Day 17: Mary's Lodge to Talkeetna - Alaska Loop 2015 - CycleBlaze

July 28, 2015

Day 17: Mary's Lodge to Talkeetna

Today will be an easy day. Short and relatively flat. I left Mary's lodge at 9 AM. 56F, overcast, a few spits from the sky. Continuing south on the Parks Highway today's route starts with a big 6% hill that got me sweaty. But no big hills after that.

Fog over the Chulitna river.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Traffic was heavy. Fortunately the road has a wide shoulder. The temperature warmed into the 60's by late morning. The road is straight and monotonous.

It's interesting to see how the forest has changed. I'm no longer in a Boreal forest of short skinny trees. The trees are much taller now. The climate becomes less arid and more temperate as I get closer to the Pacific ocean.

The trees are taller and fatter now. No longer a Boreal forest.
Heart 0 Comment 0

I had some unusual companions on the road today. Six Ford Model T automobiles from the Model T Club of Southern California. On the highway they're about twice fast me but far slower than the cars and trucks. Not sure about those strange colors...

Model T Ford club of Southern California at Trapper Creek.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Today's route has 2 evenly spaced stores. First is Trapper Creek Trading post at about 20 miles. Then a gas station store and Subway at 36 miles, at the Talkeetna turnoff. A sure sign I'm getting closer to civilization. Private driveways and No Trespassing signs are increasingly common.

The Parks highway crosses the Susitna river one mile before the Talkeetna turnoff. This expensive bridge is the main reason the state of Alaska was reluctant to build the highway in the 1960's. People take it for granted now.

Parks Highway crossing the Susitna river.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Susitna River.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Talkeetna is at the end of a 14 mile spur road. The entire 14 miles has a parallel bike path. The first few miles of the Talkeetna spur has scattered rural homes tucked out of sight in the forest. The bike path is well separated from the road most of the time, but moves close to the road at every driveway crossing. That causes the trail to have many double sharp turns even though the road is quite straight.

Bike trail 14 miles to Talkeetna.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Things become more touristy as I approach Talkeetna. Big lodges tucked in the trees. Companies offering scenic flights, etc.

Place that offers float plane scenic flights.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Hill overlooking Talkeetna and the Susitna river.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The road dead-ends at the Talkeetna historic district. 3 blocks before the historic district is the train station and bus parking lot. The downtown area has no bus traffic because buses are required to park here. In fact the downtown area has almost no motor vehicle traffic at all.

Bus parking lot at the train station 3 blocks from the Talkeetna historic district.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Adjacent to the train station is a big gift shop that mostly sells T-shirts and plastic trinkets made in China. I didn't buy anything there. In the historic district I bought a set of 3 nesting Birch bark bowls at a store that sells exclusively native handicrafts.

Big gift shop next to the train station.
Heart 0 Comment 0

One block before the historic district is a very nice park operated by the Mat-Su Borough.

Borough park on the edge of the historic district.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The Talkeetna historic district is 2 blocks long. Most of the buildings are historic log cabins. Talkeetna is one of the few historic villages in Alaska.

Historic Fairview Inn.
Heart 0 Comment 0
The general store in Talkeetna.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Most of the stores are in historic log buildings.
Heart 0 Comment 0
House of Seven Trees is a hostel.
Heart 0 Comment 0

I will stay two nights at the centerpiece of the historic district - Talkeetna Roadhouse. My guest room is above the dining room. $79 with an extremely creaky plank floor and a shared bath. One of the cheapest places on the tour, but easily the most charming.

Every lodging place in the historic part of Talkeetna displayed a No Vacancy sign. It's full of tourists. Most arrive by bus or train, so they come in waves.

I'm staying 2 nights in the upper right room at Talkeetna Roadhouse.
Heart 0 Comment 0

This large log structure was built in 1914-1917 by brothers Frank and Ed Lee to provision miners, years before the railroad built work camps here. It became a roadhouse in the mid 1940's when a cafe, rooms, and plumbing were added.

My room at Talkeetna Roadhouse.
Heart 0 Comment 0

My room has a panoramic view of the main street. It's interesting to see when a wave of pedestrians arrive from a train, all walking the same direction. Or a couple hours later when the flow reverses.

View out my window. The illegally parked car was only there for a quick photo shoot in front of the roadhouse.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Talkeetna Roadhouse is very close to the street but they still manage to have somewhat of a front porch. It's tranquil during the periods when no bus/train tourists are in town.

The front porch of Talkeetna Roadhouse has inviting rocking chairs.
Heart 0 Comment 0

At the end of the historic district a forested dirt path leads 200 yards past the town campground to the Susitna river.

Borough campground between the river and the historic district.
Heart 0 Comment 0

This is a very popular spot to see Denali. Today had some sun but still had far too many clouds for Denali to be visible. Walking trails go along the river and through the forest. The river is wide, brown, and fast-moving.

Susitna River at Talkeetna. On a clear day this would be a view of Denali.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The Susitna river is one of 3 rivers that converge in this area. The Susitna river is the biggest. I came down the smaller Chulitna river from the northwest. The Talkeetna river flows in from the east.

I met a friend for dinner at the Wildflower Cafe. Dinner was excellent. I'd rather spend $31 for a great fish entree than $20 for halibut fish and chips. Later we learned that the chef was once the White House chef for George W. Bush.

It started to rain lightly before we finished dinner. Later it rained heavily for 3 hours. I could see giant puddles in the street.

I had dinner at Wildflower Cafe and later learned that the chef was once the White House chef for George W. Bush.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Today's ride was mostly downstream on one side of the Susitna river, then upstream on the other side. I arrived in Talkeetna at 3 PM and had many hours to look around. The weather was very nice in the late afternoon. 70F, with long periods of sunshine before the massive rain in the evening.

Distance: 52.0 mi. (83.2 km)
Climbing: 967 ft. (293 m)
Average Speed: 11.3 mph (18 km/h)

Today's ride: 52 miles (84 km)
Total: 790 miles (1,271 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 0
Comment on this entry Comment 0