Monday, August 24, 2009
Delta Junction, Tok, Chicken, Top of the World Highway and Dawson City
What a week! After leaving North Pole, we drove to Delta Junction which is the end of the Alaskan Highway -- 1422 miles from Dawson Creek. We stopped to take some pictures, eat our lunch on a bench outside the Visitor's Center and pick some juicy sweet choke cherries on a tree at the Center.
Then, we moved on to Tok for just a stop over. (We were in Tok at the beginning of our trip in June.) We took the advice of Ron Dalby who wrote an article in Motorhome Magazine recommending "Fast Eddy's," a restaurant. Hey Dave and Dorothy, we had some of the best pizza at Fast Eddy's that we've ever had.
For nearly two months, Jerry was vacillating on whether or not to drive to the town of Chicken and take the Top of the World Highway. We heard all kinds of horror stories about that particular road, including from some travelers staying at North Pole who just arrived from taking the trip over the Highway. Unfortunately for them, the day they drove the Highway it was raining and foggy. It made for a miserable trip! Others have said that the road is not conducive to big RVs as big trucks can force one off to the side of the road, and that the road is very narrow, unpaved and the scenery is bland. But, others said that the trip was definitely worth it. Jerry, not really a believer in astrology, happened to read his horoscope that said he should "take the high road." Jerry also felt that, since 45 foot tour buses can make the trip, our 40 foot coach should also be able to make the trip.
First, let us tell you about the town of Chicken, 78 miles from Tok. Its population is 15 in the winter and 30-50 in the summer. We stopped in Chicken where we had the pie I've been waiting for all summer long. Susan is the baker and owner of the Chicken Creek Cafe, Saloon and Mercantile Emporium. Her pies are the attraction and written about in many articles about Chicken. Her pie lived up to its reputation. We even took a couple of pieces with us to have later that evening. Then we continued on to the "Top of the World Highway."
It is called "Top of the World Highway" because of the spectacular views and vistas. It is high above the trees and you feel like you can see forever. But, to call it a "Highway" is stretching the definition of a "highway." It is "high" up, though. And, at times the gravel road was a bit bumpy and washboard-like, narrow, and with soft shoulders. See saw one incident in which a driver of a small RV misjudge the shoulder and slid off of the road.
But, had we not made the trip, we would have missed out on one of the most awesome experiences we've had so far in Alaska. Granted, we lucked out with the weather and the particular day and time of the year to make this trip. The Highway is 108 miles long from Chicken. Yes, it took us over 6 hours from Tok (and another 3 hours, with both of us working, to clean the RV after the trip), but it was definitely worth it! From Chicken to Dawson City, our average speed was 24.8 miles per hour. At times, the road had so many pot holes, that we slowed to only 15 miles per hour. About 90% of the road is unpaved dirt and gravel. Half way along the road, we passed from Alaska into the Yukon territory.
Below is a slide show of pictures taken mostly from the RV as we traveled the "Top of the World Highway."
The Highway ends at the Yukon River. We had to take a ferry across the river to Dawson City. We have been in Dawson City for three days now. Yesterday, we road our bikes into town and checked out the place. It feels like the old west. The streets are dirt and the buildings are both historical or designed to look like the late 1800s.
Since we are in Canada, we have turned off our cell phones until we get back into Alaska at the end of this week. We will be in Canada until the end of the week, when we will cross back into Alaska to get to Skagway where we will travel down the in-land passage on a number of ferries. We leave here tomorrow (Tuesday) for Whitehorse.
Enjoy your week!