We have the option this morning to either book an excursion in Denali or roam around the lodge grounds on our own. The previous day left us exhausted so we slept in late and explored the grounds at McKinley Village. It helps that the Nenana River is right outside our room. This is definitely the place to stay in Denali.
After our leisurely morning, we were back on the train and one step closer to the cruise part of our Alaskan adventure.
To our surprise, the ride leaving Denali was much more scenic! To top that off, the clouds covering Mount McKinley (aka Denali-"the high one") finally cleared up. The guide on the train told us that only 5% of tourists actually see McKinley.
Unfortunately our high spirits were short-lived as we quickly entered the neverending dust bowl. They had to turn down the AC so that it wouldn't overheat and break down. This was when I started to resent the domed ceiling as the sun heated up the car.
Check out the dust!
Dust infiltrated the car
All was well by dinner time, and I was ready to be impressed by the much promoted pork tenderloin. Indeed I was impressed. It was super juicy, which I was grateful for because my mouth was dry from the dust bowl episode. I've never been fond of bourbon sauce because it's always too sweet for me, but their bourbon sauce was more smokey than sweet. The veggies that were paired up with the meat were nice and light. I especially enjoyed the yellow carrots.
Pork loin baked with bourbon sauce and topped with escalloped apples with garden vegetables and maple glazed sweet potatoes
We ended our dining car experience with a deliciously creamy and light-as-air Alaskan berries cake. It turned out to be the best dessert we had from our entire Alaska trip!
Once we arrived in Anchorage, I was immediately reminded of Seattle. The dark clouds hovering above us ominously, the lush green vegetation, the vibrant flowers, the marina look and feel of the city definitely gave me a sense of déjà vu.
Flowers in Town Square Park
A very charming characteristic of Anchorage is the abundance of colorful murals in the downtown area.
Wyland Whale Mural (1994) painted freehand
I wish we had more time in Anchorage to explore beyond downtown. The Eyewitness travel book notes quite a few spots I would have liked to visit such as the Alaska Native Heritage Center, St. Innocent Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Alaska Wildberry Products (world's largest chocolate waterfall), and the Anchorage Weekend Market.