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Trip Report Part one of an 18 Day RV trip - Talkeetna

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Sunday, August 10 (Day 1) – JetBlue 7:30pm flight from Long Beach to Anchorage, uneventful, one take off and one landing. Checked in to Fairfield Inn (free shuttle from Airport) around 1am, dead tired. Hotel was fine ... free breakfast.

Monday, August 11 (Day 2) – Taxi picked us up at the Fairfield Inn to go to our 9am appointment at the Great Alaskan Holiday (GAH) to pick up our 26’ RV. We did our orientation, unpacked our suitcases in GAH parking lot, and were in Walmart a mile away by 11:30am to stock up on supplies. We then went to the Native American Hospital Gift Shop where we bought the two stone bears 17 years ago by a native artist Sylvester Ayek. We did not recognize the place, the hospital used to be a small rundown one story building, but it now has multiple buildings, the main building has five floors. The gift shop now was a disappointment, most things there are very commercial and anything decent are not for sale. They have museum art display on 5th floor not for sale. We then went to Costco (they have reindeer sausages), and Fred Meyers (a large grocery chain), to finish the shopping. We were on the road by 4pm, driving north 120 miles to Talkeetna. I called the RV camp site while Rick was driving to make reservations for Talkeetna Camper Park ($32/night). A very good thing, they were fully booked when we arrived there at 6:30pm. The owners (a couple, Trever and Noreen) are really nice. We have a water and electric hookup, no sewerage. Rick downloaded eight TV seasons of Murder She Wrote and three seasons of Death in Paradise, so we plan to chill at the camp and puttz around local until Thursday for the Hurricane Run – this is a 7-hour round trip train ride from Talkeetna to Hurricane.
The RV is a 26’ 2015 Winnebago with 10,000 miles on it. We are not RV people so this is a new experience for us. It drives easy, not too tough to figure things out. We took the toaster add-on and the deluxe propane BBQ grill – they throw in an ice chest for free. Brought our own Garmin GPS.

Tuesday, August 12 (Day 3) – We woke up, made coffee, and went for a walk into town. We stopped at the recommended Roadhouse for breakfast – things are huge so everyone order the ½ breakfast. The reindeer sausage substituted for bacon ($1 extra) was very tasty, but I can’t tell much difference from regular sausage (but I am sure the reindeer noticed the difference!). Many people had the pancakes, they are huge and looked really good - unfortunately I am not a pancake person.
We did a change of our itinerary… because of the extra day we are spending Talkeetna, we are skipping Fairbanks. We’ve been there before and it will save 550 miles/10 hours of driving. We made lunch - spicy corn and pork chops on the BBQ (excellent). We plan to eat in mostly. Lazy day today, did more research on the rest of the trip. Got some tips on RV parks in Valdez, Seward, and Homer from our neighbor at the camp ground. Took a shower at the camp ground, $4 for 7 minutes (nice and clean).
Took a walk around town this evening, walked into a TI and then booked a five hour jet boat trip for tomorrow. $165/pp, should be fun. We also brought chocolate from Alaska Gold Mine Candies Company, they have samples and they were excellent. Although the candies are made in Salt Lake City.

Wednesday, August 13 (Day 4) – Rick made sausages and eggs for breakfast - the frying pan GAH provided was not non-stick so it was quite painful. The cord on the toaster we rented from them was really short and couldn’t reach any of the RV receptacles, thank goodness Rick packed and brought a long extension cord with us.
We went on a jet boat excursion - arrived at the Mahay office at 9am and were on the boat at 9:35am. The river we are traveling on is the Susitna (na means river in the native language, Susitna is the River of Sandy Beach and Talkeetna is the River of Plenty). Saw three fish wheels along the river and actually got to see one silver salmon about 18” getting caught in the wheel. The wheels are for scientific research, not for commercial fishing. The scientists take the fish, measures and tag them, and then release. We took the tour that goes all the way up to Devil’s Canyon, it was the best. The Devil’s Canyon has Class 6 rapids (rapids are classified from 1 to 6), and the boat Captain basically surfed the rapid for 25 minutes in this incredible white water. Our Captain, Israel Mahay, is the eldest son of the founder - he is funny and very competent. He told many local folklores and history. Highly recommended but only if you go all the way to Devil’s Canyon – otherwise it is just a boat ride. Abby, the assistant, served sandwich lunch at 1pm, and led a 30-minute walking tour at a riverside stap at 2pm to show us bear and beaver traps, trapper’s cabin, and pit that was built as a natural refrigeration for the fish catches. We saw a couple species of beautiful wild mushrooms, I am sure they are poisonous. We were back to town about 3pm.
We stopped into the Aurora Dora Gallery and bought a beautiful 16X24 borealis photograph printed on metal. Dora is from Brazil and very personable. She will ship the photo via FedEx (included in the price) to us. We are planning to go on the Hurricane Turn train run tomorrow, and then leave directly afterwards in the direction of Valdez, but stopping in Wasilla/Palmer (1 ½ hour drive) for the night. This couple from Oklahoma we meet on the boat tour told us about their Halibut fishing trip with Fish Seward Alaska, we might give it a try. But we need to figure out if we can sell any fish we catch back to them if we decide not to keep them.

Thursday, August 14 (Day 5) – We woke up at 4:30am, neither of us can go back to sleep. The WiFi was down at the camp site – amazing how our lives depend so much on the Internet now.
After breakfast, we made four sandwiches and moved our RV to the train station (free parking permit from friendly Jack from New Jersey who runs the Talkeetna Train Station). We walked around Talkeetna for the last time, including back into Aurora Dora’s, and decided that the photograph we bought yesterday would be lonely on our wall – so we bought a 2nd one to keep it company. This one is vertical instead of horizontal. We walked back to the train station at noon to get ready to board the Hurricane Turn train. The ride was very interesting – it is the last of the flag trains, which means it will stop at any spot when it is flagged down and you can also tell the conductor that you want to stop at any mile post along the track. The scenery was beautiful, but what was the most interesting was it gave us a glimpse into the life of Alaska wilderness. People who live near the track will flag down the train with coolers or equipment or supplies to go to their destination. Warren, the conductor, was funny and full of local information. We learned that they don’t like the name Mt. McKinley (Denali), President McKinley was never in Alaska and never did anything for the State. We talked with one of the railroad Project Managers that was on the train and found out that the Hurricane Turn has been losing money for a long time, but they keep it going because it is an important service to the community. We paid $96/pp for the round trip ticket from Talkeetna to Hurricane, the locals and people who live off the grid can pay $9.75 for every 20 miles using commuter books. One couple we saw lives four miles from Talkeetna but pay $9.75 every other week to go to town, Warren thought it was a waste of money, but I don’t blame them. Who would want to haul grocery and supplies for four miles? I’d pay the $9.75 too. We were back to Talkeetna at 7:30pm, packed up and drove the hour and half to Wasilla/Palmer where our late check-in envelope was waiting on the office door of the Big Bear RV Park, 2010 S. Church St, Palmer, AK
Phone: (907)745-7445.

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