We went on a jet boat adventure tour today on Devil’s Canyon. We were on the water for about 5 hours. Now before you get all excited that Lily, Rich, and I had paddles and dry suits and stuff like that on as we paddled our way down class 4 and 5 white water….let me burst your bubble a bit. We were actually on jet boats. They looked kinda like pontoon boats with really big engine power. They were enclosed with windows that opened (thank goodness, because it was 83 here today!). We did go to class 5 water in Devil’s Canyon though. It was amazing. The only wildlife we saw along the way were several bald eagles that were quite far off in the distance. Our boat captain was named Israel and he had quite a lot of great stories to tell along the way. There was also a naturalist with him, Abby, who was also a lot of fun. Both of them were born and raised in Talkeetna. Here are a couple of random facts I learned today I thought were really interesting: 1.) Alaska and Louisiana are the only two states who don’t use the county system. Louisiana has parishes. (this I knew since I graduated from high school in Louisiana) Alaska has boroughs. This I didn’t know. 2.) The Susitna River (the one we were on today) is the 15th longest in the U.S. at 314 miles long. It only has one town along it – Talkeetna. The rest of it is very remote and no one has built alongside it. There are some fresh water that comes into the water filled with glacier silt….you can see them in the pictures where the water is brown and then a line where the fresh blue water comes in. That is where the salmon come in as well. When the river freezes over during the winter, the ice is typically 5 feet thick. There are awful ice jams in the spring as the ice starts to break up and they build up and scrape the trees along the banks. On our way back to Talkeetna, we stopped at an area that has been set up as a reproduction of what a trapper’s camp would look like at the turn of the century. Our naturalist guide, Abby, took her 9 gauge shotgun with her as we made a 1/4 mile walk into the woods….just in case. It was very interesting. All in all, we had a really great time on the water today. We also learned a bit about the vegetation. There were a lot of fireweed flowers in the woods. She said that the jelly, jams, syrups, and ice cream are a true taste of Alaska. There were also some really talk stalks of what looked like Queen Anne’s lace. However, we were told it was actually called cow’s parsnip…which has an oily substance on it that when you get in the sun will give you chemical burns. Good to know!
When we returned to the town of Talkeetna, we walked around downtown for a bit and had an early dinner. We passed a store that had a woman in her 60’s sitting at a table in front of the building. She had a sign saying she had burrito bunny therapy going on. Well….that sounded interesting! We meandered over and got to hold some of her rabbits. She said that a years ago she lost her 42 year old son to a massive heart attack. She needed some form of therapy to manage her grief and this was it. Now she shares it with others. Anyhow…that is the reason for the bunny photos!
Tomorrow we will head onto the train again and head into Denali National Park for the last leg of our trip. I am really looking forward to it! I have loved Talkeetna. It is a charming little town that gets run over by tourists this time of year. I am holding out hope to come back up here again during the late fall or winter time. I think it would be magical with snow and not so many people and mosquitoes!