"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Can't You Hear the Whistle Blowin'?

The Alaska Railroad (AKRR) comes into Fairbanks frequently, crossing city streets often. One such crossing is near where I live and a couple of others are not too far beyond. I know that the whistle signal for a road crossing is "2 long--one short--one long". The low whistle pattern can be heard in my apartment as a soft, low sound. It is melancholy and speaks to me of travelers coming with cruise groups or nighttime engineers carrying tons of oil across the miles. I love the sound, especially during sleepless nights. I find it soothing.

Due to the surge in tourism from cruise ships, Fairbanks recently built a new train station. I visited it the other day.

Inside are posters of the scenic routes such as we took last weekend into Seward. Through the high, snow-capped mountains, it climbed over 1000 feet above sea level and then then returned back down.

This is a painting of the AKRR at Turnagin Arm along Cook Inlet, named for the infamous Captain Cook. This spot is called Beluga Point and Beluga whales are seen feeding during high tide. The tidal depths here are recorded as some of the most changeable in the world.

The AKRR Club has created an amazing display of scenes from Denali, Fairbanks and Nenana with little trains running in all directions. This scene includes the Midnight Hot Air Balloon ride that I can see most late nights from my window. I thought how Cash and Gigi would love to watch the busy little trains running on their tracks.

And this great photo was taken by Kathleen last week as we journeyed from Anchorage to Seward and then back later in the day. The scenic trip was 4 hours each way. Although the rhythmic clickety-clack tried to lull us to sleep, the beautiful scenery out the large windows kept us awake and alert. We saw icebergs, bear, moose, eagles, glaciers, and a phenomenal sunset as we approached Anchorage that night.


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