Posted July 8th, 2018, 10:14 AM
Day #4 June 23, 2018
We have apparently finally folded into more of a touring/vacationing routine, and were able to sleep fairly well last night.
This morning required that our bags be outside our room in the hall by 7 AM with the DPL (Denali Princess Lodge) tags off, and the new MPL (McKinley Princess Lodge) tags on ready to be transported to our next stop: McKInley Lodge.
Speaking of luggage...we met a couple on the lodge shuttle who said one of their pieces of luggage was lost for over a day and a night. She had been quite panicked about it, but it did finally show up. Honestly, it's a wonder that this sort of thing doesn't happen more often. The shuttling and shuffling of the massive quantities of luggage over literally miles of lodge rooms has to be a logistical nightmare.
Our breakfast voucher entitled us to a breakfast buffet in the Denali music theater, or a made to order breakfast in the King Salmon restaurant, or a much lighter breakfast at one of the grab 'n go venues on the properties. Since we had 2.5 hours before we needed to meet the bus at our A/B lodge entrance, DH and I decided to take the shuttle to the King Salmon restaurant and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. The restaurant is truly beautiful, and we were seated at a table for two by a window overlooking the trees at the back of the property. DH was fairly hungry and ordered the king crab stuffed omelette with pan fried red potato cubes and toast. I have a hard time eating early morning breakfasts, especially when we have dinner at 8 or later the night before. I ordered the yogurt with blueberries and granola. Quite enough for me this morning. After your meal, you just place your vouchers on the table, and the wait staff will collect them. Often we were asked to just sign the voucher on the back. Sometimes we received a paper receipt and were asked to sign that as well. The vouchers work very simply, and you can order whatever you'd like. I know the cost of the food is all folded into the cost of the package, but it was a real treat to look at menus and try new and different things. After breakfast we took the shuttle back to our room, picked up our backpack, and relaxed in the lounge area with the others until the bus showed up.
The coach bus ride was only 2 hours long and shortly after leaving the lodge, we came across a cow moose right on the shoulder of the highway like she was looking to cross the road! Michael told us that 300 moose are killed on this stretch of highway every year!
We reached McKinley Lodge, and Michael gave us our packets with instructions and room keys, and the bus driver took us to Building 18. We all found our rooms (ground level). Some were ready and some were not, but you were able to place your hand luggage in them and go about your day until later. When we opened the door to our room (#1811), it smelled just terrible! The room had its bed stripped and the windows were closed. The only way I have been able to describe the smell in the room was that it was like an animal had died in it--perhaps somewhere in the walls. We once had a mouse die in the walls of our laundry room, and it smelled like this. It lasted for a long time, and DH finally had to open the wall in the laundry room. We immediately opened the window in the room, and that helped a bit, but we knew we were not going to be able to stay in this room. There was a young lady in the hallway with a cart cleaning rooms, and I asked her to step into the room for a moment. When I explained to her that the room smelled terrible, she said, "Oh yes! We always have trouble with this room. It always smells bad like this." Okay. That was enough for me. I pulled out my phone and called Michael. He answered his cell phone immediately and asked us to come up to the main lodge. He would meet us there and take care of it immediately. By the time we got to the main lodge (about 5 minutes later) Michael was there with the manager of the lodge. They both apologized profusely and gave us another room. This one was far from the others, but it didn't matter. We were in Building 6 (#601). They also gave us two tickets for a coffee at any of the Princess lodges. It was a minor blip and could happen anywhere as these lodges are all in remote areas.
While we were in the main lodge, we went to the reception desk to give them our cell phone number and to ask to be put on the Call List. I had read that you need to do this EACH DAY. Reception will call you 24 hours a day if the mountain comes out. I had read that everyone just comes out in their pajamas to take photos if the mountain comes out late at night. That's what my research had told me. Reality was, the woman at reception asked only for our room number and insisted that that they will only call the rooms. So if the mountain is out, and you happen to not be in your room, you won't get the notification.
The lodge looks and feels much older than the Denali Lodge, and there are really no rooms with a "view." Almost all of the windows look out onto trees, shrubs and grass. However, from the outside of Building 6 we were able to see a bit of the mountain through the trees.
After we got our new room key, we decided to go out onto the balcony behind the lodge and to see if "Denali was out." It was a partly cloudy day with temperatures in the mid 60's. Very pleasant, but there were clouds at the top of the mountain so it wasn't totally visible. There is a part of the deck that is used for food and drink service. We were given a seat in the sun, ordered a couple beers and a snack, and relaxed and just drank in the atmosphere. While we sat and mountain-watched and people-watched, we looked over the information in our packets. One of the things we had wanted to do was to get up to see the Tree House built by Pete Nelson. They did an episode on Tree Masters on the Animal Planet cable channel a while ago, and it is now open to the public. DH and I grabbed a shuttle as far as it would go and then set out on foot the rest of the way. It was not easy going for the two of us with the serious joint issues we were dealing with on this trip. We made it as far as where the hard road ended and the gravel path began. We could see the steep gravel hill up to the Tree House, and there was simply no way either of us could make it up or down that trail, so we had to turn around. It was disappointing. The view of the area is supposed to be wonderful from the Tree House.
After that mis-adventure to the Tree House, we returned to our room, and there were some chairs on the boardwalk outside our room. We had a room on the far end. The rooms in this building are motel-like in that they all have separate doors leading outside. (Building 18 where the others were had doors all inside a hallway, more hotel-like.) It was a beautiful afternoon, and we spent it just relaxing. We could see snippets of Denali through the trees from where we were sitting, so we kept our eye on it hoping the high clouds would dissipate. (Can you see the mountain in the background?)