Monday, October 05, 2015

Alaska Railroad tours just hit my bucket list

The highway from Anchorage to Seward is simply stunning. Drivers are sandwiched between the Alaska Railroad and the waters of Cook Inlet. Hubby and I had a five hour appreciate of the beauty during a five hour halt on the Seward Highway. An accident stopped the highway cold on a Fourth of July weekend. The unexpected stop wasn't on our travel itineary, but railroad watching, wildlife viewing and photography opps helped pass the time.

Alaska Railroad Engine
Alaska Railroad: Turnagain Arm
The light breeze blowing across Cook Inlet brought the taste of salt and smell of the ocean to us. Thousands of sparkling diamonds danced on the water. It was stunning enough that we could almost pretend that we were enjoying the view by choice. Almost.

A cluster of drivers gathered roadside and we joined in the commiseration. That's when we first noticed the distant rumbling.  The ground began to vibrate and, at that same instant, the bellowing horn of the Alaska Railroad reverberated
Alaska Railroad Depot: Girdwood
through the air.

Hubby was delighted to see the train. His inner child secretly longs to be an engineer. It was he who led the charge to wave at passengers as the train passed by. His camera was at the ready the next time it came through. I kicked myself for forgetting both that the Alaska Railroad carries freight and passengers, and about the Girdwood depot. Kick!

Road trips are my passion, but standing on Turnagain Arm that day put Alaska Railroad on my bucket list.
Grizzly Bears in Denali National Park
Grizzly Bears: Denali National Park
The Alaska rail belt has 500 miles of track and, next to driving, is the best way to see the inside passage of the State.
The Alaska Railroad carries passengers and freight. It not only serves towns that aren't accessible by road, but it has the last remaining flag stop service in the country. How cool is that? The flag stop rail route travels through pristine wilderness from Talkeetna to Hurricane. Talk about a photographer's dream!

Of course, catching the train at the Anchorage airport and riding it straight to Denali sounds pretty good too. The mountain was shy when we went to Denali National Park, but the wolves and grizzlies enjoyed the limelight. We fought the urge to take photos every mile. Next time, we may have to ride the Alaska Railroad and put those glass dome cars to use. It would be an interesting cultural experience for our mission team. I wonder if they offer group rates?

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