Yesterday I got to go on a staff tour of Talkeetna, the closest town to the lodge at about an hour away, which is notable for a variety of reasons including being the starting off point for those climbing Mt. McKinley, a training ground for Iditarod dogs, the town that the town in Northern Exposure was based upon...and quite possibly the craziest place I have ever been.
I can't really explain exactly why it's so crazy, but maybe this picture of me with the mayor will help give you a clue:
Craziness aside, words can't even describe how nice it was to get out of the lodge for a few hours into something that vaguely resembles civilization. I don't think I fully appreciated before I got here how truly isolated I would be from modern conveniences like, say, a grocery store. I went to the general store in Talkeetna and it was stocked with groceries purchased at a Safeway (probably in Anchorage) and marked up at exorbitant rates. A tub of mixed nuts cost $15. The store had a lot of things, but not many of the same thing, and a lot of the merchandise was covered in dust. I did indulge in one splurge: I bought two containers of berries -- raspberries and blueberries. Even though they were expensive, even though I have no fridge in my room to keep them cold...I had to have them. They were sooo good and such a nice treat on the bus ride home and this morning in my oatmeal. The only fruit they serve in the employee cafeteria in the morning is canned peaches and pineapple swimming in artificial juices...bleck!
I also got to have a wonderful meal at the Denali Brewing Company. It was so nice to have real, quality food and not the mass-produced stuff they serve in our cafeteria. My roommie and I had craft-brewed beers and although I really wanted to try the "I Can See Russia" burger, I went with a hummus and veggie sandwich with a cup of roasted red pepper soup.
the roommie and I enjoying some sunshine and cold ones at the Denali Brewing Co.
As lodge employees, we got to enjoy many discounts in Talkeetna at the restaurants and gift shops, plus I got a free cookie at the Talkeetna Road House. I will definitely be recommending those cookies to my guests!
Today I got more fun freebies at the lodge. I got to be a guinea pig for the Grizzly Bar, one of the lodge's restaurants. That means I got a delicious free lunch.
I went with a seared salmon salad (delicious!) and a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake (perfection!)
Today was also dress rehearsal day plus my first day to really get cracking at my special duties as a roomer--the person who assigns people to their rooms-- and let me tell you that doing this at a place with 22 guest buildings and 460 rooms is far more complicated than I realized! I also feel that I wield enormous power as I decide who gets the primo rooms. I was stress-eating Starburst by the handful, and it's only day 1 of this job. I'm going to need to pace myself. At least I have some government oversight.
Bye from Alaska!