With the US-Canada border closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to ship our RV and toad to Anchorage and fly ourselves there to embark on a 14-week trip ... including the travel time required to get us to/from Tacoma.
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  • Day45

    Chicken: Eggee & Friends

    June 16 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 79 °F

    The sign entering Chicken describes it not as a town or city, but as a community. With a population around 25 — in the summer — that’s probably a good description. You’ve got to be hardy and self-reliant to live here. No sewer or other city services. The people generate their own electricity, provide their own water.

    Tradition has it that the early miners who settled the area wanted to name their little community ptarmigan. But no one knew how to spell the word, so they settled on chicken, which is the name of which the bird is known in the north. The locals play up the name with all things chicken.

    There are three businesses here — all geared towards tourists ... Chicken Gold Camp & Outpost; Downtown Chicken (which claims to be the original Chicken); and Town of Chicken. Each is privately owned and operated. Of the three, Town of Chicken was closed, so we only got to check out the other two.

    The Chicken Gold Camp has the most famous of the three “chicken photo ops.” Eggee, as the giant sculpture is known, was built in Homer out of recycled school lockers, and transported 615 miles to Chicken by truck. We had hoped to get something to go for lunch from the bakery here, but they only had grilled sandwiches on the menu, so we made do with a brownie.

    We didn’t spend much time at Town of Chicken, where we stopped later, because the old codger sitting outside the bar wasn’t welcoming. Too bad.

    The businesses in Chicken have suffered tremendously during the pandemic ... especially since the border with Canada remains closed. The RVers that come through here — either in their rigs or their toads — are the bread and butter of these businesses. I fear they will have to wait another season before things pick up again.
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    mohotravels

    love the chickens

     
  • Day45

    Chicken: Post Ofc & Gold Dredge

    June 16 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 70 °F

    Today’s plan was to hop in the toad and explore Chicken ... 15 miles up the road from our campground. We’d heard horror stories about potholes and frost heaves on theTaylor Highway. We found both, but except in a few places, repairs had already been made.

    Our first stop was at the Chicken Post Office, which dates back to 1903. Not because we had any business to transact, but because bits and pieces of the Jack Wade Dredge are exhibited nearby. Turns out that we were charmed by the log cabin post office, and its little garden, and the chicken memorabilia tucked into nooks and crannies.

    The dredge was sent up here in 1906-1907 from Dawson City, in Canada’s Yukon Territory, by way of the Fortymile River. A bucket line dredge, it was one of the first to operate in the local mining district that is described as being the place of the 1886 Gold Rush before “the Gold Rush” ... the latter being a reference to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896.

    The dredge was apparently dismantled by the BLM and moved here in 2007. Having already seen a dredge of this kind on the Steese Highway, we appreciated the well-done info board nearby that explained how it was used to mine gold.
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  • Day44

    Day 44 Ends @ Westfork BLM Cg

    June 15 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 68 °F

    Test

    When we left Delta Junction, we knew two things. One, that we would be traveling the Alaska Highway as far as the Tetlin Junction. Two, that we would be traveling the Taylor Highway ... at least to a point near Chicken, if not to Chicken itself.

    No sooner had we left Delta Junction that we came upon a moose grazing roadside. Though we’ve encountered many moose already, we still stop for a photo ... if the animal allows it. This one did not. Very skittish, as soon as he heard us coming down the highway, it moved into the willows and disappeared out of sight. That’s OK ... we still got to record the encounter in our memories.

    The Taylor Highway was in better shape than we expected it to be. Yes, there were frost heaves and potholes, but the worst of it had been repaired, making the drive more comfortable than expected.

    Along the way, we checked out some of the boondock spots, but none appealed. We really needed a campground where we could leave the Cruiser tomorrow to go check out Chicken. Luckily, we found a great place.

    The Westfork BLM Campground is at Mile 49 of the Taylor. It has two sections ... one with six pull through sites ... and another with a bunch of back-in sites. We partially settled into a pull through, but when we went to pay the fee — $5/night with our Lifetime Senior National Park Service Pass — we decided to first check out the back-in sites.

    That turned out to be an excellent idea. We found site #22 ... almost dead center in the loop ... great big patio space with a bench, fire ring, and a picnic table ... good sun exposure for the solar panels ... and best of all, an amazing view. One of the best campsites we’ve ever stayed in. I didn’t even have to coax Mui into moving. A bonus ... free wood for campfires! As well, though the sun doesn’t seem to set this time of the year, here it did go behind a mountain, so the light isn’t as bright and more conducive to a good night’s rest.

