Chicken, Alaska

Aptly named – Chicken is a tiny town at the beginning of State highway # 2 into the state, gold is still mined here, and one family is determined to preserve the equipment that made Alaska’s Gold Rush possible.

The Chicken identity is celebrated with humor and whimsy.

Chicken Cafe for a great breakfast and all things chicken.

Hens and Rooster Restrooms

The Pedro Dredge – now located at the Chicken Gold Camp & Outpost was operational for 20 plus years on the Chicken Creek, mining over 55,000 ounces of gold over eight years worth today 65-70 million dollars. We had a tour inside by the camp owner who also continues to prospect for gold. Gold fever is still quite real in this part of Alaska where the precious element is still mined along with many other vital minerals like silver and cooper. This dredge tour was fascinating.

Inside the dredge – examining the components. Creek material was scooped up in buckets, washed and separated inside – the gold pieces are accumulated and processed as the water is pushed back out via these large tubes.

The Buckets that were used to scoop material from the Chicken Creek lie dormant outside filled now with weeds not gold.

A giant piece of machinery – the buckets were attached to this giant arm to convey to raw stream material collected to the inside for separation and cleaning.

Shift Supervisor

Perched on the dredge’s roof was the ubiquitous raven – a outsized version of the North American bird who has a historic role in Alaska’s Native American history. They seem enormous here in size and personality. They are comfortable with humans but often appear to be tolerating us as temporary occupants of this amazing state.

Loved this signage……resting comfortably nearby are gold mining machinery relics

Fireweed – a wildflower found in the Northwest Territories and Alaska seems taller and brighter here. Honey made from Fireweed is an effective allergy suppressant. I used it throughout Alaska.

One of our first Alaska skies – a sight of wonder and beauty. The clouds are feathery and delicate although it was at least 80 degrees it looked like a northeast winter sky. Photo taken after dinner – during our evening dog walk – still very daylight here.

West and North toward Fairbanks

The highway to Fairbanks was only slightly better than earlier highways – it was mostly hard top for two lanes except for frost heaves – There were interesting places to stop along the way. Our tour leaders made great suggestions about fun and noteworthy places to stop at as we traveled. A variety of places including a a carving shop below, ice cream shops and cinnamon roll bakeries were enjoyed – all provided either or both amusement and sustenance along the way.

The Knotty Shop

Lenny & Lola curled up together for this 200 mile section of the drive. They were troopers for the whole trip and managed our hopscotching between campgrounds like rockstars on tour. We couldn’t have better family members.

I couldn’t resist blowing this shot up once I realized it was a beautiful mountain caught on a stunning sunny day. Here is one of the giants in the Alaskan Range, northeast of Denali National Park.

The Taj barged across the Yukon River for a Top of the World Highway drive.

I took the ferry barge across the Yukon River first – in the Jeep – because our coach and tow would not fit if attached. It gave me a chance to be nervous on my own and take some cool photos of the journey. All twenty three coaches were ferried across with no mishaps except driver and copilot anxiety.

It’s just a ten minute trip so the barge does not raise the entrance and exit ramps.

Getting closer – Rick said you could see the rivers strong current while crossing.

Land ho!

Disappearing on the other side of that huge boulder after a successful crossing – now we will need to reattach the car and begin the Top of the World Highway drive.

The Top of the World Highway was a miserable road but the extraordinary views made it a worthwhile trip. Incredible vistas that gave us incomparable views into both Alaska and the Yukon.

North towards the Arctic

The Alaskan Range in distance

Boundary is the Canada US Border Crossing – where the US most northerly border – Poker Creek- is located. Staffed by just two agents at a time – it was a very pleasant entrance back into America. Welcome Home!

Poker Creek Crossing sign thru the coach window as we stop to have our passports checked.

Alaska is so big it gets its own time zone – 6 hours earlier than EST.

we stopped at this lookout to appreciate the beauty that surrounded us. Clearly managing these wildness areas is a big responsibility and vital to the protection of this remarkable land.

Forty Mile River is a major tributary of the Yukon River, flowing from the Yukon into Alaska. It is a clear water stream that has 6 main forks flowing east of the Mertie Mountains and north of the Tanana Forest Region.

Stopping at the Forty Mile overlook for a few photos, we took this panoramic shot below and we found beautiful wildflowers along the roadside too.

The views were too spectacular for words…

Heading toward Chicken and Tok, Alaska, we saw more of the Alaskan Range due west.

The Alaska Range is a relatively narrow, 650-km-long mountain range in the southcentral region of the U.S. state of Alaska, from Lake Clark at its southwest end to the White River in Canada’s Yukon Territory.” Mt Hunter, Mt Deborah, Mt Hayes, and Mt Foraker are part of the range – all are at least two and a half to three miles high.

The highest mountain in North America, Denali, is in the Alaska Range.  It is over 20,310 feet and dominates all the surrounding landscape. All of them rugged and knife edged, these mountains rise up in the distance announcing their superiority above all. Remember Alaskans refer to Texas as their little sister and they have the mountains to prove it – 3 Texas’s would fit into one Alaska!

Here we are in Delta Junction, Alaska where the 1500 plus mile highway comes to an end. We stopped for a photo opportunity and to visit the small museum. There is a measure of historical winter temperatures here that was memorable.

So do they still get such low temps during Alaska winters? Many folks told us yes, but it depends on where in Alaska you live. But we won’t visit in winter for sure.

The ALCAN Terminus notice with humorous but serious warning sign about the wildlife we will encounter and reminder to be safe.

Do you know what bird is the Alaska state bird? The Mosquito, silly! Duly warned we were prepared for the onslaught of bugs that were big enough to carry off small children or dogs…but honestly we wore bug spray when necessary and we went inside at dusk so we did not have any bug problems.

It may be the end of the Alaskan Highway but it is the beginning of our fabulous Alaska Adventure.

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