Monday, January 12, 2015

The Coral Princess Northbound Cruise and Land Tour Day 9

The Coral Princess Northbound Cruise and Land Tour
Meeting the Mayor of Talkeetna and Floating Down the Susitna

The next day of our land cruise started with an early morning phone call: the mountain was out! While it sounds a little weird to get a call notifying you a mountain is "out," you'd be right, but the mountain, aka Denali, aka the "great one," aka Mount McKinley, the tallest point in North America, is rarely visible as it's usually covered in clouds 75% of the time. The fact that it was visible more than made up for not having my suitcase when I needed it most.


After the excitement of getting to see Mount McKinley, grabbing breakfast with my folks and seeing them off for their excursion, I decided to take a walk on the foot path that circled the main lodge. The short walk provided a couple of nice vantage points of the Susitna River and had several informational signs to tell you about the plant life that surrounded you. On the walk back up to the lodge, I noticed that the luggage trucks were driving around delivering fresh suitcases, so I eagerly went back to the room to see if my suitcase was waiting for me. It wasn't. 

I went to grab a cup of coffee from the cafe when I notice that more of the clouds that were in front of Denali had lifted. So I took my cup of coffee, sat out on the deck, snapped a couple of photos and took it all in. In a matter of a year I've been fortunate enough to have seen and been to the lowest point on earth in Death Valley National Park in the beginning of the year, and now I was sitting in front of the highest point on North America; it was a little hard to believe.

Not wanting to be late for my own excursion, a river float trip down the Susitna River, I put on the warm fleece I purchased yesterday and went down to the lodge to catch the bus into town. After a full night's sleep I thought I could manage to stay awake for the 40 minute drive... I was wrong, I passed out shortly after the bus drove by Wall-Mike's and woke up when we pulled into the bus parking area.

More of the beautiful flower arrangements that are everywhere in Alaska.

I had about 30 minutes before my excursion started so I met up with my folks at the Denali Brewing Company for a Belgian Bastard and an afternoon snack before embarking on my float trip, which started at the Talkeetna River Guides yurt.

Once I arrived and checked in, I went to the back where I received a pair of boots to put on over my shoes and a heavy waterproof rain jacket. After that we were introduced to our guides and then split up into groups and subsequently into two different 15 passenger vans which towed our floats. It was about a 5 minutes drive down to the boat launch, where we were then given our life jackets and safety speech infused with humor before hopping in our float and going down the Talkeetna River. The float trip was one of the most relaxing excursions I've ever done. We saw American Bald Eagles, a few salmon and got to try watermelon berries and wild grown raspberries. Toward the end of the ride we were greeted by Steve, who sang and played a song on his banjo.

This boat is from another excursion offered by Princess and they came speeding in right after we landed ashore

We ended up "docking" at the very same beach that I dipped my toes in the day before and walked back to the yurt to drop off the boots and rain jacket.

I didn't have too long to wait before the last bus from town left, so I went to the Wildflower Cafe and had a Denali Brewing Company's Single Engine Red beer and delicious crab cake for dinner, before strolling back to the bus stop.

And huzzah, when I returned my suitcase was finally waiting for me in my hotel room!

Oh and meet the Mayor of Talkeetna, the honorary mayor that is, Mayor Stubbs.

Next up, my last day in Talkeetna and my train trip to Denali National Park.

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