Alaska – 09-06-2012 – On the Alaskan Railroad

I flew into Anchorage and grabbed a cab to the Marriott.  I quickly dumped my luggage and rushed out to join the ghost tour.

The day before I arrived a hurricane level storm had swept through the area.  120 mph winds that knocked out power and brought a taste of winter to Alaska.  the mountains are covered in snow, the leaves on the trees are golden and starting to fall.  It is also cold, okay not Alaskan cold but 44 degrees is cold to me since it was 110 degrees when I had left Phoenix.

The people in Alaska are wonderfully friendly and chatty.  The need to slow down and reach out and listen will be a necessity over the next 10 days.

When I was getting ready to board the plane, a nice older woman even offered to drive me to my hotel when I landed.  So very sweet of her.  I declined as the lessons of travel are deeply ingrained in my soul.

The haunted tour in Anchorage was conducted by a man in top hat and clothes in the style of a Victorian gentleman who stepped out from another time and place.  The one thing that stood out for me during my tour of Anchorage was the lack of aesthetics in the buildings.  Cement and cinderblocks, old and almost desolate.  I expected more from a town where money is brought in from tourist and oil.

This morning, I woke up and rushed off to the Alaskan Railroad.  After overcoming the thought of having to check luggage (which I resolved and was able to store on the train with me) I picked up a cool jacket (did I mention it was cold?) and then boarded the train for Fairbanks.  A little less than 12 hour trip.

As we progressed through the countryside towards Denali the fall colors were brilliant and the cloud cover over the snow covered mountains offered a mystery to the countryside.

As we move further north, the trees become skinnier as the ground is more likely to have permafrost under the topsoil layer.  A part of me wants to step off the train and just wander and explore the woods and streams instead of being on the train.

The person behind me is another solo traveler who is marking off a bucket list item.  He chose to do a large cruise experience.  After paying double for his room, as he was solo, the cruise liner was unable to visit either of the glaciers due to the storm.  He was also unable to see the coast line for most of the trip since the clouds were obscuring the area.

I can’t even imagine what that must feel like, to plan and pay, to take time off and have it turn out that way is heartbreaking.  He is getting off in Denali and staying for three nights, I am envious as I hear it is magnificent.  However in planning my trip this was just meant to be a quick excursion as Ireland will be my large trip this year.

As a side note, David had done two different excursions to visit the bears and his pictures are magnificent.  I will be looking into that in Juneau and Ketchikan.