Posts Tagged ‘Tok’

Tok, Woody Allen and ‘Home’

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.

Mentasta Summit on Tok Cutoff

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.

Mount Sanford and the Slana River

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.

Matanuska Glacier

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.

Rush hour in Anchorage
Looking east across 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.

Kenai River and Cooper Creek Confluence

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!

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing

Alaska!

Sunrise 5:50 a.m., Sunset 9:46 p.m.

We made it back to ‘Merica’!  Our ‘rule of thumb’ is to travel only 6 hours per day, however, today was 14 hours!  We left Teslin with the idea of stopping somewhere near the border at Beaver Creek, but our plan wasn’t God’s plan. 

We stopped at Johnson’s Crossing for a cinnamon roll.  We had read about this place in the Milepost.  What’s the Milepost?

Since 1947, this magazine has been published that gives minute details of the Alaska highway and other adventuresome routes.  It gives historical facts which is why I appear to know so much, mileage from one place to another, names of provincial or state campgrounds, RV parks, where to buy gas or diesel and which wildlife is more prevalent where.  Thus, Johnson’s Crossing to check out a more unique and quaint place to stay on our way back.  Teslin is nice, but it’s more of a truck stop park and we like the feel of the early lodges that have been in service for 70 years.  Yes, the cinnamon roll was delicious and Sandy, the owner was quite friendly.  I even found a novel in Hebrew at the book exchange.  Yes!  I love book exchanges.  I read a lot while we’re in our trailer and so when I finish one book, I look for a book exchange to get another.  I even got my husband reading and that is an amazing feat! 

From Johnson’s Crossing, we continued north toward Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon province.  Last year we went into this grand city to find a Walmart and with our big rig, the congestion was too much so we decided to forego that trip – and the Walmart was small with nothing it in.  A waste of time ….

Yukon River Bridge

One of my favorite spots on the Alcan is the Yukon River Bridge.  I’m not sure why except I love the color of the bridge and the peacefulness around it.  It’s also kind of a milestone of the trip to cross the Yukon River. 

Kluane Mountains

One of our goals to was to stop in Haines Junction for coffee at another quaint place that everyone who travels the Alcan speaks about.  Last year we vowed to return every time we passed through Haines Junction.  Then, last September, it was closed.  Today, it was closed, too.  It doesn’t open until May 1 and today is April 30.  So NO delicious baked goods (already had that cinnamon roll) and no coffee.  The St. Elias mountains at Haines Junction cannot be accurately described, but suffice it to say if I HAD to live in the Yukon Territory, it would be at Haines Junction: they have mountains, coffee, and a health food store.  What else is there?

We decided to continue on towards Beaver Creek.  The road goes through Kluane (kloo-WA-nee) National Park with its mountains, Dall sheep and frozen lake.  From Kluane, begins the dreaded 90 miles of frost heaves through Destruction Bay and Burwash Landing.  On our return trip last year, it seemed as though there was road work from the border through these little towns and so this year the heaves weren’t so destructive to our trailer.  This was the section of road that broke all the shelves in my pantry that needed to be rebuilt once we arrived in Cooper Landing. 

Frost heave sign along the highway

Knowing that all of the provincial campgrounds don’t open until May 11, we started to look for anyplace that may have RV sites.  All of the rest areas in the Yukon have signs that say ‘No Overnight Camping.’  With our rig, it’s difficult to go ‘off road’ so we need something that is less rustic.

We found the Pine Valley Bakery and Creperie to be open so we stopped to check it out.  It is run by a couple from France who moved to the Yukon 10 years ago.  We enjoyed a quiche and crepe, but their RV park was still closed as they had recent snow, fallen trees and no services.  We returned to our truck to drive the rest of the distance to Beaver Creek.  We saw a lynx, some swans and a bald eagle.  In the midst of caribou herds, moose and black bears coming out of hibernation, we saw none of them.  When we arrived in Beaver Creek, their campground was still full of snow.  We had to make the decision whether or not to hang out in their parking lot or drive another 2 hours to Tok, Alaska. With fully bellies and the sun setting at 9:30, we knew we could make the trek and still have daylight. 

ALASKA!  The border crossing was fun.  The patrolmen were quite talkative about life on the border from crazy people to moose to where they buy their food and how grateful they are that the Milepost removed their phone number from the magazine as they had thousands of calls last year from people asking about the weather! 

We continued to head north with views of the Wrangle mountains until we reached TOK, Alaska!  We’re settled in for the night drinking hot chocolate and reading (writing this blog).  Tomorrow we decide whether or not to take a side trip to Valdez – ONLY if there are RV parks open.  Otherwise, it’s on to Anchorage and the Kenai Penninsula!

 

©2018 Tentstake Ministries