Early in the morning we climbed in the truck to head off to Tok, Alaska. Training was scheduled for the afternoon, so it’s an early start on Alaska Route 1, one of the main roads into and out of Alaska from the lower 48. The initial ride out of Anchorage was just like any other commute, save for the beautiful mountains along the way, but I knew that something more special was ahead. It was 320 miles to Tok and I knew my adventure was starting.
The road to Tok, or just about anywhere in Alaska or the Yukon, is a two-lane highway with nothing but wilderness on either side. From time to time a small roadhouse or gas station pops up and offers respite from the road. Sometimes it’s best to stop since another might not come along for 100 or so miles. The sun shines on the slopes in the distance and makes for a spectacular view that makes you feel like you are in a storybook.
Along the way we saw a few moose and a caribou by the roadside.
The towns along Route 1 aren’t so much towns, but more like traveler services by the roadside. By comparison, Tok is a large town. Consisting of approximately 1,300 residents, the town of Tok sits at the junction of the roads to the Yukon and Fairbanks.
The Westmark Tok is unique among the ranks of the Westmark properties. There is a sense of whimsy in the air as we walk through the soon-to-open hotel. From the log-cabin feel of the interiors to the funny story about the Alaska state bird (think large carnivorous insect) found framed over the swatter hanging in every room, you can feel the fun atmosphere that lives in this hotel.
Westmark Tok is known for its famous theme weeks during which the unwitting guests are treated to such themes as “Christmas in July,” “Love Week” and (my favorite) “Clown Day.” It should be noted that Clown Day stems from an interesting interpretation of how the town of Tok got its name. I could tell that the FISH! philosophy was alive and well in Tok even before I began my session.
Tok claims to have had a temperature reading of minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit this past January! Today it’s in the 40s with a very light snow flurry. Luckily, not too cold!
Tomorrow is a travel day east of the border. Canada, here we come, eh!
Anthony Garofalo, a crew purser, is on a special assignment for Westmark Hotels, a Holland America Line company. Questions about Alaska, the Yukon or Westmark? E-mail Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org.