Our next adventure in Alaska took us from Denali to Whittier, Alaska. We will be kayaking in Blackstone Bay in the morning. On the way to Whittier, we stopped in the cute little town of Talkeetna before pushing on to the Kenai Peninsula. It was a great drive and reaffirmed why renting a car is the ideal way to see Alaska.
After leaving Denali (where I took the picture above on the top of the Savage Alpine trail, we encountered a moose in the drive out of the park area.
We then drove to Talkeetna, which was more crowded with tourists than I previously experienced. Princess Cruises has a monopoly it seems on Alaska with not just huge ships but a fleet of buses and even its own train. The result can be locust-like hoards appearing in previously remote and quaint locations. Talkeetna is a cute town with lots of art and crafts from locals, including tea made from Chaga. However, it can be overrun by Princess buses. My favorite restaurant is the Roadhouse, which remains a great place for a bite to eat. You should also go down to the river and walk down the waterline where the three rivers meet. The different color waters form an interesting mosaic and it is nice to simply sit on the rocks.
We drove to the secluded town of Whittier. We ate and will spend the night at the cute Inn at Whittier. There is major difference in the loss of glacier ice and snow that was obvious from just three years ago. Locals say that climate change is having a devastating impact.
This town iis located at the forest extreme of the Passage Canal and is home to roughly 200 people. This was the portage route of the Chugach natives to Prince William Sound and it is almost continually shrouded in fog and a light rain commonly falls throughout the day. Everyone in the village lives in one apartment building. The other two large buildings were constructed by the U.S. Any in World War II when it was called Camp Sullivan.
You arrival in Whittier is through a long tunnel carved through the huge mountains surrounding much of Whittier. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is a single lane, narrow, rough-hewed tunnel. A train goes through it and then cars are allowed to use the train track in “trains” every 30 minutes by alternately those coming to going into Whittier. At 2.6 miles, it is the longest such tunnel in North America and itself is an experience (though folks with claustrophobia are likely to be a bit uneasy).
Once you emerge from this bizarre tunnel, the tiny spat of land called Whittier appears. The huge amount of rock removed from the tunnel was used as the foundation for much of Whittier. This is a town that speaks of its harsh conditions and long winters. Buildings are tough structures and roads are largely gravel. We had fresh salmon at the Inn, which was quite good and settled down for the night in preparation for kayaking in the morning.