Past Wasilla and Palmer, civilization is left behind.
With it, the last crossings and detours. The possibility of getting into the wrong way disappears in the almost deserted George Parks Hrightway.
It's eleven forty-five at night. The light still expands from the horizon. Illuminates the white night. Despite the name, the surrounding atmosphere is bluish, enhanced by the natural tones of the landscape.
The mountains insinuate themselves in the distance, detached from the clear sky by their snowy summits. As a counterpoint, the coniferous forest dominates the lowlands. It stretches right to the side of the road. It imposes a damp and mysterious pitch that we are forced to probe with extra care
Moose are the leading cause of road accidents in Alaska. It is after the sun goes down that they feel more comfortable crossing the roads or parking on them.
Brown, tall and slender, they blend in with the trunks of trees. Drivers often only detect them on the asphalt.
It was a bad luck we were determined to avoid.
From time to time, we pass wide arms of river, made of wild waters fed by the continuous melting of the surrounding glaciers.
We are in the middle of the salmon season. Alaskans devote a considerable part of their energies to them. During the day, the banks delimited for this purpose are filled with fishermen enthusiastic about the inexhaustible offer of fish and the competition that takes place.
call combat fishing to this communal way of fishing but most fans don't take the name too seriously and bet on camaraderie.
At mile 98 of George Parks Highway we take a detour.
The Secondary Road that Leads Us to Talkeetna
We point to Talkeetna, one of Alaska's most iconic towns. Around the XNUMXth century, a new gold mining hub was formed there, which had since been discovered in different regions of the state.
With the end of the fever, the preservation of its historical aspect, the fact that it is located at the gates of the Denali National Park – to top it off with an airport – became attributes that attracted the families of greater Anchorage.
And all adventurers eager to sight and conquer the grandiose Mount McInley, the highest mountain in North America. This mission is so challenging that the cemetery of the village is full of tombstones that honor the men who tried to fulfill it.
In 1991 alone, eleven lives sacrificed by the mountain were counted.
But it wasn't just climbers who promoted the town to its quasi-Alaskan stardom.
And Life on the Margins of Little Talkeetna
Other sub-cultures enrich the alternative community that inhabits and frequents it: the intrepid aviators who transport climbers and tourists to the mountains and later fly over them.
The social wild animals dissatisfied with the cloned and materialistic ambitions of most of their compatriots and who arrive determined to wrest an existence from the 49th state in their own way. The uncommitted groups of neo-hippies, of environmentalists sworn in support of the Green Party or not, who have already made the Green Party the most voted party in Talkeetna.
These characters and social clans mix dynamically, democratically and affably. As a result, Talkeetna radiates a sense of well-being and warmth that causes many visitors to postpone their matches. Some of them forever.
It's the tiny size of the hamlet (let's call it that) which starts by surprising. In Alaskan fashion, downtown is down to a single street, Main Street.
The the oldest buildings are concentrated, now shops, tour agencies, bars and restaurants embellished with paintings, signs and other colorful decorations.
From June to September, this street is walked up and down again and again. Until the novelty runs out and outsiders are forced to choose a place to enjoy the evening.
One of the most charming places in the village, the Fairview Inn, lets out chords of live music into the street and challenges the most curious passersby.
Fairview Inn and the Intoxicating Show of Bathtub Gin
Founded in 1923 as an overnight inn for the long journey between Seward (near the south coast) and Fairbanks (hundreds of miles north, halfway to the Arctic Circle), this property has kept up with Alaska's recent past. Over time, it became a kind of living museum.
As soon as we enter the bar on the ground floor, we notice the classic construction. The floor is made of plank, worn. The huge counter, square to optimize contact with customers, is protected by a frightening skin of grizzly hanging from the ceiling and accompanied by a few others as well as moose and caribou frames.
All around, the furniture is made up of various relics, including an old jukebox and Talkeetna's only slot machine. Scattered all over the place, there are still testimonies of the region's history, in the most diverse formats and humorous warnings that take the opportunity to regulate the erratic behavior of customers.
As in most of the state, beer is a kind of institution here. In addition to the famous Alaskan – the emblematic brand, par excellence – numerous small bars and breweries offer new flavors at various frequencies that can be weekly.
When Bathtub Gin starts to perform, the two rooms on the ground floor are filled to capacity. Beer refreshes most of the audience.
The band's musicians – including the banjo-playing vocalist and keyboard player, his then-octogenarian mother – live in the city. That night, songs from Louisiana and Mississippi are heard. This choice drives an unexpected southern sector of the public crazy.
Alaskan Amber and Craft Beer Alaskan Fever
Excited by the concert, we only left the bar so often. Outside, as throughout the state, the night is white. We rest for a few hours. We have breakfast at the first bar to open.
At that hour, the employee had more time, so he decided to start a conversation. The morning hadn't even started and we found ourselves praising once again the Alaskan Amber who had enchanted us so much.
Mark accepts the admiration. Note that we were in those parts a few days ago: “Alaskan is a good beer but here in Talkeetna we have our own private breweries.
I'm crazy about improvising new flavors. Me and several others here on earth. Do one thing. Change your plans. Stay at home until Sunday. So you can better explore these places and our homemade beers.”
As commonplace as it may sound, for these and others it is that those who lived the Great North know that it is better not to say goodbye.