Part 1: The trouble with rumble strips.
Once we actually got on the road, it wasn’t bad. The temperatures kept climbing as we made our way around the northern outskirts of town. A big storm was blowing in from the south bringing warm weather and, further down the road, wind. Farewell to Fox as we rolled on past. Harrumph to Lil’ Anchorage as we did the same. Hit every other stop light on the way down the Steese, watching the temperature rise and the roads get slicker. On down the Richardson, briefly noting the tourists taking photos of, and with, Santa in North Pole.
On past Moose Creek bluff which I have always found interesting, largely due to the graffiti. Not that I am overly fond of graffiti, but in this case, if memory serves correctly, said bluff is the only place in the Interior where prehistoric pictographs have ever been found. Something just deems that rock be defaced I guess. On we went, past the Air Force base, back into the trees towards Salcha, where the sunrise treated us with a flourish of color on the hills.
Through Salcha, which doesn’t take much, along between the hills and the Tanana, both of which were beginning to look rather wind blown. On through and past the Shaw Creek flats, where have been found some of the oldest known archaeological sites in Alaska, indeed in much of North America. The winds picked up and by the time we hit Delta Jct., thoroughly buffeted, we were quite ready for the requisite donut stop at the IGA.
On that stretch of road, between North Pole and Delta, AK DOT, when resurfacing the highway once upon a time, put a rumble strip right down the center line… the only stretch of road that I know of like that. Which, you know, is fine. It is just that when ever I think about rumble strips, you know the chatter marks on the road that let you know when you are out of bounds, I think about my old dog, the dogface. Every time I would accidentally swerve and run over a rumble strip while driving, she would completely freak out. I do not recall quite exactly when this behavior started, but I cannot help but think that it was likely related to that one time that I wrecked a vehicle while she was riding shotgun. Thus, when I think of rumble strips, I think about the dogface, now past, and about wrecking a vehicle. Which I suppose is the point, but still, it is a bit unnerving when just starting out on a 3700+ mile road trip…
Anyway, once on the ALCAN proper, (which ends — or begins in this case — at Delta Jct.) the winds calmed down and by the time we were rolling past Dot Lake, the temperatures were flirting with zero. The sun was starting to set by this time (we had not yet gone 150 miles…), and the colors on the surrounding hills and forests were fantastic. The photos will not nearly do it justice, but then, they rarely do.
As mostly expected, the road was pretty lonely, in fact, I’m not sure we saw another vehicle until we got to the outskirts of Tok. We stopped a few times to let Little have a break for nature, but otherwise it was smooth rolling, and -5 when we hit Tok.
Part 2: What’s in a name?
On our way in, there was some brief postulation regarding how Tok got its name. The Wife read from the Milepost (the must have travel guide for driving this route), but in the end, no queries were illuminated.
It is hard to know what to expect from a place named Fast Eddies. I suppose the first question ought be, what manner of place is it? In this case it is a restaurant, which I knew. Having blown through Tok a number of times this past summer en route to and from Eagle, I had occasion to experience the place. Though I mostly ignored it.
Given the name, I am inclined to envision hot rods and a chrome diner atmosphere. Not so. Rather, one must assume that, in this case, Eddie is the poor chap fleeing for his life from the ravening Grizzly, thus depicted on the business logo. Aside from the suspension of belief required to accept that Eddie, or anyone in a similar circumstance, could be quite fast enough, one is uncertain how the scenario played out.
Anyway, the whole business seems a bit odd to me, but that is just me. I hear they have good pizza. Either way, this is where we check-in to the motel that is to be our home for the night.
Bella too, seems uncertain.
However, we did find a very nice trail out behind the neighboring establishment, that despite sporting some curious false advertisement, offered a very nice place for all of us to stretch our legs and a breath some fine, sub-zero Alaskan air. Tomorrow we attempt to cross the border, bound for Whitehorse.