Sunday, July 2, Anchorage, Whittier and Eagle River.
We rose from the dead at 5:45 a.m. and shuffled our way out the door by 6:05 a.m. We stopped by the Anchorage depot for a quick gift shop visit. I got matching fleece Alaska Railroad sweaters for my wife and myself. We then headed down the Seward highway to get a some shots of the southbound passenger train as it rolled its way to Seward. It was pretty darn cold out and the wind didn't help matters any. We photographed from many noteworthy points such as Beluga, Brookman (named for the Alaska Railroad employee killed last winter in an avalanche), Girdwood and Portage. It was very exciting chasing the train and somewhat difficult staying far enough ahead of it to allow time to set up for the next shot. Duane Frank, ever the comic, plastered himself against one of the windows as the train passed by. At Portage the railroad tracks and the road diverge so we were forced to forgo our chase. Randy wanted to check out Bear Valley and the new Whittier Tunnel project so we pointed the car in that direction.
We arrived at the entrance to the famous Whittier tunnel at 8:45 a.m. The government had just finished an $80 million project which allows trains and automobiles to take turns passing through the tunnel. Our arrival time was at the tail end of the access time bracket so we were able to drive right into the tunnel without having to wait. This 2.5 mile long monster has a computer controlled ventilation system, periodic safe houses and telephones and camera monitoring system. Popping out on the other side, we saw the city of Whittier which was in its normal drizzly state. We took some photographs and then pulled into the return line. At exactly 9:00 a.m. we were given the green light and began our journey back through the tunnel. What an experience!
Returning to the Anchorage yard, we clicked off a few photos of anything new that happened to be hanging around. We then took advantage of an all-you-could-eat Sunday brunch at Sourdough Mining Co. Next, it was a brief stop at Pat Durand's house. Pat showed us around his shop which included a rebuilt part for MRS-1 #1718 that the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry bought plus a 1.5 scale Southern Pacific K4 steam engine he is building. We couldn't resist taking a peek at a few of his highly detailed HO scale Alaska Railroad locomotives including the F7 bicentennial and E9.
We headed back to our night's lodging, Randy to pack for his flight tomorrow
and John to line up events for the next six days. Alaska Railroad railfan
and photographer Matt McCullor called and asked if he might come over and met
us. He especially wanted to meet the "calendar guy" (i.e. Randy).
He arrived 45 minutes later just bubbling with excitement. We spent the
next couple of hours swapping stories and photography tips.
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