Friday, June 27, 2008

Chicken, Alaska

Well, I finally made it to the world famous Chicken Saloon. What a journey it was. Over 5,000 miles and 5 weeks to get to this very place. I have a picture of the interior of the saloon that I will put on the picture upload later.

But; I digress. The last time I wrote was after our bay cruise in Valdez; so let's catch up on our travels. Tuesday morning (the 24th), we pulled out of Valdez and headed north. Slowly the breathtaking mountain views faded in the mirror to be replaced by the rolling hills (large hills) covered with trees. Have I mentioned there are a gazillion trees in Alaska? We arrived in Tok about 2:00 pm and picked up a few groceries and fuel before checking into the campground. This time we took advantage of the free entertainment and listened to a local singer/songwriter tell us all about the local area and history.

For those of you who have the original planned schedule for this trip; we were supposed to go directly from Tok, Alaska to Dawson City, Yukon Territory, on Wednesday. However, we had an abundance of alcoholic beverages, along with some fresh fruits and vegetables that Rosie was reluctant to part with at the border. So we decided to check out the campground in Chicken. When we got there we found the old Chicken very quickly; but then also discovered a new Chicken. The Chicken Gold Camp was built in 1999 and has a store serving breakfast and lunch, an RV Park with electricity and Wi-Fi and an opportunity to pan for gold. We (Rosie in particular) fell in love with the place so we decided to stay a couple of nights to ingest the aforementioned alcohol and fruits/vegetables. Rosie made a new best friend and went for a long walk with Crystal and they took Sammy along. The wi-fi was very weak and in fact, I could not get an Internet connection the first day. They said no one with Vista on their computer had been able to get it to work with their service. So to every ones surprise, when I turned on my computer Thursday morning, all my e-mails loaded up and I was connected to the Internet. I could not get a web site or send any files, but I could send and receive e-mail. Another first for Vista. Another charming thing about this place is the fact that all the electricity is from a generator; which is shut down from 9:00 pm to 6:30 am. Happiness is hearing the generator fire up and having your coffee pot begin to brew the morning caffeine fix.

Thursday morning we got to the old Chicken Cafe early to get a cinnamon roll before the tour buses came in. Then we made the 100 mile journey to Eagle, Alaska; the northern most point in our trip. The 100 miles takes 3 hours because it is on a rough dirt and gravel road with a maximum of 40 mph possible, but more typically it was 25 mph. We arrived about noon and were pleasantly surprised with the beauty of the town. It is on the Yukon River and is very old. There are about 150 full time residents and most of the visitors are from Holland America Cruise Lines. They bus guests in to here where they catch a river boat to Dawson City. Then they pick up the passenger that came in from Dawson City and bus them back to their cruise ship or the airport in Anchorage. We had brought lunch with us and while eating lunch we struck up a conversation with a local gentlemen and his little granddaughter. We returned by about 4:00 pm and I took a much needed and long overdue shower. We purchased some souvenirs from the store and had a pleasant evening meal.

This morning (Friday) we hooked up and headed for the Canadian Border and Dawson City. The road from Chicken to the border is all dirt and gravel and the truck and camper are getting dirtier by the mile. Hit the border about noon. The border agent did not even ask us about fresh fruits/vegetables or booze. I guess we stayed in Chicken two days for nothing!!

The road became paved at that point and we entered what is known as the Top of The World Highway; and on top of the world it is. Views are forever in any direction. The highway follows the ridge line of the mountains for about 65 miles before you drop down into Dawson City. Then we had a first experience with a ferry. There is no bridge across the Yukon River here, so the Yukon Government provides a free ferry ride across the river. It is interesting to drive the truck and camper onto a large boat with 3 automobiles and several bicyclists also on board. We made the trip across in about 5 minutes and drove off with no unusual events occurring.

We checked into the campground; nothing special to look at, but cable TV and a good wi-fi system is much appreciated. We went downtown and I got a 6 day fishing license at the Trading Post. We picked up some groceries and a danish at the local bakery. I tried my luck trolling for Grayling ( a trout with a sail like fin). No results. After dinner, Rosie and I headed into town to the local gambling hall for some slots. They also put on an old time vaudeville show complete with can-can dancers. The Europeans from the tour groups really love this stuff.

Tomorrow we head south towards Skagway for our last Alaska visit. We will stop at Carmacks, Yukon Territory on the way. I don't know if the wi-fi signal here is strong enough to upload multiple pictures. I will try, but no promises.

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