Ian and Margaret's RV Adventures travel blog

Dusty roads, frost heave markers and a line of Rvs

Old tractor at Hart D Ranch

Hart D wagon wheels

Rainclouds over the Wrangells

The other side of the road

When you've got to go, you've got to . . . just...

Homesteaders' graves along the Nabesna road; there's a fourth one that's hidden

Gravesite

Light and clouds; I had trouble figuring out which mountain was which,...

Light on the mountain

Air service; I'll take the red one, please; note the jack propping...

Antler House

Tractor

Dwarf fireweed

Regular (not dwarf) fireweed buds; by the end of the summer these...

Mt. Drum


We drove the 65 or so miles from Tok to Slana down what is known as the “Tok Cutoff”, which runs south from the Alaska Highway, eventually connecting up with the road that goes to Anchorage. Before we get to Anchorage, however, we will spend some time on the other fork of the road (you, know: when you come to a fork in the road, take it) seeing mountains, ghost towns and an ocean sound.

Slana is a very small town (not really even a town, actually, just a collection of houses, a school, a highway maintenance yard and a post office that’s open three days a week for a few hours). Most of the views along the road from Tok are of forests, with occasional mountains visible in the distance and a number of lakes. There are a couple of small communities, generally Native Alaskan (the term used up here instead of Native American to describe the indigenous people). The road is in better condition than the section of the Alaska Highway we just left, but there are still areas of frost heaves and gravel sections either under repair or just fixed.

At Slana we turned off to our campground, which turned out to be an older park, not much updated for larger rigs. We didn’t have much trouble, however, making our way into our narrow site, and were soon set up. While we were checking in we noticed the “For Sale” sign on the office sign and, on inquiry, found out that the owner, no longer having any living family members, has decided she can’t run the park by herself any longer and wants to sell and move to Anchorage where she can open a gallery and studio for her artwork (sculpting and woven fabric art). Later in our visit she told us about a fire (arson) she suffered a bit over a year ago that wiped out her power house with generator, food freezers, tools, two tanks of diesel fuel and all the electrical connections serving the park. She has been able to keep going by connecting to local power, but hasn’t gotten any insurance proceeds from the fire, so can’t really afford to rebuild and upgrade. She is hoping to sell out to someone who will implement the plans she has to upgrade the property. It’s a quirky little place, in an area not overly endowed with attractions for tourists (unless you’re a fisherperson, and there are, I think, more popular places to fish), so I think her chances of finding a buyer soon are slim, but we wish her well.

We took a couple of drives, one further along the highway (looking for things we might not be able to stop for when we come by with the trailers) and the other along the smaller road (the Nabesna Road) that leads into the heart of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. The weather was great and the mountain views were wonderful, even with a few clouds. We also caught a glimpse, but no pictures, of a momma moose (our first of the trip) and two babies crossing the road ahead of us. On the Nabesna Road we met several truck campers obviously heading for fishing spots along the river. One, with an Arizona license plate (although I’m sure that has nothing to do with his problems) was pulling a cargo trailer that, we noticed in the rear view mirror, had one of its doors open. Shortly we began to see things in the road and by the time we had gone several miles we had seen a 12-pack of beer, a cooler, a helmet, several pieces of firewood and a couple of unidentified items. We have no idea whether he got all the way to his campsite before figuring out he was shedding his belongings along the way, but we figure he probably wished he had that beer when he discovered it!!

Our second full day in Slana the skies were cloudy and rain was forecast (although it never materialized to any great degree) so we took the opportunity to do a serious cleaning job inside the trailer and a somewhat less serious one on the outside, since we didn’t have a real wash facility available. When you realize that Margaret considers cleaning house right up there with going to the dentist on her list of favorite things, you know this is a big deal! But it’s nice to get it done.

From here we continue south along the western edge of the Wrangell-St, Elias NP and the Copper River Basin to Kenny Lake, near Copper Center, from which we will be able to take a side trip to Kennecott to see the abandoned copper mine and associated (nearly ghost) town. Those of you who know Margaret’s obsession with ghost towns can imagine how much she is looking forward to that trip!



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