The next day I took the shuttle into Talkeetna, the base for climbers up Mount McKinley (Denali). It is a laid-back town full of artists and outdoors types. It is the place I felt most at home in Alaska. This town was also the inspiration for the TV show Northern Exposure, although it wasn’t shot there.
I ate breakfast/lunch at Mountain High Pizza Pie, which was to become my home away from home. Very cool, friendly vibe, lots of beer on tap, and some of the best food I ate this entire trip. Definitely a true Roadfood establishment.
One of their signature dishes is the Italian flatbread sandwich, which is made from their own dough and unlike anything I have ever tried before. This one is stuffed with delicious reindeer sausage.
They have loads of interesting pizza toppings, and you can make your own slice (which is so big it is really two slices). I went for Italian sausage, banana peppers and mushrooms. Swoon.
I wandered down to the river and happened upon a fallen log that fascinated me. A couple of girls were posing on it, and we started trading cameras, trying to come up with the best poses.
Of course, men just naturally know how to pose like they’re on the cover of GQ
I found a .45 jacket and one of the campers said they thought they had heard firecrackers on the beach the night before, but apparently it was gunshots. I didn’t see any aluminum cans or broken bottles. What the hell were they shooting at? Salmon? (Because if I were really drunk, the salmon were jumping, and I had a .45 in my hand – well, the thought might cross my mind). But it was dark at the time, and salmon were no longer jumping. Someone offered helpfully, “Moose? It is moose season.” Who the hell shoots moose with a .45? It’s a mystery.
For dinner I met up with my travel partners at West Rib.
Glacier Brewing Company makes a special high-test brew especially for West Rib called Ice Axe Ale.
You can also order “fat ass sauce” for your burgers – a combination of sour cream, bacon and jalapenos. I’m not sure it was the perfect topping for burgers, but may strongly influence my dip-making this coming holiday season.
Ralph got a surf and turf and immediately fell in love with the strong spices on the crab. The caribou was OK, but none of us will be rushing off to buy sides of caribou anytime soon.
I wandered around town taking pictures of giant flowers, then met up with my friends from the beach for beers at Mountain High.
There was a spectacular rainstorm, like nature showing off. It reminded me of the end of The Tiki Room when our sounds of merriment have angered the gods. After about 15 minutes, it calmed down and the sun came back out. It’s confusing in Alaska because the sun is still up, and you want to hang out and party, but things still close down just like everywhere else.
The last shuttle back to the lodge was leaving town at 9:30pm and I had to be on it. I called the lodge to see if there was an alternative, and the desk clerk told me that the driver had my name and would not leave without me. There was no way I could just stay in town and get drunk. Costco holidays are great people to entrust your senile aunt to, because you can’t even get into trouble when you are genuinely trying.