Rainbow(s) over the ranger station
On this front country return, we spent some time taking care of clerical business (like Alex working on her online course) and post office runs before heading out for some fun. Between errands on Monday, we stopped by the Krazy Moose in Wasilla for lunch. We shared a yummy 20” Italian hoagie and a delicious (still warm inside) chocolate chip cookie. The historic building that houses the deli is all decked out in a moose themed decor and was fun to check out.
Later that evening, after all tasks were complete, we decided to ride the ranger station’s resident bikes (abandoned…. err… donated by former volunteers??) to Willow for some ice cream from the same gas station (the same gas station we previously waited an hour for burgers). We rode the 3.5 miles on the trail that parallels the road on our bikes as the roughly shifted gears over the mostly flat to rolling terrain. A set of trails parallels the highway, one for bikes/pedestrians, and another for ATV’s. After devouring our huge ice creams, which the server seemed just excited at giving to us as we were to eat them, we headed back towards the station. Since it was so nice out yet, we decided to pedal a mile or two further past the station before turning back and heading for bed.
Tuesday morning, we hopped into our truck (yes, it is still running like a champ), and headed to Talkeetna, about 46 miles to the north. Talkeetna is an interesting little town that is part tourist attraction, part base town for Denali climbers. We heard good things about the Talkeetna Roadhouse, so we took a seat at one of the family style tables with some older folks who were on vacation. We chatted with them and threw jabs around about our home state college football teams while we waited for our breakfast. We had decided the two of us would share a full order of biscuits and gravy, a pancake (of giant proportions) topped with mixed berries, and a reindeer sausage link. The food looked amazing, it tasted amazing as well, and we thoroughly cleaned our plates!
We walked around town for a bit checking out the gift shops and artwork before heading over to K2 Aviation. We heard from other volunteers that they offer discounted flights for state park volunteers if willing to fly standby (not knowing if and when an empty seat will be available on the 8 person planes). We waited patiently for several hours, hearing the “ooohs and aaahs” of returning fliers, and the eager discussions of fliers anticipating if the cloudy weather would permit a glacier landing.
As the day crept on, we hoped we would be able to fly, and both set in our minds that if only one seat opened up, we would give it to the other. Fortunately for us, we were both able to get on a flight, and it was even the same one! Despite the dropping cloud ceiling, we had amazing, beautiful views, that pictures don’t do justice. The path of the glaciers, the details of the crevasses, the stunning blue of the frozen water, and the granite walls were breathtaking. Poor weather kept us from having a glacier landing, but even still, the flight was worth the 6+ hours we waited.
Our pilot, Chip, was great and very informative. We had the opportunity to talk to him for a while before we knew we would be getting on a flight. We talked about Alaska, being a pilot, his other work as a trainer for wilderness EMT and wilderness first responder, and what we were doing as volunteers. After having those great conversations, we were excited to be on his flight.
After landing, we realized how hungry we were, so we headed over to the West Rib, for dinner. Dave (easily) talked Alex into ordering the giant 4 pound burger and pound of fries (Sewards Folly). Not only was it huge, but it was also delicious! We finished the “top half,” put the remainder in a box and headed back to Nancy Lake.