Thursday, July 28, 2011

Princess Rail Tour Getaway

It's been said the best way to see the Alaskan wilderness is by train. Passengers are able to access areas of Alaska that only the railroad passes through. Another plus? My hubby, the Mister, need not worry about his propensity for narcolepsy when behind the wheel. A great deal came up from Princess Tours (the same co. that has the cruises) for BOGO rail-only tours, and yours truly had to snatch it up.

There are several Princess lodges in the state, but considering the amount of leave the Mister was willing to take, and the fact that we were clamoring to catch sight of the tallest mountain in North America, we opted for the two day, one night trip to Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.

**If you are looking to book one of these tours, make sure you choose "rail-only." We had a friend make that mistake and although they rode the train up to Talkeetna, they had to have a bus ride home. Not so fun.**

Once we had our luggage checked in, the staff guided us onto a motor coach to drive us to our train car, which was probably one block from where we were. The Mister and I laughed, confirming suspicions this type of tour probably catered more to those in their geriatric phase. The Princess car was at the very rear of the lineup. Everyone was assigned a table number at booking, four to each table. With seven of us, we claimed two tables right across from each other. Seating is at the top level, with glass domes to enhance the view.

The place was spacious with under-seating storage for carry-on bags. We had a tour guide on our level. She pointed out must-see's, explained about the local flora and fauna, and pretty much kept us engaged through the trip. We brought snacks on board for the little ones (I heard we weren't really supposed to, but I don't think any pax wanted to deal with hungry and ornery kids).

The treat of the ride? With McKinley off in the distance (picture quality won't show it in this pic), a bald eagle flew THIS close to our window. I was not quick enough to catch the bird when it was closer (booo).

The open air platform downstairs. The lower level also held the dining car. They served made-to-order meals (breakfast in our case). Eggs were eh. Reindeer sausage was heaven (but reindeer sausage is always heaven). Drinks were uber expensivo @ 3.25 for soda, more for those with alcohol. Bring your own or order water. 

 The time flew by, and before we knew it (three hours later) we were disembarking at Talkeetna. A 50 min motor coach ride later, we were finally at the lodge at Trapper Creek, ready for the adventure to begin. TBC...

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