Monday, September 28, 2009

We're HOME!!!

After three airplane rides and approximately twenty one hours of travel time, we have arrived back in Jacksonville. It was such a wonderful feeling to see our family last night at the airport! Now we have to get back to the real world...and whatever that will include! I have no clue what the next six months will hold, but God does!

Blessings....Until Next Time...Pamela

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Twenty Days and Counting!

Our time here is almost at an end. We have twenty days from today before we will return to our home in Florida. This will be a bitter sweet goodbye...we've loved living here in Alaska, seeing all the sights, meeting great people from all around the world, but...we have missed our family tremendously! I'm sure these last days will go by quickly. We technically have four more "runs" (from Anchorage to Fairbanks and back) and we are hoping that they are very successful, which means no delays and great tippers! Life on the train this summer has been an experience we will never forget.

We hope that everyone has a safe and happy Labor Day!

Until next time...Pamela

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Is It August Already??

I finally had the opportunity to look at my blog and realized that I had not posted anything since July 17...sooooo sorry! Time really has flown by and we have only 40 more days to go! It has been an amazing ride (in more ways than one).

One of the most fascinating places along the rail that we pass by each and every time we go north is the town of Sherman, population of two. (Photo above - Mary is standing at the door and waving to the passengers on the train). Sherman is located just north of Talkeetna in an area we refer to as the Alaskan Bush. This 40 mile strip has about 25 residents along the way that can only be accessed by the railroad. No roads, no airstrips, nothing, noda! The Alaska Railroad provides a "Flag Stop Train" that allows anyone along this strip to literally "flag" down the train, get on board and they will take them to their destination (either toward Talkeetna or Hurricane). They are charged by the mileage that they ride. Some campers/hunters board this train in Talkeetna and get off in the bush to hike, camp, and hunt out in the wild.

Shermans two residents, Clyde and Mary Lovel, homesteaded in Alaska in 1964, when they moved from Missouri with their four children - ages one to twelve. They wanted to begin a new life in Alaska - and boy oh boy, did they begin a new life. In 1963, after building a camper shell of plywood on the back of his 1949 Ford, three quarter ton flatbed truck, and hauling another camper behind the truck, they set their eyes on Alaska. With tons of truck/tire problems they finally arrived in Anchorage, 28 days later. They lived in Anchorage for approximately a year until they found property to homestead on in Sherman.

The property they found had a small two room "cabin" (I would have called it a shack) on it with no front door. They sold the truck and camper, packed everything they had on the flag stop train and headed to Sherman. And oh yeah...did I mention their was a bear in the area... Clyde had to continue to work in Anchorage, so he was only able to visit the homestead once or twice a month, so Mary and the children had to begin clearing the land and "proving" it up in order to own it, according to the homesteading laws of Alaska. She quickly learned to be innovative in order to survive out there with no help, no neighbors, no one! She learned to kill bear and moose, dress it, and can it so they would have food to eat. She washed their clothes in a creek nearby for two years and they hauled water to the cabin from that same creek so they would have drinking water and water to cook with (on a wood burning stove). The kids loved living out there and enjoyed being able to play freely. Mary had to home school the children because their were no schools in the area. Life for them was grand - seriously!

Mary wrote about their adventures in a book called, A Journey to a Dream, that we sell on the train. We talk about their place "Sherman City Hall" every time we go by to our passengers, recounting some of their adventures. Rennie and I were very anxious to read Marys book our first weeks here and fell in love with their story and them. We wanted to meet Clyde and Mary so badly, we were even considering taking the flag stop train ourselves and stopping by their place one day in hopes they would be home. Well, when we visited Talkeetna for the "Moose Dropping Festive" we actually got to meet them. I was so thrilled - so much so, as if they were movie stars - which they are in my eyes. Such sweet people!!! We were able to talk to them for about an hour.

