Saturday, June 22, 2013

Wasilla Railroad Depot

 Since no one was around, I was feeling bold and wandered out to the front. This is the view down the train tracks toward the east.
 Had no clue these info signs even existed. Some closer views follow to enable you to read the info.

 Is this some sorta "official sign," ie "gold miner ahead, beware"?

 Hey, I found a "J"!!! I thought it was attached to the boulder for something when I first saw it outta the corner of my eye, looking into the sun, but once I angled over and looked, looks like it's maybe part of the track itself. Holds down something? I'm clueless except for the fact it looked like a "J".
 Please note, Wasilla has it covered. Christmas lights hanging from the building as well as beautiful summer flower baskets.

 Well, these weren't actually hanging but they were beautiful.
 Feeling bolder, back out front and actually on the porch. Nice bench.
 And, oh, yeah, flowers!
 No trains but lots of blue sky in Wasilla today.
 I've seen this sign countless times but never made the effort to get close for a photo. Now I know why. It sits atop a steep slope down to where the train track (and Parks Highway) are and I only very cautiously inched down far enough to try for a couple photos.
 Next challenge, actually get inside the building. I guess this means I need to attend a Chamber meeting with someone?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Talkeetna Birthday

 Tuesday, June 11th, was my birthday and celebrated in Talkeetna. I've certainly been to Talkeetna before but not for years and had never done Mahay's jetboat ride, so that was the main goal. In the meantime, lots of great scenery to appreciate on the drive. Montana Creek always jumps out in my mind as the home of the late musher/author Don Bowers, one of those who befriended me long before I really ever thought of moving.
 Making the day extra special, Denali was visible much of the way from Wasilla to Talkeetna.
 The first stop was at the Talkeetna Lodge. As tempting as the view out the back was, it offers one of the best views of Denali ever, my first stop was the little girl's room. This great painting was my reward. Wish I'd thought to see if the artist's name was visible but, well, there was a mountain calling my name.
 This and the shot below were quick shots on the way outside to the deck.
 Guarding the gift shop doors.

 There's a long panorama that ID's what you're seeing in front of you as you scan the horizon.

 Looking back as we head to the car to continue on up to Talkeetna Village.
 Turning around, the view behind us as we got to the car.

 Nagley's Store is one of the iconic landmarks of Talkeetna. I eventually bought a tee there as well as, no surprise, a book.

 The rules for staying at the Fairview Inn. Sound fair to me.
 There are dozens of little shops, most of them scenic in themselves, as you wander Talkeetna.
 We were headed here for lunch. Owned by Jerome Longo, who is best known in Alaska as a musher but was also a chef in Bush I's White House, it's a great place to eat.
 Since, miraculously, the breeze was keeping away the mosquitoes, we opted for lunch on the patio deck outside.
 This is my Glacier Brewhouse Root Beer. As it turns out, they do get it from the Brewhouse in Anchorage, so I know what I'll be ordering next visit to the Brewhouse itself.
 The root beer was on tap. Check the mural behind the bar. Mush!
 I found and bought a book called "Life at the Talkeetna Roadhouse: A Look At Life and Humor At an Alaskan Roadhouse." This place is loaded with history and, oh, my, sweets and pasteries to die for.
 I'd joked all the way up that I was going for the ice cream, however, so skipped more than a window shopping stop at the Roadhouse with an intention to get homemade ice cream. So imagine my dismay when, after lunch, we found the homemade ice cream cart closed.
 Fortunately, by the time we walked up the street a bit and I shot a few more pix, they'd opened. Yummy! This is their ice cream maker which, yes, is made there.
 Just a random view down the street.
 I found the souvenir tee shirts upstairs at Nagley's, guarded by these feathery guard birds. Tweet, tweet!
Tho' I don't really consider myself a cat person, couldn't resist this souvenir tee. For those who don't know, this is Mr. Stubs, Mayor of Talkeetna. No, I'm not kidding you. The mayor of Talkeetna is a cat. Somehow, I figure he's as good a politician as most I know. Ha
 Side view of the Fairview Inn.
 Choo-choo!!! I have no clue why, but it was just parked by Mahay's jetboat offices and the space where the various tourist buses unload and reload.
 I somehow skipped taking a photo of the school bus type bus we took over to catch our jetboat, but here was my first view. That's the railroad bridge behind 'em.
 Here the guides are preparing the boats for the tours. Both our guides were part Native Alaskan, which was neat.

 It's easy to sorta see the rivers as just for us, our stage of entertainment, but there were others out there enjoying the incredible, "picture perfect day", too.
 And, how about this for a view. Not too shabby, huh?

 Just part of the water churned up as it would gain speed after a brief pause.

 This would be out dock to take the nature/history tour. Amazingly enough, even back in the woods, no mosquitoes! No bears, either, tho' our guide was armed with a rifle, just in case.

 Closing in on the dock.
 One you got off the jetboat, you had to climb this set of stairs to reach the top of the hill. For some it was a bit of a climb but not that bad.
 My boot was trying to eat my sock at the time, so didn't get that many shots at the locations while listening intently to the guide, but this should rather obviously be a firepit.

 Firs and firewood.
 They had a replica of a trapper's cabin with a sod roof.
 Outside the door to the trapper's cabin.
 The door itself wasn't much larger than half a Dutch Door, maybe not even that wide. You had to step over the threshold and down into the cabin. The floor was recessed, so you were literally stepping down into the living space. Tiny but, with the recessed floor, you could stand straight and room enough for the bare necessities, including a narrow bed. BTW, the door opens outward to keep bears from breaking in easily. Bears have great strength to shove into a door and through but don't quite grasp the concept of pulling it to open it. You're seeing the "lock" on the outside, used when you're away from the cabin, but also able to barricade it from the inside, no shown.

 Chimney at the rear of the windowless cabin. As the guide noted, there were no windows for two reasons: 1) heat retention and 2) to make it more difficult for bears to break into your cabin. There was a cache there, too, but since I have ample photos of caches, didn't get a shot of it.
 The guide showing how a marten, or is it martin trap is set and work. I was afraid she was going to lose a finger in the process!
 We first met these two labs while waiting for the bus out to the boat. They were there to greet us when we returned, too. I couldn't get a shot of them plunging in and out of the water because everyone stood up to get off the boat and blocked the view, but did manage to get them shaking ashore.
 The dogs, whose names were Tally and Keetna (get it?) were wet but rode home on the bus with us, one of 'em stopping to leave a wet strip on my jeans as they mingled with their guests.
 Believe it or not, tho' I've been to Talkeetna several times, this is the first time I've ever managed to get a shot of the welcome sign as you enter. By that time my feet were tired and I was hot, so almost skipped it, but most likely rolling her eyes at my protest that I couldn't walk the less than a block up to where it was, Pat drove up for these shots. Thanks, Pat!!!
 Of course, this being Alaska, there are always dog trucks. As it turned out, tho' we didn't know at the time, this was some friends of Jake and Robin Berkowitz driving their borrowed dog truck up to look around.
 I won't bore you with the gazillion pix of construction I could have taken while stopped, so this is just a sampling on the way home.
 As glorious as views of Denali are, it's always great to see "my mountains," ie the ones I see regularly from my own turf, out to welcome us as we neared home.

 Since I eat frequently at Denali Restaurant, just up Parks a short way from me, sighting it was a sure sign we were getting close to home.
What a glorious day, full of beautiful (and quirky) scenery. Couldn't have had a better birthday treat.
Thanks for giving me such a memorable birthday, Talkeetna (and Pat)!!!