I love the way Alaskan girls get out and experience the 49th state’s colorful palette of activities. From fishing to berry picking to hunting, our young ladies are the epitome of far north living. After all, it was indeed women who not only kept the home fires burning during Alaska’s early days, they often provided provisions for the stew pot. I have always admired the spirit of our state’s pioneer women who lived simply in a harsh and unforgiving land, not just surviving but thriving amidst what must have been terribly trying conditions.
These days, life is less about learning basic skills of survival and more about capturing the unique texture of Alaska with our daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers. How do we do this? Travel. Go somewhere different, try something new, and along the way perhaps learn a thing or two about each other, away from home.
One of my favorite modes of travel with “the girls” is on the train. There’s just something about the steady clickety-clacking of wheels, constant scenery, and excellent company. The Alaska Railroad offers packages for its Aurora Winter Train that departs northbound on Saturdays and southbound on Sundays, all the way to Fairbanks and back. Alaskans receive special attention with 20% off ticket prices, making a train ride an affordable option for most families.
Pair your train ride with a visit to quaint Talkeetna, one of our favorite stops during the non-summer seasons simply because the town heaves a collective sigh of relief and settles into a slow, easy pace. The train departs Anchorage on Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. and arrives in Talkeetna around 11:30 a.m.; leaving Talkeetna on Sunday at 4:50 p.m. and arriving back in Anchorage at 8 p.m.
Consider a stay at the famous Talkeetna Roadhouse, where owner Trisha Costello offers outstanding comfort food and authentic roadhouse accommodations, and (hold on to your rolling pins, ladies), a pie-making class. Now, I fancy myself to be a baker of most things, but pie is not my strongest culinary creation. Trisha has partnered with the Alaska Railroad to offer her well-known Pie-Making Package from October 1-March 31. Grab a bunch of gal pals, take the train to Talkeetna, stay at the roadhouse, learn how to make pies from the mistress of pastry, then take it home to share with the guys - if they are good. The whole package, including rail, overnight at the Roadhouse, and the pie class is $199/pp double occupancy. Fun, fun, fun.
This mom recommends the Alaska Railroad for kids preschool on up. I know others may disagree with me, but if I’m going to take the swaying, clacking, scenery-stealing choo-choo, I want a kid who’s going to allow me a few moments of ogling Mt. McKinley out my window, or at least a cup of coffee from the well-stocked snack bar. Even for bigger children, the trip can become long, so bring books, cards, and other quiet activities. One mom I know taught her daughter how to knit during a train trip to Fairbanks one winter; they had hopped aboard just for the experience and had a ball (yarn pun intended, here).
Take the time this fall or winter to reacquaint yourself with a young lady you know. Leave the phone off, the Facebook app quiet, instead focusing on who is right here, right now, in the middle of an Alaskan landscape.