June 01, 2016

Train to Anchorage and Seward

On the Gold Star Alaska Railroad again - Since I will be having lunch on the train to Anchorage, I skip any attempt to have breakfast even though the lobby and restaurant reopen this morning. There is still the lingering odor of smoke in the building. The damage from the fire is quite minimal, essentially a section of roofing and outside wall around the stack where the flue from the lobby fireplace runs up and thru the roof. Guests are told it was an electrical fire, but it really looks like a fire related to the operation of the fireplace.

The shuttle bus driver is from Florida, and comes to Denali every summer just to drive a shuttle bus. On the way to the train station he stops at the national park sign so everyone can take pictures if they wish. Again a quick boarding process. This leg is approximately an 8 hour run from Denali to Anchorage. The train has a few more passengers, I guess about 25 in Gold Star, but didn't bother to get an exact count.

What can I say except the ride is very comfortable, the scenery spectacular, and being an afternoon trip I take advantage of the free drinks. Clearly a case where a picture is worth a thousand words, so look at the pictures I will post within a few weeks.

Adrienne is waiting for me at the Anchorage station, and after I collect my luggage we are off to a hotel for the night. The alarm is set for 5:00 as we meet in the lobby to take a cab to the station for the last leg of the trip to Seward. Again I am riding in Gold Star. The others are in coach. More spectacular scenery, breakfast in the dining car, but no drinks, it is too early.

The train has over 500 passengers for this leg, nearly all of them headed to the port to board the Radiance of the Seas. Much to my surprise our luggage is checked right to our cabins on the ship, not carried by rail, but carried by truck to save one unload and reloading step.

My car has 74 of its 76 seats occupied, the other Gold Star car is equally full. John, another solo traveler and I, are the only passengers with an empty seat next to us. Several of the passengers that were on the Fairbanks to Denali segment are on board again today.

Once in Seward we take a short shuttle ride to visit Exit glacier. I elect to only hike the short trail, the majority of the others hike out to the face of the glacier. The glacier is not very large, but has been extensively studied for many years. I estimate the Glacier has receded nearly a mile since the first records were made about a hundred years ago. Signs along the trail indicate the location of the face at different points in recent times. I make it back to the shuttle pick-up time with 5 minutes to spare.

After a long walk from the shuttle drop off to the ship, I quickly check in an board. It feels good to be back on a ship again. This packing and unpacking every day or two just doesn't make a lot of sense.

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