Currently 51 degrees, cloudy skies and rain, Talkeetna, AK. Driving from Talkeetna to Anchorage.
What’d We Do?
Man, it’s hard to get up at a reasonable hour after chasing down the northern lights until 3am. We are not 18 anymore.
Facing what looked to be a four-hour drive and a hotel breakfast that closed at 9am, we pulled ourselves out of bed “early” and packed up.
We hit the road before 10am and headed south along the Parks Highway for four-hours of gazing at the autumn colors in full peak as we headed to Talkeetna. There’s only two roads you can travel between Fairbanks and Anchorage, and we opted to break the trip up by stopping in the cool little town of Talkeetna along the way, so we needed to travel via the Parks. The four-hour stretch of highway between Fairbanks and Talkeetna is mostly devoid of civilization except at it’s halfway point where Denali is located.
Unfortunately as summer winds down, road construction around Denali is in full effect. We found significant delays while cruising at only 35-45 mph through long stretches of highway construction, and at times we were stopped completely. When it wasn’t construction it was RV’s, trucks and tour buses who slowly navigated the hilly, windy roads south of Fairbanks. By the time we stopped for lunch, we had already spent three hours on the road and the GPS reported we had another two hours to go.
After spending nearly the entire day driving, we finally arrived at our “hobbit cabin” outside of Talkeetna where we’d be spending the night. We loaded in and took a quick rest before heading out to explore the area.
Our first stop near Talkeetna was to sample a bunch of treats made of birch syrup including birch breakfast syrup and birch caramels. We’d seen them in stores throughout our trip, but we waited to get right to the source. We saw ice cream on the menu and decided a mid-afternoon sugar rush was much needed, so we shared birch syrup ice cream topped with blueberry syrup. It was delicious.
Next we headed down to the heart of Talkeetna, a small touristy town that reminded us of a unique artsy town we visited outside of Santa Fe. Our first stop was the general store in search of the town’s mayor, a cat named Stubbs. It appears the mayor was busy with official business like zoning rights for mice or enforcing mandatory nap times for other area felines, so Stubbs was nowhere to be found. Disappointed at striking out on an animal visit, we headed down the street to check out the other stores and galleries in the area. The main street isn’t very long, so we ended up at the confluence of the Talkeetna and Susitina Rivers and hiked along it’s shore. We found a cool railroad bridge and admired it’s graffiti for a while, then headed back into town to find dinner.
We found dinner at the Denali Brewing Co where a super nice waitress informed us that (like the other night in Fairbanks) several menu items we wanted were no longer available. Luckily, the desserts were and we brought them back to our cabin for snacking later. We also witnessed a comedy of errors as multiple hosts/hostesses would greet the same guest then go to find them a table, while another host would come greet them again and seat them right away. No matter how many people came through the door, they found some odd place in the restaurant to seat them.
On our way out of the restaurant, we reunited with David and Frank who we had met on the train to Seward earlier in the trip. They’ve been following our trip on Facebook and through the blog and it was really great to see them again and tell them about how much fun we’ve been having in Alaska.
Who We Met
On the 2nd to last day of our trip, by chance we met up with Frank & David who we met on the train to Seward on the 2nd day of our trip. They were rail fanning in the area and found dinner at the same restaurant we did.
What We Ate
Birch ice cream for a mid-afternoon sugar rush. Lunch brought us back to Prospector’s near the Denali Village for a third time, food is really expensive there and splitting a pizza is the most economical option. Good pulled pork and french dip sandwiches at Denali Brewing Co.
What We Learned
The cat mayor of Talkeetna is either elusive or dead. He’d be 18 years old this year, so I guess either could be a realistic option.
Traffic flaggers working on road construction crews are primarily women, and besides holding signs to direct traffic we’ve seen them dancing and waving at every passing car to keep warm and fight boredom.