Tok the Tok

Ah karma, you cruel little mistress you! In my last post I dared to laugh in the face of the Alaskan winter.  Silly.  Upon waking up in Glenallen (calling it a one horse town would be of great disservice to the horse) to a blanket of snow that was growing to duvet-levels under the perennial downfall, I realised how lucky we’d been over the past 2 weeks. Sunshine! In Alaska! In October! It was indeed a fluke. G took command of Gina like a great polar explorer though. The studded tyres we bought by complete accident proved their worth on the unpisted highway and we crunched confidently eastwards towards Tok. It was a long drive. Alaska is big. In the back, the Germans read out Spanish numbers from our Dorling Kinglsey phrase book and we repeated them, surely putting us in good stead for Mexico and beyond. The scenery had altered from the dramatic mountains and confident firs and pines of Kennai, to timid little saplings poking out of the snow, praying humbly for more sunshine. It was not to be. Tok sits on the last major junction before the border, go north to certain hyperthermia or go east to the land of maple syrup. Gina had had enough (she’s an old bird) so we pulled into a motel for the night. Tok made Glenallen look like Las Vegas. It was a one shrew town. Maybe a one vole town. We found the one open diner called Fast Eddie’s and ate a pile of pizza that should have fed us for a week. Even after we’d all been silenced into submission by the cheese influx there was comfortably enough left over for a doggy bag that kept us going the whole next day. You’d comfort eat too if you lived in Tok.

The next day’s weather was warmer and we strode buoyantly into Canada and the fabled Yukon territory, where Jack London camped out and saw enough to write ‘Call of the Wild’ among others. The border guard seemed more interested in our journey south rather than our passports and we continued on to Haines Junction. The plan was to get to Whitehorse but Gina had other ideas. It turns out she doesn’t enjoy being thrashed through gravel pot holes for a number of hours and let us know this with the ‘Check Engine’ beacon flickering desperately as I veered her up another hill. So we let her cool down for an hour, threw stones into an impossibly blue lake and nursed her to the nearest hub of civilisation. She’s doing well all things considering. Sure, the windscreen has a decorative full-width crack, the boot has to be held open with a stick (nicknamed the trunk tree) and her petrol cap is kept shut with a well-placed stone in the hinge, but the girl has guts. We’re quietly confident she’ll make California. Very quietly mind.

Whitehorse was our final destination and we dropped Petra off at the airport so she could fly home. We’re now down to one German. Upon dropping her off we picked up all her luggage (or so we thought) from the hostel and afterwards did some WalMart supplies shopping (the place sold guns, knives and kayaks but no fruit or veg) and moseyed around the town, which falls somewhere between an old gold-rush settlement and a washed-up tourist trap. We got back to the hostel to plot our onward trip only to find the owner and a bunch of backpackers in near hysteria. Someone had stolen a Korean girl’s backpack with all her travel documents and other worldly possessions and she was due to catch a flight in two hours! Crime in Whitehorse! The Korean girl was in full panic-mode. How would she get home? The owner was busy phoning embassies across Canada to aid her.   I casually checked Gina’s boot (safely implementing the trunk tree first of course) and plucked a strange red bag from her innards. “Who’s is this?” I enquired innocently. We were then subjected to a tirade of abuse and guilt as the Korean girl snatched it off us jubilantly and the hostel owner berated us for taking other people’s stuff without checking. It appeared we’d taken one bag too many for Petra’s departure. A free lift to the airport for the relieved Korean and some apology beers for all other aggrieved parties later, we all agreed that hindsight was a wonderful thing, ate some of G’s “wonder dish” veggie curry and are now planning to walk into the hills at midnight to catch the Northern Lights. We just need those snow clouds to clear…. Next stop, Walton Lake and hot springs!

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