June 13, 2014
Today we reached the top of the world. We left the campground at around 11 am this morning after a long and much needed sleep-in. We stopped at Buckshot Betty’s on the way through Beaver Creek to grab a cup of coffee and then hit the road again. Our drive took us along the Top of the World Highway, and with nothing but mountains and valleys around us, green hills rising and falling away in endless undulating waves and the clouds rolling in and out bringing a phantasmagorical display of sun and rain, it truly felt like we were riding at the bridge of sky and land. Even with a smattering of raindrops I wouldn’t have wished for any different weather. The clouds were stunning in their patterns of light and dark and offered wonderful contrast.
The road changes surprisingly quickly from a paved highway to what appears to be a rutted dirt back-road. And somewhere along this dirt road, seemingly out of the middle of nowhere, the community of Chicken, Alaska appears. Barely big enough to be called a town it has it’s own post office and a “downtown” that consists of a saloon, café, and gift shop. All chicken themed, of course.
This was the weekend of the Chickenstock Music Festival so the little town was filled with hustle and bustle. It was quaint and charming and utterly the most absurd place I’ve ever seen at the same time. Likely I will never again be in any place on earth that makes a living selling every chicken themed gift you can imagine. Had I not seen it with my own two eyes I would be hard pressed to believe that any such place could exist where people actually work and play and live normal daily lives. It felt as though we had been dropped into faerie land where the absurd, amazing, and impractical could exist without a second thought.
The “highway” (if it can be called such) was slow traveling in many spots due to the rough road conditions. That, compounded with our numerous stops along the Top of the World Highway for photo opportunities, meant that we were traveling for the majority of the day. But we finally arrived in Dawson around 7 pm this evening. We had dinner tonight at Klondike Kate’s, a family run restaurant that operates in an authentic historic gold-rush-era building.
“Klondike Kate” was a real woman by the name of Kathleen Eloise Rockwell who moved to the Yukon at the turn of the 20th century. She quickly made a name for herself as a dancer and vaudeville star and gained a devoted following of gold miners due to her charm and mesmerizing dance routines. She was coined “Queen of the Klondike” and has remained a Klondike icon ever since. I am happy to report that the food was just as mezmerizing as the icon after which the restaurant was named. I had an amazing meal of cranberry bison and blueberry elk sausage with a strawberry compote and spicy mustard, complete with a creamy Caesar salad and the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever eaten. The combinations of flavors was out of the world. It was incredible and I feel incredibly guilty because I sat in a car all day. Oh well. That’s what living in a field camp and working outside every day will do to you.
Tonight we are camped at the Yukon River Campground which is just across the river and a ferry ride from Dawson. Our spot is beautiful with ferns, spruce and wild roses growing. After a campfire we are finally headed to bed at 1 am (and it is still fully light out!). Off to explore Dawson and the Highland games tomorrow…