The afternoon in Tok was warm and beautiful and everyone there said it was a great day to to go Chicken. As we drove, however, the rain clouds pushed the light fluffy clouds to somewhere else and we encountered rain. The drive is only 66 miles, but it was a windy and sometimes rough 66 miles. The view to the west would be exquisite on a clear day, but dark clouds hid most of the Alaska Range where Denali resides.
Chicken is actually on a rough, northern route to Whitehorse over the Top of the World highway. Many of our campers come this way to Alaska in summer, however, the border crossing is closed until the end of May and closes at 8 p.m. Also, Top of the World Highway is very rough, not just somewhat rough and many people have breakdowns and flat tires. Hence, we will not ever go that way for all of those reasons, but since we left our trailer in Tok, we didn’t have worry about such issues.
Interesting facts about Chicken found hanging on a bar door!
Chicken is called Chicken because the original settlers, actually gold miners, couldn’t spell Ptarmigan. They wanted to call the town Ptarmigan, because the plentiful local birds filled many a pot in their camps. Ptarmigan were also called CHICKENS and that’s how the town got it’s name. (This is funny because our daughter lives on Ptarmigan so WE have to know how to spell it.)
They have a winter population of 15, summer between 30 and 50. They have no pay phones and no flush toilets. Outhouses are by the gift shop. They close in the winter along with the roads. There are no plows until April. Winter temperatures can be 85 below zero. Mail comes by plane every Tuesday and Thursday, weather permitting. Most of the citizens arrived by truck, some hitch-hiked and others came by plane. They self-entertain, there is no television. Children are home-schooled, cell phones only work before mile 32 and then only if the signal is right. Medical emergencies are medi-vacked to Fairbanks. They don’t have sales tax.
People still goldmine there. They use bull-dozers or suction dredge the river. Some dig holes or pound rocks. Gold-panning is an option as well.
They have black bears, grizzlies, moose, caribou, weasels, snowshoe hares, lynx, wolves and many more. They have lots of birds. Bears walk through the town. Moose are a common sight.
Arriving at Chicken, we were excited to see everything, but EVERYTHING was closed until May 15. And, everything in Chicken means three businesses. We meandered around taking pictures of what we could and then hopped in the truck to drive to the ‘downtown’ where there was a little airfield.
That’s when we encountered MOOSE – a momma and her baby. Our first moose EVER while traveling. Apparently, their facts are right. There were MOOSE! We had even seen a moose run across the road on our way into Chicken, but it was so far away that it could have been a figment of our imagination. Apparently, not according to the facts about Chicken! Now we were seeing real live moose up close and personal. Chicken was worth the trip just for the moose.
On our way back to Tok, we stopped to take pictures of the trees. Several years ago there was a fire that burnt millions of acres and the trees looked like something from a Dr. Seuss book – trunks with a tuft of dead branches on top. One of my pictures was photo-bombed – by a MOOSE!
Once back in Tok, we prepared ourselves for the next day’s journey on the Tok Cutoff and onto Anchorage and our penninsula ‘home.’
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