Tok (rhymes with Coke) is a small town along the Alaska Highway not a hundred miles west of the Canadian border. Sometimes on the road signs it’s called Tok and other times Tok Junction, since it’s where Alaska Highway (AK 2) and the Richardson Highway (AK 1) intersect. Because of its site, the main industry here is to service highway travelers. The unique thing about Tok is, if you drive into Alaska, it’s the only community you have to go through twice.
Queen Anne and I returned to Tok yesterday and the rest of the gang will arrive this afternoon. (The SS Minnow did return to port late yesterday and everyone had a great time, see Deb’s comment in the Valdez post for details) This means we’ve completed our circular tour of the state. By this time tomorrow, we will have bid Alaska farewell and begun our trip home via Yukon Territories, British Colombia and along the US west coast.
We’re staying at the Sourdough Campgrounds RV Park and Cafe run by Tim and Tracy Hulett. They both share responsibilities in running the park and café. Tim cooks and Tracy handles the tables. Tracy checks in guests and Tim does maintenance in the park.
The park has two shticks going for it. The first is that they have a quarter car wash on the premise. I can’t begin to tell you how important that was to us after driving down the muddy Chicken Road. The second unique thing they do here is every evening they hold their world-famous pancake toss on the stage behind the office. OK, so someone in England knows about it and that makes it world-famous.
Every night, Tim has about a dozen pancakes on a platter, and every attendant gets a turn at tossing two pancakes into a bucket. The first one is practice, but if you get the second one in, you win a free pancake breakfast in the morning. Of course, during the show, each person gets to introduce them self, tell where they are from and what they hope to see on their trip. Each person tells their own story and there is a lot of ribbing that goes on. For example when our gang all stood up and said that we were from Congress, no one believed anyone was left in town.
When someone is ready to toss a pancake (and the secret is to toss and not try to fling them Frisbee style), they say ready and the rest of the audience has to chant encouragement. If Tim catches someone not chanting, they have to go in front of the audience and get chanting lessons.
I know that this is something I should have written about last month, but I didn’t. We had WiFi problems and I had to catch up on several posts. I also knew that we would be back . . . for another reason.
After the show we attended, we all sat around the campfire that Tim builds each evening and just chatted. We enjoyed our wine and asked to hear Tim’s story . . . which eventually led to cooking. As we compared favorite foods, he boasted about his ribs. I turned to Anne and said, “Here, hold my beer; watch this.” And that’s how the first ever Great Tok Rib Smack-Down was born.
It took a month looking for ingredients to make my sauce and Tim graciously supplied a couple of rib racks and electric smoker for me to use. The ribs have been on for three hours now with two more to go before the judging. My ribs look great and I haven’t even put sauce on them yet. Tracy has enlisted two or three people checking in to serve as judges. They won’t know who the cooks were.
I honestly don’t care who wins. I see the event as a kind of going away party; a celebration of our time in Alaska. The best thing of all, is that when we hit the road, we’ll be driving a sparkly clean truck and trailer behind.
P.S. Although it doesn’t really matter, the judges marginally voted for my ribs. I don’t believe there’s a looser here, because we both enjoyed cooking. Thanks again for the hospitality Tim.
P.S.S. At this evening’s pancake toss, yours truly won a free pancake breakfast.