Because my daughter’s flight was late and she didn’t get to the hotel in Anchorage until very early (6:30 am) Monday morning, we decided to take the day at a leisurely pace with our primary goal to be in Fairbanks by Tuesday evening.
Breakfast - you always hear it’s the most important meal of the day - and besides that, for some reason when traveling I really like to have a good breakfast - so we took the hotel shuttle to a local favorite, the Snow City Cafe. Yummy. And as a bonus it was the Monday after First Friday so there was some cool artwork still on display. We left messages on the community chalk board. :)
After an egg sandwich and a frittata we took the shuttle to the airport to pick up our rental car. The rental car clerk asked me if I wanted the limited insurance because they only offer limited coverage for driving to Fairbanks. I thought he was joking but nope it’s a thing. Evidently lots of folks slide off the road and such when driving in the Fairbanks area because the temperature drops pretty good between Anchorage and Fairbanks causing worse road conditions. Anyhow. I stuck with my Geico coverage for the insurance but took the option of studded tires. (Those studded tires turned out to be a very wise decision - more on that when we get to Thursday!)
All I really knew about Alaska was that it was cold! Much research was in order to make this road trip interesting but I found out quickly that Alaska is so beautiful that we would never have arrived at our destination if we stopped to take pictures of everything that was noteworthy. That said, we got about 30-45 minutes out of Anchorage and made our first stop in Eklutna.
Eklutna is a very small Athabaskan Indian village. Come right off the highway and turn left and you’ll see the Eklutna Historical Park on the left. Because it was winter the ‘office/gift shop’ was closed and there were no guided tours. However, the gate was open and we were able to see the old and new church as well as the cemetery with the colorful spirit houses. This settlement dates back to 1650 and Russian Orthodox missionaries came here in the early 1800’s. The graves are a mix of the two cultures with the spirit houses of the Athabaskan and the three-bar crosses of the Russian Orthodox. These colorful spirit houses and the churches were interesting and easy to see despite the snow. (If you go in the summer there is a trail in the park that leads to a view of a glacier. You could hike around in the winter too I guess but since the path wasn’t clear we decided better not.)
On the road again … but we didn’t get too far before we saw a sign for a park and decided to pull over in Palmer. Very glad we picked this stop because it was here that we met a few friendly folks including a gentleman that was out with his camera and tripod. He filled us in on the moose activity in the area and shared some great tips for photographing the Northern Lights (after showing us some phenomenal photos he has taken over the years) with my daughter. Oh - don’t want to forget this - he double checked that our tires were studded after we told him we were headed for Fairbanks and gave us some good driving advice!
We’re not in Talkeetna which is where we spend the night and have a great time! Rest assured though we are in the car singing along with Van Morrison and relishing the beauty that is surrounding us. Palmer to Talkeetna is next - Part III.
Happy & Safe Travels.
Come along with this southern girl on my fun travel adventures! I’m taking the tours; seeing the sites; trying out the hotels; dining at the restaurants; cruising on the cruise ships; and sharing the experiences on this blog. I hope you enjoy reading about my travel escapades and that they will be inspiring and helpful when planning your own fabulous adventures.