Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Top of the World Highway

Locals in Dawson City said the road was in the best condition they had seen for several years. It was less pavement and more gravel than Don remembered from when he drove it with his 5th wheel 8 years ago. It turned out to be lots of dirt/gravel, some wash-boardy areas, a few narrow spots, some pavement, but definitely passable. And the weather was great, with some clouds, a few sprinkles and almost no wind. Overall, a good day to travel.

We started the day by driving the car and motor home separately to the ferry about 7:30 am. The Fradettes and Olsons were about an hour ahead of us. When we left the RV park we couldn’t tell how soon Jim and Pat would be leaving. With our ‘loosey goosey’ group’s philosophy, we watch out for each other and we ask for help if we need it. But we don’t try to stay together in a caravan, yet linking up whenever it’s possible and convenient.

Don and I waited while cars and bicycles coming from the other side of the river unloaded.


We were the only ones on the ferry for our crossing. I drove the car and Don took the motor home onto the ferry behind me.


The ride across was easy and relatively quick.


We hitched the car to the motor home and were ready to hit the road, about 15 minutes after first reaching the waiting area on the other side of the river.


I took the wheel for the first leg of the trip. Don remembered that this part was paved or at least chip-sealed when he first drove it. Alas, it was gravel.


In some parts the road was paved, but there were frost heaves to avoid. Before too long, I noticed a truck/camper following us at a safe distance, not trying to catch up or pass. I got on the CB and verified that it was Jim and Pat. They were staying far enough back to avoid eating our dust but close enough to keep us in sight. Safety net for both of us. For a long time it seemed like we were the only people on the road.

We wanted to stop at the rest area at the highest elevation, as noted in the Milepost book. However, there were no markings on it and we were past it when we realized that was the place! Oh, well! We reached the Canada-U.S. border shortly afterward.


Here were another set of yellow posts, like the ones going down to Skagway, that looked too close to fit through. Good thing Don was driving at this point – his depth perception is much better than mine. He slowly and deftly drove through the opening.


Poker Creek, Alaska. Most northerly land border port in the USA. Elevation 4127 ft. – a little lower than our lot in Benson, AZ! Population 2 – a USA agent and a Canadian agent, no doubt. Two cabins for them to live in here. What a lonely life.


Our passports got a caribou stamp, the first stamp on any of our USA/Canada crossings (also our USA/Mexico crossings). In fact, with all the international traveling I did in my previous life, I’ve never seen such a large and creative stamp!


We had to stop and take the typical pics at the Welcome to Alaska sign. Don and Shadow have been here before.


Pat and Jim remembered to wear their patriotic shirts today for Memorial Day. We put ours on later for dinner.


The road was more packed dirt and less gravel on the U.S. side. Less dust, too.


It got a little tricky to get past two large busses on a narrow stretch of road. This one waited for us.


This one didn’t.


We had to stop at Chicken, Alaska. Having heard so much about it, I was surprised to see that it was called a ‘community’ instead of a town.


But the next sign called it a town.


The Fradettes and Olsons were parked at the first turnoff.


But we took the second turn to go to ‘Beautiful Downtown Chicken.’


We had chicken salad sandwiches and chicken noodle soup at the Chicken Creek Café.


Pat posted her calling card on the wall of the Chicken Creek Saloon, along with lots of other memorabilia.


You had to be there, but here are a few more pics from inside the Saloon.




Of course, there were the Chicken outhouses.


And we shopped for T-shirts at the Chicken Mercantile Emporium.


We read the facts posted on the wall of the café, including why the place was named Chicken. The original settlers – gold miners – wanted to name it Ptarmigan after the plentiful local birds that filled many a pot in their camps, but they couldn’t spell Ptarmigan, so they named it Chicken! (Ptarmigans are small chicken-like birds that live mainly in arctic lands.)

Okay, enough of this Chicken stuff! The road from Chicken to Tok (rhymes with poke) was a little rough, bouncy and narrow, but at least it was paved. What? More frost heaves?


We pulled into the Tundra RV Park around 2 pm (Alaska Time, one hour earlier than Pacific Time in Dawson). Dennis had reserved sites for us so we’d all be together. We all washed our rigs before parking in our sites.


The next priority was happy hour!


Then dinner at Fast Eddy’s – but we re-named it Slow Eddy’s for how long it took to get our food. Notice Dennis going berserk in the back seat!


Still, it was good food when it did arrive, and we were all happy to fill our bellies and head for home for a good night’s sleep.

Finally, a solemn and sincere Thank You to all military personnel who have served or are still serving to keep our country safe. Too many have given the USA their lives. We salute you all on this Memorial Day!

1 comment:

  1. Dawson City to Tok, by way of Chicken. What a wonderful trip for you guys, and we thank you for bringing it all back so clearly to our memories. Those yellow posts at the border crossing must be new, as we don't remember them at all.


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