The tracks of the Alaska Railroad roll past three different glaciers, a glacial lake filled with icebergs, and countless mountains and waterfalls. I saw dall sheep and a moose. At one S-shaped turn in the tracks, in front of a glacier, we saw a grizzly bear. The conductor called out over the intercom, "Grizzly, 3 o'clock!" Every passenger ran to the right side of the bus to look out the windows. And there it was, running in the pasture. The train actually came to a stop so we could watch him for a few minutes. He finally disappeared into the trees, and we resumed our ride. I may have teared up a little, because 1) I'm a big softy who cries at Kodak commercials, and 2) Hello! I was watching a grizzly bear running into the woods in front of a glacier. Amazing! Another early morning saw me leaving the 26th St. Hostel for the Anchorage train station. I took the Coastal Classic Alaska Railroad train to Seward, Alaska. This is a four-hour train ride, and if you rent a car when you're in Alaska, you can take the Seward Highway, but I would definitely recommend the train. It's a prettier route, and you won't have to concentrate on your driving. Instead, you can sit back and watch the scenery of the Kenai Peninsula.
The train pulled into Seward at 11:15, and I hitched a ride with some other cruise-ship passengers to the Seward Small-Boat Harbor for my "cruise" (read as: small boat with about twenty passengers) to Fox Island, a small island in Resurrection Bay, where I would meet up with my kayaking guide for a three-hour tour (hee, hee, three-hour tour...) of the shoreline, before heading back to the town of Seward.
For me, there is nothing quite like sea kayaking. I could never fully describe how wonderful it is, quietly sitting in your kayak watching the land go by, the only sound in your ears that of waves crashing or the dip of your paddle in the water. Getting into a zone with your paddling is kind of like the zone you get into while knitting. This is like meditation for me. And luckily for me, only two of my fellow passengers were staying for the kayaking trip, so it was a nice small group of kayakers. If you enjoy kayaking or wildlife watching, you should definitely take this trip some time in your life. Fox Island is beautiful and remote. And as far as the wildlife, I saw mountain goats, five bald eagles (including two in a nest), sea lions, a seal that kept following our kayak, two humpback whales, puffins, and many other types of sea birds. I love you, Alaska!
Yet again I don't have pictures of wildlife to show you, though this has less to do with my fear of looking like a tourist, and more to do with an experience I had in Hawaii. Rick and I went on a whale watching tour there, and we did see a lot of whales, but I spent so much time trying to get The Perfect Whale Picture, that I really missed out on a lot of the action--and all my pictures were crap anyway. So when I saw wildlife on this trip, I decided to just enjoy it and soak it in to my personal memory, instead of my camera's.