Tweets from Talkeetna: The sequel.

Which twin has the Toni?

The 2012 Talkeetna Bachelor Auction was the most profitable ever, and possibly the most raucous: a four-hour howlfest that had at least one woman literally swinging from the rafters.

I am not making that up. This was a late-30s/early-40s woman sitting in my row in the upper level of the Sheldon Community Arts Hangar. Several times she got so carried away that she grabbed hold of an overhead beam and swung from it.

When I say “carried away,” I mean “under the influence of alcohol.” But she was not alone. Let’s just say that a whole lot of red Solo cups got filled up — and emptied — that night.

Lest you think the event was just a drunken revel, let me say that….well, it pretty much was. But damn, it was fun, and not everyone was actually drunk – on alcohol, anyway. I don’t drink at all, yet I felt a sort of osmotic intoxication, carried away by the presence of a hundred or so screaming women.

Be careful what you wish for

One of the two emcees was the angular and elegant Marnie, bartender at the Fairview Inn – which is where the idea for the auction and Wilderness Woman Competition was born back in 1981.

The most common gripe at the Fairview, she said, is “Where’s the chicks?” Now those mopey dudes were faced with a room full of XX-chromosomers – “and they’re scared shitless.”

Some of them were. You could see it in their eyes. But they overcame their fears long enough to dance, stroll, stride and in one case even fall off the runway. Their little turns on the catwalk raised about $14,000 for local charities.

Last year I wrote about the event as a series of make-believe tweets. I didn’t actually report it on Twitter then and I didn’t this year, either – in part because the wi-fi kept kicking me off and in part because carrying an open laptop on icy streets would not have been a good idea.

In the interest of silliness, I’m mock-tweeting some highlights of this year’s auction and competition. All the iPhone photos are courtesy of Alison Willis.

Getting started

Breakfast at Harley’s Old Thyme Café before we leave. Way too much. In a good way. #roadfood

So much road food, in fact, that I can’t finish. Two slices of bacon left for my niece’s dog. #begginstripsareforamateurs

New record set: A little over 2 hours to Talkeetna, 114 miles away, thanks to clear, dry roads. #alaskansforglobalwarming

Hardly any snow on the ground in Talkeetna, either. Not good for the local economy. #skidoouponblocks

Indescribably great views of Mt. McKinley and the also-rans, Foraker and Hunter. #uglystepsisters

Glimpsed from downtown Talkeetna. McKinley is on the right. The others are also-rans.

Missed the Parade of Lights (mostly snowplows and emergency vehicles) as it passed hotel. I was in the bathroom. #postcholecystectomydigestiveissues

Also missed the parade downtown – for some reason it actually started as scheduled. #whateverhappenedtotalkeetnastandardtime

Went to the bachelor meet ’n’ greet at VFW. Lots of young bachelors this year. #cradlerobbing

Brief instant of horror when I realized I’d lost my qiviut smoke ring, a wonderfully warm (and expensive!) accessory. #qiviut=greatscrabbleword

In VFW bar, asked question that wouldn’t make sense anywhere else: “Did anyone turn in a smoke ring?” #alaskavernacular

Happy ending: Someone had turned it in. #honestpeopleROCK

The great outdoors

I needed that smoke ring the next day: The warmest it got was about 10 degrees, and not until mid-afternoon. #atleastitsnotfairbanks

Sign at microbrewery: “Try a can before you buy a man.” #dutchcourage

The famous “salmon dill dough” pizza is back! #sayitfast

See — I didn’t make it up!

Biggest field ever for Wilderness Woman Competition. #stonecoldthriller

One contestant did the first heat in slacks & sports bra. #heatisarelativeterm

Announcer jokes about delaying the start for a few minutes. Contestant drops to icy street and does pushups. #alaskawomenkickass

Doesn’t put shirt right back on after she finishes. #alaskawomenfreezeass

That’s one tough dame. I bet if she did the Polar Bear Plunge she’d stay in long enough to wash & condition her hair. #alaskawomenrule

Her secret weapon: airplane-sized bottle of tequila, chugged with friends. #didsheswallowtheiceworm

Dog barks at guy dressed as moose. Stops when guy raises mask, revealing himself as dog’s owner. #havewemet

Dog barks some more. #yourenotmydad

Canines are everywhere in this town, except on leashes. #itsadogslife

Apparently their sled broke down.

