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Getting a Jump on Talkeetna, Alaska
Talkeetna's Got Character
Talkeetna's Got Character!
It's really hard to define why some places have character... and others simply don't. Talkeetna, Alaska is one of those places with character. It's an artist's delight, a writer's intrigue, and a tourist's FIND. It's one of those places that forces you to peek behind trees, travel into graveyards, and yes... pet a cat.
Stubs the Cat
This is Stubs the cat. He gets his name due to the obvious reason of having little or no tail. Yes, he's a Manx, and no he didn't have an accident of any kind to get like this. Stubs is the last of an impressive line of cats who have resided at the West Rib Pub & Grille in Talkeetna. The menu actually refers to him as The Mayor. He's a good-natured old boy, even if he's more than a tad "stuck-up." If you get the opportunity to find him asleep on the bar, he'll probably, "Give you that movie actor stance."
Anyway... what's a little fur when the food is good? By the way... the food is great. Be sure to order one of the crab cake sandwiches if you get the chance. I liked mine so much, I ordered it again the next day. It truly was one of the best sandwiches I've ever eaten.
West Rib Cafe
Besides petting Stubs, half the fun of eating at the West Rib Pub & Grille is viewing the pictures, and reading the articles on the walls about the climbers of Denali. Autographed pictures, and lots of memorbilia are stuck everywhere. Talk about characters.... this place has been filled with them. It makes me think of a sticker I saw:
A Small Drinking Town With a Large Climbing Problem.
Lots of climbers celebrate at this cafe after their assents to Mount Denali. The day we visted, more than one hundred and fifty-five climbers were on the mountain. That's not to say they all started or ended at the West Rib Cafe... however Talkeetna does get its share.
Denali means "Great One"
The Talkeetna Roadhouse is another place that helps you understand why Talkeetna has character. It's been around for a long time and it looks like its popularity will continue.
Life At The Talkeetna Roadhouse by Ron Garrett
Ron Garrett's book entitled: LIfe at the Talkeetna Roadhouse is one that gives some real insight into the world of Talkeetna during the late 1970's. I picked up an autographed copy and was pleased to get a better understanding of the way things operate in this little Alaskan town.
It's a short book with true stories about the Talkeetna Roadhouse. Ron Garrett mentions that guests staying at the Talkeetna Roadhouse were often locked out if they tried to enter after 10:00 p.m. The book goes on to describe which guests got the best pieces of fried chicken, and which guests merely got baskets of wings. The first owners of the roadhouse were Carroll and Verna Close. They ran a "tight ship" operation for twenty-seven years.
Propellers Mark the Graves of Pilots
You can't leave Talkeetna without visiting the cemetery. It's a short walk from the main road. The ferns, and propellers (which are placed over the graves of pilots) make it an interesting place. There is also a plague naming the many climbers who have died on Mt. McKinley. Quite a few WW2 veterans are also laid to rest in this quaint cemetery. Whether snow-covered, or fern hidden. . . a visit here will encourage you to ponder.
Climber's Memorial Plague
Book excursions early... or plan on sitting a very long time
Know Your Place and Book Early
One last tip before we wrap this up. If you are planning any day excursions during your stay in Talkeetna like flight seeing or jet boat trips... BOOK EARLY/ BOOK EARLY/ BOOK EARLY. The folks of Talkeetna won't tell you the tours are full. Instead they'll casually say, "Why don't you just sit down. We'll see if we can fit you in."
Three or four hours later you might be glad to get "some chicken wings."