Cue the cozy fire, hot cocoa, and vintage carols. AKontheGO spent the weekend before Christmas in beautiful downtown Talkeetna in a postcard-perfect setting surrounded by the best of Alaska’s best. With visiting grandparents, two sons of varying ages, and a beautiful weather forecast, it seemed the perfect opportunity to hop aboard an Alaska Railroad train in Anchorage and travel 100 miles north to Talkeetna for a little country Christmas time.
Those who read this blog fairly regularly will already be acquainted with Talkeetna and our desire to visit more often during quiet winter months instead of the bustling, hustling summer season. With AKRR’s Aurora Winter Train traveling northbound on Saturday, and southbound on Sunday, it’s possible to make a quick trip to our favorite town in the shadow of Mt. McKinley with little effort and high rewards. Serene snowy landscapes full of Alaska moose (25 in all on this trip), beautiful glimpses of the Alaska range, and a personal pick-up and delivery at Talkeetna’s winter train depot made this a great option for my elderly parents, but the entire family was able to take advantage of Talkeetna’s charm.
We stayed at our favorite overnight destination, Talkeetna Roadhouse, of course, and owner Trisha Costello made sure our younger son was able to indulge in a little cookie-decorating, cocoa-drinking, game-playing fun, just like at home. Warm, welcoming, and full of charm herself, Costello emulates the spirit of Talkeetna and went out of her way to assist guests, from delivering luggage to and from the depot to whipping up a fresh pot of coffee for guests. This trip, we slept in the Lil Cabin In the Back, a log cabin with a small propane-fueled fireplace that burned cheerily all night. Perfect for a family with kids old enough to not fall from the upper loft, the cabin is quiet, yet close to all the action in the Roadhouse, and I think I’ve found a new favorite place to rest my head.
Outside, the air grabbed hold of faces and fingers with a grip that would have been painful if not for the knowledge we were a mere 100 yards from respite, and we walked and snowshoed and ogled the fantastic views of Mt. McKinley for which Talkeetna is famous. The normally placid and smooth river, however, was lumped with ice dams choking the pathways, making navigation difficult and sometimes treacherous. An odd foreground in an otherwise idyllic scene, the ice was a sobering reminder of nature’s hierarchy over us.
We took a walk in the frosty chill of night, absorbing twinkling lights above and at street level, listening to a breeze in the high cottonwoods and the crunch of snow beneath our boots. The next morning, Mt. McKinley showed off her holiday attire, all dressed up for the day ahead. Merry Christmas, everyone. Love, Denali.