July 18-22: Sometimes it just rains. Sometimes things aren’t perfect. These last four or five days could probably fit into that category. There’s the rain and more rain. There’s the airplane ride canceled again. There’s another tooth problem. And because of circumstances, we’ve been repeating some driving routes. However, things are “fine.” It’s a simple matter of some regrouping. After all, our plans are always in jello.
As far as revisiting some of the same routes, there’s more than one reason. First, there are only a few roads in Alaska, so retracking becomes necessary. But really, these repeats of scenery are a pleasure. Second, we headed back to Talkeetna so that we could try again to take the small airplane ride over Mt. McKinley and land on the glacier. Rats, foiled again! The rain and cloud cover hung on for several days and no one was flying anywhere over those mountains. That’s okay….we did see “the mountain” already and glaciers by boat. So instead we roamed the hills and lakes around Talkeetna, walking in some drizzle, but seeing these local sites more closely than we might have otherwise. For instance, just nosing around Lake Christiansen we came across these unusual-to-us mushrooms. Does any mushroom expert out there know why they are so bright orange? Or what particular type this is?
Also exploring more around the lake we encountered what seems more common in Alaska than anywhere – a float plane docked alongside a fishing boat. In fact, according to our personal, non-scientific study, there are more licensed pilots and private planes in this state than any other. Without many roads and with the vastness of the state, small planes are more often used for transportation. Anchorage has an airport downtown where lot after lot of small private planes are parked. We see the float planes often as we travel. After traipsing around local lakes, forests and roads, a stop in town at Mountain High Pizza Pie sounded great. Well, the pie was going down just perfectly when I felt something strange. Yes, to add to my other dental nightmares, I broke a tooth. It took a little regrouping on this situation, too. Since I had found a dentist that I felt very comfortable with in my recent dental escapade, we went south on the Parks Highway about 100 miles to Eagle River -- once again. But wait, it could be worse. Dr. Land stated that, “It was a clean break.” As a temporary fix and “being as kind to the tooth as possible,” he filed off the jagged edge and advised I get a crown later. As it stands, I’m doing well. It was a quick visit and we’re back on our way north on the Parks Highway.
And again - we enjoyed the gorgeous views. One of our favorite scenes on this roadway was in Broad Pass, where a tremendous valley stretches out between two mountain ranges. This is the divide where the rivers and streams of Alaska empty either into the Cook Inlet to the southwest or the Yukon River to the northeast. It was nice to have an opportunity for another look.
Also, on our repeat north, we stopped at a restaurant along the Parks Highway that we missed previously. Way back when, on our trip through Canada in late May, we met a couple from North Pole who recommended we stop at Rose’s Cafe in Healy. But it didn’t work into our plans on our first pass. This time up the road we added the stop to our regrouping plan.
Not only was the special of the day excellent, turkey etal, but we enjoyed the owner as well. Rose was a great conversationalist and a delightful lady. She told us the story of her family building the restaurant themselves six years ago and her experiences in being a small business owner in Alaska. Rose’s Cafe would be a revisit for us if we came this way again.
In short, regrouping and revisiting ain’t always so bad! Take care and stay tuned.