Alaska – Day 5
July 10, 2012
I admit to feeling a bit disappointed this morning when I woke to heavy, dark clouds that shrouded not only Denali (for some reason, I don’t think “Mt. McKinley” will ever sound right again), but the entire Alaska range. I suppose that I’d hoped to get a new, earth-shattering photo from the common observation area from which 10’s of 1,000’s of others had photographed it. I only took 1 this morning to remind myself “ages and ages hence” that I didn’t get a better view for a reason. Sometimes the “best I can do” is going to be insufficient to win a contest , but it doesn’t mean I can’t keep trying.
Stepping outside, I realized that it wasn’t just cloudy: it was cold. Naturally, then, after breakfast at Talkeetna’s “Roadhouse” eatery, we walked across the street to the yurt that serves as the home of Talkeetna River Guides to begin our float trip.
After spending 15 minutes slipping into wet weather gear, we hopped in a van and headed down to a launch site that seemed deep in the woods (I kept straining my eyes to see a kid playing a banjo on a porch, because Dueling Banjos was playing loudly in my head). The next hour and a half was both cold and amazing, as our raft drifted quickly down the Talkeetna River. Our guide, Maxwell, was raised in Australia, but spent many summers visiting family here. He did a great job leading us into wiggles along the way, where he showed us some of the river’s flora and fauna (we saw a couple of bald eagles), a couple of beaver dams, and gave tidbits of info that I’d otherwise be unlikely to know. For example, an eagle can carry its own weight and still fly, and its talons lock to prevent the squirming prey from escaping. However, they sometimes grab a fish that’s too big. Talons locked, the eagle will be dragged under the water and drown.
Tonight we rode the Alaska Railroad for the last time, from Talkeetna, through Wasilla, and on to Anchorage. We passed through more gorgeous countryside and ate a tasty dinner in the dining area (lower level) of our railcar.
Our home for the next 2 nights is on the 14th floor of the Marriott, in a room with a great view of Cook Inlet. While I will miss the camaraderie of the train rides, it will be a relief to not move on so quickly.