July 8, 2008

Talkeetna - Stepping Back in Time

We arrived late in the quaint 1910's town of Talkeetna to find very little RV space available. Bob & Joy had mentioned the "town square park" which we found at the end of Main St nestled against the banks of the Talkeetna River, which is part of the Susitna drainage. Although reserved for tent campers only, we saw other RVs boondocking in the area, found us a quiet corner near the River, and bedded down for the night.

The town was truly established in the early '30s with the construction of this dirt airstrip, which served as the main street for many years. Along with the strip, the Fairview Inn was built at one end to serve the incoming gold prospectors, and now serves as the town bar. The town is now the primary launch point for climbers flying into McKinley basecamp. The local motto is "we're a drinkin' town with a climbing problem". Both the airstrip & the Inn remain today, an essential ingredient in serving up the uniqueness of this historical setting, now turned tourist town. http://www.talkeetnahistory.org/

The airstrip is litle used today, replaced with a modern center for flying just on the outskirts of town. It's interesting to see & hear the rumble of those Pratt 985's on the Beavers overhead, glance up, and see a plane with skis on it (for landing on the glacier at Denali basecamp) when the weather is in the 70's!

Adding to the charm we were met next morning by this reminder of the past.

As we strolled down what is now Main, Kim found a colorful example of the town maskot, the decorated moose.

I was particularly intrigued by the ability of the local culture to adapt to modern tourism, noting that almost every shop in town had some connection to a flightseeing service.
The street is lined with historic buildings, bustling with tourist, and loaded with good smells from the local bakeries and cafes. We managed to sample just about all the goodies in town, from breakfast rolls at the Lodge to Alaskan Ale on tap at the Inn.

As with most of Alaska, we saw many signs and truck/license plate combinations that are very familiar thoughout the State, and a few that were a little unique.

Walking back up Main to our rig, we bid farewell to a fun little place and a couple of new friends!