Alaska - Chicken, AK - Homer, AK
Traveling through Canada had some high points and some not-so-high points. On the high side was the beauty that I had no idea existed; on the low side was the lack of ability to connect to the internet and work on my blog. So, with that being said, I am a little behind.
After taking the ferry from Dawson City, we drove the "Top of the World Highway" to the Alaskan Border. I was so thrilled to cross
back into the USA. The border station we crossed at was teeny tiny; its name is
Poker Creek, with a population of 3.
|Here we are on the Top of the World Highway on our way into Alaska.
The Top of the World highway road was less than desirable, and almost all gravel except for a short, paved section (1 mile) ran into the border crossing and about 4 miles on the other side. The road follows a ridge line towards Chicken Alaska, most of it a winding road, and of course, no guardrails, with some sections narrow 1.5 cars wide. Fortunately, we did not meet any vehicles coming the other way in those locations.
|Top of the World Highway Roads
Our average speed
for this leg of the trip was about 30-35 mph for the 107-mile leg, but we made
it to Chicken, AK, on August 6th. This was a lovely little campground - Chicken Gold Campground, and the term gold comes in because of the history of gold mining.
While there, Mark and I learned a little about panning for gold and did a tour
of their big dredge. They also have a yearly music festival in Chicken, at this
specific campground called Chicken Stock, which brings in many people (up to
1000 people, which pretty much overwhelms the place). This event will be held
every year on June 10th and 11th.
|Here we are learning to Pan for Gold
|Chicken Stock Stage
This town is only a dot on the map with a population of 7.
Yes, you read that right. They have three permanent residents and four that are
seasonal. So you can imagine how great it is for business when the music
festival is in full swing.
While we were there for one night, we had a campground
cookout, and the weather was sunny and cool, but it was still lovely to see the
sunshine. Anytime we saw the sun in Alaska was a real treat!
We woke up bright and early and made our way into Tok. This
was a short (2-hour) drive, much of it again on gravel or rough roads. Once we
arrived, everyone's rig was so darn dirty. The campground had an RV washing station where
our group banded together and washed all the rigs, so they were sparkling clean
(well, at least a massive improvement from what we came in with).
|Washing our Rigs after the trip into Alaska on dirt roads
The campground we stayed in was lovely, Tok RV Village.
There was not a lot to see in this little town, but there was a great pizza
place, Fast Eddy's - walking distance from the park, with an excellent salad
bar, and the pizza was not too bad.
We woke up early the next day and continued our journey into
Valdez. One-night stops are not my cup of tea; it wore on Mark and me because
he did all the driving so far on the trip. We stayed at the Eagles Rest RV Park,
which was lovely and centrally located and had three days to explore.
I like Valdez, but when we arrived, it was pouring down
rain, and the area was covered in fog. Being in coastal towns, it was not
surprising to see this. However, it's not fun playing tourist in the rain.
We visited the Solomon Gulch Fish Hatchery, a definite
"must-see." You learn a lot about the life cycle of the salmon, and
you can see tons of them right before your eyes. The bears love to come in the
evening and feast on the abundance of fish, making a beautiful photo
|Bear feasting on salmon at Solomon Gulch Hatchery
Once the morning of August 10th, we woke up very early and
boarded a guided tour on a fast catamaran. What a treat that was. The captain
was our narrator, and he was very informative as we could see Meares Glacier,
harbor seals, and sea lions, and we could spot some killer whales in the
distance. This was a treat; we got some great photos and met new people. Mark
and I talked with two women traveling through Alaska from Massachusetts while
on the boat. They were in a truck camper and really "roughing it."
They gave us some great pointers on visiting areas we were headed to.
|Prince William Sound
|Sea Otters in Prince William Sound
The nice part about this boat tour was when we woke up that
morning, the sun had come out, and the entire day was clear, sunny, and
relaxed. However, that allowed us excellent visibility and to see so much more.
After spending a few days in Valdez, we had a six-hour drive
into Palmer. We stayed at the Mountain View RV Park, which had everything we
needed. The weather was somewhat rainy and cool, but we had scheduled a side
trip for the next day to make an 8-hour ATV trip from Palmer to Knik Glacier. I
had never done anything like this before, so this was quite a treat. Mark was
driving, and I did the picture taking.
|ATV Ride to Knik Glacier (Palmer, AK)
Once we got to the glacier, their guides made lunch and gave
us some facts about the glacier and surrounding area. If you make it to Palmer,
you must book an adventure with Alaska Backcountry Adventure Tour. I promise
you will not be disappointed. (This was my favorite adventure on this
trip by far!)
|Cookout once we reached the Glacier.