Clyde and Mary are now in their 80's and 70's, still live in Sherman full time, have no electricity, running water, and have a two hole outhouse. Mary told me that they do have a generator that they fire up every once in a while so she can run the vacuum cleaner, do laundry (in a ringer washer...), or if Clyde wants to run a power tool. I stated that I could never do what they have done and Mary sweetly replied, "Oh sweetie, you could do it, especially if you had no other choice." It was such a pleasure to talk to them and spend time with them. I feel truly blessed to have met them. They will always remain a very special part of our Alaskan adventure.

I encourage you to read Mary's book. If you are interested, please let me know and I can give you the ISBN number so you may order it. She also is in the process of writing a sequel and I can't wait to have a copy!

I'm sitting with Mary, looking at some of her photos of their home during an Alaskan winter...Burrr!

See how high the snow is?? You can just see the roof!

Two of her grandchildren playing in the snow - wearing short sleeves! Their "Depot" is the small building just in the background of the photo.

Sherman City Hall in the dead of winter. How would you like to hike out to the outhouse in that??? Not me!

Sweet Mary, Rennie and I.

Clyde, Mary, and Rennie. Some special heros!

Mary's book, A Journey to a Dream

Until next time...Pamela

Friday, July 17, 2009

I Know, I Know, I Know...

I know that I have not posted in quite some time. We have been super busy working on the train. The days at times are extremely long and once we are back at home (especially on a "one day off"), there is little to no time to write about our adventures. We have a "three day off" coming up next week and I have much to tell.

We are at the half way mark of the season and it has gone by quickly. October will be here before we know it! I hope everyone is having a safe and very enjoyable summer - we are!

Until next time...Pamela

Monday, June 22, 2009

Shake, Rattle, and OMGoodness!

Well...we just experienced our first earthquake. Around 11:30 today, Rennie and I were sitting in our bedroom discussing what we needed to get accomplished today, when all of a sudden the door to the bedroom rattled as though someone was jiggling the handle. We looked toward the door, then the lamp, mirror, and floor begin to shake (at least six or more seconds). Amazed at what we were seeing, we both looked at each other, laughed and said at the same time, "I guess that is an earthquake!" Just as we began to walk out of our bedroom, the shaking stopped. We quickly jetted out of the bedroom to check on our housemate, Richard, to verify we were not going crazy and asked him if he felt that. Of course he did and we all just stood in amazement that we were all ok.

Later in the day we had to go to the rail office to drop off some paper work and they said that the quake had temporarily shut down all the trains on the rail due to them being in the general area of the epicenter. All the rails had to be inspected before they could continue their journey. I am extremely glad I was not on the train today!

Here is some news about it:

Rennie and I are very thankful to the Lord for his protection for ourselves and others we know. This will be a most memorable moment in our Alaskan adventure!!!

Until next time...Pamela

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Train Lung

Cough, cough, hack, hack, hack....that is what I've been doing for the past two weeks. Tour guides on the train call it "train lung". Breathing in all the fumes from the train, dust from the open air viewing areas, and not to mention guests germs that they bring seems to hop on us which creates a wonderful array of lung and throat congestion. Hopefully I can shed this junk soon and be back to normal - and actually sounding like myself and not a bass toad!

We are off for two more days, then back on the train for another two days. On our next three days off - next week, Rennie and I plan to visit Talkeetna for several days. We are looking forward to being tourists instead of tour guides. Talkeetna is a quaint little town and one of the stops of some of our passengers. I will tell you more about it and add photos when we return.

Until next time...Pamela

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Beginning To Have Fun

We have been working on the train for almost a month now, and I have to say it is beginning to be more fun. I have the privilege of meeting guests from the United States and all over the world. I have had several guests in my car from Jacksonville!

Yesterday, I had a wonderful tour group from Georgia in my car and they were such a blast!! We were all laughing and having a fantastic time, you would have thought it was a party train. They were so kind to me as they were getting off the train - each one insisted on giving me a hug - southern hospitality at its finest!

Rennie and I are now trying to figure out where we want to go on our excursions when we have three days off. There are so many things to choose from - we have to plan carefully as to be able to fit it all in.

We're back on the train tomorrow for another two day run. Hopefully I can update you more then.

Until next time...Pamela