk from the hotel to the Alaska Railroad Depot, which was about three blocks away. It was a good walk and we saw our first bear! The bear statue was along our path to the depot. In the distance, I saw a building featuring a huge gold monogram of the letter G. Interesting, so we walked closer. It was a hotel and with all of the monogramming in my past, I never considered a monogrammed building.
The small park and statue are to the west of the train depot, but we were well ahead of schedule and took some time to explore the immediate area.
The Alaska Railroad train depot is small and has limited seating, but the staff was friendly and helpful. The check-in process for boarding passes was fast. The depot does have a coffee kiosk and the line for coffee was much longer than the line for boarding passes! There were pastries and limited fruit available for purchase at the kiosk. One of the travelers for the train was celebrating his fifth birthday, so we sang a celebration song and he was honored as the crier
for “All Aboooaaarrrddd” and the embarkation began! The tickets are clearly numbered with seat assignments. The train cars were clean and well-organized so the preparations for travel were stress-free. The ride to Talkeetna was comfortable. The dome car has open glass and a much broader view, which was pleasant.
Upon arrival in Talkeetna, we walked to the local airport field and checked in at K2 Aviation. We had booked the summit tour for Mount McKinley, but due to clouds shifted to a slightly different flight and were among the clouds in about an hour after our arrival. K2 Aviation was great! The pilot of the 10-seat twin engine plan was our tour guide through the mountains, glaciers and clouds for just over an hour. The tour was educational and entertaining. All passengers were outfitted with microphone headsets so that we could talk as a group. This provided two benefits – reduced engine noise and increased the ability to hear and understand the tour guide. At the conclusion of the flight, K2 took photos of the tour participants and then we retrieved our backpacks and other items from their locked storage units.
Walking to and through Talkeetna did not take very long at all. Wildwood Restaurant was our choice for lunch. After lunch, we walked along the Main Street of the small town and then back to the train depot. The train arrived back in Anchorage around 8pm and, although the day was busy and had several strict deadlines, it was the perfect start to our vacation.