We had to get up early and get started for the train; we left the hotel about 6:00 A, and there was already a line of people checking bags at the train station. We got into the line with maybe a dozen people ahead of us, and it took about 15 minutes to get our bags checked. One nice thing is that they check the bags to your hotel. That allows you to take a tour when you get to Seward without having to worry about your luggage.
When we went into the terminal and were in line to get our tickets, we realized that we had left the small carry on with our passports in the taxi. It was now about 15 minutes till the train left and they were already boarding.
It took a few minutes on hold to get through to the taxi dispatcher, and then another stressful 10 minutes for the taxi driver to get back with our passports. We paid the driver a $20.00 fare and a nice tip on top of it. Once we had the passports, we could get on the train and relax for the amazing journey.
We had reserved our seating in the GoldStar dome car. They have an elevator in the car to get a wheelchair, and probably a small scooter up to the second level. My wife rode in a conventional seat and was quite comfortable. She could have stayed in her wheelchair but chose not to since the views were better from the seat.
In addition to the comfortable seating, at the rear of the car, there was a viewing platform that allowed you to have unobstructed opportunities to take photographs. We had a magnificent trip, and while the day was cloudy and rainy, which made getting photographs and videos more difficult, the scenery was stunning from start to finish.
The GoldStar service includes bar service and two free drinks per person. There is a bar in the back of each car, and the bartender was very outgoing. I was able to enjoy a couple of Irish Coffees along the way, while my granddaughter received a virgin Sunrise and a virgin Mai Tai.
Also, they include a meal for individuals purchasing the GoldStar package. In our case, that meal was breakfast, and you had multiple choices, I chose reindeer sausage and scrambled eggs. It came with toast and potatoes and was very good. I also ordered coffee to drink. My granddaughter ordered French Toast with reindeer sausage, and my wife had the French Toast with bacon, and they both thought their meals were great.
The train starts out running near the downtown area and along the Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm with train tracks in many places running right along the shoreline. We had a rainy day for almost all of the trip. Even with the cloudy skies and persistent drizzle, the views along the way were magnificent.
For this first section of the trip, you could almost always see the water on one side of the train, with an occasional clump of trees blocking the views. The engineer reported spotting a moose in one marshy area, and Dall sheep were seen on the rocky cliffs on the other side of the train. While I was not fast enough to capture pictures of either, it added to the excitement of the trip.
Leaving the coastal plain, we started the climb that took us over the Kenai Mountains through Grandview Pass, which was very appropriately named. This climb took us through the Chugach National Forest. This forest is the second largest in the United States.
As the train continues its climb, you pass Spencer Glacier and follow along the Placer River Canyon. There are five tunnels that you pass through, and all of them are fairly short. After the stop at Grandview where you can get some spectacular pictures while the train stops, we followed Trail Creek down to Upper Trail Creek and the village of Moose Pass.
Next is the Kenai Lake which runs for 22 miles and is where the Kenai River starts. We followed the shoreline for quite a while before we crossed over Divide, and then cross the Ressurection River as we headed into Seward.
This is a trip I would highly recommend to everyone, the train is completely accessible, including accessible bathrooms, the vistas are stunning. The food was very good, and you can see things on the train that you wouldn’t see any other way.