Yup, we were there, on May 20, 2005. I had a meeting in Fairbanks the following week, so Gail and I decided to make our first trip to Alaska. We flew up to Anchorage on a Thursday afternoon (the 19th), spent the early evening exploring the city on foot, and returned to the Captain Cook Hotel for a 9:30 dinner, and then watched the sun set from our room. The photo below was taken at about 10:45 PM local time.
We were up early the next morning to catch the Alaska Railroad’s Denali Star. In season, there is one train a day from Anchorage to Fairbanks and one a day from Fairbanks back. Our plan was to go as far as Denali National Park on Friday, arriving in the late afternoon, and to pick up the train the next day at the same time for Fairbanks, arriving Saturday night around 8:00. And that’s what we did. We were lucky with the timing. This was only the first week that the train was running and only the first week as well that Denali was open. We were also a little unlucky, because in that first week, the services in Denali are limited, so our tour options without a car were few.
Anyway, Friday morning we got ourselves to the Anchorage train station, boarded the Denali Star, and departed at 8:15 AM for Denali.
I imagined that once we got out of Anchorage, we wouldn’t be seeing much of “civilization” until Fairbanks. In particular, I never dreamed that I would see a Fred Meyer. After about an hour and a quarter, we slowed down, and there it was.
A Fred Meyer in the middle of nowhere. But we weren’t in the middle of nowhere. We were in Wasilla. And everything was up to date. Just around the bend, we passed a shopping center one of whose occupants was receiving deliveries by a Sysco truck.
I was quite taken by our brief view of Wasilla. It seemed just like anywhere else, which I found surprising, and a little disappointing as well. We would have to wait a little longer for the wilderness.
Of course, it did come. Disappointment was short lived.
And the next day, we had some company at Denali’s train station while we waited for the train to take us to Fairbanks.