In the summer of 2000, Randy Thompson and I spent two weeks riding the rails of the Alaska Railroad.  At the end of our great adventure, Randy proclaimed he enjoyed it so much that we really should do it again in a couple of years.  Now, you folks have been around the block a time or two and know such statements are made pretty casually.  So I responded with an equally casual remark that yes we should do it again in a couple of years.

Two years later, Randy sent me an email message asking if we were going back to Alaska this year or next.  Whoa!  This hit me completely out of the blue.  Fortunately, my wife was reading the computer screen over my shoulder and said, "Why I think you should go this year!"  Now who am I to argue with the CEO of the Combs household?!?

So began the "Flight of the Bumble Bee" process of preparing for this huge trip.  From the start, I decided to go totally digital.  I would bring a 2.1 megapixel camera, a 5.1 megapixel digital camera, a digital camcorder, a Macintosh laptop and a couple of DVD movies (to watch on he plane).  Sheepishly, I stuck in my 35 mm camera and ten rolls of slide film just in case.  Based on a suggestion by the CEO, I put a duffle bag in my suitcase to use as a fourth bag on the way home to hold any "goodies" I might encounter on the trip.  Although my bags were enormously heavy, I reveled in the fact that my luggage (which we bought two months ago as an anniversary present) was a patented "inner hidden steel self-locking telescopic inner handle cart system with skate wheels."  My lowered back loved it!

This journal is about the two weeks I spent railfanning the Alaska Railroad from many different perspectives.  On this trip, I invested almost no time riding the rails, but pursued more diverse activities.  Admittedly, I am incredibly busy right now and this journal is about the last thing I should be doing.  However, it is a lot more fun then all the other tasks on my current "to do" list.

Currently, this journal contains 136 photos (and 132 thumbnail photos) and thousands of words which occupy 13.6 megabytes.  Additionally, there are ten Quicktime videos which occupy 7.4 megabytes.  This should help you to kill an hour or two.

Just for fun, I have added two special paragraphs to this journal.  The first type of paragraphs are "For beginners only."  They are displayed in red and are intended to provide information that may be new concepts to beginner railfans, but are old hat to use Alaska Railroad addicts.  The second type of paragraphs are "For Alaska Railroad addicts only."   They are displayed in blue and provide information that would probably only interest only outer hard fringe of Alaska Railroaderdom.

Please be advised that all Alaska Railroad yards, sidings, section houses, tunnels, access roads, etc. are posted no trespassing and that entering them without permission is a violation of law.  It can also be very dangerous.  Dismemberment by train can be very messy.  I also found that security was tighten even further following the events of September 11.  Additionally, don't expect railroad employees to drop everything they are doing just to give you a tour or escort you.  Being the Alaska Railroad's number one fan (plus hanging around with Randy "the calendar guy" Thompson) got me a lot of special privileges.  Hey, why not just visit my web site instead?!?  It is safer, faster and cheaper.  Free is good!

And now let the show begin!

John is authorized

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