Thursday, July 14, 2011

Escape to Alaska: Funky Talkeetna

We were on the road to Denali National Park. It was raining, but we knew we were getting a bit closer to what some might call the "real" Alaska. Out there in the wilds where men and women live close to the land and...the animals.

It had been raining all morning and now seemed like a good time to go find a bowl of soup and a cup of coffee. That's how we ended up at the Flying Squirrel Cafe just outside Talkeetna, Alaska where they had pasted the bear warning sign.

We decided to drive a few more miles and take a look at Talkeetna.

Back when I lived in Alaska, I'd heard of what the locals fondly refer to as Tee-Kay. It's long been a base for mountain climbers who fly from there to make an assault upon the summit of Mount McKinley. It's also home to dog mushers, eccentrics and misfits, making it a rowdy, deadhead, redneck Northern Exposure kind of town of 800 or so.

It's a bit more touristy these days I discovered--lots of rafting tours and gift shops and an explosion in microbrew possibilities at the town's numerous drinking establishments.

The "bad-boy" image of the town is probably more calculated than actual.

After all, this is a town that goes all out to impress visitors with its love of pots of beautiful blooming flowers.

In fact, Tee-Kay is so civilized that I found myself having return to Van Winkle high alert status. Yes, that was a vending box with a newspaper whose headline was trying to tempt me away from my news ban.

I walked on by. It was time to hit the road and keep on heading north. - V.W.


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