Explore. Experience. Engage.

Powered by our sister site, Family Vacation Critic

Alaska Land Tour

Author: caneable
Date of Trip: September 2007

The trouble is, there's no guarantee, and even if it's there you don't necessarily get it. Too many riddles? OK let's go on.

Having settled in our room we made our way through the impressive great hall of the lodge onto the viewing platform. Fantastic view of the Alaskan range but only peaks up to about 5 or 6000 feet in view. The High One, we are told, is in cloud. Or is it? Slowly we get the feel for "Where's Denali?" and it's a fun game. Somebody is saying something about the whitest cloud and you find it out, but there's something odd about it. You wander over to the viewing telescope and take a peek. The white cloud is smack in the middle of the view, but since when did cloud have striations? That's it somebody says, but it's all you can see because it's obscured by cloud. But you're in the game now and your role changes. You can stand there looking on smugly as the newcomers arrive. Then as one comes and asks you where it is you get the satisfaction of pointing it out.

"You see the second tallest fir tree, behind the fence post? OK look straight up about three feet and then six inches to the right. Can you see the very white cloud with diagonal marks on it? That's Denali!"

So they follow this mumbo-jumbo, wondering if this is some kind of emperor's new clothes for a minute or so and then tap you and say, hey, you're right! Now they're in the game and your role changes again. You've got someone to exchange smug looks with. And you get to roll your eyes in unison at the poor guy who just can't see it! You're in front of one of the biggest peep shows in the world, and gagging for more!

A letterbox appears in the cloud and a western flank gleams through. You look further west and see the cloud breaking more. You get into "if only" conversations, but nothing seems to shift. But you're hooked as slowly the clouds shift, eastwards and upwards and you all know you're only feet from the summit and you can see the eastern slope now.

Suddenly, a point arrives when you know the wait is nearly over, and you know you're not going to have a Marjorie Glacier moment again! That camera will run! And as you look and the last wisp of cloud lifts off the summit like the last wisp of smoke off a volcano... 20-3-20, it's there! And there are cameras clicking and appreciative murmurs all round. And there's this feeling of warmth and wonder around the deck. And you can't help but feel a sting in the eye and a clack in the throat, for you have seen the High One!

We don't do stiff upper lip all the time!

Tuesday, September 4

At 6:16 am we remembered we'd asked to go on the Denali watch phone list yesterday afternoon! And here it is, the mountains out. I'm tempted to say it's OK we saw it yesterday, but Joan's up and out and I'm soon following. This time it's different. This time it's full frontal! Denali in all its majesty. Not so much a game more a visit to an exhibition.

Over the next 45 minutes, as the sun rose the shades changed and the river mists floated away we were treated to the most fabulous vista. The full Alaska Range dominated by Foraker, Hunter and Denali. From soft, muted pinks, through pale peach shades we progressed to the full stark whiteness of the full mountain view, and once again I vastly increased my video-editing task!

Faced with the minor task of putting luggage out and getting breakfast we tore ourselves away. But we still sneaked a few more pictures afterwards!

Have I whined much on this post? I don't think so but you're the judges for that one. But after all that, I got really teed off at McKinley at Breakfast! You will recall my tea issue - I've tried to steer away from it! We'd found salvation by asking our servers for the hottest water possible and we've generally got a decent cup out. So we did the same in the Alaskan Grill at breakfast. Come check out I look at the bill and they've only charged me $1.75 per person for hot water!

I mean here we are with the magnificent Princess Cruises, multi national, self-proclaimed market leader, proudly caring for their customers and they have to charge me for hot water! We even brought our own tea bags!

I know, it's less than a quid, but why bother. You don't get charged for cold water in the evenings and there's an electricity charge for making the ice...

Ah the heck, it's a holiday and we all know that if you look after the pennies the pounds etc etc

Right, one whine over, bet I get flamed for it!

Down to Talkeetna and onto the train. Did you get a map of the route? You may not have done because there was a run on them at Talkeetna. I'd seen one on the web and was determined to get my hands on one. So I sauntered down to the booking office and asked if they had them in Princess cars. They replied that they didn't but they had some right there and I could have one gladly. Once I got back to the waiting area I unrolled it and started perusing the map. Suddenly I was besieged! Where did you get that! So I told them. And I told them that princess carriages didn't have them. And suddenly there was a stampede!

The lady at the kiosk was most obliging but towards the end people were coming back saying that she'd only let them have one! Some guy offered to sell his until I demanded 10% of his profit seeing as I had introduced him to it!

Related Trip Reviews
Alaska Trip Reviews
Send Us Your Trip Review!

Thank You For Signing Up!

Please Note: To ensure delivery of your free e-letters, please add news@independenttraveler.com to your address book.

We're committed to protecting your privacy and will not rent or sell your e-mail address. By proceeding, you agree to our privacy policy and Terms of Use.