We left Tok in the morning and dreaded the drive on the Tok Cutoff. This is a ‘cutoff’ from the actual Alaska Highway that ends in Fairbanks. This ‘cutoff’ goes to Glenallen and south to either Valdez or east to Anchorage. Unfortunately, it seems the state of Alaska has forgotten about the Tok Cutoff in its budget for road work. It is the worst road we have ever driven on, parts have been pulverized to almost non-existent.
In spite of the road condition, this part of the drive along with the Glen Highway is spectacular. The St. Elias/Wrangell Mountain National Park lines the road way to the south. This year especially because there was a lot of snow, the peaks with all their nooks and crannies became clearly visible showing the details of these majestic mountains. Mount Sanford is 16,237 feet high and Mount Drum is 12,010, Mt. Wrangell is 14,163, and Mount Blackburn is 16, 390. Though they are all somewhat shorter than Denali (20,310), they are so much higher than the rest of the mountains around Cooper Landing (3,000). On this drive, Mount Sanford rose above the clouds and its beauty surpassed all previous treks on this road.
Woody Allen is really Glenallen, but I thought my husband said, “Let’s stop at Woody Allen.” You know, after two weeks on the road, you do begin to either hear things or can’t hear anything. We stopped at the junction, bought a coffee (me a chai tea) and thanked some men for their service for their country as they headed away in a very long convoy. The sun shone on the Glen Highway until we reached the mountains where the Matanuska Glacier rolls out.
This trip will be remembered as the wildlife trip because we saw more moose and moose. We even saw moose in Moose Valley and where there were signs warning of moose. We saw moose grazing by the road, running across the road and even munching in a bog outside of Palmer. The year of the Moose!
Palmer, Alaska is where the beginning of real life starts. We stopped at a grocery store in Palmer before going into Anchorage. Palmer sits in the Mat Su Valley along with Wasilla and even Willow. There is a musk ox farm not far away that would be fun to see on one of our trips through. It is the location for the Alaska State Fair. It is in this valley that the 7.0 earthquake hit on November 30, 2018 though we have recently learned it turned into an 8.2 as it went into the valley.
From Palmer we drove to Anchorage and arrived at rush hour. Yes, even in Anchorage there is a rush hour. It was also raining and windy (as always) as we began our southern route around the Turnagain Arm.
As we entered Chugach National Forest, we cheered because this is our national forest residence. We passed Alyeska, the ski resort at Girdwood, the entrance to Portage Glacier, went around the bend that welcomes us to the Kenai Peninsula. We climbed over the Turnagain Pass (900 feet) and thought it might be snowing, but thankfully it wasn’t. We pass all of the familiar places from other campgrounds to Hope to Summit Lake until we turn off onto the Sterling Highway. A small signs says Cooper Landing is 5 miles. We know we’re soon ‘home’ when we pass the Sunrise Cafe, Quartz Creek Campground, Wildman’s, Bean Creek Road (where Ptarmigan is) cross the Kenai Lake/River Bridge and pass Alaska River Adventures, Grizzly Ridge, the Princess Rapids, and with a left turn just over the Cooper Creek bridge and we’re ‘home’ for the next 4 months.
Though our adventure up the Alcan is over, the summer is just beginning – we think. It’s cold and rainy and we’re back to warm clothes. We have set up our home, filled it with water, got the generators working and put our our welcome mat. We have had an invite for dinner with some campers who will be here in the next few weeks. And, today we received our ‘tub of stuff’ to begin the camping season as soon as the water tests come back okay. We have picked up trash from the winter warriors – everything from beer cans to toilet paper scattered everywhere. Tomorrow, on our actual first day of work, we’ll be raking leaves and preparing sites for campers.
And this is our office for the summer.
Thanks for coming along on our adventure to Alaska – our third year that we will be boondocking and hosting people from all over the world who come to the 49th state!