West to Alaska

Today we covered about 200 remarkable miles. We started out in Dawson City and took the ferry across the river and started out on the Top Of The World Highway. The mostly unpaved road was in pretty bad shape rut wise and even worse there was rain, fog and later just driving in the clouds. This is supposed to be one of the premier vista routes but my eyes were glued to the road to avoid going over some steep drop-offs. After a time the rain peters out and the fog lifted and, as promised, the vistas are amazing. The road is only open in the summer and only used in the daytime as the border station is only open in the day. I expected the road to get better on the US side but it actually was worse, some parts are paved and faster but then suddenly there will be potholes, washouts or really big frost heaves. This is one place that does not have to worry about enforcing the posted 90KPH/55MPH speed limit. There is also an issue that most vehicles slow down to avoid throwing rocks or mud but the big trucks just don’t seem to have good working brake systems as they don’t seem to slow down for anything.
We make it to the farthest north land border crossing in the US. There is so much mud that you have to chip off or wash the license plates to see them. We proceed on to Chicken, Alaska, a great little place to stop. A small cafe/ restaurant/trading post for tourists and real local miners who can actually order food and supplies and pay in gold. The soup of the day? Its always chicken. And fresh home made pies, buffalo burgers, reindeer bratwurst and believe it or not panini. We hang out a bit talking to the owners, locals and fellow travelers. We go to leave and encounter the most interesting event of the day in Chicken, someone has their Class A RV slipping off the side of the main dirt road. It is leaning enough that it looks very likely to roll. They call a truck size tow truck, dig out the front of it and then the RV is winched back on to the road. But the road was blocked for maybe an hour and backed up traffic but everyone seems to feel fortunate that they were not the ones who got stuck. This is the fourth such event in the Chicken area this season, the roads are just really soft with no shoulders. We take the wonder Jeep on a side road by a river that is listed for miners and fishermen. After slogging through even more serious mud we encounter real miners. Frank gets in an extended discussion with them on the design and use of hovercraft to bring heavy loads to and from their dredge operation upriver.
We are staying in Tok, Alaska tonight. Tok lists as one of its claims to fame that it is ‘the coldest inhabited place in the US’. We believe them, its SUMMER and it feels cold here.

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