Are you too chicken to drive to Chicken; Chicken Alaska that is? Well, we weren't, though a few times we almost regretted our decision to take the Top of the World Highway to Chicken!
It all started in Dawson City. You have 2 choices when you are in Dawson. Go back the way you came (not an option-seen that, done that) or the Top of the World. So named because you are so high you feel you can reach up and touch the top of the world! Well, I don't know about that but it was high. In fact for quite awhile the road is above the tree line! And sometimes the road was on the edge of the mountain, in fact lots of times! At one point Rick says to me “wow look at that view, get a picture of that river” but I was too scared to really look down so I looked really fast, pointed the camera real quick and closed my eyes and pressed the shutter button. I was amazed to see that the picture turned out rather well!
The group decided that we did not want to be caught up in a traffic jam leaving Dawson City so we agreed to head out at 6:30AM! Egads, I am never up at 6:30 let alone up and ready to roll at 6:30 but we did it. Then we all drove down to the ferry landing. Jim and Jan and Steve and Nancy were the first ones on the ferry, plus a few cars, then off they went. They reached the other side safely so we agreed to board with Paula and Norm for the next go around. Took about 15 minutes to cross the famous Yukon River.
The mileage to Chicken, Alaska is only 108 miles but we didn't reach Chicken until after 1:00PM! Yes we did stop a few times to admire the views but it was slow going. This road should not be called a highway. It is impossible to go anywhere near highway speeds. Rick says he got up to 40 one time and that was a downhill stretch! The road is about 70% gravel with lots of potholes and frost heaves and the rest is pavement with potholes and frost heaves. Maximum speed if you want your rig to survive was about 20, sometimes 30. So, do the math and you will see why it took about 7 hours to reach Chicken. I am not sure why we wanted to reach Chicken. I guess it was just to avoid the repeat of driving back to Whitehorse in order to go north on the Alaska Highway. Either way would eventually get us to Fairbanks, which we expect to reach in about 3 more days.
Strange name, Chicken. Legend has it that when it came time to name this little spot on the map the residents wanted to name it after a local bird, the Ptarmigan, which is also the state bird, but they didn't know how to spell it. I didn't either, but spell check did. Unfortunately the residents didn't have computers or a dictionary for that matter, so they settled on Chicken. Another legend is that someone said the gold in the creek wasn't as big as chicken corn. Whichever version is true the name Chicken stuck.
There isn't much to see or do in Chicken. We stayed at the Goldpanner RV Park, mainly because it had a coupon in our two for one coupon book. So we spent $99 for the coupon book and have now saved $26.00! Another reason is that it is the first park after driving for 7 hours and we just could not go another mile!
Chicken is another gold strike area and you can see the evidence of dredging operations from the past. And there are a lot of people on the Forty Mile River trying out their luck, panning for gold. We hear that there is some success. Not a huge amount of success but some. Sure seems like a lot of work for a small payout (or none!).
The first morning we took a 2 hour guided walk through the old part of Chicken. That land is now owned by a mining corporation which operated here until the 1960's. The tour guide was well versed on the history of the area and the people who lived here and made up this community. When the gold company pulled out the buildings were left to fall victim to the elements but for the time being the left them in place so visitors can walk through the town with a guide.
The balance of Chicken is composed of RV parks, gas stations, cafes and saloons.
Due to the fact that Chicken is at one end of the Top of the World Highway, there is a lot of coming and going at the RV parks. It is a great place to just sit and watch the action and to strike up conversations with the people. We met a lot of interesting people during our stay but do not plan on returning!
After 2 days in Chicken we packed up again and headed for Tok, Alaska. There was some debate on whether it is pronounced toc as in Tic Toc or toke as in a drag on a certain type of smoking material! We found that it sounds like, 'let me have a Tok'. You get my drift? It was confirmed by the server at Fast Eddies!
Our reasons for going to Tok are 2. First it is en route to Fairbanks, where we are headed in a few days and the second is to stay at the Sourdough RV Park. Legends have sprung up about certain places that you must/should see while in Alaska, restaurants you must/should eat at while in Alaska, food that you must/should eat and campgrounds that you should stay at and Sourdough is one of those. It is one of the first campgrounds to have opened up in Tok so the numbers of campers is legion. The reason for the popularity is their sourdough, simple enough. They have been keeping the same sourdough starter going since the 1950's! In the morning they serve an all you can eat sourdough pancakes and sausage breakfast and they are delicious! Light and airy, almost like crepes. And at 7:00PM they have a pancake toss. You are given a certain number of pancakes, by this time rather dry and stiff, and you try and toss them in a bucket to win a free breakfast. Unfortunately we had dinner at Fast Eddies, which wasn't fast and missed the toss but we did get up in time for breakfast at $10.00 a head! Would we stay there again? Wouldn't miss it! Would we try the toss for a free breakfast? You betcha'.
Another good reason for going to Tok are the gas prices. We are back in States and lower prices prevail. We filled up in Tok for $4.49 per gallon. And that included a free truck and rig wash! So we all pitched in and washed our trucks and fifth wheels. Took awhile because they were filthy but we got 'er done!
After breakfast we packed up and drove up the highway to Delta Junction. DJ is the end point for the Alaska Highway. Everyone gets their picture taken at the monument at the Visitors Center and you receive a Certificate of Completion for driving the highway. It's official too, it has the Chamber of Commerce President's signature and stamped with the official Seal of the City of DJ. It's almost like a graduation diploma!
Our reason for staying two nights in DJ was to spend a day touring south of DJ, perhaps as far as Glennallen on the Richardson Highway. Well, that will have to come at a later date because we woke up to rain this morning and it is predicted to rain all day. So we have a day inside to catch up on some things. Rick is working on painting our wooden name sign. Lots of Rver's have these hanging out at the campgrounds. Either on a post that they carry with them, on their pin box of a 5th wheel or on the side of their unit. Where ever it is convenient. I have decided that today is a good day to get caught up with my blog (finally) and get the pictures organized (OMG, at last!). So you, patient readers will be the beneficiary of a rainy day in Delta Junction!
Thanks for reading and safe travels to everyone.