On September 27th of this year Maggie and I will celebrate 40 years of marriage. We planned a trip to Alaska to celebrate the occasion. On our cruise last year Royal Caribbean offered a buy one reservation, get the second one for half price. We signed right up!

The adventure began on June 14th at Dulles airport in Virginia. We flew first class on Alaska airlines to Seattle, WA, then continued to Anchorage AK, where we arrived at 1:40am a day early. Our plan was to rent a car and drive to Fort Richardson so we could visit the grave of one of Maggie's sisters who died as a baby on the army post. She was Janet, a twin of sister Jean, who passed away 2 years ago. At our hotel they couldn't locate a rental car because everyone was coming to town for the big Summer Solstice celebration, so a cab was called. Unfortunately the driver told us he couldn't take the cab on post, but he knew where we could rent a used car. This is where we met Cindy and Mike of Cheapwheels. They happily provided us with a car to take to the post where we located Janet's grave. The picture shows the urn with some of Jean's ashes that we brought with.

Cindy and Mike also helped us to find the headquarters of Maggie's company,Tatilek that was in Anchorage. We were welcomed in for a tour of the facilities where Maggie met some of the people she had only known from a newsletter or memo. It was beginning to look like this was the friendliest state we've ever visited.

After returning the car Cindy and Mike had one of their employees return us to the hotel. A walk downtown for lunch let us see how clean this town was, with beautiful murals on some of the buildings. At one of the gift shops we were greeted by a variety of stuffed animals at the entrance. A massive quantity of T-shirts were purchased.

Later in the day we met our land tour guide, Michael who would lead the group until we boarded the cruise ship in Seward. Standing in the front of the bus and train he kept us entertained during the transportation from one location to the next. First on the schedule was transferring to the train that would take us in luxury from Anchorage to Denali.

Called the Wilderness Express, the last two cars on the train were double decker with the restaurant on the lower level and panoramic seating on the upper floor. The view was spectacular and the menu for breakfast and lunch was delicious!

Now I know you're wondering, "what was the weather like?". They told us the week before we arrived they had some snow fall. The two weeks we'd visit the temperature would be in the 70s or low 80s. Most days would be bright and sunny with low humidity. Only one day was cloudy with a little drizzle!

The train ride between Anchorage and Denali was about 6 hours through gorgeous mountains and forests. In the distance was Denali, or Mount McKinley as it is called. There is a movement to return it to the original Athabascan people's name, Denali.

As we headed north we passed through some regions that were still smoking from a massive forest fire that devastated the area.

As we were getting off the train someone asked Michael about the accommodations for the night. He said "rustic". When we arrived we were given keys for our berths. Walking from the office I noticed that the cabins looked like similar units we had camped in at KOAs. But as soon as we opened the door of ours we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the furnishings. Maggie says it was the most comfortable bed of the trip! After a good nights sleep we were ready for our wilderness tour in Denali.

Alaska fjords

route

Map from Royal Caribbean.

Cheapwheels

Janet headstone

Tatilek

whate mural

stuffed animals

Michael

Wilderness express

train

 

Forest fire

Denli Park

Denali Park cabin