Washington, District of Columbia
June 13, 2005
The dining room doesn’t open until just before breakfast because it doubles as the living room for the lodgers. There is a smaller sitting area near the bakery case for other times of the day. You eat at long tables and sit wherever you find space. I sat with an older couple from Ohio who were traveling on an anniversary present from their kids. "You a climber?" they asked. Their daughter had been to Talkeetna in the ‘70s and wanted them to experience it as well. They were seeing internal Alaska on their own, then boarding a cruise ship to do the inside passage south back to Washington—seems like a good plan. Groups of climbers adjusted their gear, practiced knot tying, and discussed various charts in assorted languages while we waited and abused the bottomless coffee pot in the back.
Aromas of bacon and cinnamon wafted out of the kitchen. I ducked in for a peak. They had just stuffed a display case with oversized, steaming cinnamon rolls and were now filling another space with scones. A huge cast iron skillet near 2 feet in diameter sizzled full of bacon in the front of the kitchen. At around 6:55am, a waitress emerged asked for our orders. What a tough decision. The breakfast menu was short and written on the blackboard, but it all sounded great. She returned with plates, big plates, promptly at 7am.
The food was simply awesome. I had thick-sliced, double-smoked bacon and the 1902 sourdough Alaskan wildberry-and-walnut pancakes. They were bigger than my plate and served up with real butter and Birch syrup (they don’t have maples here). Their "Standard Alaskan Breakfast" is too big for a normal human to eat. I’m told that only climbers who’ve been stranded on McKinley for several days are able to eat it all. A half order itself is a large plate full of eggs, bacon, hash browns, biscuits, and the like. The guy across from me had a huge order of fresh buttermilk biscuits with gravy and a side of reindeer sausage. I immediately regretted that I wouldn’t still be in Talkeetna for breakfast tomorrow.
From journal A Most Quirky Place