Amassing 4704 miles since our departure from Kalkaska, MI we have arrived in Alaska! 12 days and 2200 miles after leaving mom’s house we arrived in the village of Tok, AK, about 93 miles inside the border. The journey from Whitehorse to the border took 2 shorter days instead of 1 long one since we decided to bivouac enroute.
The scenery was once again magnificent. I realize I have used the word ‘spectacular’ on more than one occasion, but magnificent works just as well. I don’t take this lightly. As someone who has lived among or visited some of the greatest mountain ranges in the world, I am impressed. These mountains are probably no more beautiful than any of the others. It’s just that there are MORE and MORE of them over every rise, on every turn. We spent the majority of this leg of our journey meandering around the St. Elias Range from Whitehorse to Haines Junction to Burwash Landing and finally to Alaska.
We decided to follow my cousin’s itinerary (she made this trip last year) and stop near the Donjek River and boondock on an elevated rock area around the corner from the highway and right on the banks of the river. We had the area to ourselves and spent the evening just sitting in chairs, talking, and watching the scenery. The sun had not set when we went to bed at 10 p.m. but it is that time of year. It is light enough to see easily about 3:30 a.m. as well. Easy to take advantage of the battery bank & solar panels with this type of light. We dined on the last of the “Oven Baked Fried Chicken” with some carrots and Garlic Baguette. Dharma the Repuplican and Bodhi the Democat slept soundly.
The second day of the journey clarifies even more why we decided to do this in two days. Shortly after Burwash Landing the road bed sits on unstable land consisting mostly of tundra or remnants of where glaciers used to lie. There are frost heaves that decay the road into cracks, small crevices, sink holes, and some pretty serious ‘hoopty dos’ along the way. The situation is serious enough that my average speed was only 35 mph for about 80 miles as I navigated my way through this stuff. Occasionally I would miss one or misjudge it and our rig went through several seconds of “roller coaster push pull”. I watched as a "Minnie Winnie" passed me at normal highway speeds and he threw some pretty nasty sparks when he bottomed out his rig. Apparently this happens every year in the Beaver Creek Maintenance Area and there were crews throughout this entire area rebuilding entire sections of road bed.
Shortly after leaving the town of Beaver Creek you pass by the Canadian Customs Checkpoint. However, the U.S. Checkpoint into Alaska is still 18 km further up the road…..on gravel road that is being rebuilt. About 2 miles from the border they had just brined the road to keep the dust down so I arrived in Alaska with a completely muddied truck and RV. Notice the hard working Yukon Road Crews at the border.
We are currently camped in the village of Tok, AK. We arrived here to await a scheduled ‘mail forwarding package’ from home. Amazingly, it arrived when we did so we have a day off and then on the road again. I must admit it is nice to be back in the land of U.S. $, standard measurement, and cell phone service. I gassed up at the border; $4.57/gal never looked so good! I worked up some Chef Salads for dinner last evening to be followed in the next couple of days with Ham & Bean Soup, Whitefish Bruschetta, Fish Tacos, and Pork Stir Fry.
I have yet to do a restaurant review on this trip and today was as good an opportunity as any. There are only 3 restaurants in Tok, AK so I went with the unanimous recommendation of everyone I talked to when taking Barb out to lunch: Fast Eddy’s! It is located on the east end of town right on the Alaska Highway and draws a lot of attention.
Although they are famous for their pizza a look at the menu told me I had my choice between pizza, burgers, sandwiches, the soup and salad bar, or a myriad of appetizers. I am always a bit shy about ordering a $12 hamburger even though it came with pickles and your choice of fries, or onion rings. Barb decided on the 'Incredible Burger' with Curly Fries while I went with the 'California Burger' and Onion Rings.
I was fairly impressed when the food arrived. The California Burger is 93% tasty, lean beef served on a sourdough hoagie roll topped with homemade Blue Cheese dressing, a huge slice of avocado, tomato, and a pile of sprouts. There were only 5 onion rings, but they were the huge, beer battered type. This sandwich comes with a steak knife so you can cut it in into halves.
The burger was delicious, but I could only finish off about 3 onion rings. Barb enjoyed hers as well, but opted for the complimentary ‘to go’ box for later (which is code for “Dharma, look what mommy brought you!”) Alaska does have a higher cost of living and as such lunch was just under $30, but after a hard morning of shopping and sightseeing, I figure Barb was worth it.
Since our departure from Seattle we have used 204 gallons of diesel with a low price of $3.89 (Sumas, WA) and a high price of $7.20 (Muncho Lake, B.C.) We spent a total of $ 1155.83 on fuel, averaging 11.58 mpg. This is still a 29% improvement over the 9 mpg I averaged with our previous gas truck. The truck is running beautifully and there have been no maintenance issues during this leg of the trip.
Next up for us: Boondocking in the St. Elias Range and Valdez, AK as we do some glacier photography and tour the village and the end of the Alaskan Pipeline.