QUOTE OF THE DAY: “If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.” ~Bob Hope
You can’t spend much time in Alaska without hearing about the earthquake of 1964. At 5:36 PM local time on Good Friday, the pressure between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates became too great. The release was abrupt and devastating, when the oceanic plate slipped up to 60′ further under the continental plate over a span of about 600 miles. Chaos ensued. The earthquake, measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale, rattled the state for more than 4-1/2 minutes. The land opened up in places, causing home and building collapses and landslides. Roads, bridges, and water, sewer, and electrical lines buckled. Anchorage looked like it had been bombed. The ground near Kodiak permanently rose about 30′, while over at Girdwood and Portage, it sank up to 8′. (The Seward Highway, which we drove out past that area, had to be filled and raised to be above the new high tide mark.) The town of Valdez was devastated by an underwater landslide that took out the harbor and docks. The resulting tsunamis virtually wiped out the villages of Chenega and Afognak and the towns of Whittier, Seward, and Kodiak, and those same waves caused property damage as far away as California, Hawai’i, and Japan. By the time it was all over, 131 people were dead, most from tsunamis, including 5 in Oregon and 12 in California. Aftershocks continued for almost a year and included eleven that were greater than 6.0. When all was said and done, the Great Alaskan earthquake was the largest ever recorded in North America and the second highest in the world.
On Monday, July 24, we hung out for a while before hitting the road. Our destination was only a couple of hours away, and we were also waiting for Delta Meat & Sausage to open. They are a processing place that specializes in fresh meats, sausages, and smoked items, all from the local area. MW has a hard time resisting things like summer sausage, meat sticks, and jerky. Then we were back on the road headed east. The day was mostly sunny, but it was very hazy, which took away all of those distant mountain views. It was a nice drive, nonetheless, and we arrived in Tok, Alaska, about 1:15 PM. This is the second stop on our return trip that we’ve been to before. Unlike Delta Junction, though, this town will be fairly new to us, because we had the flu on the last visit. I only went out on that visit to get medicine at the store and do the laundry. Before heading to the RV park, we stopped in at Fast Eddy’s Restaurant for lunch…sandwiches. Then we got everything set up and relaxed.
Tuesday I headed out mid-morning for a bike ride. Tok has miles and miles of paved bike paths alongside, but separate from, the major roadways. It’s been a while since I rode, so I just went out about 5 miles and turned around. It was really a beautiful day for it. Plus, I was out in the middle of nowhere, so I could practice singing. (More on that later.) Back at Petunia, I cleaned up, then got a couple of packages ready to mail. We popped in at the post office, then the grocery store. I spent the afternoon on a bit of writing, then made spaghetti for supper.
Wednesday morning we left early to drive the Tok Cutoff out to Nabesna Road, where we turned off from the opposite direction to go to Wrangell-St. Elias a couple of weeks ago. It was still hazy, and we even smelled a little smoke. Turns out the haze was smoke from wildfires in the Yukon. It did clear up a bit the further we went out, though. The drive was beautiful, and there wasn’t much traffic. Along the way we saw at least seven pairs of trumpeter swans, some with little cygnets, and a couple of other birds, but no larger animals. We were hoping to get a look at salmon spawning in Ahtell Creek near where we turned around, but no joy. I guess they still haven’t made it in this far, and that might be my last chance on this trip. Bummer!
The return drive was just as beautiful. When we made it back to Tok, we headed over to Fast Eddy’s for a little breakfast, then popped into the two gift shops in town. Later after relaxing a little bit back at Petunia, we rearranged a few of the upcoming stops to hit another national park. For supper, I souped up (pun intended) a wonton soup recipe that turned out awesome, if I do say so myself. Before bed, we hooked everything up to be ready for an early morning departure.
Here is the post from our last stay at the Tundra RV Park & Bar a few weeks ago. This time the bathhouse was still out of order, but she said it is almost done. The only other change is that there were new picnic tables and fire rings at many of the sites. For this stay in July 2023, we paid $180.00 for 4 nights.
I’m a fan of uniforms. MW wore them in high school NJROTC, during his four years at the United States Naval Academy, and afterwards in the Marine Corps. Come to think of it, uniforms may actually be the reason we are married now. Hmmmm. My favorite…USMC flight suit (I have my reasons), although the dress blues would come in a close second. He’s wearing the latter in our first date picture and our wedding pictures, but, he is not why I brought this up. What in the world is going on with uniforms??!! There used to be standards that went along with wearing one. For instance, you couldn’t just iron your shirt to make it wrinkle free; there were specific rules for where creases had to be. Patches, badges, and swag…whether it be the Boy and Girl Scouts, sports teams, or the military, had a specific place. Hair had to be kept within specific guidelines. Very few, minimal accessories could be worn. I’ll be the first to admit, I like the standardization. I don’t even care for baseball players with long hair, beards, or mustaches. Same goes for football players. (Sorry Troy Polamalu, your hair IS beautiful!) I know I’m old-fashioned that way. Lately, though, we’ve seen a couple of things that just made both of us shake our heads. The first was a young lady in fatigues (either Air Force or Army) walking away from us. She had hair extensions that were bunched up just below the nape of her neck and extended almost to her butt. How could you carry a 50-pound pack or head into battle without that getting in the way? (Well, if she’s Air Force, she probably doesn’t have to hoist much, I guess. Dig, dig, Alex.) The other was a National Park Service Ranger. His uniform looked good until you caught sight of his ears…he had on earrings. One appeared to be a post, while the other was a two-part dangly thing in silver and bright red. It reminded me of something I would have worn on nights out in the 80s. I know, I know…lots of you will say, “What difference does it make?” “They are just adding a little personality.” But uniforms are the exact opposite of anything that has to do with the individual. They are about professionalism and esprit de corps. They say, “I am a part of something larger and more important.” They purposely take the focus off of the individual and put it onto the group, and how you present yourself while wearing one reflects on everyone else in that group. So when someone adds a little something extra…garish makeup, out-of-place jewelry, purple hair…to make themselves stand out, they are making individuality more important than unity. At the basic level, they are saying my needs/likes/desires are more important than the team’s. How will that play out in a live fire situation? Is the individual more important there, too? I’m sure that would make all of our Medal of Honor winners truly sad.
