How I Honeymooned Your Father, Part XVI: Talkeetna Charm

If you’re just tuning in to our Alaska adventures, here are the links to Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X Part XI, Part XII, Part XIII, Part XIV, and Part XV. Where did we leave off last? The trip was/is winding down. Ack! After a not good chill-out, chill-over phase, we went ZIP-LINING! It’s fantastic to get outside your comfort zone.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been doing that lately.

After zip-lining, we were hungry and tired and exhilarated and hungry and tired. We had several destinations still cut out for the evening. For one, dinner. For two, dessert somewhere special. For three, our awesome bed & breakfast – Grace and Bill’s Freedom Hills B&B. For four, moose-viewing, obviously. We managed all of those things, of course. First of all, Grace and Bill’s. I don’t believe I met Grace, sadly, or the two girls. Bill was a wealth of information on anything moose, Talkeetna, and Alaska. I could have talked to him for 17 hours, but that would have been 17 hours of not going to the places he described!

We definitely can’t have that.

First, dinner. We thought about heading back to Denali Brewing Company, but then drove by Latitude 62 to check out their menu. It was awesome! We sat at the bar and ordered way more food than we could eat, even after hours of zip-lining.

I believe I got halibut, again. Salmon and halibut were common themes. I also got soup and there were fries and non-alcoholic drinks, and alcoholic drinks, and a funny waitress who muttered the “F” word at one relevant point and was so much fun.

Cheers to her. (back)

The restaurant was not like home! We liked that, of course, but not like home:

Then we were approaching sunset on our last official overnight of Alaska, so we had the usual “dessert or moose-seeking first” debate. You know how it is. Food. Sleep. Romance. Moose. There’s an order to everything! In this case, moose first. Bill at the B&B told us about a bear attacking a moose just down the street from our place, and leaving the giant moose head there for days. I did not want to see that, but I also did, so we went to search. We didn’t see it. Whew. We wandered along some places near the restaurant. The late sunsets still tripped me up. It felt like afternoon – especially after an early(ish) dinner.

I loved the trails and paths and voices of other hikers at this late hour.

After hiking, we got hungry for dessert.

The fancy place to stay is Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge. On a clear day, it has Denali views. On any day, it has tons and tons of tourists – often older people off of cruise ships. The staff there is loving and patient, and like at Disney World, they wear nametags with their cities of home. We sat at the bar, ordered drinks and dessert, and took it to eat around the lodge lobby fire. SO GOOD. I remember swirls of chocolate, and wondering if I’d ever stay there in the future. Perhaps. Perhaps it’s not my style, though. Grace and Bill’s Freedom Hills B&B seems more my thing, no matter how rich I might get one day. From winning the lottery, or course. Or discovering some new moose breed. Or ice cream. I don’t know. A girl can dream, right?


Once the sun got lower, we went around and around Grace and Bill’s neighborhood, hoping to find moose. We never did see moose in Talkeetna (don’t worry – we’re not done with moose in Alaska yet), but we did stumble upon interesting sights.


What else can you really say? We ate, drank, drank, ate. We looked for moose. We zip-lined. It had only been 24 hours in Talkeetna thus far. We had dinner and dessert. We found an abandoned comm. satellite station. I know I can’t wait to get back to Talkeetna one day. The tourist season was ending so it was mostly locals. We were ahead of the northern lights, though. I’d even do the endless night, to see the northern lights. And you KNOW I’m all about sunshine. Sacrifices.


Next up – just one more full day in Alaska. So much still standing between us and a hug from our kids. Moose. Another moose. Bypassing boring Wasilla for something decidedly not boring. More salmon, more excitement, holy cow moose – I miss it.

See ya SOON!


How I Honeymooned Your Father, Part XV: ADVENTURE!

If you’re just tuning in to our Alaska adventures, here are the links to Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X Part XI, Part XII, Part XIII and Part XIV. Where did we leave off last? I was frozen to the core – overwhelmed, overstimulated, scared, and experiencing a marital big chill. We left Seward for Anchorage, stayed for an hour or so, and then we wandered into Talkeetna and had a great dinner at the brewery. We prepared for some sort of adventure.


Ack, that was a spoiler!

We woke up to another overcast day, but it’s really about conditions around Denali. Talkeetna is about 100 miles from Denali and DOES have mountain views.. on a clear day, of course. In fact, we heard about a couple who went to Denali for seven years in a row, and only actually SAW the mountain on the seventh year. On the seventh year, they rested, because six years of fog or clouds or Mordor or whatever else might ruin your visibility was present. We did not see the mountain even once!

Am I getting ahead of myself? Probably.

