Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Alaska Road Trip: Anchorage and Talkeetna

Reluctantly we left the Soldotna area. The red fishing on the Kenai was only going to get better in the next two weeks but we had reservations and plans in Anchorage, Denali and beyond.
So off to Anchorage we went, rain was forecasted for the day as well as the next few days to come. The cloud cover was low and true to the forecast it rained all the way to Anchorage. The rain, however, was a welcome sight to the firefighters battling a blaze in the Turnagain Arm area. The road was closed temporarily then open with pilot cars but when we went through we only saw smoke and the vehicles of the firefighters.
Cloudy, rainy with low cloud cover

Arriving in Anchorage we went directly to our favorite campground in the area; Cabela’s! We actually got by pretty cheap this time as although we walked the store a couple of time we did not buy anything. I do have my eye on a new pistol however…..
Anchorage was going to be a stopover on our way to Talkeetna and Denali. The original plan was to stock up with groceries and do laundry. That changed a few weeks ago when our friends Tom and Shelly from Minnesota said they were going on an Alaskan vacation and were going to be in Anchorage on the 22nd and 23rd! Now add dinner with good friends to our agenda. There were three restaurants that we had considered going to last time we were in town and this time we were determined to hit at least one of them. Emailing Tom, I offered up three restaurants; Moose's Tooth Pub & Pizzeria, Glacier Brewhouse and Orso.  He wanted steak or seafood so we made reservations for Orso.

Laundry and grocery shopping done Barb and I headed to Moose's Tooth for a late lunch. We had heard about this restaurant from Barb’s cousin as they are well known for their pizza. She did not lead us astray as the pizza and beer were excellent. I would highly recommend this place!

The following day it rained most of the day so we lazed around and read until it was time to meet Tom and Shelly. There is no real convenient parking in the restaurant area, especially if you have a 26’ camper/truck combo but we did find several pay lots that we fit in for $10/4 hours. The dinner and company were excellent. We had not seen Tom and Shelly since last fall when we were in Minnesota. After dinner we wandered over to Humpy’s for a beer before we said goodbye and went our separate ways.
The 4 of us at Humpy's
After spending another night at Cabela’s we headed north towards Wasilla. We had heard that the Hatcher Pass road was a must drive and looked forward to the slow but scenic drive. But, the rain foiled our plans again. What we could see was pretty but visibility was very poor.
This stream followed the road the entire way up

An old mine building

This roadside pull out offered "Sweeping views" of the valley below. Isn't it beautiful?

We made it to the visitors center near the top but decided to turn around and take the blacktop back down rather than drive the 27 mile gravel road down the other side of the pass.
On the way to Talkeetna we stopped and checked out a few rivers and streams for fishing. Montana Creek had silvers, pink and chum salmon running but the fish were congregated in a very small area and so many fishermen were there that it was nearly impossible to fish them so we just watched for a while and headed back to the truck on our journey to Talkeetna.

We were sidetracked once again when we saw the sign for Denali Brewing Company where we HAD to stop and sample a flight of some their brews!

Just a few of the many they had to choose from
We spent the night just outside of Talkeetna at a roadside pull out. Probably the quietest spot we have stayed at in weeks. Not a sound, it was almost too quiet!
The town of Talkeetna itself is very cute. It is obviously a tourist town but not to the extent of Skagway where it is over the top touristy. Talkeetna is touristy with a lot of charm. Daisy had a great time walking the town but was somewhat of a camera hog wanting to get her picture taken at every stop throughout the day!
Daisy the Explorer!

Is there a bear behind me?

Mush, sled dogs!

Wish there was some snow!
Queen of the treehouse!

