We slept in a bit this morning since we had a long day yesterday. We left camp about 8:30 and headed toward Tok. It has been a goal to get to Tok for two days and today we actually planned on making it through.
As we worked our way south, we stopped at several ranger stations and visitor centers. The first was a rangers outpost on the corner of Wrangell – St. Elias national park and refuge. We met Thelma, a ranger who has lived and worked in Alaska for 47 years. She moved here with her family when she was 20 and she’s still going strong. We had a great conversation and enjoyed her ribbing.
As we rolled into Tok, we checked in to the visitor’s center and library and then did some quick shopping at the local grocery. I filled up the truck and bought some fuel injector cleaner and octane booster to see if the truck will start a little better. I got to talk to my wonderful wife, Kristina, for about 30 minutes, which is always nice. We stopped at the NAPA Auto Parts store where the local Boy Scouts were having what looked like a fundraiser with hotdogs and hamburgers. It turned out it was a community service project and the burgers and hot dogs were free. We tried to give them a donation, but they said it was just service hours and to enjoy. Two days in a row we had a free lunch.
We got back on the road and continued down the road towards Haines. We knew we would not likely make it tonight because it was 9 hours from Tok and it was already 12 PM so we figured if we hit it hard and got about two hours out, that would work fine. I had reserved a ferry ride for the truck and us from Haines to Skagway and the earliest we could get was Sunday, which means we will spend a day in Haines and then a day in Skagway. So far on this trip I have really enjoyed Seward, Homer, and Valdez in the lower portion of the state, so two more days in the costal towns would be nice. These towns are much nicer than what I am used to for coastal towns, i.e. overcrowding, congestion, lack of free accommodations, and these had none of that.
We stopped at the next visitor’s center at Tetlin Wildlife refuge and watched a informative video and chatted with some folks there. The ranger spends time in Apache Junction in the winter and now she and her husband live out of their RV and travel with the weather. 7 years and counting.
We crossed the Canadian border and marveled at the straight line of cut trees that make up the 20 foot swath at the US-Canadian border. We got out passports stamped at the crossing and then stopped in for a beverage at Buckshot Betty’s and then the visitor’s center. The bartender was pretty cool and so was the ranger at the visitor’s center. She showed us two nuggets of gold she found at a mine he works at during the summers. She also heads down to Arizona in the winters (Yuma).
Several more hours down the road we fueled up and then stopped at an amazing campsite next to a river. We are making dutch oven pork tenderloin and vegetables. Tomorrow, Haines Alaska