Friday, August 29, 2008
Our last full day in Alaska. Le Sigh. When I woke up, I almost forgot what state I was in. So thank God there was this lamp there to remind me.
And this chair.
And this other lamp.
Secure in the knowledge that I was indeed in Alaska, I packed up and headed for the shuttle. We spent the morning in Talkeetna, my favorite city. For breakfast I hit the Roadhouse, which is famous for - 14-inch pancakes! Yes! Someone is actually going to outdo that size queen The Elbow Room.
Speaking of elbows, I didn't have a measuring tape on me, and this one, although huge, just didn't FEEL like 14 inches to me. So I measured it using my arm, and it was exactly pinkie finger to elbow, which for some reason I know is just over 14 inches. So there you go, let me know when one of you tops that and I'll be on my way!
This blueberry monster was delicious - a little more eggy, like a crepe, perhaps with a little melted butter in the batter. So if it's thickness that counts, well, we're back to The Elbow Room.
Someone else from our pod teasingly asked me to photograph his food, so here is random guy's reindeer meatball sandwich.
While I was enjoying my giant pancake, Ralph ate a sausage from some hooved animal that we hadn't covered yet from this stand. He said it was delicious.
This is where President Warren G Harding stayed in 1923 when he went to Alaska to hammer in the Golden Spike. He had the nerve to room both his wife and mistress here at the same hotel. He died of poisoning in San Francisco less than a week later, causing some people to blame the hotel's seafood. But it is interesting that no one else in the party got poisoned except for the guy who brought his mistress.
I am going to miss Talkeetna, with its quirkiness and gigantic flowers.
Someone has evidently figured out how to tolerate the "Watneys Red Barrel" bus tours
With a perfectly clear sky, it suddenly started raining on us at the train station. Very Charlie Brown-esque.
As the train pulled out, we were instructed to look back for one last view of Denali. Now, everyone had been making this BFD out of the mountain for days, as it played hide and seek. Tour guide after tour guide pointed out, "Look, you can see just the peak... just there ...to the right ..." All I ever saw were clouds.
There was even a Mount McKinley/Denali watch, where you could instruct the front desk to call you if the fickle mountain showed itself. So as I turned back, it was with great sangfroid. Then, peeking out of the clouds - wait, those aren't clouds. For a week, I had gotten used to the mountain line being fairly stable, like the horizon. Denali was like the giant grandpa looming over the rest, shrinking them to the treeline. Now I see what the fuss is about!
A sun dog
Once again, the food on the train was delicious, with the exception of the ribs. I don't recommend them. This is a very nice fish chowder.
After a week of breathtaking coastline and a second week of trees, trees, trees, it was a bit of a culture shock to arrive in Anchorage with its square geometry and block-like buildings. I can see why some people "go bamboo" and head back to the wilderness, never to return to city life.
I walked over to Glacier Brewhouse for a light dinner before turning in at the very strange Captain Kidd Hotel. Or was it Captain Hook? Captain Morgan?
From Glacier Brewhouse's website:
C A S K C O N D I T I O N E D A L E S *
Our cask conditioned ales undergo a secondary fermentation in the cask which creates a natural creamy carbonation. Additional hops are added directly into the cask to provide intense floral, citrus, and fruity aromas and flavors. Served from our beer engine at a traditional cask temperature of 52 F. We aim to always have a cask beer available. Frequently appearing styles on our beer engines are Amber, IPA, Stout, and other seasonal ales. Occasionally, we even run an oak aged ale on cask
Along with an order of delicious fish and chips *where are the chips??? Never mind, the fish was lovely), I enjoyed another Ice Axe, in one of only 2 restaurants that serve it (the other being at the base of Denali). They serve it in a snifter here since it has such a high alcohol content.
IMPERIAL BLONDE, aka ICE AXE ALE *
High alcohol, slightly malty, creamy, and smooth drinking. Technically dubbed the Imperial Blonde by the brewers, this light colored honey ale is also known as Ice Axe Ale. Make sure you are roped in for this one. Served in a snifter. 9.0% alcohol by volume.
I will end this long series of posts as our naturalist on the cruise did so poetically, if a bit melodramatically
...and these...are the echoes...of Alaska