21 Valdez to Chicken
We drove the whole 250 miles from Valdez to Tok in one day, skipping the old copper ghost town of Kennecott and McCarthy (too concerned about tire damage), and the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park (too cloudy to see much.) We did take a quick lunch stop at the Visitor Center at the park and were rewarded with a great film, showing what the area looked like under better conditions. The whole trip just emphasized how lucky we have been to have had the time (and good weather), to really “see” Alaska, rather than just “drive” Alaska, as so many people must do.
Our arrival at Tok completed the grand loop of Alaska, and we lost John and Gayle, who had to head home. Tim and Diana had missed the Top of the World Highway while getting his detached retina fixed, and apparently the road was not too bad, as Bill and Bobie agreed to repeat the trip. They were rewarded by having beautiful weather; just enough rain to keep the dust down, but clear enough to enjoy the incredible views.
Our one day at Chicken expanded into three, as we toured an old dredge, panned for gold, ate at the local restaurants, and, of course, drank at the saloon. We watched an 88 year old woman celebrate her birthday with a muffin loaded with 88 wooden matches, curious to see what would happen when it was set ablaze. We hiked up to the big chicken on the hill and learned that it had been a high school metal shop project and was made from recycled Homer school lockers. And we shopped Beautiful Downtown Chicken and The Town of Chicken (two buildings, across the street from each other.)