Airstreaming to Alaska – Chapter 16: Whittier to Talkeetna

Posted April 28, 2023 – Narrated by Carmen
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Airstreaming to Alaska
If all difficulties were known at the outset of a long journey, most of us would never start out at all.

After a full year of preparation and months of travel, Alaska was almost finished. For us, at least.

seward highway alaska
Near Lower Trail Lake on the Seward Highway

In Victoria, we left summer comforts behind for a solo North Country expedition. Due to our age and the physical demands of the journey, we knew this would be our first and last road trip to this latitude.

whittier alaska
Pulling out of Whittier. Fourth straight day of 24 hour rain.

Surprising fact: Seniors over-landing to Alaska is rather common. We shared the road with countless people in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, some with disabled/handicapped permits.

girdwood alaska
Near Girdwood

If you’re following our story you know this journey is not a piece o’cake. Nevertheless, the pullouts are full of Olive Garden patrons – some on motorcycles, some with walkers – and they’re not coming all this way for The Bingo Trail.

whittier alaska
Just north of Whittier

Neither old age or the Alaska highway is for sissies. But, all things considered, viewing glaciers from inside a warm and cozy RV helps you to forget about Volkswagen sized pot-holes, wet weather and limp imported lettuce.

It truly is The Great American road trip.

moose pass alaska
North of Moose Pass near Jerome Lake.

At this point, our cold-weather duds were showing wear, our fingers ached from hand-washing socks which took days to dry. And, though Jim fed us like we were on the Orient Express …

Jim’s Hello Sunshine Salmon and Taters recipe substituting with fresh locally sourced whitefish.

we were starving for fresh leafy greens and rejoicing over every scrap of sunshine the tundra mercifully tossed in our direction.

Sunshine and fresh food. These fundamental California comforts, along with our 4-3-2 travel hack, and common sense danger avoidance – took a back seat to the forces of Polarity. We continued north.

moose pass alaska
On the Seward Highway near Moose Pass

The signs were undeniable.

The land extended the last fruits of summer. Winter woodpiles reached porch rafters. Tourist season was winding down and hunting season was ramping up. Still, our hard-earned Alaska ambitions hadn’t run out of steam.

The fireweed – Alaska’s botanic calendar – had bloomed out, signaling last call. The party was winding down.

We were in a strangle-hold with Nature. Cold and wet lay claim to every sanguine hide of man and beast.

Yeah, well, Alaska would have to work for it. We were armed up to the solar panels with tactical defenses.

Habanero Mocha Latte

Time was a’ wastin’ and we had things to do,

Cruisin’ on our Dolphin eBikes

places to go

denali brewing
Denali Brewing Company Tasting Room near Talkeenta

and sled dogs to see.

Hey, what could go wrong?

Jim in the Magic Bus from the film, “Into The Wild


As we turned onto Portage Glacier Road, heading toward Whittier, the reclusive sun made a rare appearance.

girdwood alaska
Near Girdwood

The autumnal fog had lifted. The salmon were running.

And we felt like the only humans in Alaska who actually buy fish.

We settled in at beautiful Williwaw Campground

Williwaw campground

and discussed what to do with this unexpected gift of a spectacular day in this wonderland of outdoor opportunities.

Williwaw campground

Should we hike the “Trail of Blue Ice?” Kayak on Portage Lake? Take in the natural wonders of Portage Glacier?

Portage lake
Portage lake

Or, should we just go drink beer at Girdwood Brewing Company?

Girdwood Brewing Company

It seemed like the right decision until the next morning when we woke to a steady rain which never let up. Over the next four days we desperately tried to claw back lost opportunities, but to no avail.

This was what we had hoped for in Whittier.

This was the reality.

So close.

Portage Glacier, just a 2-mile paddle away 😞

Whittier – named in honor of Quaker abolitionist and poet John Greenleaf Whittier in a nod to his poem Snowbound – is the rainiest place on earth where most residents live in an abandoned military bunker.

Girdwood Brewing Company

At Girdwood Brewing Company, we began to sense the mettle of this unique community. Pico was received like a celebrity. Cute little non-working dogs are a rare sight in Whittier. “There are no veterinarians,” we were warned.

