Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fri, Aug 21: On the road to Chicken, Alaska, USA

It is not as bright and sunny this morning, but it isn’t raining either. That is good since we will drive "The Top of the World Highway"and then wind down the dirt and gravel road on the US side to Chicken, Alaska.

We make a fast trip to the grocery store for milk and eggs, hook up the car and head out only to stop again two blocks from the camp to check out a crafts store. After buying a couple of gifts, we stop for a couple of vintage Dawson City photos; unrestored buildings, the restored hotel and post office
and head over to the ferry that connects Dawson City to West Dawson across the Yukon River. The ferry runs until ice starts to form in the river and then, usually about three weeks later, sometime in November, the ice bridge opens to traffic untill about April when there are another three or so weeks while the ice breaks up and the ferry can starts running again. People living in West Dawson have about six weeks to two months a year where they are rather isolated!
We are lucky and drive right on.It doesn’t take long to cross and we are on our way. The Top of the World Highway climbs up into the mountains and runs along the ridge line for 65 miles.It is a beautiful drive and we can see for miles both north and south.The road was freshly seal coated when we came across in 2002, but today it is not in as good condition with many breaks and long stretches of gravel. There is absolutely nothing except road, scenery and a few gold mining ghost towns. The border crossing is in the middle of nowherewith two Americans and two Canadians manning their respective post, very lonely duty!
A fast passport check by a less than friendly agent (coming into Canada the agent was very personable, I don’t understand why our agents can’t be that way) and we are back in the good old USA!We stop at the official welcome sign for Alaska for pictures, we made it!Heading on up the road a way, we stop at another pretty overlook and visit with two Germans on their way to Dawson City in a rented RV.
The road on the US side is awful, with lots of wash boarding and wash outs on the outside lane, but the views are beautiful and we make the 35 miles down the mountain, with only a little tooth jarring, into the booming metropolis of Chicken, Alaska! Chicken is a gold mining townfrom the 1900's and is today home to a US Post Officeand three businesses: two RV parks and "Down Town Chicken", a café, saloon/liquor store and gift shop.As we pull into "Down Town Chicken", two Holland American tour buses pull out on their way to Canada. We are glad we did not meet them coming down the gravel road!

We get a site at the campground with full hook ups, it makes life easier, and settle in.
We are at the back end of the campground near the Pedro Dredge that use to work the mines around here. We and another rig are their only takers for tonight. There is internet supposedly, but we can’t connect. Also, when Carolyn turns on her computer, the screen is garbage. Great, hopefully we can get that dealt with in Fairbanks!
Carolyn fixes spaghetti and we watch "A Lion in Winter". This story picks up where the book "Pillars of the Earth" ended. It’s a long movie and it’s all we can do to stay awake.

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