Chicken . . .

No, not that kind. The one in Alaska.

You know, the one that’s named after the State Bird of Alaska, the ptarmigan. The only problem was that when the town got its first Post Office in 1902, nobody could agree on how to spell ‘Ptarmigan’ so they went with Chicken instead.

Everyone could spell that.

Today’s blog is about Chicken for two reasons. It’s in the news, and we were there in Chicken 5 years ago today.

It’s in the news because a couple of weeks ago an EPA SWAT team (huh?)descended on the 17 residents of Chicken to check for Clean Water Act violations. (once again, huh?) The heavily-armed, body-armored wearing EPA agents swarmed over the many small family mining claims in the area, to check their gold mine holding ponds. There were more agents than residents.

They said they were heavily armed because the Alaskan State Troopers told them there was “rampant drug and human trafficking going on the area”. The State Troopers deny they ever said any such thing. I think some people just wanted to play with their shiny new toys.

And any ‘trafficking’ would be pretty obvious. There’s only one road through there, the Taylor Highway. There’s nowhere else to go. To even get to Chicken, you drive 75 miles from Tok, on a lane and a half wide, gravel road, trying to avoid the moose running across right in front of you.

Tok is the first Alaskan town you come to after you enter Alaska on the Alaskan Highway, and itself only has about 1200 people. It’s too small to even have a Wal-Mart. And that’s small.

From Tok to Fairbanks is over 200 miles, and to Anchorage is over 300 miles. So these agents, made up of EPA, the FBI, Coast Guard (more huh?), Department of Defense (even more huh?), the Alaska Department of Public Safety and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, had to drive 300 miles to Tok, then 75 miles to Chicken, and apparently, another 40 miles out to Boundary, the last town before you enter Canada.

All for nothing. No charges, state or federal, have been filed. Your tax dollars at work.

This is Chicken.

Chicken AK 1

And this is Chicken.

Chicken AK 2

And this is Chicken.

Chicken AK 3

And this was what Chicken was here for. The gold dredge, abandoned in place once the gold ran out.

Chicken AK 4

Not much to make such a fuss over. But it all makes for some real pretty scenery.

Chicken AK 5

Chicken AK 6

Chicken AK 7

And this is Boundary, the last ‘town’ on the Taylor Highway before you enter Canada, about 4 miles away.

Boundary AK 1

Boundary AK 2

Boundary AK 5

That’s all there is to Boundary. But again, the scenery getting there is great.

Boundary AK 3

Boundary AK 4

And concerning all the “rampant drug and human trafficking going on the area”, like I said, there’s nowhere to go. If it was coming from Tok, the only place it can go is through two border crossings into Canada. And the same two border crossings in reverse.

There’s only one road in and out.

Like I said, shiny new toys.

Thought I end this Alaskan-themed blog with some pics of the multitude of beautiful flowers that you see everywhere. 24 hours of daylight does wonders for the plants.

AK Flowers 1

AK Flowers 2

AK Flowers 3

AK Flowers 4

AK Flowers 6

AK Flowers 7

And here’s a few other beautiful things. Our daughter Brandi, who visited us in August of 2008,

Brandi Alaska

and our granddaughter Piper, who visited us in July of 2008. And of course, my Sweetie. Like I said, beautiful things.

Piper Jan Alaska

And of course, every Alaskan blog has to end with a moose picture.

AK Flowers 5 Moose


Thought for the Day:

"Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Where have I gone wrong?" Then a voice says to me, "This is going to take more than one night." – Charlie Brown, Peanuts



7 Responses

  1. Can you give us your thoughts on Gate Guarding?  We have considered this, but don’t know what to expect.  Thanks so much.  Jim and Jan Swan



  2. Now, this whole story seems like a bunch of chicken s..t to me.

  3. Sorry, this is off subject. A while back I mentioned the Pilot/Flying J card and the six cent/gal below cash discount. I believe you went ahead and got the card. I have since learned something else. We upgraded our Good Sam membership to a lifetime membership last month and now we rate an eight cent discount. Thought you would like to know.


  4. Jerry,

    Yeah, I saw that when I signed up. I think they’re actually 4 different discounts, depending on your Good Sam membership.

    Not sure if it’s worth it moneywize to upgrade just for the increased discount though. But if you plan on upgrading anyway, it’s a nice bonus.


  5. Jim,

    I do know that I never saw any chickens when we were in Chicken.

  6. Thanks for the memories. Did it ’05. Filled up in Tok then stayed at the gas station in Chicken. If you filled up it was free. So topped off again. Had a friend who we couldn’t get away from panning at the pile of tailings.

  7. James,

    Here’s a description of how we got started. Let me know if you have any more questions.

    I’ve had some more inquiries about gate guarding and how to get started, so here’s a repost of the info.

    When we started last year, we just showed up at the Gate Guard Services yard in Whitsett, TX and told them we wanted to gate guard. We did not call ahead.

    We had heard to do it that way because they get so many calls and requests for info that they really don’t pay any attention until you get there in person.

    We got there on Thursday, April 5th about 5:30, but every one had already gone home at the office. But the guy working the shop showed us where to park. They have 5 FHU sites and a number of places with power and water. There is no charge for parking there while you’re waiting for a gate or coming off a gate.

    The next morning. I went to the office and got our info packets and fingerprint cards. We then drove over to Floresville about 20 miles away and got our fingerprints done at the Sheriff’s Office.

    Then we had to drive down to Corpus Christi on Tuesday, April 10th to process our applications and take our security guard tests. We had to wait until Tuesday because they only process apps on Tuesday and Thursday.

    Five days later, on Sunday, April 15th, we were on our first gate.

    Doing it this way will work in the Spring and Summer, but probably not as well in the Fall and Winter when the all the snowbirds are down in south Texas wanting to gate guard for the winter.

    Gate Guarding pays $125 a day or more depending on how busy your gate is. And just to be clear, the $125 is per couple, not per person. The company furnishes you a 11KW diesel generator, diesel to run it, a 500 gallon water tank that they keep filled, and a portable septic system. So even though you are usually out in the middle of nowhere, you have full hookups.

    The one real downside to gate guarding is that most gates are 24/7. So one of you has to be on the gate at all times. Some couples do 12 hour shifts, but Jan and I prefer to split it up. She works the gate from 7am to 2pm, I work from 2pm to 6pm, she works from 6pm to 11pm, and then I work from 11pm to 7am. This seems to work for us. Your mileage may differ.

    But one thing to keep in mind is that although you’re working 12 hour shifts, you don’t actually WORK that much. Last year we averaged about 80 vehicles a day, and never had more than 130. Based on about 30 seconds per vehicle, you only actually work about 30-45 minutes a day. The rest of the time you’re sitting in the shade reading or playing on the computer. Jan read 84 books in 4 months last year.

    For more information you can go back on our blog starting April 5th, 2012 and read about our gate guarding adventures last year. Or just leave me a comment.


    Here’s a list of Gate Guard Companies. The first 4 are the main ones, with GGS the biggest.

    Gate Guard Services, L.P.- 361-949-6992

    LOMA Rentals, LLC – 817-964-1828

    Time Keepers – 830-816-5059 Toll Free – 877-851-7676

    Site Watch Gate Guards – 800-561-7202

    KC Services – 956-236-5255

    Pro Gate Security – 830-776-8666

    Oil Field Support Services – 361-815-7050

    Trinity – 956-241-1675

    Primo Gate Guards – 361-563-9272

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