Don Prince and John


The older I get, the more behind I become. I had intended to have this journal finished by the end of fall. Yet here I sit in the midst of winter typing away at the computer. Outside the window there is seven inches of snow on the ground. A mini blizzard came roaring through Ohio, dumping snow and ice and making my exterior Christmas lights appear as if they had been hung by a mischievous winter sprite. I must admit I miss Alaska. I wish I were there now. Yes I know it is incredibly cold there at the moment. However, it is a dry cold <grin>.

I must admit I did very little planning of activities for this trip. Although I have forgotten the cause, I was totally overwhelmed long before my departure. Coming to my rescue was my kind hearted wife who took it upon herself to make my hotel and rental car arrangements. Once I was on Alaskan soil I mostly flew by the seat of my pants and did surprisingly well. My contingency plan was to fill in any empty time slots with geocaching. However, activities fell in place like tipped dominoes and I soon found myself having to make choices of what to leave in and what to leave out. You gotta love that!

I feel incredibly blessed to have returned to Alaska for the tenth time. Fifteen years ago when I first started this website I had absolutely no hands on experience with the Alaska Railroad. I was basically a conduit of information from a wide variety of sources. My trips have given me the ability to speak from experience. They gave me the opportunity to work on a snow fleet, photocopy original railroad construction plans signed by Frederick Mears, view barge unloading operations in Whittier, watch the installation of concrete ties and continuous welded rail, experience cab rides in GP40s and SD70MACs, and ride solo in the Princess, Wilderness Express, McKinley Explorer, Aurora and Denali railcars. This trip put several new feathers in my cap and you will hear about those tales later on in this journal.

This journal is about the 12 days I spent in Alaska. It contains 206 photos, 10 low resolution videos and thousands of words that occupy a whopping grand total of 170.4 megabytes. This should be enough to keep you busy for a while.

And now my standard warning - 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. All my photos taken on the property were done under escort with a qualified ARRC employee and while wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

John Combs

Index | Chapter 1