Talkeetna

This is the spot where the climbers go to catch a ride to Denali base camp.  Lots of people from all over the world converging here.  We’re not climbers, but the town is fun with shops, decent places to eat and lots of tour options.  As you can see from the banner photo, we chose a river rafting adventure.

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The view of Denali from Talkeetna.  Yet another day with a view of the peak.  We are grateful for one more!

Getting Settled

We’re finding the pace much more fun now that the “getting to” Alaska is done and the puttering about “in” Alaska is underway.  The drive to our Talkeetna campground was only about an hour.  Good thing since I slept until some ridiculous hour of 10:30 or so.  We took our time setting up and remarked at the tight spacing in the campground.  While I’m putting out our shower things we hear a whack.  Yep, a fifth wheel made the turn into a space, and the big back end swung out and smacked Bitsy on the backside.  Fortunately it was the plastic bumper portion which we think must have flexed.  In the end, only cosmetic damage it appears, and another story to tell.  Always something!

Walkabout and Dining Out

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Another sign you don’t see in Florida.  Spotted on our walk around the campground area.

In town, we took Jackson with us to do a little shopping and browsing.  I found a few souvenirs and gifts and marveled at the aurora borealis photos that one of the locals, Aurora Dora, took in the area.  That is the one thing we’ll need to come back for one day.  If not to Alaska, at least somewhere this far North to see the Northern Lights up close and personal.

Also had some good meals here.  The first night I discovered Chuli Stout brewed by the Denali Brewing Company and Pat sampled reindeer meatloaf.  Interesting, but we’re not trading in our normal recipe.  We also met a new RVillage friend at this campground, and invited Ramona to dine with us one evening.  She’s a dark beer gal, too, and I shared my stout find with her.

River Rafting

We weren’t interested in the wetsuit/helmet rafting, but found out we could take a kinder, gentler rubber boot trip down the Talkeetna River.  This is a unique place where 3 rivers converge – Talkeetna, Chulitna, and Susitna.  They call these “braided” rivers with several channels separated by sometimes temporary islands.

Getting our safety instructions from our raft guide, Katelyn.  And here we are doing our best impression of an Alaskan animal.  I’m a caribou and Pat is a bear.

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And away we go!

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A gorgeous departure with an eagle watching us from across the river.

Views of the braided Talkeetna River, the Alaska Range in the distance and the sun breaking through the clouds.  Denali is shrouded in clouds this day.

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Floated by an eagle’s nest and caught one of the eagle pair in flight.

Turns out we only needed boots for this trip and no rain gear necessary.  We did, however, have to remain seated at all times so we didn’t end up in the river.  Many places are pretty shallow, but at 36 degrees, you could only stand it for a very short time.  In fact, our guide noted that the biggest risk for those older and not in the best shape (that would be ALL their tourist customers) is the initial shock hitting the water.  Followed by cardiac arrest!  Our butts never left the side of the boat.  A very relaxing float and we were serenaded midway by a guy that lives in a tent all summer and then in his cabin in the winter with access only by ATV/snowmobile.

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Steve serenades us with “North to Alaska”

Views In And Around

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Love the float planes parked on the lake.  Sounds so exotic to have a place you just fly in and out of.  Floats in summer, skis in winter.

Train trestle with some major driftwood – try drift tree.  Jackson and Pat on the River Trail, Alaska Railroad coming through, Jackson checking out the large tree that the beaver cut down, delicate little bluebells, and Jackson forging ahead on the train trestle walkway.  We waited until the train passed for this part of the walk.

X Marks the Spot

Some great hiking trails just a few miles up the road and we got as far as X Lake.  There is a Y and a Z, but Jackson didn’t quite have the fortitude for those trails.

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These lakes are completely unspoiled.  Nothing on the shore and no sign of people at all.

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X Lake

All along the way we’re surrounded by wings.  Clouds of little black and white “Herald” moths fly up as we walk by.  I feel like Cinderella with the birds flitting around.

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“Heralds” of Spring – hundreds of them!

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Wild Burl

Textures – rough bark, feathery ferns and smooth river rocks

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And what I found to be the most fun.  This time of year in Talkeetna was like being in a giant snow globe.  The Black Cottonwood trees were spreading their seeds everywhere.  They even formed drifts at the edges of the roads.  Everyone was joking that it was snowing.

Odds and Ends

For those of you curious about the wedding ring, yes, Pat still has it.  Although I had to crawl to get it out from behind the car tire at this stop.

I’m still reading “Alaska, NOT for a Woman”, and also “Mind of the Raven” which was recommended by the tour bus driver in Denali.  Did you know that Ravens are big meat eaters?  I did not.  More about both books later.

I promised you a bit about what to do when you encounter a moose or a bear.  If it is a moose, run away and if possible get behind something big.  They’re not predators, and likely just mad and will give up the chase.  Do run a zig zag pattern if being chased.  Sounds the same as the advice for outrunning an alligator.  Glad that learning won’t go to waste.  As for bears, it depends on the KIND of bear.  Black bear?  Stand your ground, make noise and look as big as possible.  If attacked, fight back – bop it in the nose!  Grizzly?  Move away slowwwwwly. Don’t turn your back and no matter what, don’t run.  If attacked, play dead.  Best advice is to make noise while you hike so you never see any of the above.  So I do a lot of talking and Pat provides one word responses.

Next up –  Seward with tales of horses, boats, and a Grizzly encounter.  See you on the way!

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