Chicken AK


Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 31-08-2009

Months ago, while in the warm balmy weather of Mexico, Helene (our Canadian friend) emerged from her RV with a t-shirt reading, “Chicken AK”.  Chicken AK??  Where the heck is CHICKEN AK??    Helene and Roch said it’s a must see so  we knew one day we would make the trip.  Well, our day finally arrived!  Our trip from Fairbanks to Tok to Chicken was fairly smooth with the last section being a dirt road.  Chicken was supposedly named by early miners who wanted to name their camp ptarmigan, but were unable to spell it and settled instead for chicken, which is the common name in the North for ptarmigan.The population of Chicken is 21 in the summer and a mere 6 in the winter and commercial Chicken consists of 3 businesses, each with its own attractions.  We arrived in Chicken on a warm-ish day and were so impressed with the campground –  the Chicken Gold Camp and Outpost – next to Pedro Dredge and owned by a great family – the Busbys.  The quaint gift shop/cafe was filled with fun “chicken” stuff as well as homemade treats.  Ken and I had the best latte ever the next morning in their cafe.  Who knew Chicken would be such a foodie place?!  The campground also had a beautiful outdoor area to enjoy a beer or glass of wine.   We were sorry to have missed “ChckenStock” (think WoodStock),  a blue grass festival in June.  There were five bands and 250 people making it one of the biggest happenings in Chicken, probably ever!  Maybe we will make it back one year! 

This area is famous for its gold claims and Andrew was anxious to stake his claim (he so needs the money) so he paid $1o for 24 hours of gold panning.  He did quite well and had a small vile of gold flakes only to then loose it  all in the muddy water.    He was bummed but determined and he and Ken returned to find even more gold flakes – the total value about $5!    Good job boys!

I decided it would be more fun to celebrate my birthday in Chicken than Fairbanks so we spent a day just hanging out in the RV (it was quite cold and rainy) and watching movies.  Nice way to spend a birthday!  After a dinner of rib eye steaks, we walked to the campground cafe and enjoyed “Alaskan Sundaes” complete with homemade blueberry preserves.  Yum!    We were told there were moose near the small airstrip down the road so we took off in hopes of seeing a moose up close (and safe in our car!)  We lucked out and watched a mother moose eat and drink from the pond.   We were told there were “baby” moose nearby but didn’t get a glimpse of them this time. 

The next day we took a tour of Pedro Dredge, given to us by campground (and Pedro Dredge) owner Mike Busby.  Mike and his wife Lou came here years ago as gold miners.  Mike sure knew his stuff when it came to the Pedro Dredge.  The dredge was no longer in operation during its heyday, it mined millions of dollars of gold from Chicken Creek.   It was really cool to meet people with a dream of gold mining who actually made their dream come true!

Our last evening was balmy (compared to the night before) and Ken and I took a walk to Chicken’s Post Office.  With all the cutbacks in the postal service, it was very surprising to learn this town of 21 has a post office.  We met Robin, the gal who runs the post office 5 days a week. She handles over 600 pounds of mail a week.   She receives it via a plane on Tuesdays and Fridays.  She reminded us that they are in the “bush” and provisions are needed for people to exist, thus the real need for the post office.  She took our picture in front of the post office and gave us a rubber chicken to hold.  How fitting! 

Tomorrow we will take the highly touted trip to Dawson City via the “Top of the World” Highway.   The first part of the highway (it is really a “highway?”)  is all gravel, windy and quite narrow so we will unhook the van and I will follow Ken.  We had planned to take a side trip to Eagle, one of the most picturesque towns in all of Alaska, located right on the Yukon River.  But Mike informed us that the town was severely affected by an unusual Spring thaw which caused some of the worst flooding in decades.   The flood (think of an ice tsunami) literally wiped out the town of Eagle as ice chunks as big as houses were pushed throughout the town.  Perhaps when we visit Alaska one day in the future, the town of Eagle will have renewed itself.

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