Steve and I have made it to the home of my dad and his partner Julie. It’s a spacious two storey home amongst the conifer forest. Locations and distance seem to be marked to the nearest milepost along the highway and 261 is our closest milepost. Not too far away is a small community called Ferry and a little further south is Healy, a bigger town of about 1000 residents. I can’t see the evidence of that many residents but supaposedly the homes are hidden amongst the trees. Not too far from the house is the expansive and turbulent Tenana River.
We landed in Anchorage on Saturday 26th August, which was the same day we left Sydney as a result of crossing the dateline. It was just over a 24 hour journey from Sydney with a 4 hour stopover in Vancouver BC. In Anchorage, we stayed overnight in a hotel in the mid-town area which we book because of its strategic location close to REI (Recreational Equipment Inc) which is one of our most favourite stores for outdoor gear and clothing.
Once our shopping was completed the next objective was to relieve our hunger. We took the REI salesperson’s advice and headed across the road to Bear Tooth Theatre Pub & Grill. Yes, it is a theatre where you can order a meal and drink; however in our weary state we opted for the restaurant side. We had a great meal of seafood chowder, salmon tacos, beef burger, and IPA beer to wash it down. We were in a fine stupor by the time we got back to the hotel where we had our first full 8 hours sleep in a while.
We awoke early for our shuttle to the train station and here we boarded the train headed for Fairbanks. We sat in Car C on the right side and it seemed like most of the sights were on the left, but we could still see the moose running in the distance, the mudflats of the river and half hidden Mt Denali.
A man spke through the speaker system giving us tidbits of local knowledge. Don’t go walking into the mudflats, he warned, because the fine glacial silt deposited there forms a very powerful suction when when traversing. There have been incidents of people getting stuck and trapped by incoming tide up the river delta.
The faceless voice also related about how easy it was to obtain a pilots licence. Alaska has 6 times as many pilots per capita compared to the lower 48 states. Many areas are only accessible by air which is half the case for Alaska’s capital, Juneau, which is only accessible by plane or boat.
Our train ride ended at the small town of Talkeetna, where my dad, Julie, her nephew Alex and Beau the dog came to meet us. My dad has only been in Alaska less than a year but looks like a natural resident.
We had a quick tour of Talkeetna tourist shops which were the only shops I saw there, which gave evidence that tourism is an important part of this area. We then boarded “Warrior”, Julie’s RV, and headed north up the state highway towards Healy.
On the drive we stopped twice:
Along the highway was a little road to a creek where Julie knew salmon sometimes can be seen. And we did spot them, two varieties swimming in the pool: Sockye and Chum
I am so pleased that it is blueberry season here. Anyone who knows me well can attest to my love of berries. So I was all for a quick stop off the side of the highway and a walk onto the flat tundra to gather the little blue fruit. We gathered around 3 cups in total. Julie says they are not as abundant as they were last year but at least as there are some, I’m not complaining
Finally we arrived at Rock Creek Road near milepost 261 and the house and garden in the woods was waiting for us. I can already tell its going to be hard to leave!