We woke up the following day, and because the sites at this
specific campground were pretty unlevel, we had issues getting our slides to come
in on the low side as they tried closing going uphill (especially after pulling
up the leveling jacks). We were delayed just a bit getting on the road but not
by much. Having problems is not fun, but having a husband who can fix them
quickly is a bonus.
Our next stop was 200 miles away in Kenai; they parked us in
a kind of a circle which meant in the center, there was a lot of grass and a
great opportunity for a fire. So that evening, everyone met for dessert and a
great conversation. We were supposed to have a seafood "King Crab
feed"; however, that was canceled on us due to the price of King Crab.
From what we were told, this hot commodity was selling for $150.00 a lb. So
with that being canceled, it was pretty understandable.
The campground we stayed at was Diamond M RV Park, and the
owners cooked us a great dinner despite the King Crab feast being canceled on
us. The fish they cooked they had caught, the berries in the dessert they
picked, the vegetables they served, grown in their garden…..you get the picture.
The dinner was delicious. We did sit outside, which was a bit chilly, but
despite the weather and lack of Crab, it was a fantastic event.
|The view from dinner in Kenai
We spent two nights here, and on one of the days, a group of
people went Halibut fishing. From what I heard, they caught their limit, and it
was a successful day on the water.
On August 15th, we woke up bright and early and headed to
Homer. When we arrived, this day's drive was a short 84 miles, but we were
thrilled with our camping site (Heritage RV Park) right on the Homer spit. We
could look out our front window and see the view of the ships, fishing boats,
fishermen, and families gathering to catch their limit for the day. This place
was so enchanting.
|Camping on Homer Spit
|Overlooking Homer Spit
We were lucky enough to have a few sunny days and even fortunate enough to enjoy a campfire on the beach.
|Campfire on the spit with friends
This was my favorite
campground and most favorite stop of our trip. I loved it here. The little town
of Homer is so cute and quaint. There are many little shops to browse and a
marina where you can pay for a chartered fishing trip and take a few side
With that being said, Mark and I took a side trip to
Seldovia while we were there. We were a tad bit disappointed as we were
expecting so much more. We took a boat ride from the Homer Marina and arrived
in Seldovia just in time for lunch. We enjoyed a great lunch at a cute little
restaurant called Seldovia Hotel Pub and Grill.
We finished lunch and then walked around. I guess we were
expecting a little more to do. The day was frigid and a bit rainy, so having
3-hours to kill was just not a highlight. But oh well, we can at least say
we've been there. Seldovia is very secluded and is only reachable by water. The
entire time I was there, I wondered what these people do with their spare time.
While we were in Homer, we were supposed to have a
"cookout" on the spit. Due to the impossible weather, we ended up
having an "indoor cookout" where the Wagon Master and Tail Gunner fed
us at the campground. Not as good, but sometimes you have to improvise when
traveling through Alaska. The weather and conditions are not always ideal. We
made the best of it and took the time to be thankful we could experience the
trip of a lifetime despite a few setbacks.
Travel tip #5 Be prepared for road conditions regardless of
what vehicle you drive to Alaska. Most of the drive to Alaska is a two-lane
asphalt paved road. Usually, the shoulders are large enough for a standard
vehicle. Windshield dings and rocks hitting the car/truck are sometimes
unavoidable. Do your research and do what's best for your vehicle.
Travel tip #6 Is there a best route to get to Alaska? It all depends upon what you want to see and do. The way we went worked well for us, being first-time travelers to this unique state. If you want to get to Alaska quickly, I suggest you fly and rent a car when you get there. But if you're going to take in all the sights and experience all the beauty, wildlife, and beautiful sites on the way, I suggest traveling in a motorhome/campervan is your best bet. We did see a few cities frequented by cruise ships; however, I don't feel you get to experience true Alaskan Life unless you hit the places off the beaten path.
As we continue our journey in the next blog, we will tell you more about Seward, Denali, and Anchorage, just to name a few.