Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Sunday, May 24th Healy and Denali

Breakfast was served hot and fresh and delicious. The stories continued to be shared while we passed around homemade strawberry jam. Rhodi had been living far north raising her three kids, where she made and canned everything. She ordered her groceries once a year, and those ordered foods would last the whole year. She made it sound like nothing, no big deal...plan ahead, get the sugar and the flour. But I cannot imagine that, especially with a family. The place is for sale, and they are looking forward to buying somewhere they can do substance farming. Green houses are actually rather popular here. Because sunshine isn't always in short supply, but warm weather and fresh vegetables are.

We were off down the road again! chartering a course on the map for Denali and intrigued by anything along the way. Talkeetna was qualified as just such a place. The Talkeetna store is apparently a much advertised location. I completely missed the draw but did not miss the comfortable smells and creek of the old wood floors. Reminds one of Baldingers candy store, but without the dark chocolate and old fashion candy. The stairs were lined with animal furs; coyote, fox, wold, lynx, caribou. We trailed our fingers along these great pelts, marveling at the feel and color, and exactly people kept warm wearing animals skins and furs! I mean seriously! it sounds exotic and exciting, but you hear about -50F and -75F temperatures and suddenly it begins to feel insufficient in a multitude of ways. Upstairs in the store, there are other basic supplies.  Gloves, a few books, socks, undershirts, underwear, and other odds and ends.
Let's take a moment and rewind. When you see packages of undershirts, socks, boxers, and panties-they came in packs of 5 or 7 or some odd number. Here, they have been removed from those prepackaged bags, and placed in individual zip lock baggies. Each baggie is labeled neatly with the item, it's gender, style, and size. Minimum supply, and maximum distribution!
We did not stay long in the town. There was a open air market we strolled through with artists, a jewelry maker who specialized in porcupine quills, bamboo socks, and organic herbal lotions and soaps. Continuing along the main street, which is easily identified because it is the only street, are a collection of other shops and stores. In the short hour or so we were there, the amount of people increased to a crowded level. On sidewalks, in storefronts, sitting inside restaurants and spilling onto patios. Either we missed a few tour buses or people came out of the woodwork.

The tourbuses are annoying because the stops are so restricted to stores that are specific cruise brand tours, and they leave out the areas many other restaurants and shops as options.  They also take a quiet afternoon and turn it into a crowded mass of humanity.
Healy was next! Just a few minutes away from Denali National Park. The town had just opened up last week. Stores were opened for the seasons and the traffic lights were turned back on. We headed for the Black Diamond Resort, where Ms. Lydia will be working this summer! This small town of a population of about 800 swells to est. 3000 with college kids and seasonal workers for the tourist season. We stopped at the barn and continued back to to the area were most of the employees live in the provided...housing. Thankfully Lydia is in one of the better trailers! It's not a dry cabin ( one without running water), but has hot water, wifi, and first/surplus food is delivered there too! Due to them being "the girls" trailer, excess food and the maintenance guys give them extra assistance for their frequent needs. Once they get some curtains up, they won't even have to change hunkered over or on the sly! Seriously prime real-estate.

We settled into The Denali Lakeview Inn, a charming B&B right on top of the lake, with the mountains proud centaurs on the horizon. The names of the peaks surrounding us were Mt. Healy, Black Diamond, Sugarloaf, Jumbo Dome; and below them an extremely productive coal mine.
This area is rich in coal, and contains some gold still and, the biggest payout-platinum!
For dinner we ate at the 49th State Brewery. For the area, I can see why it is a big deal. Seriously overpriced with a mid-sized plate at best. However, their whiskey bourbon, and scotch selection made up for what the menu lacked. There were also microbrews on tap, but honestly they were mundane and flavorless in comparison to the distillery options.
We headed out to the Salmon Bake with a crew from the resort and area. It was a really fun time! It's got a couple floors, and each night there is some kind of special music or theme. Despite the sparse crowd, it was 80's night! We talked we laughed we told stories. The only thing to complain about would be the large table that made it hard to hear, so we either had to stretch across the table or cluster around on a side.
Beer enjoyed: Alaskan White. Whiskey: Johnny Walker

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