Sunday, September 18, 2016

Alaska 2016 - Day 12 (8/31/2016) - McKinley Lodge

Luggage pick-up was once again 7 AM, with a 9:45 departure for the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.  The drive took a little over 2 hours, with one scenic stop to take pictures of “the Mountain”.  Unlike the last two bus transfers, where the 52 passengers were split between 2 coaches, we all filled up one coach.

This lodge had an environment somewhere between the last two.  The rooms were housed in many buildings sprawled across the large property, just like Denali.  However, the property was located an hour drive from the nearest town of significance, Talkeetna, so it was isolated like Copper River.  After arriving at the lodge, I wandered around for a bit until I found my building and room.  After stowing my gear, I walked over to the casual 20,320 Alaskan Grill for lunch.  I checked in with the hostess to eat alone, but of course I ran into Jeff and Tammy in there so I joined them at their table.  The mac and cheese that I had there (with mushrooms and grilled onions added in) was probably the best tasting meal that I had eaten since leaving the ship (though I wish the portion was a tad bigger, even if it meant additional clogging of my arteries).  After the meal I went back to my room to be lazy for a couple of hours while the other two headed off to another excursion.

The rest of the day/evening was pretty quiet.  I went to a couple of talks held at a “theater” at the lodge – one at 4:30 PM by a female mountain guide about climbing Denali, and another at 6 PM by a naturalist about bears.  Both were pretty good, but I was certainly more impressed by the climber.  Other than those and hanging around the main lodge for a bit, I didn’t do much else.  I was also pretty tired and went to bed relatively early.  After talking to some other travelers on the tour, I found out that I missed out on a pretty good display of the aurora, which started around 11 PM and was off and on through about 2 AM.  Oh well.

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My favorite photos from the trip can be found here:
https://goo.gl/photos/4ikrCSuPvRpRkXTKA

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