On our way from Denali to Anchorage we took a side trip over to the quaint little town of Talkeetna. It is reminiscent of a hippie-town where local artists and musicians congregate.
The town is a launching point for mountain climbers preparing to trek up Denali. We stopped by the Talkeetna National Ranger station where many of the climbers register. A video about the climb was playing. We found it very interesting. After the video we listened to a mountain guide who had climbed the mountain over 30 times. He noted that they frequently got winds over 100 mph up on the mountain. The tents would often explode from the inside out under such conditions. Hikers would have to be fully dressed and have all their gear packed and on their backs when the winds hit. If their tent exploded they had to quickly move to a fellow hiker’s tent. At times, they made shallow ice graves to hunker down in until the storm subsided. One thing I can say for sure is that you won’t find me hiking Denali!
We had a great lunch at The Roadhouse. It is a historic restaurant and hotel. We ran into another couple from our Fantasy Tour group, Bob & Meg, and met a few new people, as seating is family style.
After our brief visit to Talkeetna we continued down the road to Anchorage, for a 4-night stay at the Golden Nugget RV Park. As a side note, we did not take our motorhome into Talkeetna, as there is not a lot of available parking and the roads are packed with people. We disconnected the Jeep from the RV at a gas station up the road and drove the Jeep into town.
While in Anchorage, we took a day trip to Whittier. The drive from Anchorage to Whittier takes you along the dramatic shorelines of Turnagain Arm. As you travel the Seward Highway you have the mountains on your left, while on your right you have the bay and the mudflats of Cook Inlet. In the distance you have mountains covered with glacier ice. It is a beautiful landscape. Unfortunately, we had low clouds and haze on our drive, but it was still pretty.
For those that are curious, the name of Turnagain Arm stems from when the British explore James Cook was forced to “turn again” when the inlet did not have an exit. Cook was looking for a Northwest Passage during his 1778 voyage.
On the mountain side we spotted some cute Dall sheep.
In order to get to Whittier you must travel through the Anton Anderson Memorial tunnel. Both cars and trains must use the single lane 2.5 mile long tunnel. Cars are allowed to travel into the town of Whittier each hour on the half hour, while cars are allowed to travel out of the town each hour on the hour. Trains fit in-between those times.
The town of Whittier is small. There are virtually no homes in the town. Most of the yearly residents live in the same high rise apartment structure, which once served as military barracks.
We meandered through tiny shops and grabbed a snack at the Lazy Otter cafe.
As you turn off the Seward Highway and head towards the tunnel to Whittier you pass glacier covered mountains, lakes, rivers, wetlands and waterfalls. It is stunningly beautiful.
Our next stop was Seward, covered in my next post.