(Ron Writing) The first 14 miles of the Alaska Highway in Alaska were newly resurfaced and smooth as silk. Beyond that we again had to dodge potholes and slow down for frost heaves. But the road still was not nearly as bad as that stretch yesterday from Destruction Bay, YT to the Alaska border.
Shortly after continuing our drive northwest on the Alaska Highway this morning we came to the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge visitors center. We spent some time visiting with the attendants and looking at the exhibits explaining the purpose of the refuge and the animals that live there. There is a beautiful view of a portion of the refuge from their large back deck. They had two telescopes trained on a distant lake and we could see a moose feeding near the shore.
The first 40 to 50 miles of today's drive was through the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge and the next 40 to 50 miles was through the Tetlin Indian Reservation. It was all heavily forested land with innumerable ponds lakes and streams. We expected to see some wildlife in an area like this but we didn’t.
Around noon we arrived in Tok, AK. We spent some time at the visitor center gathering maps and information about places we plan to visit in Alaska. We also walked around the town to get a little exercise and look in some of the stores. This evening we had dinner at the Sourdough Campground cafe. Elena had sourdough pancakes with reindeer sausage; I had reindeer chili with sourdough bread. We both thought the chili was excellent and the pancakes were thin and "rubbery". The reindeer sausage was delicious.
After dinner we listened to an entertainer performing at the outdoor pavilion and watched their evening Sourdough Pancake Toss. Folks attempt to win a free pancake breakfast by tossing a pancake into a 5-gallon pail from about 10 feet.
We are spending the night in Tok. The Tesoro station on the north side of town has the best gas price. With a fill-up they allow free use of their car wash, dump station, potable water, and permit overnight parking on their large gravel lot.
Weather: Overnight low of 44°, today in the high 60’s, mostly sunny with a late evening shower.
Scenery: Rivers and lakes in Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge.
Gasoline Price: $4.299 in Tok, AK
Mileage: Today - 89 miles, cumulative since leaving AZ on 4-6-11 – 5,174 miles.
Tonight’s stop: N 63.33581°, W 142.98297°, 1,645’ elev.