Our last day in/near Denali started with Terri and I going for a nice long hike on the same trail I had used the first night at the hotel. There were a few more birds around and we even made it far enough to see a Beaver dam. Unfortunately there were no Beaver around but I did manage to pick up one more “Lifer” on our hike.
We were scheduled to go to Fairbanks about 3pm and we were truly looking forward to the train ride. We had heard many good things about it and I’m pleased to say our expectations were not only met but were far exceeded.
The Wilderness Express is a double-decker train car with wrap around glass so the views on the ride are phenomenal. It is about a 4-5 hour ride from Denali to Fairbanks but it actually was over too quickly.
Our group consisted of 49 people and I was told each car had 80 seats so Terri and I made sure we were in the back of the line and ended up having 4-5 rows of empty seats behind us which allowed us to bounce around taking pictures.
There was also a deck you could stand on by the dining area if you wanted to take pictures without the glass being in the way.
The lower deck of the train car is a dining area. Both Terri and I agreed … the best meal we had the entire vacation was on the train. We dined with a wonderful couple from Jupiter Florida which is only 45 minutes North of where we live!
We arrived in Fairbanks and were at the hotel by 7:30 or so. We stayed at the Pike’s Waterfront Lodge and were very happy with the accommodations. It is a very nice hotel with a decent buffet for both breakfast and dinner.
The lodge sits on the Chena River which is where they start the Iditarod … more on that in a minute. The schedule for the second day in Fairbanks included a trip to a mining dredge and a riverboat ride. Both of these were OK, nothing super fantastic but fun none the less.
On the riverboat ride in the afternoon we passed the Trail Breaker Kennels where Iditarod hopeful Laura Allaway trains her dogs. It was really cool to hear her talk about the dogs and she actually had them pulling a four-wheeler … those dogs really love to run!!!
Our last day in Fairbanks was a really, really long day. Our plane was not scheduled to leave until 9:35 pm and they kicked us out of our room at 11 am. We managed alright by playing Scrabble and taking a couple of short hikes. The Chena River provided some nice habitat for the birds and the hotel next door had a trail behind it so I managed to squeeze in a little birding in the morning.
After our very long day the trip to the airport and the flights back were all very nice. One of the coolest things happened about an hour after we left the Fairbanks airport. The captain came on the public address system and said to look out the left side of the plane as the Northern Lights were starting to show. Fortunately we were on the left side and had a window seat. For the next 3-4 hours Terri and I took turns watching this amazing show of lights … what a wonderful way to end what was an absolutely fabulous trip!!!
Thank you for following along on our adventure. I think I may still do one or two more blogs mostly of pictures … one of all the different birds and one of the mammals. God bless!