[slideshow]In true Life Bus fashion, Pam. Greg, Todd, and I were continuing our Alaskan adventure by driving to Denali National Park to try our hand at backpacking in Denali’s backcountry. On the highway to Denali we saw signs for Talkeetna and veered off the road to make a pit stop here. All we had really heard about Talkeetna was that Talkeetna was a tiny, scenic mountain town and the place where most climbers begin their quest to summit Denali. Despite the fact that our views of Denali and the surrounding mountains were obscured by low clouds and mist, Talkeetna is a pit stop any Life Busser has to make when venturing in Alaska. With or without the spectacular views of the Alaska Range, Talkeetna is a town with a great vibe, great food, and great people. Even if you are not part of the mountaineers heading out to take on Denali, you can’t help but feel a part of something cool when you are here. You almost feel like you want to grab some crampons and go for it. Normally I would never speak kindly of dampness but in Talkeetna it makes you want to grab a cozy fleece and head in doors for a cup o’ coffee and one of the world’s best cinnamon rolls. Talkeetna might be the epitome of a Life Bus pit stop.
In Talkeetna you will see people getting ready to push their limits on Denali, people who have chosen a slower life way off the grid, and people like us who love these small, out-of-the-way towns with character and scenery in abundance. This scenic, historic, “end-of-the-road” town feels like you just stepped onto the set of Northern Exposure. This is a town where, we were informed by the locals, they have a sign-up list for moose road kill. When a moose is killed on the roads, the carcass gets shared with whomever is on the list. Talk about using all of your resources to the fullest! Quaint, historic store fronts line the town’s tiny main thoroughfare with lush, beautiful flowers that appear to thrive in this damp climate.
For such a tiny town, there are quite a few great looking watering holes. We ventured into the Roadhouse for a bite to eat. Wow, what a find!! Talkeetna Roadhouse. The Roadhouse is the quintessential, mountain-town, breakfast joint jam packed with patrons hanging out in various levels of fleece / climber fashion. The walls are adorned with tons of Denali climbing memorabilia. It is a small, busy place and you wonder how they turn out such amazing food in a building built in 1917. Anyhoo, let’s get to the really important part of all of this …. the food. We saw pancakes the size of platters draping over the edges of the plates, burritos the size of your head, and yes …. gooey, not too sweet, humongous cinnamon rolls that are gifts from heaven and still have me dreaming about them. So good I recently tried to FedEx them to Colorado for my husband’s birthday. No dice, they said they won’t travel well. We then cruised over to the West Rib Pub. We had good hamburgers and a great local bartender.
In all honesty, there isn’t a ton to do in Talkeetna proper. It is clearly an access point to lots of outdoor adventure. It is, however, very beautiful, has great food, and a cool vibe which makes it worth a stop. And, if you’re lucky to have good weather, the views of the Denali and the Alaska Range are said to be breath-taking. One caveat, we had the misfortune of sharing this quaint town with a tour bus full of cruisers from a Princess Cruise tour. They apparently descend on the town periodically. Oh well, what do you do? So, take your bus to Talkeetna sometime. The beauty and cinnamon rolls are worth the trip!!!