Cross Country adventure and some Northern Lights

Trip Start Mar 04, 2004
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Trip End Mar 12, 2004


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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Friday, March 12, 2004

Today was our last full day in Talkeetna and we wanted to make the most of it! We woke up and had a little breakfast in the lodge and then we all decided to go either cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Now... not too many of us have gone cross country skiing...myself included. So this was sure to be a very interesting, if not entertaining adventure!

We get to the rental place (a pretty small store that sold all types of 'winter sports' gear and stuff. Turns out that they only had a certain amount of cross country boots, so a few people that wanted to go skiing couldn't. Fortunately, they had my size! Now... for those of you that don't know.. cross country skis are completely different than downhill skis. Your back heel is not attached...the only thing attached is your toes. I wish we had a video camera video taping all of us actually trying to move forward for the first time! It must have been a sight! People and body parts were flying everywhere!! We finally kinda got the hang of it, and headed on our merry way. Until we got to small hill... =) We had to go UP the hill and then cross a wooden bridge that seemed like it was going to buckle and crumble in an instant!! After a half hour to an hour (all i know is that it took forever with everyone falling every which way, stopping to take pictures of scenery...and people falling), we made it to a clearing. I belive it was a frozen over lake...but with over a foot of snow on it... who the heck knows? =)It was gorgeous. so quiet and picturesque... I know it's a typical description but it really was. things that you definitely don't ever see in a city or the suburbs. this was completely a different place/world/lifestyle.
We stopped to take a few group pictures and then some others switched skiis/snowshoes and we headed back the way we came. I was actually surprised with myself! The few of us that downhill ski definitely had a little more (but not much more!) coordination than the rest so I had a good rhythm going for a while.
When we got back to the main part of town, we headed into a small cafe/restaurant to grab a bite to eat. It was VERY good! When I figure out the name of the place..I'll let you know! They had sandwiches...and maybe pizza? I don't really remember! For some reason Sparky's rings a bell...but I could be COMPLETELY OFF on this one! I'll have to ask around! OK...don't think it was Sparky's...maybe Mile High Pizza something?
After we ate we I think headed over to the small museum that Talkeetna has to offer. The Talkeetna Historical Society Museum...from their website...
"The Talkeetna and Chulitna Rivers join the Susitna River at Talkeetna, an Indian word meaning, "where the rivers join." Originally the site of a Tanaina Indian village, Talkeetna was established as a mining town and trading post in 1896, before either Wasilla or Anchorage existed. A gold rush to the Susitna River brought prospectors to the area, and by 1910, Talkeetna became a riverboat steamer station. In 1915, Talkeetna was chosen as the site for the Alaska Engineering Commission, who would build the Alaska Railroad, and the community peaked near 1,000. World War I and completion of the railroad in 1919 dramatically decreased the population. Several of its old log buildings are historical landmarks, and Talkeetna was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in April 1993. During 1998, the community petitioned the Local Boundary Commission for incorporation as a home rule city."
It was a cute little museum, had a ton of old history (lol...surprise!), and was definitely interesting to look at everything. There was a section about people that have tried/succeded to climb Mt. McKinley (many people stop off in Talkeetna before they head up on their voyage). That was definitely the most interesting part of the museum.
After the museum (or did we eat after? haha..don't remember!), we headed back to the lodge for a bit. A few of us decided to ski and snowshoe around the other side of the lake. Me and a few of the girls though got down the road a little and realized we were EXHAUSTED from the ski adventure earlier! My whole body was aching! So we headed back to the lodge and relaxed for a bit. When everyone came back, we all got ready for our last full dinner together! =( Again, I'm not too sure what the name of the place we ate was...but it was really good! They had typical 'American' food... burgers, steaks, ribs, sandwiches, etc. We all had a great time!
Back from dinner, we were determined to see the Northern Lights before we left!! Everyone had heard that the best time to see them was around midnight, so most of us decided to head out to the local watering hole for a bit before midnight and then we'd walk to the deserted place where we were the night before. The bartender at the bar was AMAZING! WE loved her! haha! she was soo friendly and wasn't too taken aback by the 10 or so complete tourists that took over the bar!! There were a few locals there and they too were the sweetest guys ever! It seemed like we had walked into a complete story book. these guys looked like complete bear trappers...with the fur hats, and big huge beards, big belly's, flannel shirts...everything! They were just asking why were in town and how we liked Alaska so far. We of course kept saying how much we loved it! We sat and drank, and played with the local bar cats and had a great time.
Every once in a while someone would go look outside to see if we could see the northern lights. then after a few drinks and shots with the bartender, she dragged us all outside b/c she was sure that we'd be able to see them now!
OK... now...words honestly can't even describe what we saw. We walked outside and a whole part of the sky was an eerie neon green. it was as if an invisible creature was painting with green water colors and the paint was running in every direction. It was completely breathtaking..and we hadn't even seen anything!! For the first few minutes or so i'd say, no one really took any pictures, we were all frozen by the beauty and serenity of what we were experiencing. Then the cameras came out. For not having a tripod, I'd say mine didn't come out too shabby. We were all like little kids in a candy store...squealing, pointing, laughing...just being completely overwhelmed!! We then wanted to go run and go to a darker place in town, so we ran in, paid our bill, and sprinted over to where we were the night before. (Well some of us did... Eric and I..and Nigel and paul? dee? charity? I dont remember!). Some of the group ran back to the lodge to grab warmer clothes, but some of us braved the cold just to see what was going on. It was amazing! The greens danced along the sky as if to a silent waltz. Unfortunately though, the clouds came in again and covered our view. We hung around for a little longer and then decided to head home and keep a lookout from the main lodge.
When we got there, we watched tv, ate, drank, and just talked a bit. A father and son from another part of Alaska were in the lodge with us and we talked about everything, live in Alaska, etc. We had met the father the night before at our little bbq (I belive).
And of course....we all passed out in the main lobby. No one ever made it out to see the northern lights again. A few people said they took routine peeks outside to see if the clouds cleared but they never did. So we didn't miss much!! After we all woke up HOURS later, we headed back to our own cabins and called it a night!

Still amazing though!! =)
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