    Yes, the mosquitoes were swarming, but not as bad as they had been in the first loop. A nice breeze, our Thermacell device, and a campfire kept them at bay so that we could enjoy our evening outside. And though no moose visited the lake below the campground, I did get to see a beaver swimming down there.
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    mohotravels

    ahh...a great place to be. Truly beautiful, and glad you hear you managed to keep the skeeters at bay as well.

    mohotravels

    Love this photo. Curious how the Cruiser looks so very incredibly clean. By the time we hit Alaska our rig was nearly unrecognizable!

    Two to Travel

    The color hides the dirt well. Plus, we haven’t had any real rain. As well, Mui did a wash when we were at Ft Wainwright.

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  • Day44

    Work & Food in Delta Junction

    June 15 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 77 °F

    Today was moving day. Our ultimate destination TBD.

    Any other day, we would have gotten on the road by 9:00a. Not today. You see, we both had things to on our to-do list that required high speed internet ... something we were lacking at the Big Delta SHP campsite.

    So, around 9:30 we headed south on the Richardson Highway to Delta Junction ... to take advantage of the strong GCI signal, which our T-Mobile plan allows us to access at no additional cost.

    We found and out-of-the way spot in the Visitor Center parking lot, opened the windows and doors to enjoy the fresh air, and went to work. Feels good to get things checked off.

    Seeing as how we were still in town around 1:00p, we decided to have lunch in Delta Junction. Where to go? The Buffalo Center Drive-In, of course. Great food. And the milk shakes ... well, they were out-of-this-world delicious.
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    mohotravels

    Cute photo.

    mohotravels

    The flowers are coming!

    Two to Travel

    We see more and more along the roads each day.

     
  • Day43

    Day 43 Ends @ Big Delta SHP

    June 14 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 75 °F

    After our late lunch at the Buffalo Center Drive-In — sorry, no photos — we returned to our campsite at the Big Delta State Historical Park for a quiet afternoon at home.

    It was a lovely afternoon ... temps warm enough to be outside without layers. Blue skies and sunshine. I decided to brave the mosquitoes ... with the help of my bug jacket.

    The Thermacell device and a couple of mosquito coils, placed strategically, created a mostly-mosquito-free zone. We deployed the awning, moved the picnic table under it, and I spent some quiet time reading and writing. We even managed to have a rare al fresco dinner out.

    A great way to end our day.
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    mohotravels

    Maybe the mosquitos will let up a bit as the season progresses.

    Two to Travel

    We remember them being bad in June ... non-existent in August. No idea what they will be like in July as this will be our first time here during that month.

     
  • Day43

    Delta Junction: This & That

    June 14 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 66 °F

    Before lunch, which we ate at the Buffalo Drive-In (good food, by the way), we wandered around to a few places in Delta Junction.

    First stop was at the visitor center to see if our “bug jackets” would keep us safe from the giant mosquitoes. We’re still here, so they must have done the trick ;-)

    Then, we crossed over to the Sullivan Roadhouse, which was built in 1905 to provide services to travelers on the 386-mile Valdez-Fairbanks Trail. When the trail moved 4.5 miles closer to the Little Delta River, the owners dismantled the roadhouse and moved it too.

    Today, the roadhouse remains in near original condition, but it’s not where it used to be. Apparently, the location where it sat is now part of Fort Greeley. Concerned that it could go up in flames during live ammunition training, the cabin was dismantled and choppered by the US Army to its new location across the road from the Delta Junction Visitor Center.
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  • Day43

    Alaska Range from the Dry River Flats

    June 14 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 70 °F

    Spying the Alaska Range as we crossed the Tanana River Bridge, I remembered reading that there were good views of the snow-covered peaks from the day use area of the Delta River State Rec Site along the Richardson Highway.

    Turns out the views from there were mostly blocked by trees. But across the road was a public “burn site” that had good views ... and just a few hundred yards from there, following a rocky path, the dry river bed had even better views ... wide open.
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  • Day43

    There’s the Pipeline ... Again

    June 14 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 68 °F

    Over the course of its 800-mile route, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline crosses 500+ rivers ... 34 of them major bodies of water.

    In most cases, the pipeline is buried under the river bed. That simply wasn’t possible with the fast-flowing Tanana River. The scouring effect of the silt carried by the rushing water also made burying the pipeline impossible.

