Day 13: October 31
Fairbanks to Talkeetna, Alaska

by Richard Truesdell

In spite of the fact that we’ve been up since before 7, we worked in Fairbanks until nearly noon trying to get text and graphics uploaded to Jeff’s site in Sacramento. We’ve decided to do this since we know the phones here will support modem speeds at 14.4, something that might not occur in the more remote Talkeetna area. We’ve also used the time to work with Kate Stastny at the Alaska Tourism Marketing Council to work on a revised itinerary.

Uploads are done, it’s time to fly. See you in Talkeetna.

The drive south to Talkeetna along the famed Parks Highway was uneventful and a bit disappointing as there was low cloud cover so Mt. McKinley was completely obscured to our right. In fact, we drove through intermittent snow and could see nothing but white on either side of the highway. This was the first time that we had the entire team in the car and thanks to a masterful job of packing by Mark, all the gear fit. The 70/30 split rear seat was a godsend as it allowed us to pile up gear behind the passenger seat.

Latitude 62, Talkeetna

We all had the opportunity, since we all got together via the Internet, to get to know each other. I’m sure that there has to be a twinge of doubt, when making a commitment like this, that three diverse personalities will not clash within the tight confines of a car packed to the hilt with gear. When it comes down to it, we’re just three guys trying to put together a project that long term will further all of our professional efforts. As a side benefit, we’ve had the opportunity to see some spectacular country and encounter folks with a variety of unique lifestyles but who seem to share one overriding trait, that they are the friendliest people on earth.

We arrived in Talkeetna after dark on Halloween and found the community invaded by masses of miniature ghouls and goblins going trick-or-treet from business to business. We checked in at Latitude 62 and at the spacious lodge behind the Tesoro gas station where we had arranged rooms for the night. Then we adjourned to Latitude 62 for dinner and an Alaska Pale Ale. The Statue of Liberty and a robot visited us in the busy dining room while we ate. As we were finishing, Rich struck up a conversation with the diners at the adjacent table, regaling them with tales of our journey. One man asked us if we thought Prudhoe Bay was a tourist destination. Mark replied that he thought it was industrial ugly, but a fascinating place at the edge of the content (or something like that). It turned out that the questioner was the retired president of Arco Alaska who now lives on a hill near Talkeetna overlooking the river valley with a grand view of Mt. McKinley. His niece, also in the dining party, is one of the owners of K2 Aviation. She invited us to come by the next day.