TALKEETNA, Alaska (KTUU) - Board the Hurricane Train in Talkeetna, and you're already on track toward a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
The decades-old rail route that curls through Alaska back country is one-of-a-kind in more ways than one: For those who are taking their first-ever ride, it's often the recreation, a temporary off-the-grid hideaway, or the views that attract them to the Hurricane Train.
But this isn't just any old train ride. It's also tradition, the last of America's flag stop trains on which anyone from anywhere can choose when and where the train makes its stops, whether for camping, a trail to a homestead or simply a grand view.
The regulars will tell you, too, that this is far more than just a scenic tour. The train itself and the way it operates is considered tradition by riders and operators young and old. And chugging through Alaska on a 55 mile route from Talkeetna to Hurricane, it can serve as the bridge to home or to the grandest of views, whichever you choose.
If you board the train this summer, it's bound to be packed with stories and legends. You'll meet conductor of 42 years Warren Redfearn, for whom the Hurricane Train is a way of life.
Redfearn will tell you the train is his passion - a labor of love by him and the Alaska Railroad, with the Hurricane Train often running at a financial loss.
Still, after all these years, he can be found punching tickets, telling stories and sharing his love for the Last Frontier from the train that stole his heart decades ago.
In a fast-paced world, sometimes the only way to keep up is to slow down. And if you stay on just long enough, to an open spot along the track or all the way to the end of the line, Redfearn guarantees a million dollar view every time.
Video by photojournalist Travis Khachatoorian.