Thursday, August 21, 2014

I can see moose from here (but not Russia)



Visitor Information

Alaska, moose country and the second of the two non contiguous states of the US that we have visited since leaving Australia again. Surprisingly warmer than I expected, Alaska contains about half of the small planes in the whole US. Alaskans can get a pilot's licence before they can drive as most of Alaska is inaccessible accept by plane and is HUGE. This would have been a fun place to grow up in.




In Anchorage we took a city tour on a trolley bus. We were on a major road in suburban Anchorage when one of the passengers yelled "Moose", the driver chucked a quick U-turn and pulled up in the carpark next to the greenery the moose was grazing in. Now, let me take a brief digression and explain the rules suggested for a moose sighting...
*** Never approach a moose
*** Give moose plenty of room
*** Don't feed moose
*** Don't rescue baby moose
*** Always maintain an escape route
All this goes out the window when a trolley bus full of tourists jump out to take pictures. Nearly fighting to be closest to the moose this stream of humanity starts clicking cameras like the damned paparazzi. It amazes me so few tourists actually get killed by wild animals. The only explanation I have is that wild animals are not as wild as is often made out and have much more common sense than our supposedly more intelligent species. Though I must admit it is hard to resist approaching, so I make sure there are always several tourists between me and the wild animal.

Anchorage is a charming city full of contrasting colours and has a lovely coastal walk of over 20km. We absorbed the sights, smells and colours of about half of it. We then took a train to Talkeetna.

The Roadhouse Inn



Talkeetna, as we were reliably informed, is the town the TV series 'Northern Exposure' was based on. True to the legend it was a fun quirky little town. We stayed at Roadhouse Inn, with soup recipes passed down through the generations. The food was amazing and we ate at large shared tables slurping coffee in bottomless cups. Talkeetna had a thriving arts community with plays, films, art and craft galleries, its annual Moose on Parade festival (moose caricatures were everywhere), and an improvisation competition on the following weekend. Barely more than one main street it punched above its weight in character. Sunset over the river with Mt McKinley and the Denali range in the distance was priceless.


Awesome rapids in style
We took a specially designed jetboat to Devil's Canyon where we rode Class 5 rapids pushing into Class 6 rapids. Now we know how clothes in a washing machine feel, but clothes that do not get wet and stay in a comfy seat. Absolutely amazing feeling being in an enclosed boat while all around you the water is tumbling, crashing and swirling. When our driver got to the foot of the Class 6 rapids he used the engine to keep us there for a bit and then deftly turned the boat away letting the rapids nimbly twist us around and send us rushing away with the current, back to whence we came.

We also saw the airport, a barely cleared bush runway, and met the honorary town mayor, a ginger tomcat called Stubbs. We left Talkeetna reluctantly by train back to Anchorage and then took another train the next day (after a night in Alaska Backpackers) to Whittier where we needed to catch our cruise ship to Vancouver...



From the boat we saw a small
bear catch a fish

Moose on parade

Stubbs' the honorary mayor

Stubbs' home, the grocery store

Relaxing during a concert in the park



Yummy Thai restaurant

Elizabeth and I relaxing

Alaskan railways our transport
To the ship