After we got dressed, we had a hot breakfast at our Inn – Swiss Alaska Inn. Cassidy called the two biggest flight companies to get flight tours to Denali. No one was flying! It was so sad. Here I was WILLING to confront my small plane phobia.. like five times now.. (?) and the weather wasn’t allowing for it. I was not backing down once. I actually wanted to circle a giant, snowy mountain by small plane. I wanted to dip and soar. I didn’t even care. It’s Denali. In my mind’s eye, you could see moose roaming around and around, two by two, circling up a mountain. I don’t care that it wasn’t based on reality, mostly, but I was WILLING. Let it be said. The record states. I was ALL IN and ready to rock that small plane. Or NOT rock it! Yikes.


I was still very much stuck inside my head. Cassidy was too. We were like abandoned satellites in an empty station – both calling out to nothing? Message not received? Message not going out. Does this analogy make any sense at all? It might soon.

Is anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me..

So I did what any broken satellite would do. I walked into Denali Zipline Tours and decided to see if they were going out on this wettish, overcast day. (I was secretly hoping not) What’s that? They WERE! And there’s a three hour canopy tour over a boreal forest leaving in just 30 minutes? Well, ok. Here’s my credit card and my life insurance policy. I’ll sign a waiver, have a snack, go to the bathroom before I can’t anymore (that’s for you, Kenya – no bathrooms on the tops of forests), and there’s no turning back. Do not even pass GO! and collect your $300 back. This is happening. I don’t even care if you feel sick!

Or if you feel like an abandoned satellite station.

I was wearing LulaRoe leggings I had gotten for my sister, but hadn’t given her yet. They made me feel brave. She’s a ziplining kind of gal. We were in a group with eight people and two guides. One of the women (lovely) on our tour had been a zipline INSTRUCTOR in another country, and she was nervous! I guess it’s the whole boreal forest thing? We were promised a three hour canopy tour with nine exciting zips, panoramic Denali views, and woodland aerial walkways. I will say they delivered, and it’s not their fault we couldn’t see Denali. We could at least see where it should have been on a clear day.

(Remind me to tell you one day about when we tried to see Mt. Rushmore? THAT led to an interesting chain of events.)

So we got a few lessons on the ground, and made our way up, up, and up. Everyone was nervous, and that was sobering and humbling and connecting. We knew we were safe at all times, and I’m not afraid of heights even a little, but the sights of the parking lot swirling lower and lower, made me a little light-headed. I was nervous but also not nervous, because I just wanted to FEEL, and not like a broken radio or satellite, so it both repelled and propelled me. There was some rappelling too!

Clearly, I like words.

I felt.. EXACTLY LIKE THIS (the photo of me, and not Cassidy):

The zips got longer and higher.

For all of us, the ones over concrete or parking lots seemed a lot worse than the ones over.. just forest.. or water. Even though these weren’t the highest or fastest zips, I think they freaked us out more. Also, we were still newbies then.

I think we were thawing towards each other? I know I was internally. (burning up, baby) There was something about the relief and vulnerability. I’m not saying that the great chills can’t lead to scarring, but I was really happy to be with him.

I liked the zips better than the aerial walkways (which were still scary) and definitely better than the rappels, although I obviously survived all that. I think each step was another step outside my comfort zone. I can’t complain there!

I paid for the photo package, which was just phone photos, but it’s SO WORTH IT. I get to see the looks of fear and relief on my face! And relive all the magic – like this little place which surely looks to NEED moose by it, right?

Rappels scared me, like I said, but I took it like a champ! I didn’t die even once on my way down the tree.

Mountain Man.

Yay! No one died even once!

One of our fearless leaders – I wish I remembered their names! One was potentially Megan. They rocked!

Here we all are, not dying even once again.

You can always find me, right? I wore neon pink on purpose.

From Denail Zip Tours website:

“The final and longest zip of the tour will span close to 600 feet – with most of the ride suspended over “Reflection Pond” – landing on the final platform six feet off the ground with an easy stair exit and a short drive back to downtown Talkeetna.”

You had to take the time to look down at the water. In some of the zips, you don’t have that time. This one is long and not even the fastest – it’s so peaceful. I think the photo of me was too blurry, but we have lots to look at.

What we didn’t know, because the zip was so long that you couldn’t see the end, was that there was an employee at the end waiting to drive us the three miles back to town. He also held up scorecards on our landings. I got an 8.5! Cassidy got a 10.

My final advice? Do it. Pay for the photos – it’s only a bit more money – but you’re paying for the memories, the chance of a life (or death)time, and the deep feelings of accomplishment and relief when you finally get on the ground again.

Wear comfy pants & SHOES! “Whatever you do, take care of your shoes.” Name that reference. I’m looking at you, Charlotte.

I think my 8.5 score was slightly inflated because of my neon pink outfit making me easy to spot.

Next up – well the magic is never over. Think of funny waitresses accidentally swearing in front of patrons. Dessert at the ritziest part of town. Abandoned satellites, moose heads in the streets, Hatcher Pass, magic, and more magic!

See ya SOON!

Part XVI