Thursday, June 16, 2011
On To Tok
After a restful night in Chicken, we got an early start Tuesday morning. I think we were more anxious to get off the dirt road than to get back to civilization. We only had a couple more miles of dirt before we rolled onto pavement.
We had about 60 miles to travel before rejoining the Alaska Highway at Tetlin Junction. For the most part, the road surface was in good condition. There were a few pot holes and places with broken pavement, but those were well marked. There were also a couple areas of construction where pavement had been removed. Those areas were dirt and gravel, but they were all very short.
Along this road is the area of the fire of 2004--the fire that prevented us from our trip to Chicken and Dawson when we were here then. The burned area looks sad, but the forest floor is beginning to recover. The drive took us above tree line again and we had some more views of the mountains beyond the valley. We always like that.
We rejoined the Alaska Highway at Tetlin Junction. There was once a roadhouse here and a few other businesses, but everything is closed and boarded up now.
From here, it was only 12 miles to Tok. Anyone driving to Alaska must pass through Tok. It’s a small community of about 800, but they have the essential services for the travelers--information and a car wash.
We were looking for both and stopped at the Visitor Center first. Bureau of Land Management also has a Visitor Center and we stopped in there for a map of all their campgrounds in Alaska.
Our next stop was the car wash. Tok has the reputation of being the car wash capitol of Alaska. People like us coming into town off the Top of the World Highway are filthy dirty. Those coming into town on the Alaska Highway with its many long stretches of construction are also in need of a wash. Just about every gas station and campground has a car wash. Since we weren’t staying the night in Tok, we went down to the Tesora Station for a free wash with fill-up. I held the wand while Gene used the brush to scrub off what seemed like most of the Top of the World Highway from our motor home and car.
Also in Tok, we had cell service again. Boy, was that exciting. We spent time calling home. That may have been the highlight of the day. Well, I don’t know. It’d be hard to beat pavement. Not only do we have phone, we also have our MiFi. As long as we have a cell signal, we have internet.
We didn’t want to drive all the way to Fairbanks, so we found a turnout about 50 miles west of Tok for our overnight resting place. We were right on Dot Lake, but the shrubs had grown up enough to obscure most of the view. There was also a shed that looked like it might be used as a concession stand, canoe rental, bait shop, or something like that during summer months.
Late in the afternoon, a bicyclist pulled in. Since the shed was open, we figured he’d set up camp here and have a dry place to eat and sleep. Just about the time I was going to make him some chocolate chip cookies, he left. In 15 minutes he was back and this time he knocked on our door. He needed water and we were happy to oblige. We learned he was not planning to stay overnight, just eat and then peddle on down the road 30 more miles to the next campground.
We gave him time eat then Gene took him a cup of hot chocolate and chatted for a few minutes. The young fellow was from Holland and was just starting his 19-month bicycle trip from Anchorage to Argentina with a side trip to the Grand Canyon. Oh, my legs hurt just thinking about that.
Gene and I went to bed early. Two days of gravel and dirt had worn us out.
GAS REPORT: Our fill-up at Tesoro in Tok cost $4.29 a gal. Diesel was $4.79.
CRITTER COUNT: Not much out that we could see. Only saw one moose.
Thus ends our second day in Alaska. Thanks for tagging along.