Near Portage lake

Constant rain didn’t cause Whittier-folk to miss a beat.

But when times get tough, we turn to food. Jim made the best of our Bunkering In Beauty time by using our smoked and dried wild Alaska salmon to whomp up the best chowder I have ever laid lips on.

Okay, enough with the regret – it’s just more water under the flooded out bridge. We rinsed the glacier dust out our socks and moved on …

through hill …

Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, at 2 ½ miles, it is the longest tunnel shared by autos and trains in North America.

and over dale …

Seward Highway overlooking Turnagain Arm

to the adorable village of


Stock photo of main street Talkeenta, a mountaineering village near Denali National Park.

This is the traditional land of the Dena’ina Ełnen the Mountain People who have dwelt and hunted here for thousands of years. The name Talkeetna is derived from a word that literally means “food is stored in river” which aptly describes the culture’s idyllic lifestyle and practical nature until …

Talkeetna Alaska

1905 when gold was discovered in Cache Creek in The Dutch Hills triggering the railroad from Anchorage to Fairbanks in 1917, just before the pandemic of 1919 hit, reducing the population to less than 60 souls.

Talkeetna Alaska

Things were rough until the Summer of ’63 when the village was named the perfect spot on the continent to view the total eclipse of the sun by way of the newly developed Talkeetna Spur Road.

Talkeetna Alaska

The village rolled out the floral carpet,

Talkeetna Alaska
Talkeetna Alaska

brought out the hand-crafted folk art,

Talkeetna Alaska
Talkeetna Alaska

and fired up the grill.

Talkeetna Alaska
Salmon burger from The Salmon Spot

Visitors fell in love.

Talkeetna Alaska

A small tourist industry was born.

Talkeetna Alaska

We stayed in the charming and quiet Talkeenta Camper Park right in the village…

Talkeetna camper park

a perfect location for taking short walks for coffee, lunch, dinner, a brew or a snack.

Talkeetna Alaska
Great coffee at Conscious Coffee
Talkeetna Alaska
Our favorite hangout, Denali Brew Pub
Talkeetna Alaska
Talkeetna Alaska
Talkeetna Alaska
Talkeetna Alaska
Talkeetna Alaska
Talkeetna Alaska

Talkeetna is a sanctuary, a place to cozy up and shake off the harsh realities of the wilderness life.

I’m not ashamed to confess that I sang love songs to the electric dryer: “Only you can make these socks feel right … Only you and you alone can can fluff them like you do …”

Talkeetna Alaska

If could have folded and tucked that sweet town into our linen drawer, we would have taken it with us, but for practical purposes we will always hold Talkeetna in our hearts. On to Denali.

