I love going up Arctic Valley any time of the year. Although, I do believe my car likes it better in winter. When there isn't snow on the road to even out the terrain (the road isn't paved), it's quite a bumpy ride. The views make all the jarring worth it. Around every bend there seems to be more and more beauty to be seen, more mountains off in the distance to be discovered, and more views than my afternoon joy ride afforded me time to enjoy.
Yesterday, after getting my Alaska driver's license (it's official now, I'm an Alaskan by birth, and by choice), I took Kaylee on a trip to St. Nicholas Orthodox church in Eklutna, and to Talkeetna for a view of Denali. St. Nicholas Orthodox church has a wonderful Athabascan cemetery housing a few dozen "spirit houses" on its grounds that dates back to 1650. Spirit houses are small house like structures built over the grave of the deceased in order to give the soul a "house" to live in and a place for personal relics and momentoes of the deceased to be left. They are painted in the traditional colors of the deceased's family. I was sad to see that the cemetery is getting run down, but happy to hear that the church is cleaning up and restoring the area using local caring teen volunteers.
The drive to Talkeetna is not an especially lengthy one. It's only 100 miles from Eagle River, so I knew we'd have time to get back by early evening. The drive to Talkeetna is beautiful. I wish we'd had more time so that we could have stopped and enjoyed the views at the many lakes along the way. There's also a small airport in Willow that I would have liked to stop and take pictures at of the small planes and the float planes.
We got to Talkeetna in about an hour and a half and took a few pics of Denali. It was lost in the clouds. The mountain is so tall, it was hard to see where the mountain ended and the clouds began. Clouds aside, it was a beautiful view. I had to put the size in perspective for Kaylee by explaining that the mountain we were viewing was still almost 300 MILES away. The town of Talkeetna itself is a lot of fun too. It's a quirky little place with a lot of character, and a lot of characters living there! Kay and I went down to the river and enjoyed the views there for a few minutes before heading home. I don't know if I'll be able to talk Kaylee into another road trip for a while though. I think I enjoy them much more than she does!
I have a friend visiting with her kids at the end of the month from Virginia Beach. She's up for anything, and I plan to take her to Talkeetna. Hopefully, we'll get to see much more of Denali than I did during yesterday's trip.
I really love that I can just get in my car, and in a few minutes, or a few hours, be someplace amazingly beautiful and breathtaking. Alaska is an amazing place.