Denali was about five hours from Anchorage, so I was thankful for a few small jaunts to stretch my legs. On my way north, I stopped to see my favorite Alaskan animals at the sunny Musk Ox Farm in Palmer, just east of Sarah Palin’s Wasilla. Musk oxen produce qiviut, one of the warmest fibers in the world, and the farm aims to domesticate them in order to provide Native Alaska women with qiviut for subsistence knitting projects. Oomingmak, the Musk Ox Producers’ Co-operative, sells their beautiful clothing that features the signature pattern of each remote coastal village.
Before leaving Denali, I also attended a phenomenal sled dog demonstration. The park operates a kennel of about thirty Alaskan huskies, a breed unrecognized by the AKC because the dogs are selected for swiftness and personality rather than physical appearance. On my way south, I visited Talkeetna, a town with rich gold mining and railroad history— so much that it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With its bright sun, historic buildings, and live bands playing, I felt like I was back in small town New England… and indeed marveled at the accomplishments of fellow Bostonians Bradford and Barbara Washburn in Talkeetna’s amazing local museum.