    Instead, at this point along the Tanana River, which is just up the Richardson Highway near the Big Delta SHP, the pipeline is suspended by steel cables between two towers. At 1,200 feet, This is the second longest river crossing the pipeline makes ... the longest being the one at the Yukon River, which we saw in 2001. It’s an interesting sight to see ... especially standing under it.

    The Tanana Pipeline Bridge is designed to withstand an earthquake of magnitude 7.5, temperatures as low as -60F, and winds up to 100 mph.
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  • Day43

    Big Delta SHP & Rika’s Roadhouse

    June 14 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 68 °F

    I’ll start out by saying that we had a visitor last night. It was well past 11:00p when I heard a noise that sounded like a herd of elephants crashing through the brush. Turns out it was a porcupine coming to check us out. No photo alas. As soon as it noticed us at the screen door, it turned tail and crashed back into the brush.

    Our first stop this morning didn’t require a drive as it was the Big Delta State Historical Park where we are camping.

    This is an unattended park ... admission fees paid at a kiosk ... based on an honor system. Our camping fee of $20/night included two passes, so no additional fees due on our part.

    In addition to a barn, an outbuilding with a sod roof (that serves as a museum), and two buildings that used to belong to WAMCATS (Washington-Alaska Military Cable & Telegraph System), the main attraction at the park is Rika’s Roadhouse, which was built in 1910. It was purchased by Rita in 1923. A stopover on the historic Valdez-Fairbanks Trail, it served travelers until 1947 ... providing them with a place to sleep, a bite to eat, and a hot bath and other amenities.
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  • Day42

    Day 42 Ends @ Big Delta SHP

    June 13 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 63 °F

    When we left Summit Lake, we figured we’d boondock somewhere along the Richardson. But Mui had taken a nap and felt refreshed enough to drive the 75 miles or so back to Delta Junction. That worked with my desire to camp at the Clearwater State Recreation Site, which the Milepost described as having some of the prettiest campsites in Alaska. Hah!

    The drive north was uneventful. We had a light summer shower for a mile or two ... the sun never stopped shining. We made a few stops, but we’d already dallied along the road on the way south, so I didn’t take very many photos.

    When we arrived in Delta Junction, we stopped off to top off the fuel and propane, dump the tanks, and take on potable water. Then we put the Clearwater SRS address in the GPS and got on the road. I sensed something was wrong when the GPS told us to get on the Alaska Highway! Hmmmm. Maybe there was another entrance. So we went along with Ms GPS’s instructions.

    Turns out, the GPS had routed us down the long way. Not only that, it said we had arrived when we reached a junction in the road, with no SRS in sight. Luckily, a friendly woman who told us she was used to helping RV’ers get “un-lost” in their quest to reach Clearwater, gave us directions.

    In the end, we arrived at the SRS ... and to total disappointment. Not only were the RV campsites no different than any others — just tucked into the woodlands — but also the one-way loop hole was horrendous ... and I mean really horrendous. With no choice but to keep going, we hoped against hope that we’d get to the “prettiest sites” eventually. No such luck. Perhaps tenters have better sites.

    So, we got back on the road, this time using the diagram in the Milepost, to get back to the Richardson. Now what? We had not seen anywhere in Delta Junction to boondock, except maybe in a parking lot somewhere. And we didn’t feel like going to the campground we’d passed on the Alaska Highway.

    By this time, it was 8:30p. So, we headed north on the Richardson to the Big Delta State Historical Park, which offers overnight RV parking. We planned to explore the park anyway, so this worked out for us.

    Now, we’re settled into the site near the fee station — $20/night. This place is little more than parking lot camping, too. But the setting is nice, with woods on the patio side ... a fire ring, and a picnic table. We have the best site and the whole place to ourselves. The remaining sites are back in ... every other one blocked off with a picnic table ... rather narrow. More back-in RV sites are across the gravel road ... no amenities. The rest area on the side road has a dump and potable water. Life is good.

    We’ve decided to stay an extra night here and explore the area from this base before moving on down the Alaska Highway.
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    mohotravels

    descriptions can be so deceiving

    Two to Travel

    Campground details on the Milepost are sadly lacking due to space limitations. I’m still thinking they were talking about the tent sites along the water.

    LowesTravels

    Not knowing which direction you are headed, check out if Williwaw Campground, 4660 Portage Glacier Rd, Girdwood, AK 99515 is on your route. This is one of my favorite campground surrounded by glaciers.

    Two to Travel

    Right now Heading to Chicken. Portage will be near the middle of July. I’ve got that campground on my list ... also a boondock site nearby.

    Nickie Wilkinson

    Doncha just hate disappointments? :-(