Saturday, September 20, I left Cordova just after dawn on the same small, twin-prop plane that brought me here. The weather seemed to have broken, and we had a pleasant and scenic flight to Anchorage. I rented a car and drove around town, ending up at the Glacier Brewhouse where I treated myself to some king crab legs – one culinary goal I had while in Alaska. It was delicious, if a bit pricey. I eventually headed north toward Talkeetna, where I was scheduled to play at a place called Latitude 62. As I journeyed out, however, I got the message that the town had been evacuated due to flooding! The gig was cancelled. A woman named Dottie Leonard offered to host an impromptu house concert, however, since she lived on higher ground. I was already underway and had no other plans or place to go, so I decided to take my chances and drive north. The further north I drove, the more high water I encountered. This stream was nearly over the bridge.
Water partially blocked the highway in several places, and I began to question the wisdom of this adventure. But I drove on. Water concerns aside, it was an interesting and beautiful drive. I was curious to stop in Wasilla, the home of Sarah Palin, hoping to find a postcard or tee-shirt or something about seeing Russia from here, but no luck. I eventually came to the Talkeetna/Denali turnoff. There is only one road heading north out of Anchorage, connecting it to Fairbanks. And intersections are few and far between. This bear sculpture served as the welcoming committee.
A police blockade along this road attempted to deter me. I lied and told the highway patrolman I didn’t plan to stay long. I’d come too far to turn back now! I made my way to Latitude 62, where I had planned to meet Dottie and follow her up to where the house concert would take place.
Dottie showed up in a pickup truck driven by Nancy Tucker, the owner of Latitude 62. Nancy unlocked the door, we walked inside, a bartender appeared, customers started wandering in, and Latitude 62 was back in business. Flood be damned! We set up a P.A. system and I sang for two hours without a break. Great time!
Latitude 62 is also a lodge, so I stayed the night. The next day, I toured the area. Talkeetna is a unique little town at the base of Mt. McKinley, better known as Denali. Lots of hikers and hippies, dogs and rainbows. I ate at the Roadhouse and had the largest pancake I had ever seen. Several people had recommended that I take a plane ride around the mountain, which I tried to arrange. But the conditions weren’t right on this day, so I headed back south. What a drive! I saw moose (no photos -sorry!), trumpeter swans,
and two teams of sled dogs.
They train the dogs with ATV’s, in preparation for the winter. This is Iditarod country, and they take their mushing seriously! I eventually made my way to Chugiak, on the outskirts of Anchorage, and the home of Robin and Bruce Hopper – my hosts for tonight’s house concert.
The concert went very well. I had sold out of all my Cold Comfort and Live at Red Barn Radio CD’s, so I rewrote my set list to feature songs from Haunted Honky Tonk. The audience was wonderful! Great singers, mostly musicians. It was Robin’s birthday, so we sang for her. She reciprocated by singing a very entertaining Alaska version of “I’ve Been Everywhere.” I stayed with Mike and Katy McCormick. On Sunday morning, my old buddy Brian DeMarcus, a former Green Grass Clogger, met us for breakfast. Brian took me for one last sightseeing excursion before I caught the red-eye back to West Virginia later that day. Here is a parting shot from a truly indelible trip to Alaska!