Day 13 – Train to Whittier and Glacier Tour

When we left the cruise ship, we were definitely underwhelmed by the glacier…but then in Seward we found a flyer to see 26 glaciers in a day (on a 5-hour cruise). Long story short…today’s that day!

So far on this trip, I’ve taken a car 🚗, a plane ✈️, a bus 🚌, and a ship 🛳, but no train 🚂! We also got that as part of the glacier cruise deal, so we were super excited this morning as we headed for the Alaska Railroad Depot in Anchorage…after stopping at our coffee shop!

Megan and I are both infatuated with trains. My love comes from not having access to trains growing up—I was an adult before riding on my first train and I enjoy the ability to walk around and “stretch out” without bumping 12 people in a 4-person row on an airplane. This particular train runs from Anchorage to Whittier (another cruise terminal) for 2.5 hours. We checked in, boarded, and left!

If you can’t tell, we’re train enthusiasts.

We enjoyed a few sights along the way, including the “mud flats”. In Anchorage the tide changes 40 feet 😳 so during low tide you can see land much further out. They did advise us not to walk on it ever because it’s like quicksand. And then, when the tide is in, it’s back to “River” status. We should see this on the ride home.

We pulled up to the Whittier “train station” (literally half of a tent) and crossed the street to the cruise terminal to pickup our tickets and board our vessel 🚢 for the day!

Because we were a last minute booking, we didn’t get a prime location for seating. It wouldn’t have mattered—the people with the good seats booked months in advance, and everyone was free to walk around. The seating advantage was really only about meal delivery. The cruise included a meal of either seafood chowder or vegetable chili (I couldn’t have the chowder because of the dairy 😭). They also had a bar and were serving “glacier ice margaritas” (basically a margarita with blue curaçao added) so we got some…but they were made using regular ice. It was a little of a let down, but was also tasty so we went with it.

As we made the cruise they told us about the wildlife and different glaciers as we passed them. We also passed sea otters and a few other critters and finally ended up at “the big one”—Surprise Glacier. (I was not in charge of naming the glaciers.) This one glacier alone made the trip worth it!

We were stopped at Surprise Glacier for awhile, and to our enjoyment, they fished some ice out of the water (not chipping off the glacier but had already detached) and took that onboard to make glacier ice margaritas WITH GLACIER ICE!!!🧊 I’m not sure it tasted different, but it felt colder! 🥶

There was one other oddity on our way back. It’s either referred to the “wall of birds” or “wall of 💩” because it’s where all the gulls nest near a waterfall. It was intriguing, but I wasn’t getting up any more—I had my margarita(s)! (So I got a few pictures from my seat)

Once we made it back, we took the 45-second hike to the train station, where our train pulled up about 5 minutes later and we were off.

I’m not exaggerating—it’s 500 ft from the dock to the “depot” (half a tent)

Our train arrived back in Anchorage a few minutes early, and we had seen the 49th State Brewing Company on the train out, so we decided to sample the local food & brew, and it was close enough to walk…once we got the address right!

We did pass the brewery on the way, but it was their canning/bottling facility. The actual brewery was (of course) uphill from where we went. Then, because we came from the wrong direction—we couldn’t find the entrance. We ended up at the talent entrance (they have live music often) but there was an elevator with a hefty queue, so we walked around the building some more until we finally reached the entrance.

In addition to some rich stouts & porters, we also ordered dinner. I ordered a pizza (again, vegan cheese was available) and “cauliflower wings” with blue cheese dressing on them. And yes—it was VEGAN blue cheese dressing! I had Megan try it since I don’t like blue cheese to start with, and she confirmed that she wouldn’t know it was vegan! The wings themselves were super crunchy and spicy.I ate it all, and my sinuses definitely thanked me for it!

The worst part of the day was when we left the restaurant, it had closed already—so it was about 10:30 PM AKDT…but still looked like daytime! I think it’s starting to get to me—I haven’t seen nighttime in a few days…

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