The town of Talkeetna is 14 miles up a spur road that parallels the George Parks Highway between Fairbanks and Anchorage. I had read, tha, on a nice day, it afforded the best view of Denali, so, even though it was overcast we decided to drive up there after we checked out of our cozy cabin.
Boy, were we surprised! The place was almost like Banff in the summertime, absolutely full of people walking everywhere. Talkeetna, we learned, is the staging area for climbers to attempt Denali (1,300 people try it each year; about 1/2 succeed) and the town also has many flightseeing companies so people come here to take plane trips over Denali National Park. I am not sure where the rail line comes from or goes to from Talkeetna but while we were there a bus arrived and all the passangers got out and boarded the train. Must be a scenic rail tour of some kind.
On our drive up the spur road to Talkeetna we passed a lovely lake with a few float planes docked at the shore. We stopped in on our way back down and had a nice chat with one of the employees of the bush plane company that is situated there. They also had a ‘Hobbit’ house you could rent. The grounds were very tidy and well cared for. It was a very nice spot.
There were about six geocaches hidden along the road and near the turn-off to Talkeetna so on our way back to the highway we stopped and found them all. I liked the painted moose in this yard. We pulled in to see this little road-side lake and find a geocache. There was a family trying their hand at fishing from the shore – no luck though. The scene would have been very pretty on a sunny day. We had to hike down from the roadside to the bicycle trail that runs along the highway and in the verge between there were lots of pretty wildflowers. One can never take enough photos of pretty flowers, I think. We reached dual highway north of Wasilla, and saw mountains again. From Talkeetna to here is mostly trees on either side of the road. It is normally about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Talkeetna to Anchorage. However, our usual slow pace was slowed even further by a very long stretch of road construction. We thought they were adding an extra lane or two, but all the work was to clean up and seed the side verge and re-pave. The line-ups waiting for the pilot car escort were miles long at both ends. The population of the State of Alaska is about 740,000. 300,000 of them live in Anchorage. It is by far the largest city in the state. Anchorage is as far west as the Hawai’ian Islands and as far north as Helsinki, Finland. Of course, one must remember that the lines of longitude narrow as they get closer to the pole, so the Hawai’i comparison is a little deceptive.
At 2:45 we were still 80 km (52miles) from Anchorage. Remember now, that we had a late start due to not having had to rush out of the cabin in the morning. We didn’t check-out until 10:30. So…the 2 1/2 hour drive has only taken 4+ hours so far. That’s not too bad. We did arrive in Anchorage eventually; at 5:30. We found our hotel, had dinner and I wrote a couple of blogs to catch up from the day before when we had no internet. Most of the museums and such in Anchorage cover topics we have already seen, so we are taking a bit of a lazy day. Our only plan so far is to explore Earthquake Park and learn about the 1964 quake (the second largest ever recorded at 9.2 on the Richter scale) that took a huge swath of earth from Anchorage and Valdez and the Alaskan southeast coast. The death toll was about 140, with fifteen deaths as a result of the 4-5 minute quake and the rest from the subsequent tsunami. The city of Anchorage was 78 miles from the epicenter and was the hardest hit area. Many of the smaller coastal communities were almost wiped out entirely. Apparently at earthquake park you can skirt the fault line. Should be an interesting walk.