Thursday we left before 6 AM to start the long day. Thankfully, it was a beautiful morning for a drive and the scenery was gorgeous. Before too long, we were passing by the Alaska border station, which is at the border. Interestingly, you ride along inside Canada for a good 20 miles or so before you get to their border station. There we waited in line for a couple of minutes for the motorcycles in front of us to get through, then answered a handful of questions and were on our way. The whole stop was probably about 5-6 minutes. At Burwash Landing we stopped for fuel and lunch…fried chicken that was okay. (We are REALLY missing our Diner chicken in Sneedville!)
Shortly after hitting the road again, we came upon Destruction Bay on Kluane Lake. The Alaska Highway follows the edge of the lake southeast to its outflows into Slims River and Sliver Creek, then curves around to the other side briefly. This portion of the drive is very picturesque, with lots of color on the hillsides and the lake and mountain backdrops. We stopped at an overlook, and the beauty and sound of the waves coming ashore were amazing. There were no boats at all, and no marinas, houses, or other construction around the lake edge. We finally arrived at the FasGas & RV Park in Haines Junction around 4 PM. It had been a really long day, and we were both were pooped!
On Friday morning MW walked to Village Bakery & Deli for breakfast, bringing me back a muffin. He said I should definitely drop by there later, because it was awesome. I got myself together before too long and headed out to the Kluane Park Inn, the only laundry in town. My timing was pretty darned good. They had three of the smaller machines that I prefer, and no one there, so I was able to jump right in. There was also a place to sit and write a bit while I waited. Bonus! I finished up in the early afternoon and went to the K. P. I. Restaurant to focus on some more writing. Then stopped by to check out the bakery before heading back. MW was right…it was awesome. They had deli sandwiches, baked goods, and ice cream. I took a couple of molasses cookies back with me. Honestly, they were the best I’ve ever eaten, and that is one of my favorites. On the way back to Petunia, I stopped to take a look at Our Lady of the Way Catholic Church. In the early 1950s, building materials were scarce, at best. The first Catholic priest to preach in the area, Father E. Morriset, came up with the idea to convert an old quonset hut left over from the construction of the Alaska Highway. It worked well, and became a beautiful little church that would go on to become the most photographed one in the Yukon.
Saturday MW walked to Village Bakery again, this time coming back with breakfast sandwiches. (I wasn’t a fan of the sausage, so that ended up being a meal for him later.) I spent a lot of time writing, then headed out for a nice bike ride up to Pine Lake. A few signs about recent bear sightings kept me on my pedals, so to speak, thinking about a warning at one of the parks we visited that said “you can’t out run a bear on a bike, either”! Hmmmmm. It was a great ride, though, and the only animals I saw were some ducks at the lake and a chipmunk and gopher running across the bike path. Back in town, I rode up to the river before heading back to the campground.
After getting cleaned up, MW and I walked over to the Yukon Visitor Information Center across the road. Some interesting things I learned: 1) Arctic ground squirrels, called gophers in the Yukon, are the only mammals whose body temperature drops below freezing during their 7-8 month hibernation. Natives would use their pelts for everything from mitts to jackets. 2) Female golden eagles are the largest raptors in this area, and outweigh the males by a third. They are so big that they will even hunt yearling caribou! 3) Grizzly cubs are born in mid-winter and are tiny. By the time they emerge from the den a few months later, they weigh about 20x what they did at birth. That would be like a baby born at 7 pounds growing to 140 pounds in 3-4 months!
Sunday morning we walked to the Anglican church, but were denied. Although the sign on the road says services are at 10:30 AM, it appears that is only every few weeks. On the walk back, we stopped in at Lucky Dragon for lunch, which had decent Chinese food. I had Crispy Ginger Beef, which was made with chunks of fresh ginger…delicious. (MW ate the leftovers a couple of days later and said it had become VERY spicy as the flavors melded!) Later in the afternoon I took a bike ride, stopping off for an ice cream cone on the way back. While taking pics of the RV park that evening, the neighbor and I chatted for a bit. He had been stuck waiting on roadside assistance pretty much all day after accidentally putting regular gas in his diesel engine…an honest mistake in Canada where everything isn’t color coded the same. The lessons according to him: 1) Always pay attention to the pumps. 2) Don’t use Good Sam as your roadside assistance company. (We had them years ago, but have had CoachNet for quite a while and been very happy the two times we had to use them.)
FasGas & RV Park is just a parking lot beside the gas station and grocery store right in Haines Junction. It isn’t anything fancy, and the only real amenity, other than being able to walk for supplies, is a bathhouse. The sites are basic, side-by-sides with full hookup and 30 amps. The road noise can be pretty loud at times, but we were surprised at how much everything quieted down at night. For a quick stay, you could definitely do worse. For this visit in July 2023, we paid $138.20 American for 4 nights.
Well, another week gone of our slow meander back to the barn. Next up…Whitehorse, stale road, and an unexpected detour. See you on the path!
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