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  • Robert Gidley

Dirt roads and ferries

Aug 12, 2022 (Fri)

10:30 am Chicken, AK

Hey—we’re ready to go! This is probably because there is no internet in Chicken. Heck we haven’t seen cell service since five miles outside of Tok. As a result, Robert can’t fiddle with the Trip Log and can instead make breakfast (granola) and get Harvey ready to go.


Since we are going to Canada, we have to leave our eggs behind, so we donate our eggs to the RV Park in Chicken. We left our eggs in Chicken would be a good title for a song…


11:15 am Chicken, AK

So, instead of fiddling with the Trip Log, we visit every single gift shop in town (three of them!). While Gini shops (“T-shirts!”), Robert chats with the help. He finds out that there are, in fact, no chickens in Chicken, because they have to import them. They didn’t do it this year because of Covid (?), “but maybe next year!”


Pole Dancing in Chicken


There’s about 60 residents here in Chicken during the summer, when things are jumping. During the winter, only about 15 people remain. Winter or summer they get their mail by plane.


Downtown Chicken, with our own Chicken Man, Robert


12:15 pm North of Chicken, AK

We can see why they get their mail by plane—the road north of Chicken is a dirt and gravel road. We’re able to go maybe 20 or 25 miles per hour. Whew!


A picturesque pull-out beckons and we pull over and lounge for a bit by a babbling brook right out of a beer commercial. Since there’s no traffic (few other people are this crazy), it’s all quiet and peaceful and idyllic and we thank Harvey for bringing us here.


Gini contemplates the creek


Video of Harvey resting by the babbling brook


1:00 pm 10 miles south of the Border

And the skies parted and the Angel of the Lord descended and decreed, “Behold the road I have created for you! It is asphalt and smooth as an infants behind and thou shalt journey in comfort!” And it was indeed beautiful and our travelers wept to see such a beautiful, smooth road. Yeah, verily, it even hath lane markings and they were joyful, indeed.


2:15 pm U.S. / Canada border

(It didn’t take more than an hour to get here, we just changed time zones and leapt ahead an hour.)


We get the definite impression that we’ve interrupted the afternoon’s tedium for the customs agents. We’re the only ones here and we have a nice chat with the customs guy, who’s happy that we filled out the ArriveCAN app and sends us merrily on our way.


This highway is called the “Top of the World Highway,” and we find out it’s not just because it’s at the top of the maps. It just keeps going up and up and up. We end up looking out across hundreds of miles of rolling tree-covered hills.



We’re on the top of the world, looking down on creation


2:17 pm East of Canadian border

Party’s over! The roads are back to gravel and dirt, but it’s pretty well packed, so we can go 60 to 80 kilometers per hour without losing anything off Harvey.


The road stretches out before us


Turns out Harvey has his own GPS system (Siri requires cell service to figure out a route and we haven’t seen cell service in a day and a half). We don’t know how or where he’s getting his information, but he seems to know where we are.


He does not, however, have a good sense of how we should get where we’re going: he thinks that Dawson City is 900 miles away and will take until 9:00 am for us to get there. The route involves us turning around and going in a completely different direction.


Robert has a good time arguing with it, “That wasn’t an intersection, Harvey! That has never been an intersection! That is a dirt path and was a dirt path back when wooly mammoth were the dinner choice! We would no more try to go down that road that we would drive off the side of the hill!”


4:30 pm Across the river from Dawson City, YT

Only a river separates us from Dawson City, and the only way to cross that river is on a ferry that carries about 10 cars each trip.


Every morning, we think about how nice those larger RVs and trailers are. They can just hop out of bed and make coffee. We first have to convert the bed to a table (stuff the sleeping bag in the cabinet; fold up the mattress topper; fold half the bed back into a couch; stuff the mattress topper behind the couch; take the bags out from under the bed; remove the cushions from the bed; fold the middle section of the bed back into a table; place the cushions onto the table seats; replace the bags under the table; collapse in exhaustion).


Today, we’re the cool kids—there’s two lines for the ferry: one for under 25 feet, and one for those big comfy RV’s. Our svelte 21 foot Harvey slides into the fast lane. Each ferry trip, one big RV gets to go, and there are about a dozen big RVs in the line.


Our ferry


5:10 pm Dawson City, YT

Ha! Take that, big RV’s! We’re very smug until tonight when we have to turn the table into a bed…


Dawson City (second largest city in the Yukon) is pretty busy this time of year. One of the RV Parks is full and the other one can barely squeeze us in. Since we’re down to zero clean clothes, we need some civilization to keep going.


It’s one thing to be on each other’s nerves, but quite another to be on each other’s olfactory nerves! Today is a laundry day (some of those big rigs carry their own washer and dryer…).


By the numbers

We think miles driven on dirt and gravel roads should count for more.


Miles traveled so far: 2,685

Estimated Percentage of total road miles: 86%

Days so far: 20 days

Estimated Percentage of total road days: 65%



Gini & Robert

Harvey Staff


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