Tuesday, July 11

From the dome car Tuesday was one of the less well organized days of the trip. Joel and I rushed to board the bus to Denali at 7:30, but upon arriving in the lobby we found out that it had been rescheduled for an hour later and nobody had given us the message. The delay was nice in a way, because it gave us time for a leisurely breakfast at the Kodiak Cafe near the hotel. Boarding of the bus was chaotic because many of us had not received boarding passes; Joel and I ended up in two half-seats in the back of an overfull bus. Fortunately, we switched to a train once we reached the small town of Talkeetna. We spent most of the train ride in the upper deck of the dome car, which had a great 360 degree view as well as skylights. The scenery along the way was quite similar to what I was used to seeing in Washington, with lots of evergreens, the occasional stream or lake, and pretty snow-peaked mountains in the distance. Mount McKinley itself was hidden from view by the clouds, which apparently is completely normal. Some passengers claimed to have seen a moose, but all Joel and I saw in the way of animals were a duck, two swans, and lots of dragonflies.

View from the train The train ride was a long one, and we finally made it to the McKinley Village Resort in the late afternoon. We were relieved to find our luggage waiting in our room, given the disorganization of that morning. Our room was comfortable and had a nice view of the Nenana River. Shortly after we arrived, we went to a wine and cheese reception, which was followed by a talk by one of the park's naturalists. The talk was excellent. The naturalist explained why the area has less biodiversity than lands closer to the equator and she described the food chain of the Denali region in some detail. After the talk was over, we looked in the gift shop for a while. The weather in Denali was overcast and drizzly, which was actually a welcome thing. The region had been suffering from a dry spell and some bad forest fires, and the residents there were happy for the rain.

Scenery on the way to Denali


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Julie Kerr, July 16, 2000