A Travellerspoint blog

July 30, Aug 1 -Top of the World Highway, Chicken, AK

SS Keno, Absolute quiet overnight on Top of the World, Chicken, broken sewer line on TaJ, long drive to Fairbanks

rain 17 °C

July 30:

We checked out of our campground about 11am and parked TaJ and Sully on Second Street in downtown Dawson.

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We did a walking tour of the back streets of the town for 90 minutes. We used our National Park passes for tickets to see the SS Keno, a sternwheeler, now a national historical site. Well preserved bit of history.

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Around 2:00pm we took the ferry across the river and headed off over the Top of the World Highway. The sky vista is amazing up here:

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There was no ferry wait and by 3:00pm we were exploring the Clinton Creek Road, a 50+ kilometer side road down towards the Yukon River. There had been a old asbestos mine down there and we thought we would try to find the town site. We drove about 12 kilometers down the narrow winding road until it became pretty obvious that we should turn back. The road wasn't particularly rough, but was narrow and getting narrower.

On our way down Clinton Creek Road we had come across a clearing suitable for an overnight stay, about 2 kilometers off the main road.

It was great to spend a night alone in the wildness of the Top of the World Highway. Dead silence most of the night, so quiet I had trouble sleeping. It didn't help that there is still 16+ hours of daylight and dusk and pre-dawn last another 4 hours. We have yet to see any stars during our time in the north...it simply isn't dark enough.

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We had a lovely downpour of rain for about an hour, enough to wash much of the dust off TaJ.

August 1:

Our health insurance for the United States kicked in at Midnight on the 1st and we crossed the border into the US at 8:30am. The Top of the World Highway is one of the great drives on this planet. Sure the road is rough in places and there are absolutely no services on it, but the views are spectacular. 106 kilometers from Dawson to the border. If you come here, you must put this road on your itinerary, simply to see it.

The road on the US side is something else entirely. The first 10 miles from the border are paved, beautiful pavement. Then the fun begins. Winding and narrow the road goes up and down over hill and dale. Sometimes the drop off to the side is 1000 feet and the shoulder of the road is soft, so caution is the watchword.

We arrived in Chicken, Alaska. Do not be fooled by the R/V park on the main road, or the modern resort down by the river. There is only one legitimate town of Chicken. It has this bird as its symbol and three conjoined stores that make up the historic centre of Chicken. We gassed up, at $3.29 per US gallon, which, when you take into account the relatively lousy Canadian $ is $1.13 per litre.

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The drive out to Tok was fairly tedious but lovely. 155 kilometers of mostly gravel road, but in decent summer condition. The road is very winding and narrow, but not much traffic for a mid-summer day for our drive out. The views, once again spectacular.

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There is a 10 mile section along the Jack Wade Creek that is open to anyone to pan for gold. We saw several small groups working along the river bank, trying to find their fortune.

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Other than this road building near Chicken, where they were putting Styrofoam pads on the perma-frost and then 10 feet of gravel for the road bed, the trip out was uneventful, or so we thought.

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We came upon these two caribou on the highway. Great racks on these guys:

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It was while we were in Tok that we discovered something was amiss with TaJ. The sewer line from the black water holding tank was gone. A look underneath and sure as shit, there was the opening to our tank, without any pipe to drain it. This changed our plans completely. We were going to find an Alaska State Park and dry camp another night, but this needed to get fixed.

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After a bit of a look, the only place with an R/V dealer and repair shop, was Fairbanks, so on we went. In total our day was almost 600 kilometers and we arrived in Fairbanks in time to go to the R/V repair and get them to look at it and to try to book an appointment to fix it. They were fully booked until Saturday, yikes, 4 days down the road.

So, in the school of thought that says, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, we rejigged our plans. We are now going to spend 4 nights here in lovely Fairbanks. We'll go to Chena Hot Springs one day, which was on our list anyway, and the Tanana Valley Agricultural Fair starts on Friday, so we will take that in as well. We also have the full 4 days to get both Sully and TaJ cleaned.

Saturday morning is our appointment for the fix on TaJ and we will be back on the road. It changes our downstream plans a bit as we only planned on spending 2 nights here, so we will rejig so we get to see as much as possible on this Alaska leg. We really want to see grizzly bears feeding on salmon in the rivers of the Kenai Peninsula so that moves closer to the top of the list, plus we want to spend two nights camping in the Denali. That about eats up all our time as we must be back in Canada before our health insurance runs out on August 11.

Later in the day this tour bus came in, full of German tourists. The bus holds 26 in sleeping compartments. They have been on the road for two weeks already and have been up then Dempster Highway in the Yukon and came across the Top of the World today as well. They seem like they are having a great time.

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Aug 2

It rained, almost all day, so we took this as a sign that we should just take it easy. We read, cleaned up some of our stuff and planned out the next couple of days in Fairbanks. Very relaxing. When on a road trip as long as this, a day of nothing is a luxury.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 08:01 Archived in USA Tagged top_of_the_world fairbanks tok caribou

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