General Store in Talkeetna
That afternoon we spent the day slowly traveling towards Denali stopping at various streams seeing if there was any fishing opportunities. At one in particular we saw both salmon and trout so we got out the flyrods and gave it a try. Soon enough I hooked into the biggest salmon of my life, a 20+# king salmon. It was an epic battle between man and fish. Well not really, although the fish knew it was hooked, it really did not care. It sat in the middle of the river while I tried to reel him to shore. He would not budge! I jumped in the stream and crossed over to a gravel bar and tried to beach him. I would get him close to the bar then with a swish of his tail he was back in the middle. I got him close a couple of more times but back out to the middle he went. 
Got him on, jumped in with shoes and all!
Headed over to the gravel bar
Trying to ease him onto the gravel bar
Just another foot!

Then swish, back to the middle!
This went on for about 15 minutes until he decided he was done playing this game and headed downstream. I tried stopping him but in the end the fish was victorious. He actually bent my hook straight when he got off! It was a blast!
What was left of my hook!
We spent the night at a rest area at mile marker 185 on the Parks Highway. It was an old campground that allows free camping now complete with picnic tables and fire grates. Gotta love these free sites! In fact since returning from Kodiak we have stayed at free sites every night. All of which (except Rich and Susan’s driveway) would have fit rigs of any size; Fred Myer in Soldotna, 2 nights at a roadside pullout 56 miles outside of Soldotna along the Kenai River, the quiet pullout on the Talkeetna Spur Highway and the wayside rest mentioned above. Saving money on campground just means more money for fishing and breweries along our journey!
Next up, a week at Denali National Park!


  1. I have to say Daisy looked mjuch cuter than me in those cardboard signs lol. Bummer about Hatcher Pass...that's on my to do list. Great job on the free camping sites and I am glad you ate at Moose's Tooth that was yummy!! Give Daisy a kiss for me...I think shes a rock star and loved all the pictures with her in them!!

    1. As soon as I saw the cut out of the dogsled I thought of the picture you took of Bill and Kelly looking tough in it! I was going to have that mud pie that you had at Moose's Tooth, it look delicious until I saw it was coffee based. I don't do coffee....bummer.

  2. Nice post as always. I am glad Daisy got to do some sight seeing. I was worried that she was not having fun. Really, how much fishing can one puggle stand?

    1. Daisy usually sits in the camper while we are fishing but once in a while she comes and sits on the bank and watches us. We have to keep an eye out for eagles however as I hear they love plump little puggles!

  3. Daisey really does like the spotlight. Are you using Chinese hooks? 😜
    Safe travels

    1. I definitely need to upgrade my hooks. I don't think I would have ever gotten that guy in, he really did not even care that he was hooked.

  4. What a fish fight! Lovely memories you are making. Too bad the weather this year is so wet and gloomy for you.

    1. Hopefully the weather will clear so we can see McKinley but as of right now it is not looking good.

  5. Looks some very low clouds. Sure hope the sun returns soon:)

    Daisy looks so cute taking the spotlight. Love the sled photo:)

    Now that is dedicated fishing!!! Great show, Jim:) Thanks for the photos, Barb:) Perfect capture:) Sorry the salmon got away:(

    1. The sled picture was funny. We set her paws up on the handles, told her to stay and she like posed for the picture!

  6. Ah yes..... Moose's Tooth. Try downing a Northern Lights while sitting in the hot tub below the Denali Lodge outside Talkeetna .... starry night, mountain in your face. Mighty fine, and it was 0 at the time!

    1. That sounds like a great way to down a Northern Lights!

  7. Dang, you should have jumped on that big ol bad boy and rode it to shore!! Funny stuff LOL!!

    Dave & Diane

  8. The beer at Denali Brewing Co was one of our favorite! You guys are really saving lots of money in terms of camping.
    Had you had a good weather, Denali would have been visible from Talkeetna. I know rain is such a downer especially when you are trying to cover lots of places.
    Hope the weather improves as you go into the Denali National Park and the clouds will move for a bit so you can see actually see her.

    1. No such luck, we just left Denali and did not see the mountain. But we did see lots of great scenery and wildlife!

  9. I just want to say how much we enjoy your blog. We are planning our adventure for Alaska next year and are learning some good places to go and maybe not go (Kodiak). Thanks for sharing!

  10. Daisy sure is photogenic!! Looks like you guys are having lots of fun!!