Sunday, May 19, 2013

Anchorage, Alaska - Train to Denali

After a good night's rest at the Hilton, we had the bellman call a cab to take us down the hill to the railroad station.  It is close, but I had too much luggage to haul so we took advantage of the cab.  Those taking the Princess tour took the luggage to a separate stand to get tickets for the train and check in the luggage.  The train departed about 8:00 AM ish (we learned that "ish" is the Alaska railroad time schedule) so we had 45 minutes to spend in the terminal.  It is a fairly nice size terminal with restrooms, a coffee bar and the ever present Alaska gift shop.  As boarding time approached, the other passengers were called to line up.  They were going to cross the tracks and board the train. The Princess passengers were to board a motor coach and travel 1/8 mile to board the special Princess car.  We checked in, found our seats on the upper level, and started the journey.  The seats in the upper level of the Princess car were arranged with two bench seats and a table in between.  This made it very easy to have our new blue Princess water bottles filled and our special Alaska mug filled with Moose Kiss (hot chocolate and liquors). 

This is another engine but they all looked the same.

 Soon the waiter from the dining level asked who was going to have breakfast in the dining car.  The staff take a count of those attending a meal so that they can prepare for the number of passengers.  We were called in shifts of 16 to go down the winding staircase to the first level and find a table.
 This is my first taste of reindeer sausage.  I had it in a burrito and it was nicely spiced, not hot but tasty.
 We were riding parallel with the Glenn Highway at this point. You can see the roadway as we crossed the broad and flowing Matanuska River.
 Nice view of the mountain range on the west side of the train.  The forest is made of a low pine tree.
 We passed through many wide open spaces where we were fortunate to see (I think) moose in the marshes. They like to feed in these types of areas.
 The tour guide mentioned that it is beneficial to save the used vehicles because it is often difficult to get parts in the remote areas.
 Graffiti exists worldwide.
The train passes through wide open spaces with small towns.  The numbers indicate the rail mile markers.
119.1 WHITNEY • The rail line passes through Elmendorf Air Force Base where fighter jets can frequently be seen taking off or landing.

141.8 EKLUTNA • Location of Alaska’s earliest hydroelectric project and the source of fresh water for Anchorage. Named for the nearby Athabascan Indian village of Eklutna, the village is also the site of a traditional cemetery and a Russian Orthodox church.

150.7 MATANUSKA • Home of world-record vegetables and the center of agriculture for Southcentral Alaska, the Valley includes Palmer and surrounding communities. It was settled by “colonists” from the Lower 48 in the early 1930s.
(Descriptions of the mile markers and the rail map from the site.)
This post shows the views from Anchorage to just south of Wassila.

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