Omigod, Omigod, Omigod- Top of World Highway
Jun 25, 2006
|What a day!!! And not in such a good way either although I felt a little like my favorite movie heroine, Dorothy, who, at the end of the movie said something to the effect of: "some of it was horrible, but most of the time it was beautiful!" I can't describe in words what it is like to take a 40 foot motorhome with a towed pickup truck across and over the "Top of the World Highway"(in Canada) and the Taylor Highway (in Alaska).
It started out innocently enough. We got up at 5:30 to beat the rush to get onto the free ferry that you have to take to get across the Yukon. We may not have been the first over that morning, but when we got to the ferry landing and that is all it is too) we were the first in line. The ferry is only about 75 feet long - we had already decided to take the two vehicles separately and the two of us JUST fit. The ferry runs all day, every day making the approximately 17 minute round trip. No problems on the ferry.
However.....for the next 115 miles, we were on a gravel road barely two lanes wide. In Canada, it was a little wider with washboard gravel. The potholes were marked and there was a fair number of places to pull off either for a break or to let other traffic by. At 6:30 a.m. there was not much traffic, unless you count the grizzly bear we passed munching weeds along the side of the road.
Poor Bob - by the time we hit the U.S. Border in Poker Creek Alaska, he had had enough fun but where do you go? You can't turn around. The next town was about 75 miles away - Chicken, Alaska - so named because the miners who founded the town that now has 20 permanent residents couldn't spell the word ptarmigan - their favorite game bird. So, they picked the bird that most closely resembled the ptarmigan - what else???
Anyway, the road was worse in Alaska - if that is possible. The road was more narrow, more hairpin turns, no pull-outs and by this time, more traffic, including tour buses. By the time we got to Chicken, we needed to stop for lunch or something....(By the way, it was Bob who wanted to take this route not me!!! I couldn't even look half the time)
The woman who owns the roadhouse, saloon, gift shop and café in Chicken is from - where else- New Hope!!!!!!!
Hasn't been back in ten years though. A different sort....
After Chicken, the road turned to seal coated stone with some gravel spots. Oh, forgot to mention that we also gained another hour and are now four hours behind you guys. Alaska time. Of course, the time really doesn't matter here because it is truly light all night long. But...by this time, poor Bob had had it. I finally peeled my hands off my eyes and convinced him not to try to drive the rest of the 75 miles to Tok. We pulled into a BLM (Bureau of land Management) campground (no services) and it is delightful here. The sites are more than large enough for us and there is a lovely gem of a lake along the back of the campground. Also - the price is right - only $4.00 per night because we have a national park/blm access card. Of course, when we attempted to relax with a nice vodka and tonic, the tonic had gotten so shaken on the trip - along with everything else toppled over in the cabinets - that it sprayed all over.
That is the bad news - now for the good. I took over a hundred photos - the views were so stunning. We were above tree line most of the way. The road was awful and that is what made the photos so good. There was still snow on the higher peaks and when we descended, we came across abandoned mine dredges from the 1890's listing in the creeks and going to rust. Growing among these sad relics were lovely lemon yellow arctic poppies.
I hate to get spiritual but....you cannot be in these mountains and not be filled with wonder, awe and joy and of course some fear. There is such power here. It cried for John Denver...unfortunately, we didn't have the "friends around the campground and everybody high"(too bad) -but since I just happened to have a John Denver CD onboard, naturally, we cranked it up and sang along.
So...signing off this Rocky Mountain high!!!! FINALLY IN ALASKA.