Strange but true: Residents of Talkeetna officially elected a cat mayor during the last election. The successful campaign by the kittie’s supporters should tell you everything you need to know about this quirky Alaskan town approximately halfway between Anchorage and Denali National Park.
Mayor Stubbs reigns over a community of 876 that carries a distinct hippie vibe. Climbers gather on outdoor restaurant patios to gorge on caribou burgers offered up by servers with multiple piercings. Locals lazily sip coffee and watch passers-by stroll through the small business district. Tourists snap photos of the wooden moose statues and pop into kitchsy gift shops.
The moose are everywhere. There are the wooden moose that sit in front of nearly every business.
The moose all seem to have different stories. This one is a takeoff on the Swedish dala horse.
And then there’s the moose sign you can stick your head in. Don’t be bashful about being a tourist here, because this town constantly has tourists passing through. You’ll fit right in!
Some of the gift shops give bears equal billing with the moose.
Talkeetna has a couple of restaurants that have been featured on Man vs. Food, a personal favorite show. I stopped by the West Rib Pub and ordered the caribou chili. Aside from being a little cold, it didn’t taste much different than regular chili. But at least I get a new animal to add to my culinary resume.
This is the kind of town that has a food truck specifically dedicated to spinach bread.
And a spot along the river called Mexican Moose that serves up burritos.
The downtown sign is one of the most popular spots to photograph in town.
A lot of Denali climbers use Talkeetna as their homebase prior to climbing, which means you can meet some really interesting people at the coffee shop or restaurant. The local cemetery has a monument to those who have lost their lives trying to summit Mt. McKinley.
If you’re doing an Alaska adventure, take the time to detour to Talkeetna on your way to Denali. And say hi to Mayor Stubbs, who can often be found around Nagley’s General Store. I did not have the pleasure of meeting hizzonor. But I won’t question his authority, considering this cat has more Facebook friends than me.