Chapters in the “Airstreaming to Alaska” series

  • Chapter 1 – San Diego to Malibu
    • Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay – Chula Vista, California
    • Malibu Beach RV Resort – Malibu, California
  • Chapter 2 – Malibu to Morro Bay
    • Morro Bay State Park – Morro Bay, California
  • Chapter 3 – Morro Bay to Santa Cruz
    • Santa Cruz Harbor RV Park – Santa Cruz, California
  • Chapter 4 – Santa Cruz to San Francisco
    • San Francisco RV Park – Pacifica, California
  • Chapter 5 – San Francisco to Eureka
    • Vinnie’s Northbay Airstream Repair – Wilton, California
    • High Water Brewery (Harvest Host location) – Lodi, California
    • Harmony Wynelands (Harvest Host location) – Lodi, California
    • Van Ruiten Family Vineyards (Harvest Host location) – Lodi, California
    • Four Fools Winery (Harvest Host location) – Rodeo, California
    • Lawson’s Landing – Dillon Beach, California
    • Mia Bea Wines (Harvest Host location) – Redwood Valley, California
    • Johnny’s at the  Beach – Eureka, California
  • Chapter 6 – The Oregon Coast
    • Harris Beach State Park – Brookings, Oregon
    • Bay Point Landing Resort – Coos Bay, Oregon
    • Blue Herron French Cheese (Harvest Host location) – Tillimook, Oregon
    • Seaside RV Resort – Seaside, Oregon
  • Chapter 7 – The Strait of Juan de Fuca
    • Washington Land Yacht Harbor Airstream Park – Olympia, Washington
    • Salt Creek Recreation Area – Port Angeles, Washington
  • Chapter 8 – Victoria, British Columbia
    • Weir’s Beach RV Resort – Victoria, British Columbia
  • Chapter 9 – Victoria to Mackenzie
    • Riverside RV Resort – Whistler, British Columbia
    • Big Bar Rest Area – Clinton, British Columbia
    • Walmart Parking Lot – Prince George, British Columbia
    • Alexander MacKenzie Landing – Mackenzie, British Columbia
  • Chapter 10 – The Alaska Highway
    • Northern Lights RV Park – Dawson Creek, British Columbia
    • Former Prophet River State Park – Peace River, British Columbia
    • Hay Lake – Fort Liard, Northwest Territories
    • Northern Rockies Lodge and RV Park – Muncho Lake, British Columbia
    • Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park – Liard River, British Columbia
  • Chapter 11 – Yukon
    • Watson Lake Visitors Center Parking Lot – Watson Lake, Yukon
    • Teslin Rest Area – Teslin, Yukon
    • Norsemen RV Park – Atlin, British Columbia
    • Hot Springs Campground – Whitehorse, Yukon
    • Real Canadian Superstore Parking Lot, Whitehorse, Yukon
    • Gold Rush Campground – Dawson City, Yukon
  • Chapter 12 – Top of the World Highway to Chicken, Alaska
    • Downtown Chicken Cafe and Saloon
  • Chapter 13 – Tok to Valdez
    • Tundra RV Park – Tok, Alaska
    • Gulkana River Rest Stop – Gulkana, Alaska
    • Bear Paw RV Park – Valdez, Alaska
  • Chapter 14 – Glacier View to Anchorage
    • Grand View Cafe and RV Park – Glacier View, Alaska
    • Alaska Raceway Park (Harvest Host location) – Palmer, Alaska
    • Ship Creek RV Park – Anchorage, Alaska
  • Chapter 15 – Kenai Peninsula
    • Heritage RV Park – Homer Spit, Alaska
    • Marathon RV Campground – Seward, Alaska
  • Chapter 16 – Whittier to Talkeetna
    • Williwaw Campground – Whittier, Alaska
    • Talkeenta Camper Park – Talkeetna, Alaska
  • Chapter 17 – Denali
    • Riley Creek Campground – Denali National Park, Alaska
  • Chapter 18 – North Pole to Chena Hot Springs
    • Riverview RV Park – North Pole, Alaska
    • Chena Hot Springs Campground – Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Chapter 19 – Tok to Haines
    • Fast Eddy’s Restaurant Parking Lot – Tok, Alaska
    • Gravel Turnout – Beaver Creek, Yukon
    • Gravel Turnout – Destruction Bay, Yukon
    • Haines Hitch-UP RV Park – Haines, Alaska
  • Chapter 20 – South to the Lower 48
    • Gravel Turnout – Haines Junction, Yukon
    • Teslin Rest Area – Teslin, Yukon
    • Jade City Parking Lot – Jade City, British Columbia
    • Mehan Lake Rest Area – Bell II, British Columbia
    • Fort Telkwa Riverfront RV Park – Telkwa, British Columbia
    • Walmart Parking Lot – Prince George, British Columbia
    • 100 Mile House Municipal Campground – 100 Mile House, British Columbia
    • Mt. Paul Golf Course (Harvest Host location) – Kamloops, British Columbia
    • Crowsnest Vineyards (Harvest Host location) – Cawston, British Columbia
  • Final Chapter – Lessons Learned
    • Philosophy
    • Preparation
    • Planning
    • Mileposts (the book)
    • Roads
    • Weather
    • Camping
    • Cash and Currency
    • Clothing
    • Food
    • Wildlife
    • Bugs
    • Fuel
    • Dump Stations and Potable Water
    • Pets
    • Internet Connectivity
    • Hiking
    • Cycling
    • Kayaking
    • Damage
    • Dangers
    • Canada Border Crossing
    • US Border Crossing
    • General Observations
    • Serendipity
    • Final Thoughts
    • Our Camp Sites

If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.