McKinley Explorer service
McKinley Explorer service resumed on May 18, 2006 for the summer season. Matt Abbey, manager of rail operations invited several hundred of his closest friends to help in the final days of orientation training for the kitchen and wait staff on board the new McKinley Explorer cars. Free breakfast, lunch or dinner was the inducement to fill the diners on four cars May 15 and 16th while they were parked at the Anchorage Yard service facility. The full dome upper deck seats 80 in each car. Down below in the four car consist there is seating for 144 at dinner, with two kitchens shared between adjoining cars.
Several members and families from the Northern Lights Model Railroad Club answered the call, and enjoyed meals at Matt's invitation. The best feature at the top of the Breakfast menu is McKinley Eggs Benedict. This is a unique climbing challenge, with each half of a lightly toasted English muffin, frosted with cream cheese, layered with delightfully smoked salmon locks and topped with a poached egg and light sauce.
The dinner menu features great steaks with our without combinations of chicken, pork tenderloin, boneless rainbow trout, and chicken entrees. Each car has a staff of five plus the chefs in the kitchen. With all the management crew there was plenty of friendly support to make the experience enjoyable and not oppressive.
The cars are beautiful inside and out with no expense spared in maintaining them. While we were on board two crews were busy on the outside washing the winter grime away. My three year old grandson, Aidan Durand, wanted to know when the train was going to move. That question evaporated when dinner arrived, and after the second piece of Raspberry Chocolate Cheese Cake, he was ready to explore the spiral staircase. He was most impressed with the elevator that serves the second deck of each car. A great experience and it was a super smooth ride. -- Pat Durand