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Drive to Alaska

by Barbara K. Almy (1233-4668-1323)

Following is the continuation from newsletter No. 109 (January 2002) of the journal that Barbara wrote on her drive to Alaska in 1999. (See introduction in Newsletter 105.)

6-19-99*Day 23*186 miles*7 hours 45minutes

We left Tok at 7:00 AM. We stopped in Chicken, which is another place I had never been. They bill themselves as "Beautiful Downtown Chicken, Alaska." It consists of a large gift shop, saloon, liquor store and an eatery establishment. The saloon is similar to the burnt down Birdhouse Bar (south of Anchorage) in that people leave cards and stuff on the walls. And while the bartender didn't seem to have the wry sense of humor as the ones at the Birdhouse, a "bearded lady" tended to it!

It was quite a quaint little community. I bought a T-shirt and then we ate breakfast. I had bacon & eggs. Dad had sausage & eggs. It was great, though expensive (($8.95). The eggs were fresh. Mom had her usual hot cocoa.

I talked to a man who lives there from May to October and then drives to California for the winter. He was quite interesting. Dad says I have inherited Mom's propensity for talking to strangers.

We ate some sandwiches on the road and cookies. We stopped several times for scenic pictures. Somewhere along the way I stated that I was really glad we made this detour. Mom countered; saying that she was really glad I decided to come with them. I said I was too. Dad chimed in that he also was glad I came. A true "group hug" moment!

I had a scary time at the border. The customs agent for Canada asked if we had purchased any bone, fur or ivory in Alaska. Dad said no, but like a dummy I said that yes, I had purchased two little puffin guys. She asked what king of ivory it was and I said walrus. She said. "I'm sorry but its illegal in Canada." I almost cried and then said, "I'm assuming it's walrus, but I don't know." She asked what they told me at the store and I said "Nothing." Dad then asked her if she could tell by looking at it. She said, "May I see it?" So I dug in my bag and she looked at it and said, "I don't see anything to tell me otherwise. Today its mammoth ivory, which is legal in Canada and the US." I thanked her profusely.

We had stopped at Boundary about three miles earlier that housed a museum/gift shop inside an old homestead. Another Kodak moment!

We got to the west side of the Yukon River and took the free ferry over to Dawson City, a five-minute crossing. We arrived at our motel, The Bunkhouse ($45 and $72 Can) about 2:45 PM. There was no bathroom in my room (which I knew about.) They were nice, clean rooms, though small. Mine was actually bigger than Mom and Dad's (they paid extra to have a bathroom) but I had no TV.

We all took a nap straight-away and then strolled down Front Street and went to the Klondike Visitor Center. It had lots of good information. We found the post office and mailed Mom's postcard. They have tried to preserve the goldrush "feel" complete with boardwalks throughout the town. We had dinner at Klondike Kate's. It was just so-so. We learned that Diamond Tooth Gertie's only has $0.25 and $1.00 Slots, Black Jack, Poker and Wheel of Fortune. No Keno for Dad and they wanted a $6.00 cover charge because of the show. Dad objected to the cover and really had no interest in going in. So he went back to the motel after eating and Mom and I went to Gertie's. She and I each started with $20.00. I had to buy change twice more, but when we left around 10:00 PM Mom had cashed out with $100.00 and some change. I ended up being about $30.00 in the hole. I completed marking this leg of our journey on the map and writing in my log and now have some literature that I picked up along the way to read.

6-20-99*Day 24

When I went over to Mom and Dad's room, Mom was still in the shower but had to hurry up and get out because there was no hot water. It turns out the whole building was out of hot water the whole day. I went to complain and the desk people replacing Lynn Nicholson were not at all concerned for their guest's comfort. I was upset because Mom and Dad had paid extra to have hot and cold running water in their room and they were without it one whole day. While I didn't pay extra, I want to take a shower tomorrow morning before we leave.

We went to breakfast at the Bullfrog Bistro. Mom had bacon & eggs; Dad, ham & eggs and I had their answer to an Egg McMuffin. All were on their $3.99 special. It was pretty good.

From there we went to Jack London's cabin and then to Robert Service's cabin. Mom and I both took pictures. We then went to the Dawson City Museum. It is our second "passport" stop. The museum was interesting and we watched a film of the old goldrush days. Back at our motel Mom and Dad took a nap while I took another look at tomorrow's schedule. I suggested to them, based on the recommendations of the reservations people I had e-mailed and received a response from, that maybe we should consider staying the night in Mayo or Keno, rather than Carmacks.

My left little toe has developed a severe callous and is really sore. I went to a drug store and bought some gauze and first aid tape. I should have bought corn pads. I went back and the store had closed about 3 minutes earlier. I made do with cutting a hole in the gauze and taping it on. Much better.

We checked out several restaurants for Dad's Day even though we had Father's Day dinner on Wednesday in Anchorage. We ended up at a sub-shop and sat outside. On the way back to the motel we bought ice for the water jug and the cooler.

Dad decided it was OK to go to Diamond Tooth Gertie's. He did seem to enjoy the show as well as playing the slots. Mom and I had hoped that Dad would get picked to go up on stage. After the show Gertie mingled with the patrons and I told her that we had hoped that they would pick Dad. She told us to stay for

the 10:30 show and that she would tell the Can-Can dancers to watch for him, since they were the ones who picked who went on stage. Dad wasn't picked and Mom and Dad left about 11:00 PM. I closed the place at 2:00 AM, mostly playing Black Jack with a $10.00 grubstake at a $2.00 minimum table.

When I left for "home" it was already gaining daylight. I read and made notes. I had forgotten that we had reservations for the 2:00 PM cruise on the Yukon River out of Whitehorse. So maybe staying in Carmacks as originally planned is the thing to do...

To be continued.

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