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TRAVEL JOURNAL INDEX > More of Our Favorite Things

Denali National Park & Preserve and Talkeetna, AK  09/13-14/06 (Day 141-142)
More of Our Favorite Things

Our last morning in Denali National Park & Preserve is classic pre-winter in Alaska with crystal clear skies and diving temperatures—it’s 23 degrees on our final morning as  we drag ourselves out of our warm sleeping bags and knock the ice off our Coleman Pro Series tent even though it’s only mid September.

The views of Mt. McKinley are so spectacular that we feel like we are being rewarded for being in the park for the final few days of its official season. Within the week the snow will start falling and park staff will stop maintaining the road in. The place doesn’t exactly close, but access becomes a lot trickier.

The views of Mt. McKinley keep changing as we drive south and, on a whim, we take a diversion down a side road (if we told you which one we’d have to kill you) in search of the perfect angle on the stunningly cloud-free peak—and, boy, do we find it. A man from Anchorage, who saw the mountain from his house and called in “sick” so he could drive up and enjoy the unprecedented clarity, is impressed that we discovered his secret vantage point. We can’t believe it ourselves.

After a brilliant sunset on the mountain and dinner on the tailgate of our Silverado, we are off to one of our favorite places: Talkeetna. There is just nothing wrong with a town that’s surrounded by mountains, has a very chill attitude, attracts climbers and outdoor types from all over the world, was home to pioneering bush pilot and Alaskan legend Don Sheldon, is still more than a bit lawless and boasts one of the two best breakfasts we’ve ever eaten. It reminds us a lot of Nepal, which is also always a good thing.

Talkeetna also invented the Talkeetna Bachelor Auction and Ball, an event held every December that was inspired by Alaska’s notorious lack of women. The story goes that a bunch of frustrated bachelors were complaining about how lonely they were in a local bar when the female bartender, no doubt sick to death of their belly-aching, suggested that they should organize an event to attract women to Talkeetna. Perhaps she was joking, but the idea stuck and  in 1981 the newly-formed Bachelor’s Society held their first event.

The concept has grown in both sophistication and scope (a lively Women’s Wilderness Contest was added in 1986), and the event now attracts women from all over the world and had resulted in at least one actual marriage. The event also has a charitable element along the way and has raised thousands of dollars to benefit the Talkeetna Bachelor Society Fund for Women in Crisis (administered by Sunshine Community Health Center), the Denali Arts Council, KTNA Community Radio, Sunshine Community Health Center and the Talkeetna Youth Hockey Association, Susitna Valley High School and Talkeetna Elementary School and other local causes.

Sadly, this year’s Bachelor Auction and Ball may be the last as the organizers have become weary and, we hope, less lonely.

But back to the second best breakfast in the world. This is to be found at the Talkeetna Roadhouse, an inviting ramshackle place with basic rooms to rent and a kitchen that churns out some of the best baked goods and meals for miles around. We are not fools, so we hunker down at the Roadhouse for a couple of days to work on updating this web site (you don’t think the site creates itself, do you?) and to eat and drink. In the end, we never set foot outside the roadhouse until it’s time to head down to Anchorage and that’s just fine with us.


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