Sure we were treated in 2013 to our fair share of drizzly weather in Alaska, but first of all, that’s pretty much normal for this time of year and second, it was drizzly, not a torrential downpour ever, and third, we were in Alaska – who cares!
So as we left the Kenai Peninsula and headed on our way to Denali NP, we decided that we were going to check out the Hurricane Turn Train out of Talkeetna. We had heard about it the year before when Tom met Mary & Clyde Lovel, Alaskan homesteaders from in early 1960′s, with 4 kids in tow. They settled in a small area they call Sherman, AK. More on that later.
In Alaska, not all communities are accessible by paved road, or even dirt road for that matter. Many communities are accessible only via bush planes, while others are accessible via what’s known as the Hurricane Turn Train, which goes out into the communities served by it – once a day, just a few days a week. It is one of the only “whistle stop” trains in the USA. Residents which wish to ride the train into the town of Talkeetna, simply walk out to the train track … anywhere along the way … and flag the train down. How cool is that?
Now normally you would imagine that a train that pretty much follows the path of the Susitna River into the wilderness would have lots of wildlife along the way. Most times of the year that might possibly be true, but on today’s adventure, the only wildlife that we saw were faraway bald eagles and several pairs of trumpeter swans.
There were wonderful views outside the train as it traveled down the trains towards the Hurrican Gulch Bridge, which in itself is a fascinating sight to see roadside, but probably even more fascinating to witness as the train stops directly on the bridge and the gorge looms below.
Of course, all along the way, Tom & I were having fun running around between the mostly empty train cars. What a way to visit history, stay dry, experience something new!
For Tom, I think the highlight of the day is when we stopped at the “Sherman City Hall”. Well, OK it’s not really a city hall, but it is the self-proclaimed city hall of Sherman and the home of the Mary & Clyde Lovel. Not only that, but they whistled the train down and boarded the train and rode it into town. Once we arrived in Talkeetna, Tom was able to chat with Mary again, which he really enjoyed. :-)
We also noticed a structure on the tracks, which turned out to be a train track snow blower, which I’m sure gets plenty of use most of the year, other than the summer.
After our time spent in Talkeetna and the other tiny towns along the way, we realized that we STILL hadn’t celebrated even our first moose sighting of the trip yet! Until that moment … there it was … right in front of our eyes ….
Oh well, I guess the hunt is still on. Glad that we’re on our way to Denali NP!