img_7502Travel didn’t come early in our years together. As we step out on wing and rail we have a common way that keeps us steady. We have no great expectation, but keep our eyes and ears wide open.

Heart racing, mind full, it’s hard to sleep. Heading out early for the winter train to Fairbanks. The first dusting of snow came in the night, it is lovely.
The trees are naked they have lost their leaves. The bark is white and stands in contrast to the dark morning light.

“All Aboard” we here the call, find our seats in the front car with a window, almost. Looking forward it had a wall support cutting off our view. We reposition because we asked nicely and it’s the off season so our train is not full. It’s a twelve hour adventure full of possibilities. This train is one of the last that still allows “on-and-off” travelers to wave it down and pay a fare for their needed transportation. It travels through a part of Alaska where there are no roads. Homesteaders and people living off grid uses the rail as their connection to developed communities. I must say, I try not to have expectations but my thoughts were to see Denali Park and mountain and wildlife, and I did.  The travelers were an unexpected delight. On this day we picked up Mary and Clyde, regulars on the rail. They homesteaded in 1963 and have raised their four children on the land. The couple are in their elder years now, as they made their way through the car they just kept walking. We knew they were something special. Husband mentioned that they knew exactly where they were going. They settled in the dinning car and we met them there later for a chat and story. She told me it was hard, good and hard but she would have it no other way. She loved to talk, he stood off to the side preparing her things. She had lost track of time and they were almost home. I felt humbled and encouraged standing in their light.

If you ever get a chance to ride the train in Alaska, take it. I am not sure what you will see, there are no guarantees. You will not be disappointed if you choose to embrace the beauty and stand in~light~in’d

We saw some wildlife; One moose, cow and calf, a wolverine scurrying across a small frozen lake and the ptarmigan were changing color. We saw the largest Eagles imaginable. If you know me, I have eagle encounters.  I saw many on this trip and they were often unnoticed by others. Standing on the outdoor observation deck, I watched one perched on a rock waiting for a fish, it was huge. Later we saw a large nest with a parent perched on the tree. Another one was soaring and took off in flight and flew directly over our window. I am assured in the blessings of the eagle.

The depth and vast landscape does not translate in the images that I captured. I snuggled in to take in the beauty and put my camera away. I was glancing back and noticed the sun was going down. The light shifted gently. The day had been clothed in monocramatic  wonder, with depth and color transforming as we traveled. I noticed a shift and bundled up to enjoy the solitude of the outdoor viewing deck. It was frequented by others when the conductor would slow to a stop and narrate an outstanding view. At this moment many were resting and I wanted a moment to myself before the end of the day. As the sun set on our corner of the earth it kissed us with the most colorful display of beauty. Wild and free refusing to say good night silently it took my breath away and left me enlightened by its glory.

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