A 270 miles drive southeast of Fairbanks found us on the last bit of the Alaska Highway that we had not driven so far. A dog musher from the area made the trip with his sled team to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. His adventure caught the imagination of fair goers including Eleanor Roosevelt and the first conversations about building a highway through Canada to Alaska began then.
We’re camped in the town of Chicken, thus named because the miners who lived there couldn’t spell “ptarmigan,” the name they preferred. Ptarmigan is an Arctic bird which flourished here. The town has 23 residents in the summer and 7 in winter. Some gold miners still live in the area, but there used to be many more. Three local businesses sell all manner of paraphenalia with chickens on it and offer spots to camp. It was hard to decide. There is no cell service, TV or radio and everyone generates their own electricity. Water is brought in; it costs $8 to take a shower, but that won’t impact us - we brought our own!
The last twenty miles of the drive here were on bone jarring pavement and the next much longer drive on gravel road to Dawson City, Yukon over the Top of the World highway is notorious for steep climbs, sharp turns, and soft shoulders. The border crossing ahead back to Canada has limited hours and closes in the winter. It feels very remote, but has become part of the Alaska circuit. Despite the challenging driving, two cruise ship tour buses come through here every day. The Chicken entrepreneurs do a thriving business in all items chicken and feed the cruisers chicken pot pie, BBQ chicken and chicken soup. A caravan of twenty RV's is scheduled to arrive here tomorrow. It's fun to see how much something they've made out of nothing.