Day 12. Tuesday 30 August.
Today we start the road trip, but as we’d been briefed on the motor home yesterday we had a later start to pick up our vehicle, giving us time to wander in to town for breakfast. After the usual amount of dithering we settled on Side St Espresso, which turned out to be a sheer delight.
The café is operated by Debra and George, two older citizens, who had all the time in the world for a chat – well, George (in dungarees and braces) did anyway. They’ve run it for 20 years or so, and do it all themselves. The coffee was perhaps the best on this trip so far. George spent some time with an obviously well known customer, a lawyer, who was telling the story, at length, of his early start to the morning acting on behalf of a client facing parking charges.
Debra smartly got George focused back on the job! It was the quiet, calm politeness and lack of urgency that was so relaxing. And George thanked us ever so gently and politely for choosing to come into his café.
On to pick up our home for the next few weeks. Departed Anchorage without breaking too many road rules or causing motor accidents – something of a miracle. Eventually on the open road at 65 mph, but the very strong side wind caused a bit of a slackening: a very uncomfortable feeling being pushed off the side of the road.
A short stop (3 hours!) at Walmart in Wasilla – home of Sarah Palin– to stock up. Emergency things…maybe a wok and a sharp knife, pegs and a length of rope. First van meal in the Walmart carpark and onto the road north.
Highway is bordered with birches just starting to turn gold and the snow capped mountains of Denali remained on the horizon. The sky is still a cloudless blue…truly amazing the locals tell us.
Tonight we’re in Talkeetna, a small town at the end of a 14 mile road off the main highway (Highway 3 North), in lake country. We’re right next to the railway line, but have been assured that the train (only a tourist type) doesn’t run on this line at night!
Our tour guides, Neil and Carolyn, have done a fabulous job, and seem to have shepherded all of their sheep in for the night.
Suitcases unpacked, beer in hand – and just the right wine for the occasion.