SOLTESWEB.NET ALASKA TRIP 2005 - JUNE Page 5
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Monday, June 13 - Dawson
Last night, we stayed up until about 1:30 am, and it was still light, so we slept in until about 9:00 am. We took in a program at the Robert Service cabin. Johnny Caribou, playing the part, gave a delightful presentation on Service's history and recited some of his poetry. That's the cabin in the picture that he lived in from 1909 to 1912. Lunch at Sourdough Joe's and lots of walking and window shopping. After about 9:30 pm, we drove up to the "dome" overlooking the city...what a view. You can see Bonanza creek (where gold was originally found) to the left, flowing then into the Klondike, and Dawson and the Yukon river to the right. The Yukon is wide enough to have several islands in it, but it freezes over in winter hard enough for 10-wheelers to drive across on the ice.
Tuesday, June 14 - Cross over to Top-of-the-World Highway and Alaska
We finished our stay in Dawson by visiting the
Dawson Museum. Had lunch and left about 12:15 pm. To leave Dawson,
you must take a free ferry, the George Black, across the Yukon river. The ferry is small and
can carry 2-3 RV's plus a few cars at a time. We had about 10 RV's in
front of us, so had about a 90-minute wait to cross the river.
That took us to the Top-of-the-World Hwy, a dirt road that would take us into
Alaska. Contrary to what our Sower friends Mel and Nyla Brown reported on their
trip here last year, the road was quite good. What a view, riding the ridges and climbing to over 4600 feet, with
grand views on both sides. Why didn't we take some pictures?
The small cabin is the border crossing at Poker Creek, Alaska. We stopped for some gold panning (small flakes only), then spent the night at a turnout on some BLM land.
Wednesday, June 15 - Chicken
Drove through beautiful downtown Chicken, AK, (can you make out the sign over Patty's head?) then down to a BLM campground on the west fork of Dennison Creek (which eventually runs into the Fortymile river where gold was first found).
The campground host was Don Marshall, a former marine in WW2 (Iwo Jima, among other places, when he was 17-18). He has written a book about that battle. His livelihood and hobby over the years has been the discovery and identification of sunken ships on the west coast, especially at the mouth of the Columbia River. He also wrote books about that. That evening at the campground, he gave a slide presentation on his work. Very interesting.
The campground has many campers there to pick mushrooms in the burnt forest. Some were college students from Montana there to make money for school.
Thursday, June 16 - Burned forest and Tok
We have seen many miles of burned forest from last year's fires. It's hard to show it in pictures. The plus side is that we see many cars parked on the sides of the road where mushroom pickers are roaming the burnt forest for Morel (sp?) mushrooms. A good day can bring $200-$500 for a picker.
Down the road again, we hooked up with the Alaska Hwy again, and drove the short distance to Tok, AK, where we spent the day walking around. Tok had a couple of good visitor centers - one on the public lands of Alaska, and the other on Tok itself, plus brochures for all the rest of the state.
We decided to stay at the Sourdough Campground. So many people we'd talked with over the last year told us to stop here. So we did. What a great experience! They served your choice of stew or reindeer chili in a sourdough bread bowl and had two guys on guitar and banjo for entertainment. After supper, we all took turns trying to toss pancakes into a bucket about 15 feet away. Those that made it will get a free breakfast tomorrow morning.
couldn't resist taking this picture of a restaurant sign in Tok.
Gas was $3.50/gallon just at the US border in Boundary, then $2.99 in Chicken, then just $2.31 in Tok. We never thought we'd say "just $2.31" for a gallon of gas!
Do you know that, at this latitude, we are higher than all of Hudson's Bay?
Did you know that the tourist season started two weeks ago here, with the Top-of-the-World Highway, and the Sourdough campground opening on May 28? The highway shuts down in October until the following May.
Friday, June 17 - Tok Cutoff Road
Well, we couldn't get the pancakes in the
bucket, but 4 others did! Maybe on the way back?
Driving south on the Tok Cutoff road, we saw lots of little ponds framed by mountains, but no moose, and few birds.
At mile 78, we stopped at Mike Brandt's Burl World to see what Mike was doing with the spruce burl wood. We saw lots of great looking furniture, and exceptional antler carving. The carvings are wonderfully done - worth the $700 he was asking, but we have nowhere to put one of them. I have his card if you are interested in following up on some of his work.
We stopped at a free undeveloped campground near a creek on the Nabesna Rd at about 4-5 pm, and spent a few hours watching some birds, and the great view of Mt Sanborn. The mountain is over 16,200 ft, some 2000 ft higher than any other mountain in the lower 48 states. That's pictures of two trumpeter swans with a cygnet, and a pair of mergansers trolling. We have moose droppings outside our door...
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