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  • Writer's pictureRobert Gidley

Chicken? Who you calling Chicken?

Aug 11, 2022 (Thu)

12:00 pm Tok, AK

Every campground we’ve been at so far has required us to check out by 11:00 am. We have yet to actually leave by 11:00 am. So far, no one has said anything. They don’t say anything today, either. We’re beginning to wonder about these “rules”…

12:20 pm 10 miles east of Tok

We stop at a roadside photo op (there are two types of roadside stops in this part of Alaska: “Parking,” where there’s nothing to see, but maybe some bathrooms; and “Photos” where there’s sometimes bathrooms and sometimes something to see).

This one goes on and on (and on) about how the bridge over the Tanana is unique and special and it’s the only remaining bridge from the original 1942 Al-Can highway. The only problem is that the bridge in all the pictures is not the bridge before us.

We wonder what happened to the original, balley-hooed bridge. Stolen for scrap? It broke, but everybody is too embarrassed to admit it?

We move along.

2:00 pm Highway 5 North, AK

We have now left the Alaska Highway! We’re on the Highway that goes north to Dawson City.

We’re at a construction stop (surprise!). The road has been mostly rough, but with very few potholes and no washboards and only occasional patches of gravel-covered road. Before this trip, we would have classified this road as “terrible.” Now it’s “eh, not bad.” We can keep up speeds of 35 without rattling our fillings (or losing more parts off Harvey). And pothole dodging isn’t required, so Gini enjoys that part!

A common scene in the north: construction stop

The scenery is mostly aggressively rolling hills. These hills go up and are covered with a lot of trees and not much else. Every couple of miles there’s a side road, indicating that somebody does something here for some part of the year.

These hills just don’t stop rolling

2:30 pm Chicken, AK

After miles of nothing, there’s suddenly a lot of RV’s and trailers and we’re in the lovely town of Chicken, Alaska!

Here’s the story: This was a gold mining camp and the miners wanted to named their town “Ptarmigan,” but nobody could figure out how to spell it correctly. So instead, they decided to call it “Chicken,” because that’s what ptarmigan is called up in these here parts and they knew how to spell that.

Chicken has fully embraced its heritage and you can’t throw an egg without hitting a chicken statue or an egg monument or a gift shop that will sell you a chicken-emblazoned T-shirt, coffee cup, or bumper sticker.

The chicken-ness of Chicken

There are three major gift shops (heck, Whitehorse didn’t have a gift shop as big as these!) and two major RV parks. One of them is full with a “caravan”. Turns out that some folks with RVs like to travel with other folks with RVs and when they show up—well, there’s no room at the inn for us lone chickens.

We do manage to snag the last space with electricity at the second RV park and settle into our semi-shady parking spot

This is about as basic a town as we have ever seen. There’s no cell service, no electricity (it’s all generators), no sewers (septic), but plenty of chicken-related merchandise (no actual chickens, however).

3:00 pm Chicken, AK

Did we mention that we have a show at a nursing home two days after we get back? Well, we do, and it’s 50% new material (because Robert gets bored playing the same old tunes), so that means we need to get some practice in.

It’s a lovely 72° day outside, so we deploy our awning (instant shade!) and get to work.

Just a couple of traveling musicians

5:30 pm Chicken, AK

It would have been lovely to have chicken for dinner in Chicken, but the Canadians are chicken about chicken and won’t let us bring any across the border. So when we stocked up a couple of days ago, we deliberately did not get chicken.

We do have most of a dozen eggs, though, so tonight it’s: steak and eggs! (Robert’s Mom always insisted this was the national dish of Australia and since we have no internet, there’s no way to prove her wrong. So: national dish of Australia it is!)

A salad, some champagne and we have a lovely dinner under the intensely blue skies of northern Alaska.

Our very pleasant dinner outside

This is what happens when you put on a lot of DEET right before you eat dinner and rest your arms on the tablecloth

By the numbers

Without numbers, we wouldn’t know where we’d been!

Miles traveled so far: 2,581

Estimated Percentage of total road miles*: 83%

Days so far: 19 days

Estimated Percentage of total road days: 61%

*Revised for new route

Gini & Robert

Harvey Staff

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