On our way to the other end of the Talkeetna zip code, we walked by a booth that was pretty small. It was for a business I'd seen in a brochure Jean handed me during my eternal sandwich wait -- www.talkeetnaair.com. They take passengers on airplane tours of the Mount McKinley glacier area. Jean thought it was something I might be interested in at some point, but we weren't sure how far in advance a person had to book reservations. A guy of about 60 was sitting at a chair in a T-shirt and shorts in front of the booth. To take the edge off my restaurant mishap, and to keep me leveled out on attitude when around The Munchkin (Sara), I decided to stop and quiz the guy. We'd maybe have part of a day late the next week when I'd be able to swing in and maybe do one of these tours, so it never hurts to ask in advance about the possibility. Everything in Alaska requires pre-booking during the summer tourist season, we'd been told, so I figured he'd be booked two to three weeks out.
The brochure I'd seen had four different tour options on it. One was a basic one-hour trip around the mountains. The next one was a bit more involved, went further and lasted about two hours. The third one went further yet and included the option of landing on the glacier. You'd then get to spend some time walking around on the glacier. The fourth tour included all of that and a little bit more time. Prices started at about a hundred bucks a head and went up in about $100 increments from there. Six or seven days from now, that might look pretty good, so I decided to find out if I could get anything booked.
"Will it be both you and your daughter going?" the sales rep asked me.
Nope, just me. She's my niece, so she's not going. (She's a kid and she's not my kid. You'll notice I don't have any. There's a reason. Enough said.)
That's when the rep's eyes lit up. He looked at his watch, then back at the schedule sheet and said, "Sir, which one were you thinking? The basic one or the glacier landing?"
Glacier landing, I said, without getting too specific, because I could sense a combination of opportunity and desperation in his voice.