Seward to Anchorage
A beautiful sunrise with the sun shining on the mountains and waiting the sky pink greeted me in the morning. I wonder, do the experiences we have that fade into memory live on as part of us, abiding in our hearts, becoming who we are, and providing places to refresh, to restore, to revive us?
Our daughter sent me a satellite picture of the remnants of Typhoon Merbok hitting the northwest coast of Alaska. I find it interesting that a typhoon gone extra tropical would hit the state while we were there. Alaska is enormous, so of course the storm was over 500 miles away.
We checked out of the lodge and took the shuttle to the train station to check our bags for the evening train. Instead of eating lunch first, we decided to explore the twin lake trail just on the edge of town. The trail wound through the temperate rainforest tucked up against Mount Marathon with a mossy forest floor and plentiful mushrooms.
The short hike took us around two small lakes and had a pretty waterfall at the far end near a parking lot. However, the trail divided where we were to circle around back to the other side. Mud covered the low path but it looked like it went back the pond; the high path was drier and we thought it went the right way as well. Jon took the muddy path and the rest of us took the dry one. After the path started climbing, we decided it was the wrong way. So we back tracked, took the muddy one, but was alerted by Jon that it actually didn’t lead to the lake either. We ended up back tracking again.
But we never did find if either path was the right one because Jon came after he encountered what appeared to be a very disturbed homeless person with a camp on the trail. We returned to the waterfall and to the parking lot, then took surface streets back to town as clouds rolled in. Our stomachs were telling us it was past lunch time.
We had our hearts set on Red’s Burgers on the edge of town, only to find them already closed for the season. We went to the Highliner restaurant and unfortantely since it was one of the few places still open, it was an hour wait. Once inside, we found out that they ran out of burgers. I didn’t mind because I of course ordered a big bowl of hearty clam chowder. The others settled on loaded tots with cheddar cheese, bacon, green onion, lime crema (a recipe we’re going to have to replicate), and Rueben and BLT sandwiches.
We took our last shuttle ride to the train station (although I hopped off nearby at a gift shop for some last minute shopping) and boarded the evening Coastal Classic train to anchorage on the Alaskan Railroad. I have to admit I was relieved to be on the train without any problems because it was the last train of the season. Do you see a developing theme here? There was quite the celebratory atmosphere among the workers.
We purchased the Gold Star fare which meant we sat on the second level of the train car and watched the passing scenery through domed windows. Although thick clouds had rolled in (and would persist for most of our visit), the views were amazing.
Autumn colors covered the snow capped mountains and we passed more rivers, waterfalls, glaciers. Despite the treat of large windows, I spent much of my daylight time outside on the rear platform enjoying the rhythmic sway of the cars as the train clickety-clacked over the tracks, the occasional train whistle, and open, expansive feel of Alaska.
Our Gold Star fare included dinner in the dining room below us. Since I’m not a huge fan of pot roast, I was a bit disappointed to find out it was the main entree (besides burgers) for the meal. But those who ate before us raved how good it was. So we ordered it and oh-my-goodness. It was the best pot roast I’ve ever had. The menu said it was slow braised pot roast with red wine demi. We were also treated to smoked salmon chowder. More recipes we’ll have to try to emulate.
Too soon the landscape faded into darkness and we were cocooned in our tube of bright light. When a turn in the tracks gave me sight into the car ahead of us, I saw its row of white window arches extending into darkness. It kind of felt like we were in the belly of a whale—the white arches the vertebrae of the beast.
We arrived into Anchorage train station late. Since our hotel informed us they did not offer a shuttle from the train station, Jon ordered an uber. But when we were notified of the car that was coming to pick us up, we were concerned at its small size. We didn’t think we and our luggage would all fit.
A few other passengers were loading a shuttle from our hotel! (It had been temporarily conscripted by their hotel due to a van breakdown.) The driver assured us he would come back for us. He was fast. So fast he arrived back before our uber did. We paid a 75% uber cancellation fee, but we had peace of mind that all four of us and our eight pieces of luggage and backpacks fit. And soon we were check into our hotel and settled into our rooms.
Since the Seward Visitor Center was closed every other time we passed it, we couldn’t get a picture with the bear inside. So, right before dinner we grabbed this photo of another downtown bear.