Susan’s Travelogue Part V

[This is a series of blogposts for my friend Susan. I have left all her misspellings included, since they add to the charm of the travel log. I have removed any writing of a personal nature. These writings were given in email form. I offered to post them for her for all her friends on Facebook and others who may have missed her emails because of overactive spam filters. To comment on her log, please go to her Facebook page and comment there. Susan doesn’t have access to comments here on my blog. Sorry.]

June 30, 2011


We left Dawson City on the morning of Saturday June 25th and took the ferry over the Yukon River at about 7 am before the rush.  (The Klondike River flows into the Yukon just before Dawson City) We did not have to wait as the ferry held our truck and trailer, another truck with small trailer and a class C motor home with room for a car but no one took that space.  A few minutes after we shoved off we  landed  on the other side.  The ferry took us to a graveled spot that was kept flat by as bulldozer which was part of the ferry crew.  We took the short paved road to the long-very long graveled road and forward we went on the “Top of the world Highway” to Chicken and  then Tok Alaska.  It would be going about 200 miles to Tok but the Garmin GPS told us we would not arrive until after 6 pm.  As we advanced on the road and found that the pot holes and rough road meant that we could only do 16 miles an hour, we figured the Garman must be right.  It was depressing to think it would be evening before we would finish this bumpy, gravel road and arrive at the Camping area.   We were sure that It was going to be a very long day.

Then the Garmin changed and said it would be more like 9 pm before we would arrive.  The trees went on forever and they averaged about 12-14 feet tall.  Short pine trees for Oregon standards but still mostly pine trees with a few that looked like Aspin or maybe small Alder trees.  There were no wild animals to see on or near the road as we snaked our way along a road that was two lanes wide counting both directions.  The road would go along the ridge of the hill and then go around another ridge and you could look ahead and see the same road going along the next mountain ridge.  There were no roads crossing the one we were on and no gas stations or homes.  The only thing that broke up the expanse of the road and trees was an occasional gravel wayside. 

There was one motor home ahead of us but they pulled off  on a wayside and then the only other folks we saw were two motorcycles that passed us before we got to the border crossing.  We all waited at the boarder because it did not open until 8 am (which was a time zone change-one hour back on the clock).  Once the boarder opened we followed the motor cycles and after a few questions by the border guards we were on our way again. The road on the Alaska/US side only got worse and continued to be very bumpy at times.  If you did not slow down when you hit a hole the shaking was enough to cause us to feel pretty beat up.  Sometimes the holes were not easy to see and we were jolted into slowing down.

We drove until about 11 am when we arrived at a large bend in the road and stopped at the town of Chicken to get gas and stretch our legs.  The gas station was also a gift shop and we took a little time to look around.  There were lots of  T-shirts and small chicken things.  It is said that this very small and remote town was named Chicken because the folks wanted to call it ptarmigan but could not agree on how to spell it so they choose the name of a bird that they could spell   There was a trailer type building near the gas station with a large sign that said “Halibut” and we checked it out for an early lunch.  It was not open and the gas station attendant told us that the lady that runs the place, in the summer feeds the minor’s breakfast very early and then she goes to take a nap and returns at noon to serve lunch.  A 1/3 lb Salmon burger was $15.95, a 1/3 pound buffalo burger was $14.95 and 2 reindeer bratwurst $10.95.  A half pound Wild Salmon Fillet was $21.95 and they had something that they called a “Complete Chicken Dinner” for $1.50.  Who knows exactly what that would be….we guess it would be a hardboiled egg.

We asked about the road between Chicken and Tok and they said it gets better a few miles after Chicken.  We crossed our fingers and double checked the Garmin.  We did find the road to be better but the Garmin must have been all shook up because it said things like “turn at the next tractor road on the left” and “turn left here” when there was no road except the one we were on.  I think the Garmin had a concussion.

About 1:30 pm we were seeing signs of civilization.  There were a couple gas stations and a sign that said 15 miles to Tok.  We arrived in Tok and settled into a Very Nice trailer park.  We pulled out our chairs and sat in the first sun we have seen in days.  About 4 hours later our friends Janet and Ted rolled in and parked near us.  The trailer park had free bluegrass music in the recreation hall and we stumbled over and sat down.  It was two young people (violin and banjo) and a seasoned guitar player who wrote some of the songs and told stories between songs about Alaska.  He told us there are no snakes, cockroaches, flees or ticks in Alaska but we found that they make up for them in mosquitoes.  We left the music hall in the pouring rain and fell into bed thinking that we would check with the Alaska Ferry system to see how much it would cost to ferry from Whitaker to Bellingham Washington on the way home.  We wanted to miss the bumps on the way home as we here beat up by the bumps on the way to Tok and there is no better choice of roads.

We stayed two days in Tok to see if we could heal our bruises and find /buy some of the stuff we had lost on the road.  Dave found that our sewer pipe storage tub had opened up on the Top of the World Highway and we left several connections and a hose for the wild life to play with somewhere on the winding hill top road.

June 27th we left for Fairbanks Alaska and only were on the road for about 3 and a half hours and it was so easy that we got to the North Pole and finally mailed the post cards to Mia and Katelyn two of our grand children. Santa was busy but we did get a picture of the cabin/post office with real growing sod on the roof.  Our friends Janet and Ted met us in Fairbanks and invited us to stay on the Army base at the Campground.  I did not know there was such a thing but it w as nice and pretty inexpensive.  We decided to stay about a week and see Fairbanks.  There are a bunch of things to see if the rain would give us a chance.   I will tell you about the sights in the next installment. 

The strange working of the Garmin on the top of the world Highway is still a mystery.  Maybe it was a concussion or maybe the person who programmed it was the one with a fuzzy brain.  (my dizzy head is better but not well as of today) We may never know the reason it was so far off on its calculations and the instructions.  We thank God that we did not take the instructions and left turn on the Tracker road or we might have never arrived in Tok let alone arrived at 9 pm at night.  To the Garmin’s credit, it had not been that far off or even wrong before this strange occurrence.  It is usually very calm and correct even when we take off in a different direction and the Garmin has to say “Recalculating…make a safe U turn…..”  We figure that Ms Garmin will be a truly mentally unstable by the time we get home in august.

Love   David and Susan 

Somewhere on the Wienwright Army Base in Fairbanks Alaska. (where Leonard Grill called us on the cell phone today during a moment of sunshine….


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