A rousing evening

Prime rib night at the Latitude. #whatnomooseroast

Thought we were early to the auction, but tables already sold out. We head to upper level. #yousnoozeyoulose

Local, nameless band plays a while. What it lacks in intelligibility it makes up for in volume. #turnthatcrapdown

I have an idea for band name: Bachelor Balls. #heeheeisaidballs

First bachelor goes for $650. #toorichformyblood

All others go for at least $100. #nocouponseither

Probably because the auction now accepts credit cards – and because bachelors are tax-deductible. #auditredflag

Former auction organizer laments inflation. “Band members going for $250? I used to sell them for $25!” #thosewerethedays

One guy has gift for winning bidder: coyote-fur hat with bear claws on its string ties. #thisaintneimanmarcus

His description: “Everything on that hat, I killed.” #makesyourheartgoPETApatter

“Foxtail dance” guy wears workboots along with the fur jockstrap. #stylin

Two members of our group bid and win. #taxwriteoffs

Crowd is kind of loud. Some guys look kind of scared. #estrogenpoisoning

Hormones are definitely a factor: A couple of winning bidders make out with their guys onstage. #getaroom

Niece and I skip the post-auction dance. Our reward: gorgeous aurora borealis. #lightupthenight

The day after

Breakfast at the Talkeetna Roadhouse: A pancake bigger than the plate on which it’s served. #carbohydrateparadise

“Rudy in a parka,” the cheese-stuffed reindeer sausage in potato dough? Still funny. #bakedgoodsarentusuallythisamusing

The roadhouse also has public showers, for which you can buy a punch card. #discountpersonalhygiene

One guy wears an “ATF” hoodie. In gun-crazy Alaska? Then I notice it stands for “Alaska Troutfitters.” #potentiallydangerousacronyms

McKinley et al. are still visible when we hit the road. What a treat. #postcardviews

The trip back is sunny and scenic. Until we hit Wasilla, anyway. #nozoning

As always, a great time – and it would be even more fun if some of you join us next year. #shillingforalaska

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  1. You had me sooo tempted to go this year, and now I really wish I had! As a knitter I totally understand about quiviut and smokerings. So glad yours was recovered!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Linda: The smoke ring is super-warm but incredibly lightweight. It was a going-away present when I left Alaska 11 years ago; now that I’ve returned, should I give it back?
      As a knitter, you’d probably be interested in the origin of qiviut: It’s the underfur of the musk ox. To look at those critters and then at the soft, delicate qiviut….

    • Stephany W.

      Oh, thank goodness! Your qiviut! It’s $73+ per ball! As soon as I read it I inhaled sharply. Really glad that you have one and that it was returned. It’s eight times warmer than wool and lighter than cashmere. (I know, preaching to the choir, but just in case I can convert some readers to qiviut along the way… 😉

      • Donna Freedman

        @Stephany W: I didn’t know you can actually buy the stuff….Not that I know how to knit, or anything. My good friends and co-workers included the smoke ring in my going-away package. Bless their hearts.

  2. wow, dill dough and creamy addictive all in the same dish.
    Why don’t they just call it the Orgasmic Pizza, I’ll take one.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Christy: A couple of years ago we had the salmon dill dough (hee hee, just can’t quit giggling about the way that sounds) and it was darned tasty. Come on up and find out for yourself.

  3. Every part of this event sounded like fun.

  4. Your mock tweets are hilarious! Started off my day with a good laugh!

  5. Sarah Mathews

    Ok, I have to try to go next year! Any idea around what the cost is so I can start budgeting?

    • Donna Freedman

      @Sarah: It’s rarely cheap to fly to Anchorage, but you might be able to find a deal or use frequent-flier miles. My share of the hotel was $55 for two days; it would be even cheaper if there were more of us staying there.

  6. I love it! Thank you for 1) the laughs and 2) taking me back to Alaska even if just for a few moments. My husband and I left 6 years ago (after being there for 7 years) and we both vow that we will go back! It just gets in your blood. That could be because it’s so darn cold, but we’re not going to talk about that…

    • Donna Freedman

      @Dawn: I was here for 17 years and away for 11 and now I’m back. You’re right — it just gets under your skin (after freezing the top few layers).

  7. ImJuniperNow

    Now I know where my Christmas Club $$$ is going next year. I don’t fly – wonder how long it will take to drive from the East Coast? At least if I leave in October, I can miss the inevitable 2013 terrible storm.

    I have to go smoke a cigarette now. Must get over my foodgasm and get to work.

    • Donna Freedman

      @ImJuniperNow: Pizza is an important food group in the chilly north. Enjoy your smoke.

  8. Awesome! And the fact that something that is so much fun raised so much money is AMAZING!
    I’m not sold on the pizza, I would have to see what it looked like before I ate it.

  9. That pizza sounds AMAZEBALLS! It has everything I love in it 🙂

    If they promise to have that pizza again next year, I just might have to make a trip to Talkeetna.

    And that smokering sounds like a good investment (and they’re very pretty, based on the website you linked to). I would get one if I lived somewhere colder.

  10. #makesyourheartgoPETApatter

    Best hashtag I’ve ever read.

  11. So much fun and Loved the photos!

  12. Suzanne in VA

    Your hashtags are great, you are so creative! Looks like another great time in Talkeetna, I hope to join you some year~

  13. maybe you should start planning a “frugal” vacation package for next year so some of your readers can come visit you on a budget. Please during the meat festival (I mean Bachelor Auction)


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