Getting Closer

Getting Closer
Getting Closer

Monday, August 1, 2011

August 1 Day 27 Valdez to Tok

(Not sure if you have noticed, but if you hover your mouse over the photos, my captions show up.  I just discovered this myself recently.  Also, as usual, you can click on any photo to enlarge it)

rainy morning as we backtrack up Keystone Canyon from ValdezIt rained hard all night at Valdez, but the MoHo was cozy and dry and we both slept really well after our day on the cruise boat. As we packed in to leave, the rain was soft but not terribly cold and we dumped the tanks, took on fresh water, and hooked up the baby car for the trip back north.

tunnel for the unfinished railroad from ValdezThe drive through Keystone Canyon was subdued and I was so glad that we had the chance to see it in the sunlight. Even in the rain the landscape was lovely, but there was no real hint of the spectacular scenery that surrounded us as we crossed Thompson Pass, passed Worthington Glacier and again followed the route along the Copper River north.

A side visit to Copper CenterLike many other small settlements in this part of Alaska, Copper Center has a fairly recent history.  It was founded in 1896 as an agricultural experiment center, and was the first white settlement in the area. When the gold rush hit, the miners traveled over the glaciers and joined the Eagle Trail to Forty Mile and on to Dawson. The post office and telegraph station were both built in 1901, and the historic roadhouse began in 1897 to be replaced in 1932.  It is still in operation, with a bright neon sign on the historic building proclaiming, “OPEN”.

historic roadhouse still in operation at Copper CenterWe just ambled through town along the loop road before ascending back up to a viewpoint of the great Copper River, only 300 miles long but carrying a load of glacial silt larger than rivers many times its size.  I loved seeing this river, the home of the best tasting wild salmon I can buy back in Oregon when it comes into season, just three weeks each year.  Now of course, I have tasted Prince William Sound sockeye salmon and that Copper River fish has some competition.

Copper River toward the northWe again stopped in at the Hub to gas up and upload photos from the free WiFi while we waiting in line for a pump.  It is certainly a popular place. Before long we reached the Tok Cutoff, the Alaska 1 road that takes us directly east to Tok rather than following the Richardson Highway all the way to Delta Junction.  As soon as we were on the cutoff, the road construction began in earnest, with many miles of gravel and some serious frost heaves almost all the way to Tok.

good thing since the gravel went on for milesThere were a few viewpoints along the way, and we stopped for photos, but the gray day and monochromatic light didn’t inspire me much.  I knew that some truly gorgeous volcanoes were just out of reach in the clouds and could only imagine what I was missing. 

To Tok Day 27_3215We arrived in Tok, deciding to stay at the Tok RV Village because they advertised WiFi and Cable television.  I am not sure how long it’s been since we saw the news, but  hookups, TV, a laundromat, and some internet time were big on the list.  The folks at this RV park weren’t particularly friendly, and WiFi was that dang Tengo thing that costs 6.95 per day, the washers were 3.50 per load, and there were something like 5 channels on the tube.  The place was set up nicely though, with big pull through sites and when we arrived around 3 it was basically empty.

Part of Jeremy's routine is to ride out with the slideWithin an hour it started filling up and we saw the lineup for the rig wash and wondered if it was free.  There were 3 and 4 rigs at a time waiting to get all that grime off their shiny paint.  We waited too, and around 8 Mo said, “Let’s GO”, and we disconnected and drove the MoHo and still attached Tracker across the way for a good wash.  The charge was just 15.50 for unlimited time for both rigs so I think we washed for about half an hour before everything was shiny again.  Who knows how long it will last, but at least we got the salty layer from the sea air removed before we add another layer of dust and dirt.

Home for the night at Tok RV Village number 82The news predicted a big storm for Valdez, with 80 mph winds in the sound and once again we were star blessed to be in the right place at the right time and missed the worst of it.  The predictions for tomorrow include rain and gloom, but I have figured out that most of the time that shifts a bit and so far we haven’t really been socked in with hard rain for any length of time since that stretch between Talkeetna and Anchorage.

A good simple day on the road.

CaptureMiles traveled: about 250

Road condition: Valdez to the Tok Cutoff, reasonably OK, with just some frost heaves and a bit of gravel here and there. Tok Cutoff is a pain, but not unmanageable if you keep your speed down.  Knock on wood, we still have no chips in the windows or big dings on the rigs.

There are a few more photos for this day linked here