Not your average travel blog
Driving into the tiny town of Tok on the Alaska Highway at the beginning of the 4th of July carnival/caravan parade, is rather like accidentally walking into a meeting room containing your bosses, while discussing the sexual antics of ducks on the phone and not realising anyone else is in the room. Inappropriate, and badly timed. The parade did look lovely, although much of the caravan (we only saw about five vehicles) was made up of small children, ATV’s pulling what looked like wheelbarrows or tiny toy flat beds covered in bunting, and obviously, little people dressed up in all the garb. We roved on through in a filthy pick up, waved at the patient, horrified kerb sitters ready for candy to be tossed their way, and paraded along to find somewhere to get some gas (that’s fuel in the UK. Not an assumed multi-beaned meal). Following our skip through Tok in a muddy vehicle, which I thought was a more appropriate representation of the freedoms of all ‘Merica, rather than free chocolate given out by children dressed in striped pants and ribbons, we rode the long, straight, flat road in the gigantic valley to the end of the Alaska highway. We had mountains and short, black (recently burned) spruce either side of us for almost the entire way. Delta Junction has the last milepost on the Alaska Highway, although it’s drastically short of the coast in any direction. It might be assumed that on today’s map, the efforts to build a road to supply the west for the needs of World War 2, appear hugely unfulfilled. However, airstrips for small aircraft all across Alaska and highways from Delta were already in place to the south. Supplies could reach the vital areas, and if Japan were to invade from the west – the wild would be enough of a deterrent. Best of luck getting over the mountains, chaps.
A couple of tiny islands were invaded along the Alaska peninsular, prior to the highway being complete, but the weather and the remoteness of the location meant it took a larger U.S. force a year to reach them for reclamation (after the completion of the highway to Delta). On arrival, they found the Japanese had already left and gone home. Think, Tom and Jerry, only with Jerry not bothering because he understood the mousetrap, and going home to put his feet up. Remote Alaska, with its drastic terrain, appeared a safe haven. Sadly, as expected, there were no bounties offered to us by groups of spicy, word-loving exotic ladies, but we did get a free cup of (awful but appreciated) coffee in the Visitor Center. We were interrupted by a small, wing-injured bird who flew in while we were given our complimentary cup, almost as if to say “Don’t drink it. Look what happened to me!” I was grateful for the warning, and the offering, but donated it to nature in the parking lot. As well as appreciating the fluttered interjection from our wounded freedom fighter, we also took some obligatory photos next to the last mile marker, stole wifi from the car park of the closed public library down the street, and snapped a few shots next to a couple of unofficial, (official) Alaska state birds – see photos. Alaska is twice the size of Texas (and roughly twice the size of France). We have a long drive ahead. I thought the Mosquitos were bad in Canada, so it appears that if they are the state bird here in Alaska, I have some manning up to do, and a bee keeping suit to buy.