Thursday we departed at 730 am for a 9 hour bus ride across the unpaved Denali Highway to reach the next lodge in Copper Center. I woke up early and took some pictures of the property as the sun rose and then went on a coffee run with John who is the brew snob of the crew and had researched a great local coffee shop, Black Bear Coffee House, across the street.
The bus ride was fairly non eventful, and with the exception of a few very rough bumps, not uncomfortable considering the road conditions. Most of us read or napped as much as we could. Throughout the trip, Tom has been keeping a tally of things we could have done better on our own, versus going through Princess. He was very thankful that he did not have to drive that road and instead got to sit back and enjoy the view. Halway through, we stopped at the one place to get food along the whole route, the MacLaren Inn. They served a great lunch of sandwiches and chili, and their summer special dessert of wildberry pie and homemade vanilla ice cream. Along the ride, we learned about the tundra, and how the area was formed by glaciers, spotted some moose and caribou, and caught up on sleep. Arrived at the lodge around 4 pm and took some short walks before a nice dinner at the lodge.
Since there is not much interesting to report about the bus trip, I wanted to share some information about Alaska and the lodges we have stayed at. It's also a chance to practice my recall so we can prepare for trivia on the ship. Alaska is the 49th state. The territory was purchased in 1867 for $7 million. It is the northernmost, easternmost, and westernmost state, since the Aleutian Islands cross the date line.
|Restaurant placemat with more facts about Alaska|
|The tundra almost looks like the foggy cover around the Great Smoky Mountains, but it is actually smoke from the forest fires!|
The lodges have all been very nice and on the rustic side. McKinley and Denali had a main lodge with a great room for sitting, coffee shop, restaurant, gift shop, bus stop, check in, etc. and the rooms were in separate building spread across the property. Copper River has a similar main lodge, but the rooms are upstairs in the lodge, like a hotel. It is also the smallest of the three we stayed at, with less than 100 rooms and only 2 places to eat. McKinley and Copper River had short hiking trails around the property. All three had nice decks or fire pits to sit out on and relax. The rooms all have blackout curtains which are greatly appreciated!
Friday we are hiking, rafting, and fishing along the Copper River.