Friday, July 15, 2011

The Top of the World Highway and Taylor Highway to Alaska

Monday, July 11

We were up pretty early this morning--5:30 am. We ate some Apple-ham-cheddar muffins I'd made the night before, and were hooked up and ready to go by 7:00. We drove down to the ferry ramp and were happy to see we were first in line.

The ferry has just pushed off from the ramp on the other side of the river.

It's on the way across, carrying two trucks.

We got on the ferry, and were joined by a truck/5th wheel for the ride across.

We're getting ready to get to the ramp on the other side.

This is what the Top of the World Highway looks like on the Canadian side. For the most part it is well-maintained and relatively smooth. There were a couple of sections of pavement, but it was mostly gravel.

The road continues across the tops of the mountains, often above timberline, for 67 miles.

This outcropping of rocks is called the Castle Formation.

66 miles from Dawson City, we came around a corner and finally saw the border.

The border is manned by two people (one Canadian and one American) who live in the two buildings here. The sign says "Poker Creek, Alaska, Elevation 4127, Population 2, Most northerly land border port in the USA."

At this point the road turned to crap. It was a red, rutted, rocky, bouncy mess, which bounced us around for the next 43 miles (all the way to Chicken). It was the worst near the "town" of Boundary. This is also where we came across a small herd of caribou.

We startled them and they fled into the woods.

After 43 miles of that rotten road, we came to Chicken. This is one part, which consists of a RV park, store, and gas station. We paid $4.75 a gallon here, compared to the over $6 we'd paid in Dawson City.

Another mile down the road is "Beautiful Downtown Chicken." it's owned and run by Susan Wiren, and consists of a store, a bar, a cafe, and some cabins. We had heard that we needed to try her cinnamon rolls, so of course, we did. Don had the one with a white icing, and mine had a brown sugar icing. Both were excellent.

The bar is famous for the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of baseball caps affixed to the ceiling and walls.

Chicken was (and still is) a gold mining town, and this is the Chicken Dredge.

At Chicken the Taylor Highway was paved. However, that did NOT mean it was a good road. It had numerous sections of gravel, and many, many miles of bouncy frost heaves. When we stopped for lunch at a gravel pullout about 50 miles from Chicken, we discovered the inside of our trailer was a disaster area.

Here are just a few of the problems:

- the pantry cabinet had come open and almost all of the canned items had fallen out onto the floor
- when the slide opened, a can of pineapple was stuck under the pedestal, and the force of the opening actually tore the can open. I had to clean up the pineapple juice and extract the mangled can from under the pedestal.
- the bottom of the pedestal broke--Don had to nail it back together today.
- the decorative moldings on the sides and top of the big side window broke off and were lying across the table. We took it apart and stored it under the bed. We'll have to get that repaired when we get home.
- the curtain rod fell in the bathroom
- the broom and mop came off the hooks in the bathroom

We finally hit the Alaska Highway at Tetlin Junction, 12 miles east of Tok. The road immediately improved, and we drove into Tok at 55-60 miles per hour. It was quite refreshing. At Tok we stopped for a 12-pack of beer for Don (almost half what we'd paid in Canada), and took the Tok Cutoff south towards Anchorage. 15 miles south of Tok we stopped at our first campground in Alaska, Eagle Trail State Recreation Site.

It's a nice campground--no hookups, but water is available as is free firewood. We had our loop to ourselves for a while, but even when we were joined by several different campers, it was peaceful and quiet. There's a creek nearby--Clearwater Creek--but Don said it didn't look like much of a fishery. There were minimal bugs, almost no mosquitos, so we sat outside and enjoyed a cool evening.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Merikay said...

Sounds like a really rough road. You seem to have a good outlook about the damage though.

Travels with Emma said...

Sounds like that road hasn't improved one bit since I drove it in 2004. :)