Hitchhiking (Anchorage to Talkeetna)
I’m a pro’ at hitchhiking. Being a little girl has a bit of an advantage because most people aren’t intimidated by me so it’s pretty easy to get picked up.
On this particular afternoon, however, I was trying to go from Anchorage to Talkeetna and was having a really difficult time getting a ride. I stood in a gas station near Wasilla, Alaska asking people if they were going north – but with no such luck.
When hitchhiking, I never ask people with kids in the car… I just know how weary parents are about hitchhikers and I don’t want to put them on-the-spot in an awkward situation. So even though I was standing at this gas station for awhile, I never walked over to talk to the woman with three kids in the backseat.
Then, out of no where, she drove over to me, asked where I was headed, and told me to get into the truck (in a super friendly way). She said she was only going 20 miles up the road to her house… but ok, that’s 20 miles farther than where I was so, sure!
She told me to be careful hitchhiking, to be careful of bears on the side of the road, offered to give me a knife from her house for protection, and informed me that there was major construction up the road (there’s always construction during the summers in Alaska) that would take forever to get through.
Twenty miles up the road, she pulled into another gas station to drop me off and try my luck again. Just as she was about to drive off, she rolled down her window and told me to get back in the truck. Confused, I obeyed. She told me she didn’t want me hitchhiking with some weirdo and was worried about me against bears with no knife (since I refused to take her up on her offer about giving me her knife).
Instead of sending me along my merry way, she decided to drive me 140 miles out of her way (three hours round-trip plus two hours of sitting in construction there and back) to where I was trying to get to! Even with three restless kids the backseat and knowing about the major construction just up ahead, this amazing woman went well out of her way to help me out.
Summary: This total stranger was one of the nicest people I’ve met while traveling – and I will never forget it.
Talkeetna (Free Ziplining)
When traveling, I usually stick to free activities such as hiking, biking, taking pictures, etc. I never look into silly activities geared toward tourists like skydiving, bungee jumping, etc. To me, it’s a waste of travel-money and travel-time. If I want to go skydiving, I can do that when I’m home and bored of staring at my computer screen…
However, as fate would have it, the CouchSurfer I was staying with in Talkeetna was a zipline tour guide during the summer months. I didn’t know ziplining was even an option to do in Talkeetna and had absolute no interest in this activity… that is, until he told me he could get me on a tour for free. Free? Sure, now I’m interested. If it’s free, I’m down!
Priced at $97 plus tax per person… Pshh, yeah right! I was zipping through the trees of Talkeetna over looking Mt.Denali for FREE – that’s just how things work out when I travel!
Zip Line Tour:
Hitchhiking (From Talkeetna to Denali)
Again, standing in a gas station for a little while and it seemed that everyone was headed south… Then, two huge RVs pull in and a bunch of girls and a few adults step out. Even though I already knew they were headed north, I didn’t even bother asking because, again, I never ask adults when there are young ones in the vehicle…
Standing there soaking up the rare Alaskan sun, a man approached me and asked if I needed a ride towards Denali National Park. Really? That’s EXACTLY where I was trying to go and I knew it was a ways away – over three hours, actually…
Turns out, the two RVs were packed with college girls and the adults were their professors (and wives of their professors) – They were on a school trip all the way from New York.
The girls and I talked about school, careers, and traveling (for 3+ hours)… all from the comfort of a house on wheels with Mt.Denali right outside the windows.
Summary: Fun and completely unexpected
Denali (Free Back Country Tour/Visit)
The second I got to Denali, I met up with a friend of a CouchSurfer I had contacted… Literally about eight minutes from the time I had arrived to the town of Denali, we ran into two people that he knew from working in Denali. The two people worked in Denali National Park at The Back Country Lodge – and when I say “in”, I mean “92 miles in”… all the way… as far as one can go (by unpaved road) into the park of untouched Alaskan wilderness!
We all went for dinner and drinks and the two people I had just met invited me to go into the park with them when they go back to work the next morning.
I was able to ride the bus as if I were an employee (for free) where all the other people riding the bus had to pay $172. I was also allowed to stay for as long as I wanted (for free), got my own private camper to stay in, and was able to use all employee amenities any time I wanted.
This was one of the luckiest meetings that has ever happened to me while traveling!
Bus ride, one-way = $86 per person, each way
Cabin to stay in = $593 per person, per night
Round-Trip Bus Ride and a Two-Night Stay:
Hitchhiking (Denali to Chena Hot Springs)
I was hitchhiking with my new CouchSurfing buddy who was working in the town of Denali. We were on the road for about three minutes when a car pulled over and picked us up. We said we were going north and they were going north so, good. After a few minutes the driver asked her how far north and we said outside of Fairbanks to the hot springs. Turned out, that was EXACLTY where they were headed. Not only that, but they were headed back to Anchorage on Sunday – which worked out perfectly because I was flying out of Anchorage on Sunday night!
So we got a four hour ride TO the hot springs…. And I got a seven hour ride FROM the hot springs on the exact day that I was flying out. That saved a LOT of stress of trying to hitchhike fast enough and in time to catch my flight! No stress at all – just a peaceful weekend camping, hiking, and soaking in the hot springs with a semi-prearranged ride back to Anchorage. I had so much time to spare and such little stress, that I was even able to meet up with my CouchSurfing friend in Anchorage for dinner and drinks before my flight.
Summary: Hitchhiking Gold!
To see all the places I went to in Alaska, CLICK HERE
I can’t explain the high I get from these amazing travel situations! Traveling is absolutely amazing. If you keep yourself open for anything/everything, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what will come your way. Traveling and having everything fall into place and things handed to me on a silver platter is what makes me feel alive. This is what I live for.
Have YOU experienced amazing travel situations like this?!