Where the Wild Things Are

As the train slowly pulled out of Whittier I realized that I had the wrong seat for photos. I had my back to the direction we were heading.

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The crew in our car introduced themselves. Our bartender was a snowbird from Florida who sells real estate for his full time job. There was also a car attendant to assist with drink orders, limited menu items and act  as tour director with narrations about the passing landscape. I liked her. An older woman, she had lots of personality and was very attentive.

Both were new at their jobs. They had completed the training together. This was the first run of the season. A “shakedown” trip for the whole team.

The Island Princess was a pretty sight as we got underway. It was a chance to really appreciate how huge she is.

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It was slow going as one would expect leaving a station but we didn’t gain any speed. Then we stopped. And waited, and waited. Finally the tour guide (I think her name was Lynn) got on the mike to explain the delay. Ahead was a tunnel that had been converted for both rail and auto but only 1 type of transport could use it at a time and right now there were cars in the tunnel so we had to wait.

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Eventually we were back on our way. Sandy’s seatmate went down to the platform where he spent a good part of the trip taking pictures to avoid the glare off the windows. I was seated on the inside and my seatmate wasn’t going anywhere, not even to use the restroom. I could have asked her to let me out but I wanted to photograph animals and so far I hadn’t seen any so I decided not to disturb her.

Lynn was telling everyone to keep their eyes open because this was a good opportunity to see moose and maybe a bear. Of course I was facing the wrong way and pressed in so tightly that I couldn’t move much. If we spotted any I would have to hope they were on my side of the train and not gone by the time the train went by them so that I could see them. I did have the camera out and ready just I case I got lucky.

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As the train passed Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet we saw possibly 100 bald eagles. Many were sitting on the ice. Some were taking off and then landing again while others floated in the air. The sight was amazing but out of camera range especially through the glass. Eagles had become a pretty common sight since we’d been on the cruise but never in such numbers. I wanted to “turn again” to go closer for pictures. Of course being on the train made that out of the question.

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There were little towns along the route where we either slowed down as we passed through or stopped to either drop off or pick up supplies.

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As we rolled out of one town someone yelled  “Sheep!”. Sitting on an overhang above the train were several of the rare Dall Sheep. They looked like white dots of snow but when I looked through the binoculars they popped into view. That got my heart beating faster! Again, no photo op between the train’s movement, the thick glass of the dome car and the distance. Even the telephoto on my camera couldn’t do the job.

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It was only a couple of hours into our train ride so maybe we’d see something else. We were off to a good start.

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