A train ride through the heart of Alaska… what could be better?!
Well, I made it. I’m here in Denali National Park. After 2 planes, a taxi and a train ride, I was pleasantly surprised that my 4,000 mile journey went so smooth. The flight from St. Louis to Chicago, then Chicago to Anchorage went off without a hitch. I bought “Inferno” by Dan Brown at Lambert airport before the flight, so I had some reading material. Once I landed, my hotel was still cleaning my room, so I spent the afternoon sitting out on the porch, drinking beer and watching the float planes land and take off from the nearby lake. Not a bad way to spend my first evening in Alaska. The sun set at 11:40 PM that day.
My Alaskan train ride experience.
Today was my Alaskan Railroad experience. I booked a train ride from Anchorage to Denali purely as a means of transportation. After we started rolling however, I discovered that this ride is marketed for tourists. There were tour guides that spoke periodically over the PA and gave descriptive talks on the land, Alaskan history and fun facts. I listened with intent the whole 8 hour journey as I watched the vast evergreen forests, lakes, waterways, mountains and wildlife. My god what a beautiful country.
Any apprehension I had about going on this trip evaporated as I ate breakfast in the dinning cart (Reindeer sausage, biscuits and gravy), and saw my first moose off in the distance, grazing casually. I’m here. I made it.
I absolutely love wildlife and seeing a moose for the first time is a HUGE check mark off my bucket list.
So the day strolled on as I gazed at snow caped mountains and lush fields of ferns and cottonwoods (Which were in full freaking bloom and causing me to squint when outside so as to not get a mouth full of debris).
Finally getting to Denali.
The train finally reached its destination at the Denali Depot. After I stepped off the train I noticed two things. One, It hadn’t dawned on me to pack a jacket with in my carry on. It was cold! And two, I looked like a total tourist in shorts and a t-shirt. Everyone was wearing long pants and layers. I remedied this pretty quickly. I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand out like some out-of-towner. I’m in Alaska now. I’m going to grow a mean beard. Don a flannel shirt. Build a log cabin with nothing but a shovel and my car keys. Maybe not that last one, but still.
So, at the moment, Im sitting in my little room in a cabin. Out in the woods and surrounded by a compound of other cabins, bathrooms, vehicles, a restaurant, internet café, and support staff. Mountains on all sides.
I start my training tomorrow as a shuttle driver for this tour/ back country resort. For the next few months I’m going to drive around, meet new people and see what I can see.
After a long day of travel, im happy to be here. I have a quiet room to myself. And if I stop typing, the only sound I can hear is the rain gently pattering against the roof. I’m going to sleep good tonight.