July 31st…Bob’s 62nd Birthday! This day was special! My husbands’ birthday and our first ever trip on a 44’ Jetboat up and down three rivers, just outside of Telkeetna, Alaska. Something Bob has never done before, and we were ready to celebrate the day!
After a nice breakfast in the motor home, and a short shopping trip by bike in Talkeetna, it was time we packed up and headed to Mahays Jetboat Adventures! This Alaskan outfitter had the interest of most tourist with it’s fast speed, multi touring jetboat. We selected a 3 ½ hour three river tour, complete with a trappers cabin, cache and lean-to tour. We headed out on the fully equipped three engine, no prop, no propeller, 1000 hp. Jet boat at 3:15 on a somewhat cloudy and overcastted day.
Totally enclosed, comfortable and with a courteous guy and girl staff, we set off rather quickly, in reverse! Only to instantly turn around on a dime, and head downstream on the quickly moving Talkeetna River. Briefly into the few minutes our river trip, the young captain stopped the boat! It was time to explain things; like where we were headed, what to expect, where Mt. McKinley was hiding behind the clouds, and the most important…where the head was! Not long afterwards, we were off. Up the Susitna River about 10 miles. The captain of this fast boat was good, very good! He missed every water hidden rock, every shallow and silted sand bar, and all in between. We stopped for a pair of mature eagles, dangling off branches, just above the rivers’ edge. We watched for a bit, and moved on. Only to find the large and lurking nest with their somewhat youngster perched on the edge. This was no baby eagle, but one that might have been about ready to spread its’ wings and fly! It sat in the eagles nest, alone!
Next, we were not ready for the young captains personal storey of his birthplace….which had taken place a few hundreds yards inland, but as he continued, it was intriguing. His parents moved from the east coast in 1972.…looking for adventure and an Alaskan homestead. Back then, two adult people could obtain 5 acres each from the state, and only have to pay the property taxes. They chose their homestead lanf 200 yards from the rivers’ edge, nearby where we idled in the boat, now intently listening to the captains storey. They built a log cabin of 10’x14’ with a loft, no plumbing or electricity. The young couple moved into Talkeetna five years later, after giving birth to this young captain; just so that they would have the finer things in life…electricity and plumbing! 31 years later, the young boy was our young captain!
Stopping on land for a short time
, the first mate of the boat carried a shotgun. Many bears in the area, and it was just precautionary, she explained. The trappers cabin education was a nice touch, interesting and good time to stretch our legs.
The captain maneuvered the boat very well; I’m sure he had many years of experience in the area. Turning now, we headed back downstream the Talkeetna, to our original location. The braided Chulitna River was next. With high speeds and great agile maneuverability, the 44’ jetboat powered around the mounds of silt islands, constantly watching the currents as not to make an error in judgment. Another river met us upstream; the Susitna. We soon discovered the “na” after each name, means river…each name derived from the Athabascan tribe of Alaskan people.
The river narrows, considerably. We crossed over into lands of Denali Park; powering swiftly through a deep gorge; eventually arriving at the turnaround point. Three and half hours flew by…we stayed dry, we enjoyed, and we learned more of this rugged and unknown land…Alaska!
We ended Bob’s celebration day of 62 years, with a pleasant dinner to a local restaurant in Talkeetna, plus a homemade key pie back at our motorhome!