Day 11-13 … Denali and Fairbanks

Terri looking stunning in front of a Beaver's dam!

Terri looking stunning in front of a Beaver’s dam!

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.

Boreal Chickadee ... This was one of the "lifers" I expected to see and I was thrilled to get ti before we left the Denali area.

Boreal Chickadee … This was one of the “lifers” I expected to see and I was thrilled to get it before we left the Denali area.

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.

We rode in the first of the back two cars!

We rode in the first of the back two cars!

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.

Wilderness Express

Wilderness Express

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.

One of the 100's of wonderful views!

One of the 100’s of wonderful views!

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.

Taken from the outside platform.

Taken from the outside platform.

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.

Some of the cabins at Pikes Waterfront Lodge

Some of the cabins at Pikes Waterfront Lodge

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.

One of the very popular means of transportation in Alaska!

One of the very popular means of transportation in Alaska!

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!!!

Lots of sled dogs!

Lots of sled dogs!

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.

Terri took this from our 3rd floor room without me knowing it!!!

Terri took this from our 3rd floor room without me knowing it!!!

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!

 

 

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About sheriffsmith

I have worked for the Broward County Sheriff's Office the last 13 years and spend most of my free time birdwatching / naturewatching and photographing the birds and nature that I encounter. I believe God has blessed us with a world that is so absolutely fascinating and wonderful and I'm doing my best to discover and show others all that he has provided us with in nature.
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