July 28, 2009

We left Valdez this morning in rain and fog and retraced our route back up the Richardson Highway. We ran out of the fog and rain after we went over Thompson Pass and thought we would be able to see more of the scenery. Not to be, shortly we ran into more smoke. We stopped at the visitor center at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park but it was really smoky so we didn’t stay very long. The ranger there (we think he was a ranger but he looked about 15 years old!) told us that there are currently 60 fires in Alaska and the smoke here is from the fires North of here around Fairbanks. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is the largest national park in the US at 13.2 million acres. There are only 2 short gravel roads in the park so access is limited to backpacking, hiking and flight seeing. The park is mainly wilderness and has 4 major mountain ranges in it and includes 9 of the 16 highest peaks in the US. Unfortunately, because of the smoke we were not able to see any of them.

We turned off the Richardson Highway and headed up the Tok Cutoff to Tok. The smoke was not as bad at Tok and it was 80 degrees when we arrived. Much nicer than the low 60’s we had in Valdez. We stayed at the Sourdough Campground in Tok where we had a great dinner of chili made with reindeer sausage in a sourdough bread bowl. After dinner they had a pancake toss where you had two chances to toss a pancake into a 5 gallon bucket. If you got a pancake in the bucket you won a free breakfast – we didn’t do very well. At the end they picked us and another couple who didn’t do well for a “couple competition”. The husband held a small 2 gallon bucket on his head and the wife had 1 minute to toss as many pancakes into it as she could. Well, Nancy finally got the hang of tossing those pancakes and we won by a landslide (maybe it helped to aim at Rex)! We won a free breakfast. The MC was a really neat kid about 18 years old. He told us his stepfather was killed in a snowmobile accident last winter and he and his mom are running the campground. His stepfather was the one who ran the pancake toss and sang in the evenings. He did a really great job with the pancake toss and was a lot of fun and joked with everyone. We hope they can keep the campground going.


  1. Too bad about his step dad. I'm sure he was the MC when we were there. He could have been Jeff Foxworthy's twin. Very talented and way too young to die.

    Happy Anniversary!


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